The Infinite Zenith

Where insights on anime, games and life converge

Valkyria Chronicles 4: Final Review and Reflection at the Endgame

“What have I become? This war’s made me a monster!” —Claude Wallace

With Walz and Crymaria departing for a new life outside of the armed forces, Claude and Squad E turn their attention on making their way towards Schwartzgrad, the Imperial capital. Imperial forces prepare a trap for the Centurion, stopping the cruiser with an electric net. Claude reluctantly authorises a mission for Raz, who disables the power supply to the net but is surrounded by Imperial forces and subsequently is killed. Squad E takes the central plaza in Schwartzgrad in preparation to detonate the A2 device, a powerful weapon capable of levelling entire cities, which is revealed to be Angie. Forseti manages to board the Centurion, and reveals that he had been sickened to see what the Federation was doing with the United States regarding Valkyrur technology. Wrought with guilt, he defected to the Empire and sought to rescue Angie. However, before he is able to do so, Kai shoots him. Claude prepares to detonate the A2 device, but the Empire sues for peace. A desperate Minerva begs Claude to detonate the device anyway to avenge the fallen, but Claude refuses, knowing that to wipe out an entire city after a ceasefire was declared would be genocide. Lord Heinrich Belgar appears, and declares that he intends to capture the Centurion to further his own research and perfect the Valkyrur technology. After Squad E destroys the harpoons, they engage Belgar’s tank and destroy it. The Centurion begins to sink from the damage sustained over the course of operations, and Claude manages to get Riley and Angie off before it goes under water. In the aftermath, Kai resolves to look after Angie, while Claude and Riley begin relationship with one another: upon reuniting in Hafen, the two embrace tearfully, happy that the war has ended.

So ends Valkyria Chronicles 4, the proper successor to Valkyria Chronicles. Fundamentally similar in every aspect to its predecessor, Valkyria Chronicles 4 is a pleasant stroll down memory lane, while simultaneously introducing nuances that makes the game that give players new options. Through it all, Valkyria Chronicles 4 presents to players a familiar story about warfare, its tendency to drive decent people to do indecent things, and ultimately, forces one to question whether or not any side of a conflict can claim to hold moral superiority over their enemy; while the Imperials and the X-0 unit have done questionable things to advance the Imperial war effort, it turns out that the Federation had also been secretly employing similar research with the intent of harnessing the Valkyrur’s power for their own ends, as well. In the end, the Federation are equally as desperate and immoral as the Empire, willing to sacrifice lives to advance their respective war machines. Minerva’s emotional breakdown shortly after the ceasefire is announced speaks to the horrors of warfare: having lost everyone whom she cared about, Minerva desires nothing more than vengeance against those who took away her allies and companions. However, Claude refuses to detonate the A2 device, knowing that they would be acting in revenge, rather than for the sake of their country: having seen the Imperials as little more than an enemy to be destroyed, war has deprived combatants on both sides of their humanity, and as the war draws to a close with no clear victor, the only thing that is apparent is that both Imperials and the Federation have seen their share of death and suffering. Despite being fiction, Valkyria Chronicles 4 draws parallels with actions taken by both Allied and Axis forces during the Second World War, covering the notion that both sides resorted to extraordinary (and immoral) means to win as the war dragged on, but ultimately, humanity still endured.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • After the Empire deploys electrified nets and trains coastal artillery on the Centurion, issuing the ultimatum that they stand down or be destroyed, Claude’s only solution entails sending Raz out on a suicide mission. He initially refuses this solution, having promised to get everyone in Squad E back home safely, but when it becomes clear the alternative will lead to the deaths of everyone on board the Centurion, Claude reluctantly authorises the mission.

  • Making use of the cover that whiteout conditions, I quickly moved my soldiers into position, deploying Rosetta with Raz to provide Raz with a better idea of what lay ahead. However, as I neared the target point, a large tank occupying the path completely impeded my progress. A second shock trooper armed with the demolitions boost order was able to make quick work of this tank, and I was able to finish the mission without much difficulty.

  • With Raz at the destination, he is able to disable the electrified nets and allows the Centurion to punch through Imperial defenses towards their capital. In the process, however, Raz the Invincible is shot, and bleeds out. The whole of Squad E is devastated, and no-one is more saddened than Kai, who had come to fall in love with him. His death changes her potential such that her attack damage is increased whenever remembering Raz, and this ability is superbly useful. Changing potentials amongst the characters serve to enhance the depth of gameplay in Valkyria Chronicles 4 and ties things in neatly with the story.

  • Once Squad E touches down in Schwartzgrad, Claude must capture critical points in the city center in order to secure it in preparation for detonating the A2 device that will level the Imperial Capital. This mission sees the introduction of Imperial Ultimate Tanks, which boasts a combination of both mobility and firepower compared to earlier tanks. They are, however, still vulnerable to well-placed rounds to their radiators.

