On the co-op side of things, I found ToZ to be one of the strongest in the series. As usual, only one player controls the leader on the map or in the field, but up to 4 players can play co-op on the battle screens. Players can play two-player co-op nearly from the start of the game. As expected for a Tales game, however, it’s a bit longer before a third party member is added for any length of time and even longer for a full complement of four. Just like the last several Tales games, however, ToZ plays best in two-player co-op. Much of this revolves around the aforementioned Armatization mechanic. Since the human and Seraphim character literally fuse together, only one player can control this combined character which leaves the other player with nothing to do at all. Since this is a very strong mechanic, the game’s difficulty curve counts on players to use it.
There’s a whole lot I really like about ToZ. The game makes it very easy to swap different Seraphim in and out of the party. With the full complement of characters, players will have a Seraph of each of the 4 elements (humans are more physical than elemental focused). Since players no longer have to worry about conserving their TP, ToZ instead asks them to instead pay attention to resistances and vulnerability. Swapping in the correct Seraphim for the situation makes a huge difference, and I like strategic battle decisions such as this in games. I also enjoy the open world feel to the game. For the first time in a Tales game, I feel like the world is a cohesive unit instead of feel like I’m being shown little selective chunks of the world at a time. I like the optional side quests in the world as well as the optional bosses who drop items that increase HP of all party members.
If I have one complaint about the game, it goes back to how the battle screen is now on the world map. Conceptually, it’s great. It makes me feel like I’m actually fighting them out in the world and it really helps with making the world seem cohesive. The problem is the camera. Too often the camera flips to an awkward angle, or ends up behind a wall, or zooms way out (or way in). Player 1 can rotate the camera to attempt to remedy the situation, and while sometimes this helps, other times the camera simply cannot find a good angle (such as fights that occur in very narrow dead ends). All in all, it’s probably worth it (the delay of entering combat is close to nothing now), but it could have used some polishing. I’m confident, however, that later games (if they choose to pursue this style) will be better in this regard.
In the end, I found ToZ to be a very satisfying installment to the Tales series, but your mileage may vary. As a lover of action point systems, high fantasy, a penchant for the types of characters found in ToZ, and a series fan to boot, I was clearly within the game’s target demographic. If you like these things, too, then I’d highly recommend checking the game out, especially since I think the two-player co-op is the strongest yet for the series. If you’re not so much a fan of those things, then you might want to give it a pass.
Tales of Zestiria is out now on PS4, PS3, and PC with up to 4-player co-op (though only really 2-player co-op is advised).
Tales of Zestiria was reviewed with a PS4 version of the game provided by the publisher.
The Co-Op Experience: Up to 4 players can play in co-op during the game's battle scenes. Exploration and story mode are not cooperative (one player controls the avatar).
Co-Optimus game reviews focus on the cooperative experience of a game, our final score graphic represents this experience along with an average score for the game overall. For an explanation of our scores please check our Review Score Explanation Guide.