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Category Archives: Valkyria Chronicles

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.

Valkyria Chronicles: Exploring the Enter the Edy Detachment and Behind Her Blue Flame Campaigns

“Hear me, loyal son of The Empire! Shore up your defenses and ready for their attack!” –Selvaria Bles

In Enter the Edy Detachment, Edy Nelson and her squad are separated from Welkin’s group. While moving their way back, they come across a village held by Imperial force. Lacking armour and more firepower, Edy decides to have her group hold the Imperials off long enough for the villagers to evacuate, and after learning that Rosie needs assistance, Edy moves towards helping her out. Edy’s mission is short, simple and provides a bit of fun for players. Selvaria’s Behind Her Blue Flame campaign, on the other hand, follows her operations with Imperial engineer Johann Oswald Eisen, a timid soldier whose experiences lead him to become more capable. Here, Imperial forces make to capture the Ghirlandaio Citadel from Gallia. Because Selvaria is adverse to Ragnite weapons, Johann works with her to advance, allowing them to take Ghirlandaio. General Damon is shocked and orders the use of chemical weapons, which disable Selvaria. Johann comes to her aid, and fully recovered, Selvaria again lends her considerable skills in combat towards an Imperial victory, driving off the Gallian forces and General Damon to secure Ghirlandaio Citadel. In the aftermath, Selvaria shares a meal with Johann as thanks, and Johann decides to become a scout, inspired by his time fighting under Selvaria’s command. The full-fledged campaign in Behind Her Blue Flame will award players with the Ruhm, Selvaria’s personal weapon, and the tenacious can also unlock an additional level, in which they can play as the Imperial Alliance’s most lethal soldier with her Valkyrur powers unlocked.

Enter the Edy Detachment offers very little by way of story, save a bit of humour, but Behind Her Blue Flame is quite the opposite, providing players with a profound experience from the Imperial Alliance’s perspective. Having long played for Gallia, it was very refreshing to play Valkyria Chronicles as the Imperials. The nameless soldiers that Squad Seven had slaughtered wholesale during Valkyria Chronicles‘ campaign are given human attributes and backgrounds – they are no longer nameless and inhumane. Valkyria Chronicles presented Maximillian as a despot bent on conquering Europa without a concern for his subordinates, but Behind Her Blue Flame illustrates that Selvaria, despite her Valkyrur origins and utmost devotion to Maximillian, is as human as anyone else, caring about those under her command and constantly striving to accomplish whatever goals are assigned to her. In her downtime, she cooks and maintains her appearance, and is not immune to moments of embarrassment, either. Similarly, while players have long seen Gallian forces as the protagonist, watching General Damon’s incompetence and reliance on WMD show that Gallia’s military also has immoral elements. Consequently, it was superbly entertaining to destroy his tank and watch as he loses composure while Selvaria and Johann best him. The Behind Her Blue Flame missions excel at presenting Imperial soldiers as people and that wars are ultimately fought by human beings: in providing players a chance to see things from the antagonist’s perspective, things in Valkyria Chronicles no longer seem so black and white.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • There’s a fun aspect about Edy’s character, and I personally found her to resemble Kantai Collection‘s Zuikaku in appearance and manner; both share the tsundere personality. Edy’s mission is a simple one: hold off Imperial Forces and then reach the marked point before one exceeds a certain number of turns. This mission, however, proved much more difficult than the campaign missions in that orders are not available.

  • Before we continue further, I remark that I played through the Edy Detachment campaign back during January of 2017 – I am very bad when it comes to recreation, so it takes me forever to finish something. With this being said, once I start something, I will finish quite quickly. The Edy campaign (not to be confused with her challenge missions) is a short one that offers no unlocks, but offers players a chance to see how the show is run when Welkin and Alicia are not around.

  • I ended up beating this mission with a B rank: not particularly impressive, but I note that at that time, I had not played Valkyria Chronicles for upwards of six months. The reason why I did not have a separate post for Edy’s mission was because it was comparatively short, and so, there was not enough content for me to do a separate talk on things. As such, I decided to merge the post together with Selvaria’s missions.

  • Selvaria’s missions, unlike Edy’s, features exceptionally strong writing and solid character development despite its short runtime. Players will have access to Selvaria, a veritable one-woman army, and several Imperial units to command. The gameplay is identical, although as one of my readers mentioned in a comment I can’t quite find, the Imperial soldiers are not particularly durable and should be used with caution. By comparison, Selvaria is a beast: Ruhm is Valkyria Chronicles‘ equivalent to Halo‘s pistol, a weapon so infamous that it has been more or less immortalised in gaming history as one of the greatest overpowered weapons of all time.

