The Infinite Zenith

Where insights on anime, games, academia and life dare to converge

Valkyria Chronicles 4: Squad E, To The Beach!, and a reflection on the Summer DLC

“A simple life is good with me. I don’t need a whole lot. For me, a T-shirt, a pair of shorts, barefoot on a beach and I’m happy.” –Yanni

Shortly after the Siegval offensive concludes, Squad E is tasked with severing the Empire’s supply lines at the knees. Upon reaching their destination, they find the battlefield to be a beach with white sand. While engaging Imperial forces, Squad E finds additional “equipment” that turns out to be suited for their locale. Raz is particularly pleased and looks to start a beach party, but additional Imperial forces appear, forcing Squad E back into combat to repel the attackers. With the Imperials dealt with, Claude and the others set about enjoying the beach party: Claude and Riley go for a race, while Kai beats up Raz for staring at her assets. Minerva is initially too embarrassed to participate, but her curiosity gets the better of her, and she tries on one of the gear pieces dropped from an Imperial soldier from earlier, only to come face-to-face with the entirety of Squad E. Feeling that Minerva had also wanted to unwind, Claude authorises the group to enjoy their day at the beach for a while longer. This is the summer DLC for Valkyria Chronicles 4, which adds additional cosmestics to the leader units for Squad E and provides Valkyria Chronicles 4 with light-hearted comedy before the more sobering events that take place as the Federation forces are routed by Imperials once the winter sets in. Since it is the middle of summer, it seemed appropriate to go through this side mission and enjoy the more comedic moments amongst the members of Squad E (and Minerva) again.

While locating all of the enemy aces that drop gear is said to be a challenge, the coastal map that the side mission is set on is actually quite small, and moreover, recycled across the two missions. On my first attempt, I finished the mission with defense boost and two command points’ worth of expenditure, only for Valkyria Chronicles 4 to inform me that there was more to the mission. The trick with the first part lay not in swift completion of the objective, but progressing through the map and locating all of the enemy aces, who are rather well-hidden in the nooks and crannies of the map. Investigation and exploration allowed me to find all of the items in short order. The second mission thus unlocked, and this time, I set about clearing the way to find the final gear piece, which is located at the western edge of the map behind an entire column’s worth of tanks. Moreover, enemies carried special ammunition that could instantly deprive my units of any consumable ammunition. While seemingly difficult, I managed to get to the end of the map making use of Raz and demolitions boost. Subsequently, capturing the enemy base became a trivially simple task to accomplish, and I managed to earn a special emblem for the Hafen, as well as a special ending. Returning the mission to secure the A-rank, I wrapped up within the space of one turn, and over the course of ninety minutes, I smashed my way through Valkyria Chronicles 4‘s most well-known DLC to unlock some rather aesthetically pleasing comestics for Riley, Kai and Minerva, as well as enjoy a few laughs here and there.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • Squad E, To The Beach! is nothing like Normandy, and with Battlefield V not delivering an authentic D-Day experience insofar, it appears that the only means of landing at Omaha would be to pick up Call of Duty: World War Two, where the campaign provides such an experience right out of the gates. Instead, in Squad E, To The Beach!, the mission is so straightforwards that one could complete the missions in one turn without any orders.

  • I initially did this and wondered why the DLC was so short, but then recalled that there’s an entire area behind where enemies were hidden. The first sign of this is an enemy elite on the path leading away from the beach into the interior: once defeated, he drops some gear that ends up being Claude’s swimsuit. With this, players must then push inland and explore the trenches and other areas to find aces. They can be well-hidden, so effective use of scouts and the direct commands are useful.

  • In the first mission, there are four swimsuits that can be collected. Squad E, To The Beach! can be played after the tenth chapter in Valkyria Chronicles, and having beaten the game already, there wasn’t anything in this map that proved to be a threat even while hunting down the different aces, who are well-hidden. Most of the enemies deal negligible interception fire damage, and potentials, plus base stat improvements mean I can run across the map and ignore almost all damage taken.