  • The capture points in the map are spaced apart, and guarded by multiple forces. Using scouts to rush them is ineffectual, since the Imperial units will be crouched behind sandbags: grenades will only serve to destroy the cover, and then multiple command points must be wasted on clearing them out. Instead, making use of the shock troopers and their flamethrowers is a requirement towards emptying out the capture points.

  • To make things more difficult, Chiara deploys on this map, as well. If left unchecked, she can wreak havoc with the player’s units. I ultimately ended up using my units to distract her, and kept a handful of forces at my home base to defend against Imperial Forces. Having a semi-automatic rifle and interception fire from Kai makes it easier to keep my home base from falling. On my turns, I also made use of Kai’s sharpshooting to pick off enemy lancers, who present a real threat to the Hafen.

  • On my initial playthrough, hunting down and defeating enemy aces was not high on my list of priorities, but when I encountered them, I would engage and neutralise them. I’ve noted previously that the items picked up from defeating aces are not particularly conducive towards my play-style – reduced accuracy means fewer bullets are likely to hit their target even if they do more damage, so I never run with them.

  • The mission to capture the main square of Schwartzgrad was probably the longest mission in Valkyria Chronicles 4‘s final quarter. While by no means difficult, it is a protracted battle to move everyone into the correct positions to finish their assignments. Towards the end of the game, familiar pieces from Valkyria Chronicles‘ soundtrack also make a return in some sequences. While Valkyria Chronicles 4 has its own collection of incidental music that gives the title its own unique atmosphere, the inclusion of familiar pieces serves to remind players of the game’s origins.

  • Ultimately, in the interest of finishing Valkyria Chronicles 4, I decided not to expend any more command points on neutralising enemies: once I moved Lily over to the last capture point, I had one command point left in my turn and could either end the mission by capturing it, or finishing off Chiara for some extra points. I ended up going with the former, since finishing off enemies, even bosses, yields very little in the way of bonuses, and allowing the Imperials another turn meant the risk of losing my capture points or allied forces to enemy action.

  • While Squad E had been busy capturing the Schwartzgrad plaza, Forseti has boarded the Centurion with the aim of capturing Angie. It’s up to Squad E to stop him from reaching the reactor core, and this mission marks the first time where players actually get to fight on board the Centurion, which has, for the better half of Valkyria Chronicles 4, acted as the players’ home base. The blue glow from the ragnite in the reactor gives the engine room an eerie hue, and this mission is another example of what the upgraded Canvas Engine is capable of.

  • I ultimately finished the mission in two turns, first eliminating Nikola to prevent her from running amok and destroying all of my units; if she encounters Claude at any point in this point, it’s game over. As such, it makes sense to take her out before anything can happen. With the right orders, this is an trivial endeavour – once Nikola becomes a non-issue, it’s a matter of running Claude to the reactor.

  • The labyrinthine layout of the engine room makes it easy to get lost: Claude needs to go down a flight of steps, into the lowest levels, then pass underneath the engine to reach the other side of the room. To extend his range, one should equip AP-boosting equipment on him and then make use of the direct command. The right actions will allow players to finish this mission and reach Angie in a single turn.

  • In anguish, Kai ends up shooting Forseti, who had defected to save Angie. War makes monsters of everyone, and even though players have seen things from the eyes of Squad E, a group of soldiers yearning for a swift end to the war so they can return home to their loved ones, Valkyria Chronicles 4 shows that both the Federation and Empire commit morally dubious acts – while the Federation are presented as the “good guys”, Foreseti casts doubt on this and leads players to wonder what the cost for the Centurion-class cruisers and other ragnite research was. The same holds true in World War Two, where mention of Allied acts of injustice are often brushed aside.

  • Claude prepares to prime the detonation sequence of the Centurion’s core that will turn Schwartzgard into a crater, but seconds before he arms the A2 device, an announcement reveals the war has ended, and that the Empire is suing for peace. Despite feeling the pain of the losses from the war, Claude refuses to destroy Schwartzgard even when a grief-stricken Minerva bursts into the control room and holds Claude at gunpoint, demanding that he set the weapon off to avenge everyone who’d fallen to the Empire. Claude manages to calm her down, and in the aftermath, finally meets Walz and Crymaria face-to-face, as fellow humans rather than enemies.

  • However, Lord Belgar is not quite done yet: revealing the Orcinus Magnus, a massive submarine even larger than the Centurion that acted as his private base of operations, Belgar prepares to capture the Centurion. The aim of this mission is to destroy the harpoon cannons keeping the Centurion locked down. Conventional tactics would involve the player running their forces onto the deck and destroying the harpoon cannons one-by-one, but on account of a solid performance during my run of Valkyria Chronicles 4, I had access to the Gautt R for Kai.