  • I loved Johann’s story – a timid soldier, his time with Selvaria transforms him into a determined soldier devoted to his duty, and he also changes roles from the support-oriented engineer to a scout. Most of my strategy in Selvaria’s missions were to move Selvaria forward, and then move Johann up to provide support for her. I was therefore able to finish the first mission on short order, and decided to not go for Damon’s tank on the far corner of the map.

  • Even without demolitions boost, the Ruhm is powerful enough to ruin the Gallian tanks in one action. Gallian light armour is actually quite powerful against the light tank players are given, being able to take out most of my health in one shot, and as a result, I’ve had a few attempts that saw me lose my tank. Selvaria might not have demolitions boost, but her orders to increase defense are immensely powerful and allow the otherwise fragile Imperials to survive interception fire more easily.

  • Besides providing a solid bit of background for Selvaria, the fact that she’s not fond of Ragnite-based weapons means that she’s also unable to wield grenades and break down the barricades blocking her path. This forces players to use Johann to support her: as an engineer, he has access to three grenades per turn, which are utilised to clear barriers. The result is a very unique dynamic between Selvaria and Johann: as powerful as Selvaria is, she simply can’t clear the barriers on her own and is entirely dependent on Johann to help her. Other soldiers, though capable of carrying grenades, do not carry nearly as many.

  • The DLC missions show that the Gallian army is not above using WMDs to accomplish their aim: while Valkyria Chronicles presents the Imperials as soulless invaders, the DLC illustrate that the host of soldiers Squad Seven wade through are also people, with families and dreams of their own. It was therefore a bit unexpected to see Damon deploy Ragnite Gas, a nerve agent, against Imperial Forces. This leaves Selvaria immobilised, and so, on the second mission, the goal is to get Johann to her: he’s carrying an antivenin to Ragnite gas.

  • Because I did not destroy Damon’s tank on my first run, I ended up with “Rout of the Gallian Forces”, where the central gate is closed. The left flank on the map is weakly defended, and after I captured one of the bases to prevent Gallian forces from storming in, I managed to reach Selvaria in two turns. Fortunately, by eliminating nearby hostiles, Gallian forces were not able to capture her, and once I had Selvaria back in commission, it was a simple matter of boosting her defense with an order and sprinting to the end of the map to capture the base.

  • While the other Imperial units besides Selvaria are very weak defensively, their offense is acceptable, and they should not be ignored: they can be used to capture bases, eliminate hostiles and provide additional command points to make the missions easier. Beating any two of Selvaria’s missions will unlock the Ruhm for use in the full game, and this weapon, like the Federov Avtomat, is a game-changer, turning any shocktrooper into an assault rifle-wielding beast. Specialising in close quarters engagements, shocktroopers usually wield submachine guns, fast-firing automatic weapons that fire 9 mm pistol cartridges. Because the Ruhm is chambered for the 7.62 mm round and is characterised as a versatile, infantry-portable weapon, it handles more similarly to an assault rifle.

  • Against all but the most distant of foes, and foes behind cover, the Ruhm is able to dispose of enemies with ease. After completing Behind Her Blue Flame once with any score, on either of the two possible second missions, will unlock the Ruhm for use in the campaign, but there’s a reason why I went through things again. On my first run, I was not particularly focused on destroying Damon’s tank, since I simply needed to get the second mission done.

  • While guides maintain it’s a bit tricky to get Damon’s tank in three turns, Selvaria and Johann can be moved quite far. The trick to eliminating Damon’s tank is to know where it is located, and once found, it’s a matter of clearing all Gallian forces out and pulling one’s lancers back to keep them alive for the next turn, redeploying them at a capture point closer to Damon’s tank. Eliminating Gallian units also reduces their number of command points, so once their turn ends, and the player’s lancers spawn in, it’s a simple matter of running around the corner and smashing Damon’s tank with a single shot to the thermal exhaust port radiator.

  • Once Damon’s tank is destroyed, he will pull back, and it’s a quick finish as Selvaria and Johann push forwards to capture the required objective. Taking out Damon’s tank causes him to retreat and order a strike on Ghirlandaio: this has a tangible effect on how the second mission turns out, and in my opinion, this actually results in an easier second mission: the main gate is opened, and while Damon will use artillery to try set off ammunition stored at the facility, this won’t occur early on in the mission.

