Right off the bat, the biggest problem with Tales of Arise: Beyond the Dawn is trying to remember how to actually play Tales of Arise. The (largely fantastic, in our opinion) action RPG launched what feels like an eternity ago back in September 2021, and now, over two years later, we're getting a full-on post-game expansion.
But the DLC doesn't draw from your save data directly. Instead, your progress in the main game simply unlocks various bonuses, like additional character levels, equipment, and skill points. What's more, you access Beyond the Dawn from its own option on the main menu, which immediately makes the expansion feel like its own separate entity.
Although that's clearly not the case, as this new adventure takes place one year after Tales of Arise, and is essentially just one massive reference to the world-saving quest of Alphen and his allies. It really goes without saying, but just to be clear, this expansion will make next to no sense if you haven't rolled credits in the base release.
Story-wise, Beyond the Dawn is all about the impact that our heroes have had on their newly formed world. The two peoples of Dahna and Rena are now being forced to coexist, and so fresh fractures are forming in the peace that Alphen and co. fought so hard to attain. The party have taken it upon themselves to ease everyone into their new existence, and thus spend their days travelling from town to town, assisting the people with their problems.
The gang's routine is quickly broken, however, when they stumble upon a typically mysterious girl within the DLC's opening minutes. Admittedly, first impressions of the young Nazamil aren't great. She comes across as a walking anime trope, letting out short sighs and refusing to elaborate on her situation, despite the fact that she's obviously on the run from... something. Frustrating stuff.
Thankfully, Nazamil does open up as the plot progresses, and by the end, she complements the existing cast quite nicely. That said, the plot itself does feel a bit stretched throughout the expansion's 20-ish hour runtime. The DLC doesn't really have much to work with outside of Nazamil and the sudden appearance of monster-filled dungeons called Mausoleums. As a result, whole chunks of the narrative come across as filler, with our protagonists often getting bogged down in carrying out relatively mundane tasks.
That's not to say the story's a complete miss, mind. Surprisingly, Beyond the Dawn manages to give the gang some decent character development, and honestly, it's just pleasing to see Alphen and his pals take part in what is a more laidback adventure. If you enjoyed the core cast in Tales of Arise, you'll get along with what this expansion is trying to do.
But for us, the true draw of the DLC is its commitment to dungeon crawling and big battles. The aforementioned Mausoleums provide plenty of opportunities to explore treasure-heavy ruins, and take on tough enemies. Again, you won't be using your pimped-out party from the main game, but the six playable heroes all start at a high level, and come equipped with endgame gear. In other words, the expansion expects you to tear straight into the title's more advanced combat mechanics, and that's exactly what most players will want from post-game content (at least, once they've wrapped their heads around the controls again).
Combat remains a blast once you've found your rhythm. Chaining special moves together to stagger your opponents into submission still feels great, and popping off a tag attack to deal huge damage is eternally satisfying. But if there's one sticking point in the action, it's that there's still a severe lack of enemy variety. Beyond the Dawn adds a bare minimum number of fresh monsters for you to clobber. Even bosses from the main game are reskinned and reused, which comes as a distinctly disappointing realisation, having just charged through an all-new dungeon.
The combat system's inherent strengths shine through overall, though, and the expansion's emphasis on back-to-back battles is engaging. There are some quality encounters here — especially in the later dungeons — that'll push your skills beyond the challenge of the core game.
Beyond the Dawn isn't an especially exciting expansion, but it's still a solid post-game experience for those who enjoyed Tales of Arise. It's guilty of treading overly familiar ground, and the storytelling can feel a bit tedious, but there's fun to be found in exploring all-new dungeons and taking on powerful opponents. The DLC may be dropping too late for many players, but Alphen and the gang's epilogue is worth the return trip if you've got the time.