Tales of symphonia has a lot of similarities to past games especially in terms of traversal. There's usually four different areas for your to progress through which consists of the overworld, towns, dungeons, and the battle areas. The overworld is a huge 3d version of the world you progress through dungeons and towns will be displayed on the overworld though they will appear smaller than their actual scales once you enter their sizes will expand accordingly. Dungeons and towns are pretty typical in terms of rpgs their where most of the story related scenes will take place as well as puzzling and item purchasing and collecting.
Tales of Symphonia uses a real time battle system which means that the player is responsible for real time movement and action commands. Symphonia uses a modified version of previous tales linear Motion Battle System now called Multi-Line Linear Motion Battle System. This system add for more flexibility than previous entries in the tales series in terms of how mobile player controlled characters are. Attacks are generally done with two buttons one for basic combos and another for special attacks all of which can be modified by adding directional inputs to them. A special team attack is also available called the unison attack which allows for all participating characters to unleash attacks at the same time on enemies for additional damage.
Character play styles
In the Tales Series all playable characters usually have unique ways in which they play. This is no different in Tales of Symhonia, Lloyd irving the in your face dual swordsman plays radically different than his magic casting best friend Genis who is less about approaching the enemy and more about staying in the back and casting devastating spells. With that being said it's always good to experiment with different characters and play styles.