Tales of Xillia: Why Playing as Milla Sucks
For the first time in Tales history, Tales of Xillia allows you to choose which character you want to play. You can play as the medical student, Jude, or as the mysterious summoner, Milla. Jude’s introduction shows him being late to class while Milla’s shows her burning a snake with Efreet. Suffice it to say, my initial impression was that Jude’s introduction was lame in comparison and there was no way I wasn’t playing as Milla.
Thirteen hours into her story I was almost completely fed up with her, so I did some research. Here are the reasons playing as Milla failed to meet my expectations:
1. Monotone Voice Acting
I covered this a bit in my Voice Acting in Video Games: The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly article. <http://vgsarai.hubpages.com/hub/Voice-Acting-in-Video-Games-The-Good-the-Bad-and-the-Ugly> Tales games typically have really solid voice acting and Xillia is no exception. When you first meet Milla, her voice seems to fit like a glove—she’s cool and collected and a bit aloof. As she travels with Jude and the other people they meet on their journey she begins to open up and even joke with the other members of the party.
All in the same monotone voice.
Every other character I’ve met in this game has stellar voice acting and it makes Milla stick out like a sore thumb. I’d be able to tolerate her voice acting better, I realized, if I wasn’t stuck with her 24/7 thanks to playing as her. So that’s one point for Jude.
2. I'm Not a Spirit Lord
Milla’s backstory initially seems like a plus. After all, she’s the Lord of all Spirits; what’s not to like? The problem is that Milla is so far removed from society she’s impossible to relate to. Her ignorance in the ways of humanity is funny and a little endearing, but frankly: I’m no Spirit Lord. When I’m playing as a character, I need to be able to relate to them in order to truly engage in the role-playing aspect of the game. When Milla comes across some dead humans early on in the game, her reaction is basically, “Oh look, dead humans. Meh.” When Jude sees the same dead humans, he freaks out. You know, like a normal person. So that’s another point for Jude.
3. The Fighting's Still Fun on the Other Side
The gameplay is one of the strongest aspects of any Tales game. Battling is fun—though playing as some characters is more fun than playing as others. In Tales of Xillia, playing as Milla in battle is pretty awesome. You start off being able to summon spirits that totally obliterate whatever you’re facing. And then…she loses them. We discover she doesn’t even know how to swing a sword. While it wouldn’t have made sense to go through the game completely overpowered, losing that power still sucks. Playing as Milla becomes fun again once she learns how to properly wield her sword again. She even has the ability to change her artes (special skills/magic) between close range and long range. While this is a cool idea in theory, in practice it just doesn’t work. While casting, Milla fails to move far enough from the enemy to avoid getting pummeled. Her short range artes are quicker and just as powerful, so it seems like her ability to transform them to long range was just thrown on for show. And after two hours playing as Jude, I can testify that playing as him is just as fun. With no really significant difference in their play styles, what’s keeping me playing as Milla? Three points Jude.
4. You Did What Without Me?
This is the final, and most compelling reason to play as Jude. When you play as Milla, several key parts of the story get resolved…without you. That’s right: the story, arguably the most important part of any role-playing game, is left with a giant hole in it should you play as Milla. I am so glad I found this out before it happened—I can only imagine the anger I would’ve felt had I reached this part of the story without knowing I was about to get jiffed. So if playing as Jude means I get the whole story while playing as Milla means I get to “go shopping” (literally my mission 13 hours in), I think it’s obvious who I’ll be playing as.
So Don't Be Fooled...
…By the glitz and glamour of Milla’s introduction. Playing as Jude is just as fun, his voice acting is better, he’s far more relatable, and he has access to the entirety of the story. This new “choice” of main character isn’t really a choice at all.