Fortunately for series fans, improvements have been made. While the last game's battle system was occasionally slow and tedious, the sequel's attacks have been sped up a little bit -- not only do individual abilities charge and execute faster, but there are more ranged options and "charge" attacks, designed to get players in and out of battle quickly.
That's not to say that the game necessarily plays significantly differently from the first title -- it really doesn't. But it is smoother, and the addition of some major customization features for the game's mech-like Incorruptus armor means that those who found something fun in the first game will probably be back for another round.
The open skill radius system is back, with the ability to put whatever points you want into one of many options around a circle, from healing and destructive spells to longswords, axes, and bows. As you grow out those skill points, different and new abilities open up to your party of characters, allowing you to do more in battle.
As far as I could tell, your individual party members generally control themselves -- while you can switch to any of the characters to play them directly (a system that actually seems similar to Dragon Age 2), they generally just do what they feel seems best when you're not doing so. I didn't have any issues during my demo (though I think the characters were a little overpowered for the area), but that could be frustrating during the game.
Your Incorruptus, a huge set of armor that your character can transform into when an action gauge is filled up completely, can be customized extensively. Once summoned, this guy looms over the battlefield, and when used against larger bosses, can create a pretty spectacular battle. In the second iteration of the series, you can customize your Incorruptus' armor, crafting up gear in town from items found around the world. That will both beef up the big guy, and specialize its abilities and stats in battle.
The game's story takes place a year after the last game, and while D3 was careful not to give too much of what happens away, the company promises that there will be both familiar faces and new ones. Players starting the sequel might "feel that they are different episodes," I was told by producer Miki Takahashi, but at the end of the sequel, "all of the story elements will hold together," delivering a proper end to the series' story.
The Georama mode is back as well, and players with a save from the first game will be able to open up their customized town (which serves as a hub for multiplayer missions) and keep building in the second one. All of the DLC currently available for the first game will work in the second as well, which means that on day one, there will be over 300 items available for purchase and customization right away. The disc will come with all of the Japanese DLC content (including quests and other new areas) released up until this past January, but D3 says only that any plans on releasing other content are still "to be determined."
In short, if you enjoyed the first game, despite its flaws, odds are that you'll find that same fun in the second, along with a few tweaks and upgrades that will hopefully answer fans' concerns. White Knight Chronicles 2 arrives in North America on September 13.