  • Finding the elites is a matter of understanding what would take the most AP to accomplish: because Valkyria Chronicles 4 is about optimising turn count, AP and movement distance management is central to victory. It therefore stands to reason that the elites would be placed in places that take the most AP to reach. This particular aspect of Valkyria Chronicles 4 means it’s fairly easy to find a global optima for completing a given mission, and one wishes that there were alternative game modes that encouraged destruction of enemy materiel over speed.

  • Of course, the efficiency-based combat is likely a reminder of Japanese perceptions of warfare – similar to Ace Combat, players are rewarded for efficiency rather than destruction, indicating a respect for doing the minimum to complete an objective without unnecessary collateral damage. Once all of the aces are downed, a single scout could capture the enemy point to swiftly bring an end to the first mission.

  • After Kai, Riley, Raz and Claude change in preparation for enjoying the quiet, additional Imperial soldiers appear. There’s no time to change back, and players must continue fighting. Implausibly, but fortuitously, the swimsuits are purely cosmetic and do not appear to impact one’s defense or resistance to damage to a significant extent. Of everyone, Kai is the most entertaining to operate during the second mission, but her limited movement range and finite ammunition make her decidedly less effective.

  • The enemies of the second mission have a unique attribute: their weapon fire will immediately drain out a player’s ammunition reserves to zero, including sniper rounds, mortar shells and grenades. On the other hand, the scout’s rifles and shock-trooper’s primary and secondary weapons are immune to ammunition depletion, so they are unaffected. Thus, for this mission, a pair of scouts and a shock-trooper is all one really needs to complete the mission with haste.

  • Using two scouts and a shock-trooper will allow for the second mission to be finished within one turn. However, there is one additional elite hidden on the map. Because of my own haste, I did not switch out Riley’s mortar to an anti-personnel variant and therefore could not eliminate the enemy elite located on the most distant corner of the map. Anti-armour shells do next to no damage against infantry, and so, I rendered Riley useless during my playthrough.

  • However, appreciation for the scout and shock-trooper classes allowed me to reach the target without too much trouble: enough enemies are behind cover such that having a flamethrower makes this particular mission much easier, since the special ammunition the Imperial forces have do not impact the ammunition available to players. Most guides recommend bringing an engineer along to replenish ammunition in response, but strictly speaking, this is not necessary.

  • Claude’s beachwear is unremarkable and the first to be recovered from downed Imperial forces. While it makes sense for them to have men’s swimwear, one wonders what they are doing, since they also drop swimsuits for Riley, Raz and Minerva. There’s also the question of hygiene (i.e. whether or not it’s a good idea to wear swimsuits captured from enemy forces when one does not know where it’s been), but given that this is wartime and fiction, such elements are not particularly worrisome.

  • Ordinarily, once players reach the north edge of the map, it’s time to capture it and bring the mission to a close. While this assures the A-rank, one is unlikely to have picked up Squad E, To The Beach! simply to humiliate Imperial forces in a showdown: the goal is to give Valkyria Chronicles 4 a more summery feel through Riley, Kai and Minerva. In the mission’s second half, Minerva’s swimsuit has yet to be retrieved, and while the mission itself is direct, finding the elite that drops her swimsuit takes a bit of time.

  • Raz and demolitions boost makes for a hilariously effective and overpowered way of defeating all enemy armour and gatling cannons along the route, while applying all units defend bolsters durability. Unlike the DLC of Valkyria ChroniclesSquad E, To The Beach! actually has access to orders, which shift the mission overwhelmingly in the player’s favour: the gatlings and tanks would ordinarily shred anyone passing through, but the right orders allows Raz to completely and totally eliminate all obstacles with ease.

  • Right around this corner is a pair of gatling guns. While normally a threat, having a demolitions boost-equipped Raz deal with them neutralises the problem in an expedient manner. I originally had planned to bring Claude closer so the direct command could be used on him but quickly changed my mind after seeing that Raz actually had enough AP to make the distance and moreover, was capable of handling the tank at the end of the road.

  • I ended up leaving Minerva at the capture point such that once I eliminated the elite, I could bring a quick end to the mission. On my first attempt, I finished in four turns for a B-rank, but with superior map knowledge, I’m certain that if I were to go back and get all the elites on top of the base objective of seizing the enemy base, I could probably now finish within two turns: a straight run without care for the elite means this mission, similar to the first, can be completed in one turn.

