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Category Archives: Valkyria Chronicles

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.

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.

Valkyria Chronicles 4: An unexpected meeting and destroying a Valkyrur at the ¾ mark

“Claude. I am prepared to do whatever it takes.” —Minerva Victor

Squad E and the Centurion’s crew wonder what to do about their stowaway, who only recalls that her name is Angie. Despite lacking any recollections of where she’s from, she busies herself with helping Squad E and the Centurion’s crew in their comings-and-goings, quickly earning everyone’s affection. While Angie’s presence brightens everyone’s day considerably, the Centurion also faces the sobering fac that its provisions are dwindling. Claude plans an offensive to storm an Imperial warehouse, smashing a coastal fortress to ensure the Centurion does not come under fire. During the operation to recover supplies with help from resistance forces, Angie sneaks on shore and meets Crymaria. Meanwhile, Claude is shocked to learn that the original Kai is now Forseti, having defected to the Empire and having coerced Leena into relaying the Centurion’s position to him. Leena renounces Forseti and rejoins the others to help save a resistance member, before turning their attention towards rescuing another ship that has come under fire. While Squad E repels the Imperial forces, the Federation vessel prepares to self destruct. Angie re-enters the Centurion’s reactor core in order to give the ship enough power to evacuate the blast radius, tearfully bidding everyone farewell. Claude is assigned to command the operation, reluctantly agreeing to lead the operation to annihilate the Imperial capital, Schwartzgrad, with the Centurion’s core. While Walz and Crymaria confront him, Squad E bests them, leaving the two to be open with how they feel about one another: Walz and Crymaria leave the battlefield and promise to find happiness together. The three-quarters mark of Valkyria Chronicles 4 is now in the books, and with it, Squad E is a stone’s throw away from turning Schwartzgrad into a pile of glowing rubble. While it is easy to desire this outcome, considering how the Imperial forces treat one another and civilians, this prospect is tempered by the fact that Angie will need to be sacrificed to end the war.

Valkyria Chronicles 4 introduced an unexpectedly emotional element in its game through Angie: her optimism and innocence stands in stark contrast with the atrocities committed during the course of the Second Europa war, and also acts as a foil for Crymaria. While both are Valkyrurs, Crymaria lashes out because this is the only treatment she knows. Similarly, having been treated with kindness and knowing family, Angie is gentle and kind, being willing to give up her happiness for her family’s sake. While I’d been pushing through Valkyria Chronicles 4‘s campaign at breakneck speed with the intent of making it to Schwartzgrad, suddenly seeing that the special weapon the Federation plans to detonate there involves Angie making the ultimate sacrifice makes this prospect a lot more difficult to accept; the sense of conflict in players grips Squad E, as well: they begin wondering what the war’s cost will be even if they do win. Valkyria Chronicles 4 thus comes to find its own way to engage players with Claude and his squad the same way Valkyria Chronicles had done so with Welkin and Squad 7. While both stories take their own approaches towards humanising the characters to the extent that players care for them, the end result is an immensely captivating story. One of the lingering doubts I had going into Valkyria Chronicles 4 was whether or not it could tell a story as engaging as Valkyria Chronicles: Welkin, Alicia, Isara and the others had been exceptionally well-written, after all. However, Valkyria Chronicles 4 would find its own approach, creating bonds between Claude, Riley, Raz and Kai. In particular, the declaration of love from Raz to Kai was particularly moving, as he reassures her that Forsetti or not, nothing will change the fact that they’re family now, and that he’s in love with her. With Squad E feeling every bit as fleshed out as Squad 7, I now enter the final quarter of Valkyria Chronicles 4.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • As Valkyria Chronicles 4 continues, environment hazards continue to impact gameplay as much as enemies. During the mission to destroy a coastal fortress’ batteries, a heavy fog covers the fortress’ lower sections. Players start on the western battery, which can be destroyed in a single turn. The trick in this mission is moving along the lower walkways to reach the second battery. It ended up taking me three turns to destroy all of the artillery.

  • While I’d come this far without touching the direct commands, they turn out to be immensely valuable for bringing assets along and putting them into position. For weaker armoured enemies, lancers are the most effective choice: they can destroy the batteries in two shots. While shock troopers can neutralise almost any armour in one go, deploying demolitions boost on them means an expenditure of three command points, whereas using a lancer allows players to do the same in two command points.

  • Once the batteries are destroyed, Claude must escape and reach the extraction zone. I decided to bring Raz along with him, since that would make it possible to easily eliminate any enemies along the way without forcing Claude to expend his grenades. Like Valkyria Chronicles, the shock troopers have access to an under-barrel flamethrower that can neutralise enemies behind cover in a single shot. Because this flamethrower has unlimited ammunition, a single shock trooper could clear out an entire base on their own.

  • With demolitions boost, shock troopers turn into tank killers, similarly to how the scouts of Valkyria Chronicles could single-handedly run across the entire map. In conjunction with defense boost and awaken potential, a single scout was able to finish entire missions in a handful of turns. By Valkyria Chronicles 4, this is no longer possible, since missions have more varied objectives. However, this is not to say that Valkyria Chronicles 4 is harder than a predecessor: those with a keen eye for novel solutions means that players should have no trouble making use of their other classes to complete objectives.

