When Tales of Arise dropped in 2021, producer Yusuke Tomizawa confirmed at the time that the game would not be getting any story expansions via DLC or updates. That seemed like a fine deal, at the time – Tales games aren’t exactly known for getting post-launch expansions, and it had a pretty satisfying narrative conclusion that left a smile on my face. Sure, the ramifications of the ending left some big ideas unexplored, but they felt more like inconsequential background details when compared to the character-driven drama that was really pushing things along. Despite a satisfying conclusion and promises of no DLC continuation, a massive post-game DLC has now arrived for Tales of Arise called Beyond the Dawn, and while it’s nice to be able to return to this world and these characters, I’m still not fully convinced we needed to.
Spoiler Warning: If you’ve not finished Tales of Arise, you should probably stop reading here, as we discuss the main game’s ending and where this DLC continues on from it.
It all seemed to have ended so well for Alphen and his crew of oddballs defeat the Great Spirit of Rena, and in doing so caused the twin planets of Rena and Dahna to merge into one. Beyond the Dawn picks up a year after this ending, and makes it clear that things have not gone as smoothly as everyone would have hoped when two worlds became one.
Sure, Alphen and Shionne got married and get to explore the lands as they see fit, but they’ve ended up being tasked with sealing the various mysterious mausoleums that have popped up across the land. They’re ancient structures that, if left unsealed, will continue to make it impossible for Rena and Dahna’s planetary energy to truly fuse. In the middle of this quest, they end up encountering a lone girl named Nihalim with a mysterious background and nowhere to call home.
Tales of Arise Beyond the Dawn, in terms of storytelling, is a pretty decent blend of what you would want out of an epilogue. A chunk of the focus is on explaining just how the world works after the wild finale of the base game, but you also get a lot of endearing moments seeing our protagonists a year on, having grown and changed and now getting the chance to reunite for one more journey together. The element of Nihalim’s involvement is also a fun foil to the fanservice-y adventures of the main crew – she’s shy and quiet and has no friends, and plopping her in the middle of this warm-hearted crew of expressive weirdos leads to a lot of fun moments.
At the same time, though, it doesn’t feel like Tales of Arise Beyond the Dawn is at the scale you’d expect from a pricey, post-game DLC adventure. For one thing, you’re playing as the exact same party you had in the base game, and while levels are juiced up to post-game values, but there are no new skills, Arts, or characters. At the same time, the opening hours of the game treat this like a brand new experience, slowly reintroducing you to combat, camp systems and dungeons.
It would make sense to do that if this expansion told it’s story from a vastly different perspective, like playing as Nihalim and encountering the old characters naturally in the story. Reframing the perspective would also help justify so many of the environments you visit being lifted from the base game – they’re visually changed and have new things going on in them, but exploring them as the same crew from the base game feels very been there, done that.
Ultimately, that’s a lot of what Tales of Arise Beyond the Dawn is. If you want an excuse to revisit the world and characters of this game purely because you’re just a huge fan and itching to go back, Beyond the Dawn is a delightful excuse to pour a couple dozen more hours into the game, and with a story that rewards you as a fan for doing so. If you’re itching for a fresh experience or a change from the flow of the base game, though, Beyond the Dawn is going to feel about as impactful to you as booting up New Game + would.