Tales of Vesperia: Definitive Edition marks the series' joyful debut on Nintendo Switch after a spotty history of Tales games on Nintendo platforms. In many ways, it's just like past Tales games, but it does include a number of extra features and improved graphics to make it a more "modern" feeling RPG on this current-generation platform.
Fortunately, Tales games are accessible even if you've never picked one up before, and don't require knowledge of past games to love and understand. If you're just getting started, here's a quick set of starting points to get you on your journey in Tales of Vesperia: Definitive Edition.
Fighting enemies can be a bit overwhelming initially, even with the game's tutorial. If you're playing the game already, you've likely figured out the basic button presses - B to attack, A to use Artes, Y to block, and X for the menu. You've also probably noticed that you can string together combos by pressing B three times in a row to do three attacks (as Yuri) and then chain it together with an Art for even more power. That's the basic rhythm of battle, at least while playing as Yuri.
From there, you'll want to spend your time mastering your Arts and watching your enemies. Even though Artes consume TP, you want to use them often as many stronger Artes are unlocked by using weaker Artes a certain number of times. You can gain TP back through regular attacks, cooking, and will automatically gain a small amount back at the end of each battle.
As for watching your enemies, try to keep an eye on enemy types and watch for their "tells," or movements indicating they're about to strike. Putting your guard up or backing off at the right time may not be a big deal in regular battles, but in boss fights, it can be the difference between a win and a game over. Practice using that Y guard button...and don't forget you can also use it to "recover" mid-air if an attack throws you up high.
Finally, make sure you get into lots of fights, to begin with. You can avoid enemies out in the world if you want, but you'll miss out on valuable EXP. Fight every enemy you see in dungeons and a good amount out in the world to make sure you keep up with how powerful your opponents are.
You'll start out playing as Yuri, but you don't have to stick with him if you don't want to. He's the easiest and most intuitive character, but by swapping your first party member in the menu you can choose who you play as in battle.
It's generally good to play as a physical attacker in general, such as Yuri, Repede, or Karol, as you have more fast-paced action to participate in, you can protect your casters, and the game is more fun. You can play as Estelle or Rita or others, but the pace will be slower and you may be more prone to seeing your party members die due to poor decision making by the AI.
In general, the AI is pretty good at keeping spellcasters on the backlines and casting spells intelligently. Estelle will heal your party if left on her own, and Rita will use all her spells equally. Occasionally, you'll see characters request items above their nameplates in battle. By default, this is set so by pushing the right stick you can refuse their item request, but an easier way to use this if you don't want your Apple Gels used up is to toggle it to "Cancel." With that setting on, characters will request items but won't use them unless you offer permission by pressing the right stick. It's a good way to prevent excessive Gel waste but quickly make sure characters get healed in battle. They'll even try to use Life Bottles on you if you die!
Early dungeons in Tales of Vesperia are fairly straightforward, but once you have the Sorcerer's Ring you'll begin solving puzzles and finding more treasure. It's worth it to explore every nook and cranny of every dungeon and use the Sorcerer's Ring on anything suspicious to make sure you find all the hidden chests. This will help you save money on gear back in town, and sometimes reveal hidden items or even secret boss battles. Later, sidequests will require you to backtrack somewhat if you want to track down special equipment, such as the Devils Arms weapons, so keep an eye out for anything unusual in dungeons that you can't seem to access no matter how hard you try. Chances are, you'll be returning later at the behest of some NPC or another.
Improving your gear
Secret weapons or not, you'll need to keep visiting shops to improve your gear as you travel. Be sure to look at stats when purchasing new weapons and armor. A five stat increase for a lot of Gald isn't worth it, but a 20, 30, 40, or more increase certainly is. You also want to make sure you're increasing the right stats. If Estelle is only casting healing magic, you want her magic stats to be higher but may not care as much about her physical attack. Be sure to deck everyone out with weapons, armor, and accessories by scrolling through the shop with L and R to see everything available, and always visit the shop first in a new town.
Once the Synthesis option becomes available, you'll be able to craft new weapons and armor from bits you've obtained from monsters and old weapons. You can always sell old armor without fear, but it's good to hold on to old weapons rather than selling them, as they can often be synthesized into new, better pieces of gear.
Cooking, and The Wonder Chef
A few hours into the game, Yuri will teach you about Cooking. Unlike some other Tales games, Cooking isn't available at the end of each battle but is accessible all the time from the main menu outside of battle. Parties can only eat one meal at a time, and different recipes will give you different benefits such as health increases, stat increases, and other boosts.
Cook often! If you're about to head into a boss battle, a good attack increase can be indispensable. In a long dungeon, healing your party is as easy as a piece of bread and an egg. Be sure to stock up on cheap ingredients at each town you visit and practice cooking with different characters to discover new recipes.
Finally, once you reach Aspio, be on the look-out for unusual items in the environment that may signal the appearance of the Wonder Chef. The Wonder Chef will give you a new recipe and ingredients for it every time you discover him, and he's usually very easy to spot, so enter every room or house in a new town until you find him!
Any questions about Tales of Vesperia: Definitive Edition?
If you're still not certain how to begin your adventure with the crew of Brave Vesperia, put your questions in the comments and I'll answer them if I can.
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