  • While I’ve opted to only show screenshots of gameplay, the story aspect of Valkyria Chronicles 4 is also compelling enough. When Angie is introduced, her origins are unknown, and like the crew, players are immediately drawn to her innocence and friendly desire to help out everyone. In particular, Riley becomes particularly close to Angie, and when the crew steal Angie away for extensive periods, Riley even throws a minor tantrum. At this point in time, it is clear that Riley is Valkyria Chronicles 4‘s Alicia, even saying “あたしの出番ね!” (atashi no deban ne!, literally “My turn now!”) the same way Alicia does when she’s placed on the map.

  • However, unlike Alicia, Riley’s utility in the actual gameplay is much more limited: I typically equip her as an anti-armour unit, justifying this because equipping her for anti-personnel seems a waste of ammunition. As a result, I typically deploy Riley at the player’s main base for the extra command point, and then leave her there to hold the base with Kai while the other characters do much of the heavy lifting.

  • The twelfth chapter involves landing at the Imperial facility to appropriate the necessary supplies to keep the Centurion going: with the main reactor knocked out, the ship has switched over to a secondary engine that uses Ragnite as a fuel source. Besides a lack of fuel, dwindling provisions is also causing morale on board to plummet. While such an operation would typically not be considered, the stakes to the Centurion are very real, and they count on an Imperial resistance member to help them pull the operation off.

  • The precise location of the warehouse holding the supplies may make this mission tricky: it’s located on the eastern side of the map, and is heavily defended. Running defense boost and making use of the direct command will allow players to move their scouts to the warehouse on short order, but caution should be observed, as enemy mortars will rain down on the player from afar. Mortar fire from grenadiers is actually quite an irritant in Valkyria Chronicles 4; they randomly push the player back several steps, wasting action points, and may also slow them down.

  • The next morning, Squad E returns to help rescue a resistance member in the besieged town. While the game suggests taking the Hafen down the main avenue, there’s actually a much easier way to quickly finish this mission: I placed Minerva and Raz in the Cactus, drove them to the first base on the west side of the map, disgorged Minerva and then had her run to the enemy base on the next turn. There’s a massive tank here, but a conveniently placed explosive Ragnite barrel allows her to effortlessly toast the tank.

  • Once the lone scout is dealt with, Minerva claims the base and it’s another effortless victory. I’ve heard complaints that once the game introduces elites, interception fire becomes much more lethal to the point where Valkyria Chronicles 4 becomes unplayable, but I never found this to be the case. Some gaming journalists have griped at the difficulty, citing some missions as taking up to an hour to complete. Valkyria Chronicles was my first time at the rodeo and therefore was more challenging, so coming back, I had no trouble at all with any of the missions, all of which could be finished in under half an hour.

  • After clearing the town out and saving the officier, the next mission involves Squad E fighting their way to another ship of the Centurion class to save its crew. Set among derelict ruins of some sort, the object of this mission is to capture all enemy camps. I divided my forces into two and conquered the camps quite easily. Once the camps are captured, X-0 appears. This marks the first time that Crymaria appears as a mobile enemy; she previously sat behind the frontlines and provided supporting fire, but she can and will eliminate all carelessly positioned allied units.

  • Once X-0 show up to the party, the mission objective becomes taking out Walz and his Vulcan. On some occasions, engaging him was optional, and I would choose to leave the Vulcan alone in favour of completing the mission, but since besting the Vulcan is mandatory, I called in several lancers. Using the direct commands, I positioned them in the elevated ruins, activated demolitions boost for all of my soldiers and proceeded to pound the Vulcan into oblivion.

  • To make this process simpler, having an engineer constantly resupplying the lancers allowed me to continue hammering the Vulcan; its unique radiator has an unusual hitbox, and hitting just behind it will cause critical damage. It is preferred that one focus on finishing this mission quickly, since Crymaria will annihilate most anything and is immune to all forms of conventional attack.

  • Once the Vulcan is destroyed, the mission comes to an end. While Valkyria Chronicles 4 has superior mechanics overall, I found that Valkyria Chronicles‘ boss units were much more terrifying to fight – the Batomys was so challenging that I took a year-long hiatus in Valkyria Chronicles, whereas in Valkyria Chronicles 4, even if I got wiped during a mission, I simply re-evaluated my strategy and reattempted a mission.

  • During the fifteenth chapter, the object is to engage two boss characters, one after another. First up is Walz and his Vulcan Procus, an upgraded Vulcan that can utilise Valkyrur power to eliminate almost anything that moves in one go. However, Walz only has access to this on his second turn, and requires an order to make this happen, so the name of the game here is really to destroy the Vulcan Procus as quickly as possible before that can happen.

  • The key here is to use the Cactus to move a host of grenadiers and engineers to a camp on the southern edge of the map, along with an additional lancer to deal with any enemy armour that may destroy the Cactus prematurely. In the event that the Cactus is destroyed, Dan will retreat, along with anyone who was on board, and while one loses no members of their roster, it does leave one under-manned as a game progresses. Spending points on improving the Cactus’ durability and carrying capacity is the most effective way to capitalise on its usage.