  • The first action is to move the Imperial tank up, and subsequently eliminate the Gatling guns. Keeping the tank up here at close range also allows for Musaad the Mole to be eliminated by Gallian interception fire alone. I’m not sure if this is a bug or feature, but it does allow players to take out a Gallian elite unit without much difficulty. Some patience will be required, since the interception fire won’t deal a high amount of damage, but it’s worth the wait.

  • Pushing through the remainder of the mission is very straightforwards once the tank is moved ahead: after Johann reaches Selvaria, it’s game over for the Gallian forces. As such, I will now go on a tangent and consider Girls und Panzer: Dream Tank Match, which prima facie has a very similar set of mechanics to Valkyria Chronicles. Unfortunately, despite having a full English version, it’s only for the Playstation 4, and as such, is something that I won’t be able to experience unless I drop some coin for a console.

  • This is a bloody shame, and as far as I’m concerned, a terrible business decision: locking out a PC version isn’t going to convince PC gamers to cough up for a Playstation 4 and reduces sales overall. I have long been waiting for a chance to apply my own brand of strats to schooling the Nishizumi Style, and to be denied this is somewhat disappointing. Of course, if a PC version ever does become available (likely, after Half-Life 3 is released), I would not hesitate to buy Dream Tank Match at full price, if only so I could take proponents of the Nishizumi Style to school.

  • There are other games to be enjoyed in the meantime, so I won’t worry too much about the fact that I probably will not be playing Dream Tank Match without a Playstation 4 for the present, and return to Valkyria Chronicles, where I’ve been given access to Selvaria’s Valkyrur powers, having beaten all of the other missions with A-ranks. As a Valkyrur, Selvaria has access to the incredible powers afforded by a Valkyrur lance. In addition to a Gatling beam mode, which she made use of during the Barious mission, Selvaria’s lance also has a single-shot beam that can eliminate anything.

  • The beam weapon is capable of of melting multiple tanks in a single shot, putting it on par with Halo 3‘s Spartan Laser: with this much firepower, and the object of the final mission being simply to eliminate all Gallian forces, Selvaria’s final mission is remarkably straightforwards and perhaps the very best definition of what proper fanservice is, being something that appeals to the viewer in some way. While Selvaria’s assets might just be why she’s so favourably viewed, I personally enjoyed her story and in-game performance to a much greater extent. I’m glad that Selvaria was not implemented with deformable object physics. Beyond being a visual distraction, ill-implemented approaches can also be resource intensive.

  • It’s been a shade less than three years since I write about Valkyria Chronicles for the first time : back then, I had just finished setting up an upgraded computer ahead of my work with the Unreal Engine and spent the afternoon eating a fried chicken poutine while talking about a seminar I’d attended with my supervisor. Presently, I’ve enjoying a quiet evening following a dinner with an extra-crispy, spicy fried chicken, and it’s the middle of tax season. Some things have changed in the three years that’ve passed, such as my volunteering as a judge for a local city-wide science fair, and others have remained the same.

  • So, about a year and a third after I began the DLC, I’ve finished the campaign segments of Valkyria Chronicles, and I might return to the main game to beat it a second time as time allows. Of course, seasoned readers will know by now that whether or not this will happen is entirely up in the air, to be determined as time allows. With this being said, however, there are some things that are not so uncertain; I will be writing about Comic Girls and Amanchu! Advance after their respective third episodes have aired, and I have tenative plans to review Fireworks, Should We See It from the Side or the Bottom? (Uchiage Hanabi, Shita Kara Miru ka? Yoko Kara Miru ka?) once its home release is available.

