Titles (称号 Shougou?) are a recurring feature of the Tales series. Titles are unique descriptive phrases and names that players can assign to each character, sometimes providing special effects or abilities to the character who equips the title, or to the party as a whole.
Tales of Phantasia and Tales of Eternia
Titles have been part of the series since its beginning, appearing in its most basic form in the original Super Famicom version of Tales of Phantasia. In this game, titles are exclusive to Cress Albane, due to his status as the only player-controlled character. The original concept of titles is essentially identical to the modern gaming concept of achievements, a purely motivational set of benchmarks and goals that encourage players to continue playing the game until they achieve completion of all objectives. For this reason, the titles of this and other early games are purely aesthetic and have no impact upon gameplay itself.
Titles are obtained by talking to one of two soldiers stationed at Alvanista and at Euclid, acting as intermediaries for detailing the player's progress while providing a service that allows Cress to exchange his currently active title for another that he has earned. Initially, the concept of titles was not seen as a tradition, and it was excluded from the original PlayStation version of Tales of Destiny, which instead introduced several other concepts that became traditions of their own right. But when Tales of Phantasia received a remake for the PlayStation, it reintroduced titles to the series, this time as a function that is available to all playable characters.
As one of several significant upgrades to the general gameplay mechanics that had existed in the first game of the series, titles are now bound to the characters and can be changed at will through the menu screen. Rather than being associated solely with character level progress or completion challenges, titles are also granted as an incentive for completing various sidequests or progressing with the main story. In Tales of Eternia, its application of title mechanics remains unchanged.
Tales of Destiny
As one of the additions to the original game, titles are integrated into the PlayStation 2 remake of Tales of Destiny. However, like the early games, the titles are purely aesthetic and serve no purpose other than benchmarking progress and rewarding sidequests and minigames.
Tales of Destiny 2
Tales of Destiny 2 introduces the concept of associating each title with additional bonuses and penalties which alter character stat growth. Each title provides a boost or reduction of specific statistics, which are added to the calculation of each stat upon leveling up. Due to the limited times a character can level up in a given playthrough, title choice becomes vital in optimizing stats for each character, and it becomes necessary to find the best titles for the intended primary stats the player chooses for that character before his or her level becomes too high during a first playthrough.
However, Tales of Destiny 2 also introduces another traditional feature of the series, the Grade Shop, which enables the player to start successive playthroughs with certain things carried from the previous playthroughs. Through this, titles that have been obtained for all characters can be retained and used as soon as the character joins the party in a new game, which in turn allows their stat growth to make use of titles which would otherwise be unavailable until endgame.
Tales of Symphonia
As the first game in the series that renders characters with 3D models, Tales of Symphonia attaches a new function to certain titles, the ability to change a character's appearance through costume changes. This is done in exchange for the stat growth increases and decreases that would otherwise be available with the titles that do not have costumes associated with them. Since the stat growth effects only take place upon leveling up, costumes can be used during battles in which a given character does not level up, preventing any possible loss for stat increase potential.
Tales of Rebirth
While no new additions have been added to the system in Tales of Rebirth, titles are also granted to two non-playable characters, Claire Bennett and Agarte Lindblum. Because they are not playable, their titles hold no effect and exist for the same aesthetic reasons of earlier titles.
Tales of Legendia
The concept of added stat boosts is modified in Tales of Legendia, which now treats the bonuses of each title as preset stat modifiers that exist while the title is equipped. This is similar to the use of weapons and armor, and the use of each title does not affect stat growth, allowing them to be changed at any time based on the situation, instantly boosting a certain set of stats that a character might need in preparation for an upcoming battle.
Tales of the Abyss
Tales of the Abyss reprises the use of costumes from Tales of Symphonia, but it completely discards the concept of affecting stats. Instead, many titles, including some costumes, now provide unique effects for individual characters or the entire party. These can affect HP or TP recovery, increase cooking chances, or prevent enemy encounters.
Tales of Vesperia
After being exempted from Tales of Innocence in favor of its Style system, titles are restored to the series in Tales of Vesperia. In the original Xbox 360 version, titles have no effect other than those which enable costume changes. However, this is changed in the PlayStation 3 port, which provides several new costume titles which are available as Downloadable Content (ダウンロードコンテンツ Daunroodokontentsu?, "Download Contents") (DLC).
Tales of Hearts
Tales of Hearts provides several titles with both a persistent effect that is always active and another effect that is only active while it is equipped. The persistent effect is a preset stat boost that instantly increases the given stat for the character who receives that title as an option. This effect is fully stackable and cumulative, resulting in greater stat increases when more titles are available for a given character.
A pool of universal titles is provided for all characters, providing the same effects and bonuses to everyone in the party as soon as a title is unlocked, and this is supplemented by individual pools which only affect the character who can use each newly unlocked title. The equipped effect is also a set of stat increases, but like the titles of Tales of Legendia, it is put into effect only while the title is equipped.
Tales of Graces
The title system is radically modified in Tales of Graces, which now uses the system as the means of obtaining artes, mastery skills, and general stat boosts. Each character has over 100 titles, each with five levels of mastery and a final rank for full mastery. Each mastery level grants a new effect that is persistent and cannot be removed by any means. Mastery of a given title is increased by gaining SP during battles, and this SP is applied automatically to the title that is equipped when a battle ends.
Settings within the menu can force the equipped title to switch to another title upon reaching user-defined mastery rank thresholds or full mastery, so that the SP will not be wasted due to overflow. In addition to these persistent effects, an equipped effect is provided to the character, which causes some titles to become ideal during specific situations due to elemental protections or increased critical damage for a range of artes. This effect is usually doubled upon achieving full mastery.
Tales of Xillia and Tales of Xillia 2
Tales of Xillia and its sequel establish a single pool of titles that all characters can use at the same time. When each title is unlocked, an associated amount of Grade is given to the player. Titles are now the only way to gain Grade for use within the Grade Shop upon starting a second or later playthrough, but all Grade amounts are cumulative, adding to over 10,000 Grade in total. There are no additional effects added to these titles.
Tales of Zestiria
Tales of Zestiria introduces the concept of evolving titles. Each character can attain a small amount of titles through events, and equipping them allows the title to level and attain more bonuses. Titles also drive in what order artes are learned, as they influence what Speed, Technique, and Power status the equipping character attains and thus what arte they will learn next.
Tales of Berseria
Tales of Berseria has titles that grow, similar to Tales of Zestiria. Titles are unlocked at their base level in a myriad of ways, but doing more of the unlock condition unlocks further bonuses to that title. For example, Velvet Crowe's "Bloody Boot" unlocks after using martial artes 500 times. At its base level, it causes Velvet's martial artes to deal more damage while it is equipped. After using martial artes 5000 times, the title also decreases the SG cost of martial artes in addition to previous bonuses.