  • Once the camp is captured, it’s a matter of using the grenadiers and all units demolish to hammer the Vulcan Procus until it is destroyed. I ended up switching between Riley and Aoife on my second turn, alternating between the two to deal damage to the Vulcan. With demolitions boost enabled, and the Elias series of mortars, I whittled down the Procus’ health without too much difficulty: on my play-through, Aoife was perfectly positioned so that her shots dealt critical damage.

  • In the end, it was Riley who got the kill on the Procus, bringing an end to the first half of chapter fifteen. I admit that I’ve been running Valkyria Chronicles 4 with the aim of finishing the game, rather than for a completionist run, and so, have not given too much effort towards hunting down the enemy aces, which drop special gear when defeated. For the most part, Imperial equipment sacrifices accuracy for damage – the end result is that Imperial gear is more unreliable, but when it connects, it can bring down enemies more readily.

  • Crymaria subsequently goes berserk, and her powers begin running out of control when she realises that Walz might be dead. The second half of chapter fifteen is more challenging in this regard: the blood-red blizzard Crymaria conjures will slowly whittle away at players’ health if they are in the radius, and Crymaria herself has access to incredibly powerful attacks that will destroy anyone in one shot. The key here is to use the LF-ASR series of rifles to disable Crymaria’s staff and the take advantage of this time to push a shock trooper closer to her.

  • With attack boost enabled, Raz can effortlessly do the rest of the work, bringing this mission to a close. I certainly did not run into any issues as some games journalists did: their response to the “difficulty spike” was to write politically-charged articles about Kai rather than rethink their strategy in finishing this mission. Once Crymaria is downed, Squad E retreats and Walz climbs out of the Vulcan’s ruins, promising to be by her side forever. It’s a rather unlikely romance, but Walz always did come across as being more friendly and reasonable among the Imperial forces.

With three quarters of Valkyria Chronicles 4 under my belt, I’ve maintained a perfect streak of A ranks, effortlessly destroying Walz’s ultimate Vulcan Procus and even Crymaria herself. This means being able to unlock the various mission bonus rewards and earning sufficient experience points to always keep my classes up to date, and my equipment at the best conditions possible. However, the approach I’ve taken has also been quite unlike anything I had access to in the original Valkyria Chronicles: thanks to the direct commands, I’ve been able to bring other classes with me into areas far exceeding their maximum movement distance. This mechanic becomes an essential feature in helping maintain that perfect A streak, and clever use of direct orders have been instrumental in moving critical assets into the right spot. With this being said, I’ve not once made use of the ship orders, which are similarly powerful if used in the correct conditions. While these new mechanics do help players, old tricks remain as effectual as they did in Valkyria Chronicles; defense boost in conjunction with attack boost and demolitions boost has allowed soldiers to shrug off interception fire and wreck havoc with enemy assets, both armour and infantry alike. One touch I’ve found to be enjoyable in Valkyria Chronicles 4 are how character potentials can change in response to story events; aside from adding to the sense that they’re growing as characters, changing potentials also alters their worth during a mission. Given that Valkyria Chronicles 4 does not appear to have the equivalent of Valkyria Chronicles‘ Barious Desert mission, I enter the last quarter of the game with the (not unfounded) expectation that I will be wrapping things up very soon.

Valkyria Chronicles 4: Fire and Ice At The Halfway Point

Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favour fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.

—Robert Frost

An Imperial surprise attack annihilates the Federation camp, setting it ablaze. In order to cover for allied forces, Squad E stays behind to fend off the Imperials. Claude engages Klaus Walz and manages to elude him, impressing Klaus: the actions of Squad E allow Federation forces to retreat, but the frigid Eastern winter arrives, slowing their progress to a halt. Imperial forces capitalise on this to assault the Federation soldiers, and Squad E is forced to flee. Claude decides to head for the coast, and along the way, destroy an Imperial munitions depot. While waiting for Claude to return, Raz shares a story with Riley about Kai’s origins: she was originally Leena, Kai’s sister and joined as a replacement after Kai decided to leave for unknown reasons. To help her through training, Claude and Raz risked expulsion in a test course, but it turns out that Leena was a crack shot. Back in the present, the intense fighting annihilates Squad F before Squad E can reach the coast, and an embittered Minerva blames Wallace for the outcome. However, when it appears that the Imperial forces have surrounded the remnants of the Federation forces, Federation snow cruisers appear and drive them off. After boarding the Centurion and meeting Captain Morgen, Wallace prepares his Squad to work with the naval forces, and liberate a village in the process. Meanwhile, Walz is assigned to lead special operations unit at Lord Heinrich Belgar’s request, and they begin an operation to capture the Federation cruisers. Valkyrur Crymaria is sent to participate but disobeys orders, seemingly sinking one of the cruisers. However, the Centurion had merely been damaged, and Wallace leads Squad E in repelling an Imperial assault while Riley fixes the main reactor. In the aftermath of the battle, the Centurion is able to escape, and Squad E finds an amnesiac girl sleeping in the engine room. At this point in time, I’ve reached the halfway point of Valkyria Chronicles 4, and have found myself thoroughly impressed with the successor to Valkyria Chronicles; Valkyria Chronicles 4 has done a phenomenal job of keeping me engaged and entertained with its mechanics and writing.