Having completed the campaign-driven DLC missions of Valkyria Chronicles and unlocked the Ruhm, I’m now back into Valkyria Chronicles‘ new game mode, which allows me to replay old missions and make use of all of my unlocks. It’s been nearly a decade since Valkyria Chronicles first released in Japan for the Playstation 3, and despite its age, Valkyria Chronicles has aged very gracefully. The pencil sketch-like visuals, made possible by the CANVAS Engine, gives the game a timeless feel, as does the setting, and as such, even against modern giants like Battlefield 1 and Far Cry 5, Valkyria Chronicles continues to look and feel amazing. While the gameplay has become a bit dated (movement and aiming is a little unwieldy), the mechanics largely feel smooth and responsive. My story with Valkyria Chronicles began with watching the anime some years ago: after Girls und Panzer ended, I was looking for an anime that provided similar armoured combat, and Valkyria Chronicles was one series that seemed to fit the bill. I left the anime largely impressed and picked the game up for PC once it became available, and since then, Valkyria Chronicles has become one of my favourite games of all time for its superb narrative, world-building and gameplay, representing the a game that has found the perfect balance between Only In Battlefield™ moments and story. The DLCs further bolster the game’s enjoyment factor, breathing additional life into a well-written world, and my procrastination abilities notwithstanding, I’m glad to have taken the time to take a look at Valkyria Chronicles‘ campaign DLC missions.

Valkyria Chronicles: Final Review and Reflection at the game’s Endgame

“…You can do this! Believe in yourself!” —Welkin Gunther

Officially, I completed Valkyria Chronicles on the Friday evening leading up to the Victoria Day Long Weekend. Pushing my way through Citadel Ghirlandaio, it was a quick fight to open the rail switches and deliver an explosive device to crack the fortress’ gates. Once inside, I turned Squad Seven’s attention towards defeating Selvaria. Even as a mere mortal, Selvaria has a high health pool and is armed with the Ruhm, an exceptionally powerful weapon with the accuracy of a sniper rifle and firing rate of a submachine gun. However, my own forces were well-equipped to deal with Selvaria, and after capturing bases close to the Selvaria’s position, orders used in conjunction with Rosie ended that fight. Shortly after, Squad Seven is sent to divert the Marmota, a massive land dreadnought, and later, return to the Great Vasel Bridge for one final confrontation with General Jaeger. Besting his tank, Valkyria Chronicles sends Squad Seven on one final mission to stop the Marmota and defeat Maximilian. Despite his powers as an artificial Valkyrie, this mission was completed on short order, as well, and I sat back to enjoy the ending credits as rain began falling outside. After some forty-one hours of time spent in-game and 1.5 years having elapsed since I first bought the game during the Steam 2014 Winter Sale, I’ve finally finished my first play-through of Valkyria Chronicles.

Unsurprisingly, the major thematic element in Valkyria Chronicles is one that figures greatly in Girls und Panzer; strength of arms and brute force are not infallible against the resilient spirit of those who have a powerful reason to fight. General Jaeger outright says this to his men before taking his leave, learning that the Gallians are so effective is because they are fighting to defend their homes. Similarly, Welkin reminds Maximilian that power alone is meaningless; after learning that Alicia is a Valkyrur, he nonetheless chooses to field her as a conventional scout, counting on Squad Seven’s experience and resolve to turn back Maximilian’s war machine in place of the easier route of having Alicia wield her Valkyrur powers. These themes are mirrored throughout Girls und Panzer, and it is perhaps for this reason that Valkyria Chronicles and Girls und Panzer wind up being similar enough for it to have been a recommended anime for me. Back during May 2013, after I had completed Girls und Panzer, I was looking for a similar anime. My initial impressions were that Valkyria Chronicles‘ anime incarnation was dramatically different in setting and narrative, only overlapping in terms of armoured combat. However, now that I’ve beaten the game, these differences are no longer so pronounced. Both Girls und Panzer and Valkyria Chronicles‘ game incarnation have a powerful narrative about how individuals fighting to save what they hold dear to them triumphs over firepower alone. Similarly, both have a diverse cast that takes some time to get used to, but contribute substantially to the sense of unity and determination amongst the characters. While Valkyria Chronicles‘ anime does not capture this theme quite as effectively as Girls und Panzer, the game certainly succeeds; it presents a combination of narrative, emotional impact and gameplay that is successful in captivating the player.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • We come to it at last, the final post I will do on Valkyria Chronicles‘ main campaign. I do plan on going through and beating all of the DLC, plus playing through the entire game again to grab all of the A-ranks for each mission at some point in the future, and I imagine that now armed with orders and maxed out characters, this is going to be a walk in the park.

  • Demolitions boost in conjunction with defense boost and awaken potential on Alicia turns her into Halo‘s Spartan-117 in terms of lethality: tanks without armoured exhaust vents can now be destroyed in a single action, since Alicia has the mobility to flank the tanks and move around them to reach the exposed vents. Activating her potentials means she further takes on the Master Chief’s capabilities: with her double movement, resist crossfire and mysterious body potentials, Alicia can cover a vast amount of ground, shrug off otherwise-lethal shots and regenerate her health.

