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Hows Valkyria Chronicles 4?

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Here are my thoughts on the game so far. Please bear in mind that this is the first Valkyria Chronicles game I have ever played, as I had never even heard of the series until 4 was announced:

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For my birthday (November 13), I got Valkyria Chronicles 4. I have never played any of the first three games, as I had never even heard of the series until this year's E3. I have gotten to chapter 4. So, here are my spoiler-free thoughts on the game so far:

 

Worldbuilding: & Visuals:

The game's fictional setting is really interesting. On the one hand, it couldn't be a more thinly-veiled expy of Europe in WW2 even if there were planes in the game (by the way; they have engines in this game. Why are there no planes or even airships?) But on the other hand, it is very well thought-out and they have been creative in various places.

The graphics are really something; I like the resemblance to water-colour and the overall choice of more stylistic graphics, since it means that the graphics will age better in the long run. Plus, it really fits the atmosphere of the game. 

Also, I personally really love that the game's version of the UK is called the United Kingdom of Edinburgh, and I love how the anti-tank guns look like cavalry lances (though only the Imperial ones; the Federation "lances" just look like big guns). 

One small thing though that almost broke immersion for me: why is no one wearing a helmet? Seriously? Only Kai and the Girl in the Iron Mask (I had to make that pun and I do not apologize for it) are wearing any sort of headgear, and Kai's is just a hat. There are good reasons that helmets came back into existence in WW1 and continue to be used to this day. All the enemies that aren't major villains are wearing helmets, and even the Valkyria (who I've only seen in the trailers) is at least wearing a hat, so why aren't any of the heroes? It's especially egregious when looking at the winter parts of the opening cinematic! Really? Nothing? It's going to be hard to understand the characters' emotions and expressions when their faces become frostbitten and necrotic. 

 

Gameplay:

I should get one thing out of the way very quickly: I do not like shooter games. They're not my cup of tea, and I do not enjoy them. However, I absolutely love the gameplay in this game. The Battle of Live Tactical Zones, or BLiTZ (something tells me they really wanted the initials of the gameplay system to spell out BLITZ; see what I mean about thinly-veiled expy) combat system is a fantastic blend of turn-based strategy and real-time action. Even I, someone who almost never plays a game with guns in it, really enjoys it. I've long enjoyed how strategy RPGs tend to focus more on tactics and less on micromanaging (cough Age of Empires cough), and this is no exception. 

Each class has something to contribute; it really doesn't feel like there's one best class. Each one has reasons why you might want to use it, and your unit selection really does vary with the given map; I'm only on chapter 4, and already some missions have favoured a more varied team, while others favour high mobility, etc. 

Speaking of maps; the maps are really well-done and I like that there's a lot of variance in the objectives. If all of them were just, "reach this location as soon as possible" or "defeat all the enemies", the game would get boring and repetitive (cough Awakening cough), and, thankfully, the objectives really do vary.

I'm not a fan of level-up mechanics. They're fine in Fire Emblem, for example, but, in my opinion, "fine" tends to be how they are at best, and they usually are actually detrimental (cough Xenoblade Chronicles 1 cough). Some of my favourite games in terms of gameplay have been games where there wasn't a level-up system: The Legend of Zelda and Megaman Battle Network being two big ones. Why am I bringing this up? I'm doing so because I think the level-up system in Valkyria Chronicles 4 strikes a fair compromise that puts it above a lot of level-up systems. For a start, your units don't gain experience points after defeating enemies; you get one lump sum of experience points after the battle, and you then spend them on levelling up at the base (so basically the Bonus Experience System in Path of Radiance & Radiant Dawn), there's no noticeable increase in stats in levelling up (instead, characters learn battle potentials and orders), nothing in the game has said, "requires level [insert number here] to equip; beware that you will likely discard this item in two levels", and levelling up doesn't apply to individual units, but to every unit in a particular class. Levelling up lancers levels up all the lancers, etc. This means that no one's any more or less useful purely due to levels (i.e. no one's over-or-under-leveled). I do like this system; I wouldn't call it necessarily good; but it fits the game; too many level-up systems in video games feel tacked-on and don't seem to fit the goals of the game. (For just one example, I feel that the level-up system in Xenoblade Chronicles 1 hinders exploration, combat, and the game’s focus on side-questing). 