  • This dedicated anti-materiel rifle, in conjunction with the order “attack weak spot”, allows Kai to one-shot the harpoon cannons. Having an engineer handy means that Kai is able to eliminate all six of the cannons in a single turn: while Kai has a potential that allows her to regain one shot, I’ve found that this potential does not activate often enough to turn the tides of battle. On the other hand, having ranked the snipers and their weapons up, Kai pretty much never misses, even with the semi-automatic rifles, making her a powerful asset on the battlefield for precision shooting.

  • The final battle is against Belgar’s Lophius, an amphibious tank with armour heavy enough to stand up to even the blast from a Valkyrur. It is nigh-invulnerable and cannot be destroyed by conventional means: it stands to reason that the final mission’s objective is to destroy the Lophius and stop Belgar from realising his plans of studying the Valkyrur and triggering a detonation, once and for all. While the Lophius can submerge and shrug off almost anything the player has in their arsenal, the fight against it and Belgar was actually more underwhelming than I expected.

  • After the spectacle of squaring off against Maximilian and his Artificial Valkyrur system in Valkyria Chronicles, which was protected by a powerful shield, the Lophius felt more like a battle against the Batomys: like every other tank in Valkyria Chronicles, the Lophius has exactly one weakness. In order for it to operate, its ragnite engine produces a prodigious amount of heat that must be vented, and this exposes its radiators. Thus, destroying the radiators prevents the Lophius from operating.

  • Riley, armed with an Elias mortar, blast boost and attack weak spot, can total the Lophius in two shots. Maximilian didn’t go down this quickly, and once Riley destroys the Lophius, appropriately avenging her father and his work, Valkyria Chronicles 4 comes to an end. In the aftermath, in a manner reminiscent of Hai-Furi‘s ending, the Centurion sinks from having sustained so much damage. The crew salute it, and the end credits begin rolling.

  • At this point in time, I’ve finished Valkyria Chronicles 4 in a reasonably expedient manner, and this means I can press onwards into Metro Exodus, where I’ve reached the Volga River. This post also marks my last post of the month – with the ending of June here, and the beginning of July fast approaching, I am hosting the Jon’s Creator Showcase. Once this post is done, the summer anime season begins, and at present, a few series have caught my eye. July also marks the anniversary of a few noteworthy dates, so I am going to have a pair of special posts out marking those dates. Beyond this, the month looks fairly open, and I may step back posting frequency in favour of capitalising on the summer weather to hike and otherwise enjoy the sunshine.

While perhaps not as memorable as its predecessor with respect to its characters (there is no substitute for Squad 7), Valkyria Chronicles 4 nonetheless had a highly gripping story, characters that were immensely relatable, and capitalised on an upgraded Canvas Engine to add new gameplay elements that enhance the game’s overall immersion. My final thoughts on Valkyria Chronicles 4 are identical to those I had for Valkyria Chronicles; like its predecessor, Valkyria Chronicles 4 offers a masterful balance between storytelling and gameplay, but also suffers from deterministic AI and a cumbersome movement system. While Squaad E is no Squad 7 and took some getting used to, by mid-game, I was as familiar with the characters in Squad E as anyone in Squad 7. In particular, I grew fond of Raz and Kai’s dynamics, as well as enjoying the decreasing distance between Riley and and Claude. Like Rosie and Isara, and Welkin and Alicia, Valkyria Chronicles 4 similarly made its lead protagonists people to get behind and root for. While the villains of Valkyria Chronicles 4 are more loosely defined (Belgar never seemed as much of a threat as Maximilian did) and act as an enemy to engage, Walz and Crymaria were excellently portrayed. While fighting for the Imperial forces in name, they remain human and only fight reluctantly to help bring peace about, as well. Walz’s admiration of Claude is another aspect that sets him apart from Belgar, making him an enjoyable foe to encounter for the dynamics the two have on the battlefield. Like Valkyria Chronicles, Valkyria Chronicles 4 has plenty of extra content and replay value. I am considering picking up the summer package for Valkyria Chronicles 4, which should also give me access to playing as Squad 7 for some missions. On the whole, Valkyria Chronicles 4 is an excellent successor to Valkyria Chronicles, inheriting all of its strengths, a handful of weaknesses and building on top of it to create a more modern experience for players. I easily recommend this game to fans of Valkyria Chronicles, and for folks getting into the series for the first time, while Valkyria Chronicles 4 has more features and improved polish, the story of the original Valkyria Chronicles is more appropriate as an entry point into this world.

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