  • With all of these elements together, I finished the first mission at Citadel Ghirlandaio in two turns, making extensive use of Alicia to activate the rail switches and subsequently deliver a bomb that would blast open the fortress’ main gates. In the absence of orders, Valkyria Chronicles becomes much harder; in addition to scoring A-ranks on each mission, it will also be fun to see how much forward thinking and strats will be needed to score A-ranks without using orders.

  • The second Citadel Ghirlandaio mission involves a duel with Selvaria herself. Although possessing the Ruhm, Selvaria does not use her Valkyrur powers here. I made use of cover to capture the bases to the right side of the map, with the intent of calling in shock troopers as reinforcements so they can engage Selvaria.

  • Like Wolfenstein: The New Order, each mission in Valkyria Chronicles is memorable, being set in a different setting with a unique atmosphere and feel to it. The presence of full cutscenes and narrative styles inspired by kinetic novels, the story was actually quite compelling to read through and experience, giving each mission additional weight. This approach also strikes a fine balance between excitement and tedium: the game allows players to progress in a more relaxed manner compared to something like a shooter, but is also more engaging than reading text on a screen.

  • One of my original strategies was to deploy the Edelweiss and have it cover the area in smoke so that my shocktroopers would have an easier time attacking Selvaria: she does not dodge shots fired from behind and this would have ended the mission quite quickly. However, Selvaria moved before this plan could be executed. Here, I take advantage of the Edelweiss to destroy an enemy heavy tank, and it appears that I’ve captured one of the Edelweiss’ piercing rounds leaving the barrel to impact the enemy armour’s radiator.

  • In response to the changing situation, I pushed Rosie to the front, giving her the orders to increase defense, increase attack power and ignore enemy defense. Three consecutive attacks ended the duel, completing this mission on relatively short order. I’ve heard much about how Valkyria Chronicles can be unbalanced in some areas, and while this is true (the game does encourage expedience over elimination), that there will be a new game plus mode after everything is done means that one can replay missions to try different or unusual strategies without worrying about combat performance.

  • The mission to divert the Marmota was one of the most straightforwards one in the game, bringing to mind the mission to rescue Princess Cordelia from Federation kidnappers. Set in a canyon, the goal is to trigger the right number of rockslides, pushing the massive land-dreadnought into a section of the canyon for attack by Gallian forces. Because characters splattered by the Marmota die instantly, this mission is best carried out with only Rosie, Largo and Zaka in the Shamrock: they will retreat when the Marmota runs over their position.

  • Making use of Alicia and the Edelweiss is all that is necessary to complete this mission: once Alica takes down the barricades, the Edelweiss can roll over the landmines and detonate them, allowing Alicia safe passage. While the Marmota is a vast weapon far larger than anything Squad Seven has experienced in previous missions, it is by no means intimidating: its large guns are fired after a turn is ended, and these are easily avoided.

  • Once players reach the end of the objective, it’s a matter of ending the phase, allowing the Marmota to drive forwards. This is easily the most tedious part of the mission, but if all has gone well, the Marmota will reach the target point after eight turns, the number of turns required to secure the A-rank in this mission. The cutscenes show that the combined firepower of the Gallian forces is insufficient, but Squad Seven is tasked with returning to Randgriz and engaging it from there.

  • It’s been some 14 months since I played the battle for the Great Vasal Bridge, but here, we’re back to take on General Jaeger and his Lupus a second time. In this showdown, the Lupus is equipped with heavy armour that absorbs damage the tank takes per turn. From what I’m hearing, the Lupus draws design features from the Soviet KV-2 and German Maus, both of which feature in Girls und Panzer.

  • While seemingly intimidating, a shock trooper armed with penetration and demolitions boost allowed me to beat the Lupus in two turns: the first turn was to position the characters and get a kill of one of the level’s aces, then use smoke rounds to conceal Rosie’s position. Subsequently, it was a matter of wearing the Lupus down gradually before the turn ended. It’s been some years since I played something where infantry could disable armour: in games like Halo, I never particularly feared heavy armour because the shoulder-fired weapons (like the M41 SPNKR or the Spartan Laser) were sufficient to defeat armour.