At Valkyria Chronicles 4‘s halfway point, my appreciation of the upgrades to the Canvas Engine have increased tenfold as I’ve seen more of the game. At the forefront of everything are the improved visuals: while Valkyria Chronicles 4 is definitively sharper and more detailed than Valkyria Chronicles, other updates to the engine have been much more subtle. These details, while minor, do much to bring Europa to life; higher environmental details and nuances add depth to each mission, conveying the sheer weight of the battle against Squad E at every turn. From the flaming desolation caused by the Imperial raid, to the frigid wastes of the Empire’s territories, and the unearthly blue snow surrounding Valkyrur Crymaria, each mission captures the environmental extremes Squad E has found itself in as a Soviet Winter™ closes in on them. The snowfall brings with it additional challenges: blizzards hamper visibility and even reduces movement distance, taxing Squad E’s members. The extreme cold reduces survivability, and downed allies must be retrieved more hastily, lest they succumb to elements. Soldier movement leaves tracks in deep snow, and mortar fire places craters in the ground. The weather conditions are visibly felt, and Valkyria Chronicles 4 leverages new mechanics to keep players thinking ahead, keeping the game fresh. Further accentuating the challenge is the introduction of Crymaria, an unstable Valkyrur who is beholden to the X-0 unit. She is accompanied by Nikola and Chiara, two enforcers carrying electric crossbows. However, players gain access to new assets, as well: the arrival of the Centurion and its state-of-the-art combat systems allows players powerful new strategic options – a cool head and an eye for optimisations allow for missions to be efficiently completed.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • By the virtue of being powered by the Canvas Engine, the atmosphere in Valkyira Chronicles 4 far exceeds anything that came before it. While the earlier missions had shown improvements to the sharpness and draw distance, it was during the sixth mission where the changes became most apparent. When the mission starts, players are presented with fire and fury as far as the eye can see, with glow from the fires illuminating the smoke billowing into the night skies. Foot-mobiles cannot pass through fire, but vehicles can, and my first move was to move the Hafen forwards and flatten an enemy tank.

  • While scouts in Valkyria Chronicles 4 have been balanced out with lower accuracy than their Valkyria Chronicles counterparts, they remain effective with the right upgrades. I’ve been spending more of my in-game currency on upgrading the Lenfield’s accuracy, reasoning that harder-hitting bullets don’t mean a whole lot if they can’t actually hit their mark. I’ve generally focused on accuracy and range, except for the shock troopers’ submachine guns: here, upgrading their damage per shot allows these front-line units to hit harder.

  • The Vulcan makes yet another appearance, although at this point, it is fortunate that its main cannon cannot deal significant damage to the Hafen this early in the game. With this in mind, its radiator is located at the top of the tank, requiring players to make use of Riley’s anti-tank mortar rounds or move a lancer into the right position for a better shot. Missions no longer singularly revolve around capturing an enemy camp: some missions will involve holding out against waves of enemies.

  • I ended up applying demolitions boost to Riley to help her smash the Vulcan, and then turned my attention towards neutralising the remaining enemy forces. Demolitions boost was incredibly overpowered in the original Valkyria Chronicles, to the point where for each mission after I had it, I could simply run Alicia around the map and have her single-handedly wipe everything that moved. Between her Valkyrur healing boost, double movement and abilities as a scout, Alicia was so powerful that nothing phased me.

  • After exiting the flaming inferno of the burning camp, players are next dropped into a snowy, icy map. The goal here is to move three teammates towards railway tracks on the far side of the map, and to exacerbate Squad E’s low morale, the weather has increased the risk of avalanches. Players must now fight the environment in addition to enemy forces, and in this mission, a group of Imperial forces lie in wait at the far side of the map, covering a bridge players must cross to reach the railway tracks.

  • My strategy this mission was simple enough: move three scouts close to the target point, alternating between advancing the objective and positioning my other units to mop up any hostile forces that could down my units. Enemy grenadiers are a nuisance owing to their interception fire, and I make it a point to actively eliminate them: their shells inflict debuffs, and I’m beginning to recall the days of Valkyria Chronicles 4 when enemy units could lower my units’ defenses with their weapons.

  • I ended up applying defense boost to Teresa and had her fire on the ragnite container, eliminating the need to move Kai up to a suitable spot for that shot: there are enough forces camped out on the ridge so that it’s not practical to engage them one at a time, but the same avalanche conditions that made the match more difficult also gives Claude an idea. Once the enemies are gone, moving my remaining scouts across was trivially easy.

  • The next mission involves sneaking through an Imperial munitions depot and blasting it sky-high to prevent the Imperial forces from using the equipment to launch an assault on Gallia. The map is covered by armoured trains, and engaging them is an exercise in futility: using the Cactus to move players from cover to cover is the way to go, and here, I stopped to again, admire the lighting effects in Valkyria Chronicles 4Valkyria Chronicles looked great, but compared to 4, feels distinctly flat.

