Sequels can be tricky beasts. When a game is popular, a follow-up is a profitable no-brainer. However, when the original tied up all its loose ends fairly well, giving the heroes a new evil to repel can feel excessive. Luckily for Tales series fans, Namco's gotten it right with Tales of Xillia 2, striking an important balance between old content and new, and using ideas its predecessor left unexplored to create a brand new adventure.
Picking up a year after the events of Xillia, Xillia 2 focuses on two new characters, Elle and Ludger, as they search for the mythical land of Canaan. Rather than hovering in a narrative vacuum, Xillia 2 takes time to look at world of Elympios post-unification, and consider the implications of two societies coming together after thousands of years in isolation. (Read: It's not gonna be pretty.) At the same time, it doesn't forget about the heroes that made that possible—characters from the original Xillia get their own optional backstories to play through, and they occasionally appear in the main story to assist Elle and Ludger.
The game is hardly a rehash though, as it also adds intriguing new options for players to explore. For instance, Ludger starts out the game in massive debt due to shenanigans, so his movements throughout the world are be limited by debt collectors as he earns money to pay them back. Multiple possible timelines are also introduced (which is apparently particularly critical for Elle), and player choice becomes much more critical, setting Ludger up to make critical decisions that affect the game in very real ways. A mechanic like that in a world with multiple realities--which could theoretically cease to exist if the "wrong" choice is made--becomes downright nerve-wracking, only in a good way.
Want to know more? Check out the following slides for screenshots and additional info!