  • With the Marmota sustaining minor damage, the aim of the penultimate mission is to board this leviathan and disable the Valkof, a Valkyrur weapon capable of immense destruction. Maximilian uses it to annihilate a mountain top, consuming around a fifth of its charge in the process. The blast is enough to vapourise the mountain and probably has a yield of around 200kt, so a full-power shot would yield 1 MT.

  • When I wrote the first impressions post for Valkyria Chronicles last year, the post came shortly after I set up a 2009 Mac Pro, attended a talk on software analytics and had a fried chicken poutine. This year, I helped one of the summer students set up a better Mac Pro with the ATI 5770; I left a small mess in the demonstration room, where the Mac we use for demos would not boot up properly, but managed to clean that up. Food trucks were on campus today, and I stopped by Wilk’s Booth. Because I was set to drop by the medical campus to attend a talk on business and medicine, I had their Ranchman’s Burger and a side of thick-cut fries this time around. I’ve no photographs to show this time around because the burger a little messy on top of being totally delicious, with bacon, maple-BBQ Chipotle sauce and plenty of onions.

  • Today was also the hottest day of 2016 so far, and after the talk ended, I returned to main campus to attend my brother’s graduation, before celebrating with an evening out. I also picked up a small travel bag in preparation for the July conference. Back in Valkyria Chronicles, the penetration and demolitions boost orders are used to great effect in the second-to-last mission: once active, it will take 4 CP to destroy the Valkof. I’ve heard it is possible to complete this mission in one turn, although my Squad Seven roster and setup meant that it took me two turns to complete.

  • So, after making my way through the campaign, I come to it at last: the ultimate showdown between Squad Seven and Maximilian. Although the anime made this fight more dramatic, the game incarnation is superior, having Squad Seven take on Maximilian’s Artificial Valkyrur system. Capable of reproducing the Valkyrur’s power, Maximilian’s system depends on external generators to keep him powered up, so it’s quite natural to attack the power sources.

  • After blowing out three of the generators, Maximilian becomes vulnerable to fire. I’ve not used a sniper properly since mission seven, but in this final mission, I deploy Catherine to accurately take out a distant generator, before using Largo to dispatch the other two. Destroying more towers than this is a waste of CP, since the other towers will regenerate on Maximilian’s turn.

  • Once the barrier protecting Maximilian is lowered, like the Rebel Fleet does in Return of the Jedi, it’s time to commence attack on Maximilian himself. I used attack boost, defense boost, penetration and awaken potential on Rosie, then pounded the living daylights out of him to end this mission in a single turn. It was back in May when I beat this: it was a Friday evening, and the skies were heavy with cloud cover. After firing the last of the shots that defeated Maximilian, rain began falling and the credits rolled.

  • This is the end of my first journey with Valkyria Chronicles, and it’s a little surprising to see just how much time has elapsed since I picked this up. When the game entered my library, I was finishing my first term as a graduate student and was preparing to go for a winter tour of Taiwan. I fired my first shot in the game as I was ending my second term of graduate studies, and finally finished a year-and-a-half (well, 17 months) after buying it. It was a fantastic journey, and with this one finally in the books, it’s time to go and make some headway in Alien Isolation.

Taken together, Valkyria Chronicles is a game that stands as one of the best titles I’ve experienced, and overall, it is very easy to recommend this game to individuals, even those who are not familiar with Japanese turn-based tactical RPGs. With generally solid gameplay, a fantastic art style that captures the nostalgic, old-time feel of an alternate universe, one of the best soundtracks composed for a game and a compelling story that allows players to truly feel like Squad Seven’s commander, Valkyria Chronicles is what a game should be: capable of immersing players in another world, in the process allowing them to empathise with the protagonists and feel clever for completing a particularly difficult mission. Furthermore, there are plenty of extras in the game: successful completion of the game unlocks the story missions for replay, and the Steam version provides free DLC that further augment the experience. While the game is not mechanically flawless (the AI is deterministic and movement can be a little unsmooth), its presentation and content overall means that for its price, players get more than their money’s worth for Valkyria Chronicles. Thus, it is perhaps unsurprising that Valkyria Chronicles‘ Steam copy has sold over 800 000 copies as of this May. This is a game that thoroughly earns a strong recommendation, so for those who’ve not played it, one could go so far to say that they’re missing out. The game only goes for around 20 USD in the Steam Store and moreover, only requires a GTX 280 to play on full graphics; any modern computer will have no difficulty running this game, so unless one has but an integrated GPU, there’s no real excuse not to pick up Valkyria Chronicles and give it a spin.