The item mechanic is interesting. The idea that standard-issue weapons are in essentially infinite supply while bonuses and weapons taken from enemies are in limited supply is a good idea. I just wish that the first round of taken enemy weapons you get in the game didn't have laughably pathetic range. I feel it seriously outweighs the damage increase. 

 

Story & Characters:

I'm really enjoying the story. I'm finding myself increasingly enjoying the concept of fantasy war stories, and, so far, this game is definitely a good example of one. At first I thought it was strange that people from a neutral country were serving the Federation, but the game does a fantastic job explaining this. Though still; after finding out how important Gallia was in previous Valkyria Chronicles games, it would be nice if the next game moved on from Gallia entirely for a bit more variety and uniqueness.

The characters are very interesting; their dynamics and backstories are interesting, and I do like the dialogue (for the most part...). I even like the Minerva character; she starts off a bit prickly (a bit being an understatement), but it's immediately clear that there's more to her character than that. 

I do have one issue though: Raz is an utter pig. At least he got some comeuppance for it, courtesy of Kai, but he doesn't seem to learn. Now; I know characters don't always have to learn and grow, but seeing as how the game already seems to be hinting that the main, shall we say dynamics, will be Claude & Riley and Raz & Kai, Raz is going to have to go through some serious character development beforehand, or I just won't buy it. Romantic subplots need to make sense, and if the game really is going to eventually put these two together (I don’t know for sure; I’m just good at noticing tropes), it better make sense beforehand.

On the plus side, though, at least there aren't any love triangles; that's a huge relief after playing both Xenoblade Chronicles 1 and The Witcher 3 back-to-back. Speaking of which; Claude Wallace is probably my favourite character so far in this game; one reason being that, unlike a certain Heir to the Monado, he isn't written as someone that every girl except one inexplicably wants and every guy inexplicably holds in high regard. He does have the respect of his soldiers at the start of the game, but, as we find out from his backstory, he seriously had to earn that respect. 

 

Overall:

I'm really enjoying this game so far. Of the three games that I've mentioned having played recently, I think, almost surprisingly, that it's the one that I've been enjoying the most. I just wish I had more time to play it; university has seriously been eating away my free time.

 

Edited by vanguard333

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I've liked it so far.

In terms of story and characters...  The story is nice, and the characters get a decent amount of development.  I wouldn't say the side characters get as much screen time as in Fire Emblem Awakening or Fates (when supports are included), I'd say it's more like Genealogy in that you get special "moments" (aka, Character Fragments) with sets of characters and they do appear in certain scenes if they're still alive.  The main cast is quite enjoyable to me; they feel more tightly knit than Squad 7 in VC1, and even though they pretty much start that way, you get to see how that came to be thanks to memory segments.  And this especially gives much needed development to the protagonist, who in VC1 was pretty much the same from start to finish (tbh, the only ones who really developed are the secondary main characters, particularly Rosie, Varrot, and Largo).

In terms of gameplay...  Well, you shouldn't expect FE levels of difficulty.  I'd almost say Awakening and Sacred Stones are more difficult games.  That isn't to say the game isn't without difficult moments, it's just that for the most part you're probably gonna be blowing through enemy numbers if you are even remotely good at strategy games.  It feels not like a sequel to VC2 and VC3, but more like a direct sequel to VC1; it takes what VC1 did and improves upon it and adds some special little tweaks and gimmicks to make things more interesting.  All-in-all, it's fun, though I might want to wait until Busard or someone else comes up with a rebalance mod before playing the game a second time.

 

I've also been spacing out my play time thanks to me doing a let's play; I only play every Monday, and that's partly because I don't want to wear myself down with the same game all week and also because I wanted to mix in other games (Fire Emblem Mystery, Disgaea, and the Sims 1) in my LP schedule.  So I'll probably be enjoying it until the end of winter, which is rather fitting.

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1 hour ago, vanguard333 said:

Serenes Forest isn't letting me edit my reply. I've tried several times now, and it's not letting me.

Should be next to "Quote" for your own post.  Or are you having issues making it stick?  I know there've been a few times where the site just wouldn't let me edit a post because "too much time has passed" or whatever, even though I had literally just posted.

