Interview with Hideo Baba, Designer and Producer of Tales of Xillia 2

Hideo Baba (MCM London May 2014)2

This year, UK fans of the JRPG Tales of series are eager to see the release of a new title from Bandai Namco Games: Tales of Xillia 2, coming to PlayStation 3 in August 2014. We spoke to game designer Hideo Baba about what he personally loves about the game, and questioned him on some of its new features that have caused a stir amongst fans of Tales of Xillia.

As a direct sequel to Tales of Xillia, the story follows Ludger Will Kresnik, a silent protagonist who lives with his brother and their cat, Rollo. After incurring a massive debt at the beginning of the story, which will impact the gameplay throughout, Ludger is hired for his Kresnik bloodline powers to destroy alternate timelines – worlds parallel to his own.

Some players are disappointed to learn that the protagonist will be silent and that the side quests between each chapter are dedicated to paying off Ludger’s debt; worried that it will be a tiresome distraction from an otherwise gripping story. Hideo tells us why he believes the Debt System is a unique gameplay factor that impacts the way the player interacts with the game, and how the player’s choices will impact the end result.

What about Xillia 2 are you personally excited to bring to MCM Comic Con this year?

Hideo: This is my third time coming to this expo and I look forward to seeing the UK fans here. When I announced on Twitter that I’d be here I received many replies from UK fans saying, ‘I will see you!’ which makes me really happy.

urlWhat has the reception to Tales of Xillia 2 been like in Japan?

Hideo: We introduced the two main characters in Tales of Xillia 1 and both character designers, Mutsumi Inomata and Kousuke Fujishima, worked together in a single title. In Japan there are so many fans who really love this feature. Regarding Tales of Xillia 2, this is a direct sequel to Tales of Xillia 1 and the biggest difference between the two is that Tales of Xillia 2 has a very serious and very dark atmosphere; the storyline has very strong messages in that; this is very highly appreciated by Japanese players.

Why did you decide to make the main character Ludger’s voice an unlockable feature? So after you’ve completed the game, you can hear him speak in the game plus. Why did you add that in only as an unlockable feature?

Hideo: In Tales of Xillia 2, I would like players to be able to reflect themselves into the main character, so I felt we could achieve this by removing the voice of the main character and by introducing the choice system. This is why I removed the voice. But actually, even in Japan, some of the players appreciate listening to the voice overs in the game. In the first round, I like players to enjoy the game under the conditions we want to describe. In the second round, there are so many people who want to hear the voice overs and I think they can enjoy the second playthrough with different impressions and feelings.

Who was your favourite character create in Xillia 2?

Hideo: The relationship between Ludger and his brother, Julius, is really important to the storyline, so I needed to pay a lot of attention to these characters, and I really enjoyed that. So, as you know, the atmosphere of Tales of Xillia 2 is a world of seriousness and darkness, but I didn’t want it to be too serious or too dark so I introduced an old role, the cat, in the storyline and he lives with Ludger and his brother Julius. He’s like a mascot who helps to break the ice.

Ice breaker mascot!

Hideo: (laughter) Yes.

What inspired you to create the Debt System that the character has to pay off?

Hideo: In the previous Tales of titles the main character usually has some problems, but not physical problems that impact the gameplay systems. When deciding to make the sequel to Tales of Xillia, I wanted to bring new features. So, Ludger begins the storyline by travelling a lot and as a result he incurs a huge debt, but I hope that many players can look forward to how Ludger’s adventure is limited in a way by the debt and how Ludger solves this problem.

I ask because Western players have a growing dislike for having to spend a lot of time away from the main story to grind, so what do you think makes the Debt Mob system worthwhile time wise?

Hideo: The storyline of Xillia 2 is divided into chapters, but in between each chapter there is a time when Ludger can act freely. They can earn money to proceed the story. I wanted to introduce the debt system to utilise this free time.

Hideo Baba (MCM London May 2014)What do you want people to take away from the game? Is there anything that excites you and that you hope will excite players as well, particularly concerning the story and its characters?

Hideo: The message in the storyline of Xillia 2 is the importance of making choices. The player can insert themselves into Ludger and then make choices to proceed the storyline, so I hope many players can feel how important their choices are in their own life.

Does that mean there are multiple endings then, depending on your choices?

Hideo: There are multiple endings. There are so many choices you need to make, but most of them can affect the colouring, event, or reaction of certain characters. They cannot change the characters’ ending but there are some very important choices that can affect Ludger’s ending. I cannot specify the number of endings, but we look forward to seeing what you make of it.

What inspired you to make the cute little mascot character other than as an ice breaker? Why specifically a cat?

Hideo: The cat changes his mind frequently, but the cat is one of the most popular pets in Japan so I wanted to introduce a pretty cat in the story. We actually introduced a mini-game that is strongly related to cat.

He’ll have his own iOS game in no time.

Hideo: That would be sweet!


Tales of Xillia 2 is now available for pre-order; release date August 22, 2014.

Photos by Kay Ibrahim


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