It…. depends a lot to be honest.
Prior to meeting Tales of games I was heavily focused on story and gameplay. Before it, Kingdom Hearts used to be my favorite game because of the gameplay, which is still one of my favorites (I just love real time action RPG). Sometimes a game doesn’t have a good gameplay (or it’s outdated) like MGS3 but if it has an intense story and excellent characters, then I still love it a lot.
Catherine is a good example of a game that I despise the characters/story but could spend hooours playing just because of the excellent gameplay.
Overall I just like a balance between all three. Child of Light is the perfect example of that.
After meeting Tales of however, it really elevated my standards towards characters and the interaction between them. This, in my honest opinion, is what sets the franchise apart and makes it shine to me. It’s also the reason why I don’t like FF games anymore (was never a huge fan to begin with, but now I just find it really bland and boring).
MGS and Tales of are pretty much the pinnacle that have a great balance between everything that I love in game - and they do it in excellence: well written characters, a complex story, fantastic gameplay and amazing interaction between them. MGS ranks slightly higher with me for it’s excellent use of original humor, tons of fourth wall breakage and wide representation of gay/bi/lesbian characters.