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12 minutes ago, Ertrick36 said:

Should be next to "Quote" for your own post.  Or are you having issues making it stick?  I know there've been a few times where the site just wouldn't let me edit a post because "too much time has passed" or whatever, even though I had literally just posted.

The latter. I know how to edit. It's that I'm having trouble making it stick. 

EDIT: It finally let me edit my original reply. 

Edited by vanguard333

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Fun game. Played I back when it first came out on steam and then BLiTZed through II shortly thereafter. Never got to play 3 even though I'm pretty sure I have the means to do so. IV does everything really well though. The story itself seems fresh even as a gaiden to the first game, even though points seem kind of contrived from just a believability standpoint, but hey it's a videogame. The main characters at least get to be pretty fleshed out, though I'm still not really sure why Walz/Crymaria got shoehorned in there. I have yet to finish the game, but at Chapter 14, I'm having a good time with about 30ish hours in.

Also the APC is absolutely busted compared to scout rushing in older games and order like penetration + demolish remain as nutty as ever.

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I'm sorta considering if to buy this game because I need RPG food for my Switch.

Is this a good game for someome who's not acknowledged with this series at all?

I heared about it by playing Project Zone, that's all.

Edited by Necrofantasia

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I will say VC4 is the best game of the series gameplaywise. The Story is also decent. What I really don't like is the characters (or rather one) and the dialogue. The dialogue is just really awkward and too sexualized at times for me. For anyone wanting to get into Valkyria Chronicles I'd still recommend the first game, it may be an oldie but it's an goldie. It would also provide a lot of insight to understand VC4, though not required. I also heard about this series from the project x zone games and was the reason I got into several of my favorite series, and Valkyria Chronicles is definitely one of them.

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2 hours ago, Necrofantasia said:

Is this a good game for someome who's not acknowledged with this series at all?

It really is a good place to jump into the series even if you've only ever seen the characters that appeared in Project X-Zone.  It'd be like jumping into Fire Emblem through Sacred Stones after only having seen the Fire Emblem characters in Super Smash Bros; no prior knowledge of the series is required.

The most you'd miss out on is maybe a few references to characters from the first game that are of little consequence.  Like, you'll hear of someone called "Maximilian" who was the main antagonist in the first game and you'll see some scenes/references to a silver-haired, red-eyed woman known as Selvaria Bles, but you don't need to know who these people are to understand the scenes that contain these references.  Honestly, the only really bad place to jump into the series from is VC2, since that takes place two years after the other three games and thus might spoil certain plot elements (like character deaths and whatnot).

All of that being said, VC1 is a good game on its own.  I mean, VC4 sort of makes the first game feel a little dated, but it's a nice classic to go back to.  You don't need to play it, but if you wound up enjoying VC4, you might enjoy VC1 as well.  The main differences between VC4 and VC1 are that in the first game there weren't any Grenadiers, tanks costed two CPs to use, there weren't ship orders or direct command, and none of the side characters had their own story missions except Edy and her detachment (Jann, Marina, Homer, Susie, and Lynn) through DLC.

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1 hour ago, Ertrick36 said:

All of that being said, VC1 is a good game on its own.  I mean, VC4 sort of makes the first game feel a little dated, but it's a nice classic to go back to.  You don't need to play it, but if you wound up enjoying VC4, you might enjoy VC1 as well.

Adding to this I believe you get a 25% discount for VC1 if you have VC4 on your Switch. It's already pretty cheap so you basically pay the price of a DLC to get a classic. Good deal I would say.

But seriously guys why do we have 2 VC4 threads?

Also imo VC4 has better design for newcomers. Sure, Grenadiers can and will ruin your day in some battles but compared to VC1 there is not a huge discrepancy between classes, potentials are less impactful both ways and it offers a more customizable experience with accessories, assignable squad leader and more.

Though the APC is completely silly.

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Really good successor for VC1. Story is weaker in my opinion, but the squad stories are a great addition. It makes you care more about the entire squad instead of a select few like what VC1 did. I would say the gameplay is more polished, but APC spam replaces the Scout spam from the first one. 

 

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2 hours ago, The Priest said:

Also imo VC4 has better design for newcomers. Sure, Grenadiers can and will ruin your day in some battles but compared to VC1 there is not a huge discrepancy between classes, potentials are less impactful both ways and it offers a more customizable experience with accessories, assignable squad leader and more.

