We return to the battlefields of not-Europe at E3.
Sega is showing the upcoming Valkyria Chronicles 4 at E3 this week, both on PS4 and Switch. We played the game undocked on Switch and on PS4. For the purpose of the impressions I'll be focused on my experiences with the handheld Switch version of the game.
The Valkyria Chronicles series tasks the player with commanding a rag-tag unit of soldiers in a World War II-inspired existential fight against an evil Empire. The game styles itself as a turn-based strategy game, not dissimilar from games like the 2013 XCOM reboot and Code Name: S.T.E.A.M.. The player moves characters around a 3D battlefield, using cover and terrain to their advantage, in order to attack their enemies. Like those games, Valkyria Chronicles features a number of character classes, each with different ranges an skills. Unlike XCOM (and similar to S.T.E.A.M.), Valkyria Chronicles controls more closely to a third-person shooter, including tasking the player with lining up the shot - although stats will impact the accuracy.
The demo was of the tutorial stage, so a limited number of classes were at my disposal: scout (a fast soldier with a medium-range rifle), trooper (a short-ranged, slower infantry solder with a machine gun), sniper, and a tank. The demo mostly focused on how to move those forces across the battlefield, and utilize their skills while maintaining cover and setting up your forces to intercept the enemy with they move on their turn.
As a veteran of Valkyria Chronicles, I didn't need the tutorial, so the pace felt pretty slow. However, there is a demo on the show floor of later stages, and that seems to better reflect the Valkyria Chronicles gameplay that I loved. Utilizing the specific maneuverability and weapons of each class to effectively advance on the objective, while remaining safe, is still core to this game. Late in the demo, the tutorial gives the player a tank, which can be used to destroy the low walls the enemy can use as cover. It can also move much further per turn, and with it's powerful canon can deal massive damage to enemy armor.
Vakyria Chronicles 4 is a return to consoles for the series, after spending the previous two iterations stranded on the PSP. Even undocked on Switch, it shows why this is an exciting development. The game is pretty, using an art style designed to evoke hand-drawn sketches. Member's of the game's localization team promised that the experience on Switch is comparable to its PS4 counterpart. Obviously, there are some resolution and framerate differences - and that is noticeable on the show floor - but at no point did I feel that playing Valkyria Chronicles 4 on the Switch in handheld mode was a compromised experience.
Valkyria Chronicles 4 looks like a return to form for the series, and the Switch version looks like it's shaping up to be a great way to play it on the go. I'm looking forward to playing it when it comes out this Fall.