  • The armoured personnel carrier becomes an indispensable tool, and having seen how fragile it is, I immediately went about upgrading its durability. While survivable against all small arms fire and Gatling guns, the Cactus is easily melted by enemy armour, anti-tank munitions and bosses, so the trick is to only use the Cactus to get through areas with light interception fire, and then disgorge troops.

  • After moving a pair of scouts across the map, I had enough firepower to close the distance and reach the enemy camp. Using defense and attack boost on Millennia, I was able to run right by the hostile Imperial forces, eliminated the forces chilling in the enemy camp and then captured it. One longstanding complaint about Valkyria Chronicles that endures in 4 is that players who prefer a play-style allowing them to destroy everything that moves on a map are not rewarded: Valkyria Chronicles 4 continues in the vein of its predecessors and scores players primarily based on how quickly they complete the mission.

  • With Squad F gone, Minerva and tank operator Ronald Albee joins Squad E and resolve to fight for their fallen comrades. Their first operation with Squad E is in a training exercise, allowing players to get a feel for how Minerva and Ronald handle. Players are also introduced to ship orders, which allow players to call upon support from the Centurion. These powerful orders can shift the tide of battle, but are extremely limited in use. I’ve not made use of them yet, having found the missions quite manageable so far, although I bet that a few levels later down the line could really test that.

  • We’ve now crossed the halfway point of the month, and with my being halfway through Valkyria Chronicles 4, I feel that I’m making excellent time in the game. I expect to finish Valkyria Chronicles 4 by July. In the meantime, it’s been an eventful week and some back since F8: besides watching Avengers: Endgame over the weekend, I also enjoyed a delicious steak dinner at The Keg, where I had their Baseball Steak cooked to medium rare with sauteed mushrooms, seasonal vegetables and their house special twice-baked potato. These cuts are so thick that medium rare is actually the maximum they can be cooked to. The cut offers best of both worlds, with the seared parts being very flavourful, and the heart of the steak is tender and juicy. Steaks are much rarer in Valkyria Chronicles 4: Kai favours bread and becomes uncharacteristically angry when there’s no bread around.

  • The weather this week’s been more similar to the moody skies of Valkyria Chronicles 4, even though the weekend’s been more seasonal and sunny. Back in the game itself, when Imperial forces arrive, they bring with them Chiara and Nikola. These arrogant enforces have the mobility of scouts and can one-shot the Hafen if allowed to roam the map unchecked. Fortunately, I found that even without any orders, a shock trooper can mop the floor with the two.

  • Once the Imperial forces arrive, the objective shifts towards moving the Hafen back to the evacuation point. A host of Imperial lancers are covering the route, along with an anti-armour mortar that can slow the Hafen down considerably. I made it a priority to eliminate the grenadiers first, and then made use of Raz to take out the lancers along the way. For the most part, I’ve found that while Valkyria Chronicles 4 does attempt to balance the scouts out, one can still move a small number of characters across the map to finish things swiftly.

  • Here, a crater in the ground from mortar fire is visible. While nowhere nearly as sophisticated as the destruction effects in something like the Frostbite Engine, the Canvas Engine’s upgrades are very apparent, and Valkyria Chronicles 4 looks as well as it handles. Games of late that have done well have consistently been games that have taken a “back to the basics” approach, favouring skill-driven mechanics that are easy to learn and require an investment to master. Admittedly, modern titles have very complex mechanics that come across as being little more than gimmicks distracting from game-play, and a return to simpler, but tougher mechanics results in more rewarding experiences.

  • The ninth chapter involves capturing an Imperial base in an effort to hold off the Imperial forces, who intend to capture the Centurion. While seemingly a straightforward mission, Valkyrur Crymaria appears for the first time. Her interception fire is downright lethal, being able to destroy the Cactus in one shot if one is careless. Unlike the Barious Desert, I was unfazed by the appearance of a Valkyrur: this mission can be finished in two turns without using the Cactus at all if one is playing strictly for A-ranks.

  • On my first turn, I moved Minerva to the base on the Western edge of the map and wiped out the grenadier sitting here. Walz will call in an order that revives everyone, making it quite unnecessary to kill anyone else, and then on the second turn, it was a matter of running Minerva, armed with defense boost and attack boost, to the enemy camp. More complex strategies will accommodate for players destroying the Vulcan for additional points. When players capture the base, the mission ends, and the Imperial forces will fail to capture the Centurion. In frustration, Crymaria will open fire on the Federation cruisers, seemingly sinking them.

  • However, this turns out to be a ruse: the Centurion is still intact, but its main reactor is down. While Riley sets about repairing it, Imperial forces mount an attack, dropping bombs with the aim of destroying it. The object of the tenth mission is to prevent any bombs from impacting the Centurion: snipers are invaluable in this mission, and I decided to use a pair of snipers: a sniper on the southwestern high point, and then another on the east high point.