Yeah, in VC1 there was almost no reason to use lancers, and only certain characters had notably huge advantages (e.g. Marina with Ult. Accuracy, most of the main characters with mostly good potentials that boost all stats, scouts with Double Movement - especially broken-ass Alicia).  It was pretty much just "scout rush this, boost orders to kill that, boost damage on shocks and scouts to destroy tanks".  VC4 still has maps where you can cheese to the end (I was pissed off when I was able to scout rush Godwin in the last Siegval Line segment), but ultimately there won't be as many moments where you can mindlessly break the game.

Yet at the same time, it is indeed more welcoming to newcomers.  Rank requirements are much more lax so you don't feel pressured to finish maps right away and the game is overall more streamlined, accessible, and balanced.  Perhaps the only major issue in balance is the ability to safely transport troops around in the APC, though at least even that is a little accounted for in that the APC is able to receive damage from small arms fire so you can't exactly just rush a fortification filled with enemy gatlings, pillboxes, grenadiers, and shocktroopers.

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Oooh, I didn't know the first part has been released for the Switch.

Honestly I'd go for the classic then first. 

Though it requires to revive my Switch which fucked up for unknown reason.

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On 11/30/2018 at 1:10 PM, Necrofantasia said:

I'm sorta considering if to buy this game because I need RPG food for my Switch.

Is this a good game for someome who's not acknowledged with this series at all?

I heared about it by playing Project Zone, that's all.

You dont need to know what happened in the previous games to enjoy this one.

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I'd like to update my review, now that I've played a bit more of the game:

In terms of objectives, originally I had said the game had plenty of variety in the objectives. I just completed chapter 6, and so far, it and chapter 2 have been the only ones with objectives outside the typical "defeat all the enemies" or "reach the enemy base", with chapter 6 being a defence mission and chapter 2 having two unique objectives: find all the tanks, and shoot the communication towers. I'll be honest, this is still a good amount of variety; I guess it just feels like less to me because the skirmishes so far are all "reach the enemy base", as have all the squad stories I've unlocked so far.

I'm not asking for spoilers, but can someone please tell me if the objective variety increases, lessens or stays around 1/3?

The squad stories are a good way to flesh out all the side characters. They've been fun, though some seem to be better than others at making the side characters feel fleshed out. I could insist that some of them, even during their squad story, still feel like those Awakening/Fates one-gimmick-is-all-they-are characters that we know and... hope never return to FE. 

To add to what I said about the worldbuilding, I really like how even all the different weapons have their own lore behind them. I like how lances from Europan countries look like medieval lances while the standard-issue Federation lances, being from the "United States of Vinland (seriously?)", look more like really big guns instead. 

I still think that the absence of planes and airships is very strange, especially since, in chapter 4, the photo of the enemy troops that they're looking at is clearly an aerial photograph, given the angle at which it was taken. This would make sense if things like reconnaissance balloons were established as being a thing, but it doesn't mesh with the conspicuous absence of aircraft. 

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Once again, I'd like to update my review, now that I've played more of the game:

I'm currently on chapter 9. A lot has happened story-wise since I previously updated my review:

Spoiler

Oh my gosh! I knew about the ships from the trailers, but I could not predict that the game would kill off almost the entire Federation Army! Yikes. I wasn't a huge fan of the Christel character, but the game still got me emotionally invested when they killed her off.

Speaking of which, I like how the ships don't come out of nowhere: they're the answer to the earlier mystery of what the two navy officers were doing in the Federation camp earlier in the game.

Those two evil scout girls were interesting bosses: they kept dodging my snipers, but the good news was that they kept targeting my tank. I don't know what's more hilarious: assassins attacking a tank with crossbows, or those crossbows somehow managing to damage the tank without hitting the radiator. 

The introduction to the antagonist Belgar was well-handled, and Belgar himself seems interesting: he seems menacing, cunning, all that stuff. But there is something about him that I find jarring: his voice. I don't know what it is, but half the time, he sounds like an actual character; and the other half of the time, he sounds like a text-to-speech. Did anyone else think this when they heard him, or is it just me?

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Picked up VC4 on a whim, since it was 50% off on Steam.

It's been like 8 years since I first played VC1, and man I didn't know how much I missed it. 

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