  • The final elite is actually hidden behind some sandbags, and therefore, it is imperative to bring Raz (or another shock-trooper) to the table such that their flamethrowers may be used. Because the elite is an elite, it will take two actions to finish him. Once done, Minerva’s swimsuit drops, and players can wrap up the mission to enjoy the cutscenes, which is precisely what one presumably came for when picking up Squad E, To The Beach!.

  • Two-piece swimsuits have existed for quite some time, but strictly speaking, the bikini was named after the Bikini Atoll in the Pacific, where atomic tests were being done. The name subsequently caught on as a catch-all name for two-piece swimsuits after the design was shown in Paris during 1946. The caveat is that in Valkyria Chronicles, the Valkyrur and the powers that they channel through ragnite do not appear atomic in nature. Thus, there is a lack of atomic devices, and presumably, no Bikini Atoll either. Yet, the swimsuit Riley picks out is called a bikini.

  • Kai goes with a one-piece suit optimised for swimming, and immediately sets about going for a dip in the waters. However, when Raz runs afoul of her, Kai schools him off screen, leaving players to wonder how exactly she managed to subdue him long enough to bury him in the sand. More modest in design, a one-piece suits Kai’s personality and does nothing to diminish accentuating the most noticeable aspect of her figure, although one might surmise that a two-piece would also work for her.

  • The last swimsuit found is less modest than Riley’s, and its mere presence is something that greatly embarrasses Minerva, who promises to disposes of it accordingly. However, when the final cutscenes are watched, it turns out that Minerva had other ideas in mind. Claude interprets this as Minerva wanting in on the fantastic weather and solitude of the beach. Of the characters, Minerva has the most oscillation, and when she scores a kill, the physics functionality of the Canvas Engine is put to good use in animating this.

  • While normally stuffy and formal, Minerva reveals a more bashful side of her personality, as well. With all of the swimsuits unlocked, I also earn a hibiscus emblem for the Hafen: this means that I’ve done Squad E, To The Beach! to full completion, and with this DLC, I also obtain access to A United Front With Squad 7, which will allow me to play as Welkin, Alicia, Rosie and Largo in the updated Canvas Engine. After seeing what Valkyria Chronicles 4 looked like, it is not difficult to see that a remastered Valkyria Chronicles would look stunning.

  • Kai and Riley encourage Minerva to join the others, bringing the DLC to a close, and while I will be returning to write about A United Front With Squad 7 at some point, there is another special summer-themed post in the works. Once that’s done, I’ll be turning my full attention towards writing about and experiencing Metro: Exodus; having finished the winter quarter of the game, there are some thoughts on that I’d like to share. The fact that there are no seasonal posts scheduled for August means that I also should have some time to do a Terrible Anime Challenge post, as well as a Masterpiece post.

The practicality of these new cosmetics in standard gameplay notwithstanding (besides the disparity between the cosmetics and their environment, there aren’t very many moments in Valkyria Chronicles 4 where one could rotate the camera and admire the polygons that went into making these cosmetics, which put those of Battlefield V to shame), Valkyria Chronicles 4‘s DLC proved to be a short, but highly amusing addition to Valkyria Chronicles 4. In particular, seeing the more everyday, ordinary side of each character reinforces the idea that behind every gun sight, is a human being, and that everyone has their own stories to tell. Japanese titles have always excelled in creating highly compelling characters whose backgrounds and reasons for fighting are every bit as engaging as the gameplay mechanics and skill-driven aspects of the game. With this DLC in the books, I intend to return to Valkyria Chronicles 4 once more for what I would consider to be fanservice in its purest form: for purchasing Squad E, To The Beach, I also received A United Front With Squad 7, the legendary group that fought through Valkyria Chronicles into the annals of history. I can’t wait to see Claude and Welkin fight alongside one another to repel the Empire, and Alicia will make a most welcome return, as well.

2 responses to “Valkyria Chronicles 4: Squad E, To The Beach!, and a reflection on the Summer DLC

  1. morgoth89 August 7, 2019 at 02:46

    Lol can you imagine girl soldiers in bikinis coming down in Normandy

    Like

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