  • Because of the deterministic AI, Chiara and Nikola will both go after the sniper on the southwestern edge. I moved Raz to the southwest to provide support, and an engineer to the eastern point so that sniper could be perpetually topped off with ammunition. Once Chiara and Nikola’s asses are beat, the mission becomes a straightforward matter of preventing bombs from landing. Players must eliminate bombs on the turn that they appear: any bomb that isn’t dealt with will hit the Centurion on the next turn.

  • I’ve been consistently scoring A ranks on all missions: Valkyria Chronicles 4 seems to be easier than its predecessor, which had stricter requirements, although this could also be nostalgia and experience talking. I am moving through Valkyria Chronicles 4 much more smoothly than I did through the original, and at my current rate of progression, I am hoping that I will complete this game before Halo Reach for the Master Chief Collection comes out on PC: once Halo: Master Chief Collection becomes available, I cannot see myself playing anything but Halo.

Insofar, I’ve been deeply enjoying the dynamics amongst Squad E’s members, and more recently, their interactions with the Centurion’s crew, plus Minerva’s gradual integration into Squad E. While warfare is brutal and unforgiving, the friendship and warmth in Squad E seems enough to ward off even the bitter cold of a Soviet Winter™. As navy and army forces set aside their disagreements to focus on a powerful and determined enemy, Valkyria Chronicles 4 shows the evolution of a game whose core mechanics have largely been retained, but also enhanced to give players a new challenge. Each mission is memorable, and Squad E’s members now are as familiar to me as any of Squad 7’s members – Valkyria Chronicles 4 has done an excellent job in warming up players to these new characters, and rolling over the game’s halfway point, the push is on to smash my way to the Imperial capital. My back-to-back scoring of A-ranks in every mission up until now have afforded me enough in-game credits to level each of my classes to elite status. I’ve made much fewer uses of orders in Valkyria Chronicles 4 compared to my run with Valkyria Chronicles so far, but I do expect that the game will only become more tricky from here on out, and having access to every tool will allow me a more diverse range of options to kick names and take ass.

Valkyria Chronicles 4: Initial Impressions and Review

“I will see this through.” –Claude Wallace

When the Second Europan War sweeps across Europa, Claude Wallace and his friends Kai Shulen and Raz, join the Federation Army to defend their homeland against the Imperial forces. Despite his record at the military academy, Claude initially has trouble leading his troops, but after earning the respect of his subordinates and successfully completing the Ranger Corps training, Claude is assigned command of Squad E. During training, Kai disappears, and his younger sister, Leena, replaces him. Squad E participates in the Northern Cross offensive, designed to strike at the heart of the Empire. They are joined by Riley Miller, who is hostile towards Claude for having left her family to die during a fire. After liberating a castle and recapturing a town using ingenious means, Riley comes to trust Claude and his decisions. The Federation assign Squad E to capture the heavily defended Siegval Line, and despite the odds, Squad E manages to secure a foothold. They advance into an Imperial town and resupply, with Minerva’s squad deciding to hold a mock battle against Claude’s Squad E. Once the exercise has ended, a snowfall appears, signifying the early arrival of the bitter Eastern Europan winter that the Federation had not been anticipating. At this point, I am five chapters into Valkyria Chronicles 4, the proper successor to 2008’s Valkyria Chronicles. Released during March 2018 for PS4, and then other platforms in September 2018, Valkyria Chronicles 4 returns to the iconic Europa where the Federation squares off against the Empire in a war analogous to World War Two. With nearly a decade since the original’s release, Valkyria Chronicles 4 is an incremental upgrade, bringing with it the grenadier class and an armoured personnel carrier that introduces new means to approach each mission.

I come into Valkyria Chronicles 4 as a veteran of the original Valkyria Chronicles, and from a gameplay perspective, Valkyria Chronicles 4 is a direct upgrade over its predecessor; while featuring the same general mechanics as Valkyria Chronicles, Valkyria Chronicles 4‘s new classes and vehicle options, plus a handful of leadership mechanics, allow for missions to be solved in more clever ways than previously possible (stacking defense boost, demolitions boost and awaken potential on Alicia turned her into a beast that could solo entire missions in as few as two turns). However, as I’m still early in the game, I’ve yet to explore what all of the new features can do, and instead, my eye turns towards Squad E and its colourful cast of characters. I admit that I miss Welkin, Alicia, Isara, Rosie and Largo: Valkyria Chronicles 4 follows Claude, Riley, Raz and Kai, who are similarly Gallians fighting for their homeland. There are numerous similarities amongst the cast: both Claude and Welkin are attuned to their environment and utilise strategy against a superior foe. Both begin their journey by earning their squads’ respect, and over time, begin fighting more cohesively as a unit to have a tangible outcome in their war against the Empire. Seeing Squad E learn about one another better, as well as each of the characters’ backstories that adds depth to their reasons for being in the war. Within the space of five chapters, I’ve come to understand each of the major characters a little better, seeing how they handle in combat and during times of rest; with the Europan equivalent of a Real Soviet Winter™ coming, I look forwards to pushing Squad E further into Imperial territory, where I will doubtlessly square off against increasingly difficult foes, and where my über micro will be put to the test.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • My immediate impressions of Valkyria Chronicles 4 is that textures have seen an improvement in detail, and the amount of objects in the game environment have been increased over Valkyria Chronicles. Lighting has also been improved, and there are real-time shadows now. The game is also rendered at native 1080p, so everything looks sharper: close inspection of the screenshots find that everything looks much more crisp, befitting of a 2018 title.

