Original feel of first game enhanced in sequel
Platform: PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows
Rating: T for Teens
Genre: Tactical role-playing game
By Gieson Cacho | The Mercury News (TNS)
Sega has teased “Valkyria Chronicles” fans for a decade. They wanted a sequel and the company released two of them, but unfortunately, the follow-ups were on the Playstation Portable. It’s a system with limitations and the tactical role-playing game didn’t hold up on the handheld.
Next, Sega released “Valkyria Revolution,” which was in the same universe as the other three but on another planet when it came to gameplay. It was more of an action game with a few tactical elements.
It seemed as if a proper sequel would never get made, but Sega looks to give fans what they want with “Valkyria Chronicles 4.” It checks off the list of traits from the original. It’s coming out on modern consoles meaning the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC and Nintendo Switch and features large, uniform maps. It features a story inspired by the eastern front of the European theater in World War II. It includes a hero named 1st Lt. Claude Wallace who partly commands from a tank called Hafen. It has a cast of characters that players will learn to love.
From the short demo I played, the game mirrors the original “Valkyria Chronicles” with a few improvements. One of them is an additional class called the Grenadier. The trooper fires mortars at foes so players can blast an area before putting scouts or assault troops in harm’s way. The class adds another layer of strategy as it allows troops to safety enter places, in which tanks can’t protect them.
The other addition is weather in combat. Because this game was inspired by the eastern front, players will have to endure the snow and sometimes rain, which limits visibility and creates other factors. The campaign looks reminiscent of the German assault on Russia, but the roles are reversed with the Atlantic Federation rallying against the blitzkrieg of the Eastern Imperial Alliance, which has conquered much of Europa.
In the short time I played, I took Squad E of the Atlantic Federation on a nighttime raid mission. It was raining and I had no tank. The stealth-focused operation split my team into two groups. One consisted of Wallace, who is in the role of scout, and Sgt. Raz, a shocktrooper and Wallace’s No. 2. They also happen to be two of the main characters in the game with Wallace playing the lead.
The other half was filled out with secondary characters: Aladdin, a sniper; Tessa, a scout; and Aulard, an engineer. The way this mission is designed, players have to use Aladdin, Tressa and Aulard to take out enemies on a ridge overlooking the route that Claude and Wallace take. If players don’t silently kill off the enemies on the high ground, the commanding officers are sitting ducks below.
Lucky for Squad E, they have the element of surprise. Tressa can charge forward and use the darkness and tall grass to hide. Because it’s raining, players have to be somewhat cautious. Enemies are harder to see. At the same time, Tressa and the others have a leg up because they can sneak by crawling in the tall grass to get close to foes for a surprise attack. These assaults cannot be dodged and it creates an accuracy penalty for the opposition.
Like the original, attacks are based on line of sight and the type of weapons. Normally, scouts have rifles that fire off a few shots and do an adequate amount of damage from medium distance. Shocktroopers specialize in close quarters combat with their submachine guns that spray bullets. Engineers have similar firepower to scouts but their movement isn’t as great. Fortunately, they do have the advantage of carrying grenades and repairing machinery such as tanks. Lastly, snipers have limited movement but the most powerful rifles and longest range.
I methodically eliminated the foes on the ridge with Tressa and Aladdin. While they rushed ahead, I backed them up with Aulard. It’s a good strategy because once I eliminated the foes above; they could shower enemies with bullets or toss grenades at enemies huddled behind sandbags. It made Claude and Raz’s path forward easier and also kept them safe.
Along the way, I discovered that allied attacks are still in the game. If one character is close to another during an attack, the other will join in for an added boost. I was also able to activate a Morale boosts, which happens after a particularly good move. It increases the chances of allies’ battle potentials activating as well as raises the possibility of dodges.
Speaking of battle potentials, I discovered that Aladdin has a negative one when he’s out in the open. His baldhead gives his position away to enemies and makes him easier to hit. On the other hand, when he’s closer to female troopers, he gains the chivalrous ability, which boosts his defense. Tressa on the other hand gains a special ability called dissection when she’s near a fallen foe.
One of the key moments in my play through dealt with my second squad firing at enemies below. Doing this on assault troops turned their attention to the gunfire headed their way. This allowed Claude and Raz to sneak through and deal plenty of damage up close. Using gunfire to draw an enemy’s line of sight an interesting tactic that allows players to flank foes.
Eventually, the squads were able to help each other out and reach the end of the level. It did come at the price of a wild firefight at the end. My secondary squad caused too much of a ruckus and enemy troops stormed our flank while we were near the cliffside helping the commanding officers. Aladdin went down, but thankfully, I was able to get him away to a medic before the end of the mission. Saving characters is important because just like the original, “Valkyria Chronicles 4” has permadeath. If characters lose their health on the battlefield and aren’t rescued quickly, they perish forever. This is done on purpose. Players are supposed to bond with members of Squad E and be sad if some of them don’t make it. Fortunately for me, Claude and Raz captured the objective and all members of Squad E were able to survive.
“Valkyria Chronicles 4” plays like the first game and it gives hope to fans that Sega can create an encore project worthy of the original. Expect the game to launch on Sept. 25, 2018.