  • These updates are immediately apparent in the first mission, which acts as a tutorial to familiarise players with the controls, and it marks a welcome return into Valkyria Chronicles for me: I beat the original just before I defended my Master’s thesis. Here, I operate the Hafen, Valkyria Chronicles 4‘s equivalent to the Edelweiss. Unlike Valkyria Chronicles, using the Hafen only requires one CP now, as opposed to the two it took to operate the Edelweiss. The Hafen is a medium tank at the start of Valkyria Chronicles 4, resembling the M4, and was heavily customised by Miles, the mechanic and driver who serves a similar role to Isara.

  • Pushing into the second mission to capture a castle held by Imperial forces, I made use of the game’s classes to continue. This mission requires that players cross a bridge covered by Imperial Gatling guns that can tear infantry apart. I opened by clearing a path for the scouts: Raz is the shocktrooper who fulfils a similar role to Rosie. He wield the Robinson M91, which looks a ways more advnaced than the Mags seen in Valkyria Chronicles and is probably inspired by the Thompson M1921 with a standard box magazine.

  • At the beginning of Valkyria Chronicles 4, there is no equivalent of Alicia, and scouts appear to have been balanced somewhat by varying the mission objectives. With this in mind, scouts remain highly useful for capturing objectives in missions where the goal is simply to occupy an enemy camp. The scouts of Valkyria Chronicles 4 begin their journey with the Lenfield, an obvious callback to the Lee-Enfield rifle, and I found them moderately effective even against enemy shocktroopers right from the start.

  • The grenadier class is a new addition to Valkyria Chronicles: they offer an indirect fire option for bombarding enemies from behind cover, and are limited by their movement, setup time and ammunition capacity. Ideally, they are placed somewhere safe and near an engineer, allowing them to hammer foes at moderate range. Riley is the first grenadier to be introduced, and while sporting a friendly personality, she becomes distant and hostile after seeing Claude for the first time.

  • When Imperial forces begin rolling tanks into a village, Squad E is sent to investigate and identify the positioning of enemy tanks. There are a large number of decoys among the real tanks. Once all of the tanks are found, Squad E will attempt to call in an artillery strike, but communications jamming prevents them from doing so. Claude decides to use the clocktowers instead to indicate to allied forces where the tanks are, allowing them to destroy the Imperial armour.

  • The outcome of this mission is similar to Valkyria Chronicles‘ Operation Cloudburst, where Welkin manages to take a mission-critical bridge in Vasal and in the process, earns the trust of Squad 7. By using the Clocktowers, Claude sets them all to read ‘715’, a number of significance to Riley. Proving that he is both capable, and that he’s not forgotten about the past, Riley reluctantly begins to trust Claude more. The remainder of Squad E have a stronger faith in Claude, and the story for this is explained in an interlude chapter.

  • It turns out that during their time in training, Claude and Raz did not get along, with Raz viewing Claude as a coward. However, determined to unify his squad into a cohesive one, Claude declares that everyone under his command will pass Ranger training. During an exercise designed to stack the deck against Claude, he issues an order to Raz that proves instrumental in convincing the lone wolf that teamwork is essential, but also that he’s an essential part of the team – this allows Raz to reluctantly admit that they can work together, and since then, Squad E has proven to be a solid unit.

  • After a reconnaissance mission goes awry, Claude and Raz are separated from the others during a rainfall. This mission is unique from the others in that one must eliminate all enemy combatants – there are no camps to capture and no special units to neutralise. A combination of scouts, engineers and shocktroopers, plus the understanding that enemies will spawn behind the player’s starting position, is essential to completing this mission in a swift and efficient manner.

  • Only after eliminating the forces behind the starting point, should one begin advancing towards the centre of the map. The scouts are excellent for locating enemies, and in Valkyria Chronicles 4, they seem more effective against shocktroopers than they did in Valkyria Chronicles. After pushing most of my forces to the open area, it was time to halt: enemy grenadiers appear, and their interception fire is deadly. Armed with anti-personnel ammunition, they can quickly destroy careless allied units.

  • Riley’s actually less effectual in an anti-infantry role in that it’s simply not a good use of ammunition to have her deal with one infantry unit per turn, and I intend to specialising her for anti-armour combat once that becomes available. Downed characters in Valkyria Chronicles 4 must be evacuated, otherwise they become permanently dead, and in Valkyria Chronicles, I made it a point to evacuate everyone, even if it cost me a higher score. Later mechanics will introduce second winds and the like that allowed downed players to act, although I’ve not made use of this yet.

  • The Siegval Line is a reimagined version of the Siegfried Line: it was built to counter the Maginot Line, and like its real-world counterpart, is heavily fortified. This mission introduces the armoured personnel carrier (Cactus), which allows players to transport allied forces to any part of the map without fear of being decimated by interception fire from small arms and Gatling guns. More lightly armoured than the Hafen, and having a longer range,  it is great for getting through areas covered by Gatlings.

  • The Cactus is equipped with its own machine gun, useful for softening up a capture point before disgorging its payload and allowing them to capture it. Using the Cactus allowed me to beat this mission in two turns without employing any of my other units, at the expense of doing very little damage to the enemy forces.

  • The remainder of the operations at the Siegval Line were similarly straightforwards: a combination of scouts, use of the APC to deliver less mobile forces, and application of the Lancer class, allowed me to complete the next mission on very short order. I ended up using defense boost to advance one of my scouts to the enemy base, ignoring all enemies save those that stood on the base itself to finish the mission.

  • When Kai is injured by an enemy sniper, players must reach Raz and Kai to evacuate them. Klaus Walz’s Vulcan tank makes an appearance, although here, it is not a major factor: Riley is equipped with anti-armour shells and can deal enough damage to the Vulcan, removing it as as threat. From here, use of scouts and cover from enemy grenadiers will allow Kai to be rescued. Lancers from Squad E have much sleeker-looking anti-armour weapons than did the lancers of Squad 7.

  • With the Siegval Line captured, Federation forces push into Imperial territory and reach a town. Their arrival is marked by the near absence of supplies and a cool reception from the citizens, although Claude and Riley are able to purchase Imperial provisions for repairing the Hafen. During this run, a dealer supposes that Riley and Claude are a couple. Elsewhere, Kai tries to rein in a furious Raz when they learn all of the bacon in town has been bought out, only to lose her cool when it turns out all of the bread’s gone, too.

  • When it turns out Squad F was behind this, Kai and Raz challenge them to a faceoff. Claude accepts, and the condition is simple enough – capture three bases that Squad F holds before they can capture the two that Squad E holds. Utilising the scouts, I quickly captured the far right base, then the central base. When the far right base was recaptured, I sent one of my scouts to reclaim it, then moved another scout to the leftmost base. All of this was done within three turns, and by then, I had practically finished the “exercise”.

  • However, I ended up deciding that, since I was here, I might as well blast Squad F’s tank to pieces and take a shot at wiping floor with Minerva herself. Squad F’s tank had made a beeline straight for my leftmost base during their turn, and so, I responded by moving the Hafen from the town square, bringing an engineer along with me to resupply and repair should things go south. I finished off Squad F’s tank off, and then turned my attention to Minerva. While she’s resistant to small arms, tank fire will damage her substantially.

  • With this post on Valkyria Chronicles 4 nearly in the books, I remark that April has blazed by at a speed hitherto unseen, and today, I spent much of the day out and about: the Truck and Auto show was in town, and it was fun looking at the different vehicles, even though my heart is set on a Mazda 3. This was followed by an unconventional Easter dinner whose centrepiece was ginger-and-scallion lobster on a bed of sticky rice. I vaguely recall that the first time I started Valkyria Chronicles, it was after enjoying fried chicken poutine on campus and then spending a good chunk of the day setting up one of the old Mac Pros with a new GPU ahead of my work with Unreal Engine.

  • It is humbling to know that the same engine that powered my Master’s Thesis also drives Ace Combat 7. Back in Valkyria Chronicles 4, I’ll admit that I was not expecting this: after smashing Minerva, either a graphical glitch or dumb luck resulted in her pantsu being visible. With a handful of CP left after defeating her, I proceeded to finish off the mission without a hitch. So far, earning A ranks on every mission has been straightforward, although with the ominous winter settling in, Valkyria Chronicles 4 looks to ramp things up. I know that there will be surprises in store for me as I push further into the game, and a part of the fun will be seeing how my über micro stacks against whatever’s in store for me.

I picked up Valkyria Chronicles 4 during the Winter Sale, but owing to my schedule, I never got around to starting until after I’d beaten the campaign for Senran Kagura: Peach Beach Splash and Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown. Now that both titles are under my belt, I’ve begun, and having put six hours into the campaign, I find myself immediately at home with the mechanics, progression system and scoring. The major difference is that system keys cannot be customised, meaning that the space bar I used to advance scenes and activate sequences can no longer be used. It takes some getting used to, but beyond this, Valkyria Chronicles 4 handles like an old friend. By making use of the Headquarters earlier on, I can give my classes more advantages and unlock orders; I’ve not put them to much use as of yet, nor have I attempted the old order stacking tricks, Valkyria Chronicles 4 remains as fun as its predecessor. With improved movement and upgrades to the Canvas Engine, visuals look slightly more impressive than they did, and the game handles very well. Insofar, I’ve not run into the first mission that sent me packing: back in Valkyria Chronicles, the appearance of the Batomys during the Barious Desert campaign completely shut me down, and it took me the better part of ten months to get back into the game. I anticipate that there will be a similar mission upcoming that will similarly vex me, but this time, I am equipped with the expectation of increasingly challenging missions that will test me – with a stronger grasp of the mechanics compared to when I first played Valkyria Chronicles, I’m ready to take on whatever comes my way.