RPG fans unite! An all-star development team and interesting concepts make this game one to watch.
Atlus is a company known for their RPGs and there has never been a shortage of them specifically for the 3DS. Another classically-styled JRPG called The Legend of Legacy was announced only recently but it arrived on the show floor in full demo style for E3. Core gameplay elements feel very familiar to seasoned RPG-gamers, but there are enough new features in the formula to present a new take with a lot of potential.
As you might expect of an RPG, there are seven different characters in the game that will form your three-person party at any given time, but the twist in this concept is that all seven are your main characters. Each player on the initial select screen has their own story to explore that will obviously intersect with the rest at varying points, and only when you've played all seven do you get the full picture The Legend of Legacy has to offer.
RPGs always require combining characters of various classes or elemental attributes in order to beat enemies. Your traditional tank-DPS-healer trifecta is a genuine staple, but Atlus has opted for something different. Instead your skills are dependent on the weapon your character wields. The more you use it, the more you level the character's proficiency in that weapon and gain new, more powerful skills. Unfortunately short play time with the demo meant I was stuck in a single weapon's skill tree and didn't get to mess with this option much.
Real-time and turn-based are the basic options for battle systems in game, and this title has opted for turn-based. I realized it had a bit more to it though when suddenly battle formations made a difference. Positioning in battle isn't new for RPGs, but The Legend of Legacy takes and combines positioning into its skills to change their effectiveness. The demo had me try out a Pegasus Formation first, with a shield-user using a skill to block for two damage dealers behind. It obviously adds something to the standard system when you're made to think about not only someone's skill potential, but also where in the battle they would be best served. I sincerely hope the game expands on this further as the skill trees grow.
Atlus is synonymous with its most popular series and one of those is Etrian Odyssey. That series is known mostly for its difficulty curve and the mapping requirements it brings to all its titles and spin-offs. Overall it seems well-received, so it's no surprise that a similar device shows up in The Legend of Legacy. You don't have to draw the maps this time (an improvement in my opinion), but as you explore, the map grows on the screen in front of your eyes and on your map screen. While it means there's less interaction, artistically, it looks awesome, and it takes away the tedium of sketching out wall after wall. In this game, it's what you do with the map becomes more important than the map itself. The more you explore, the higher value your maps are to NPCs, who will indeed pay for them. But, on the other hand, if you choose to sell a partially completed map to NPCs, there is a higher chance their own explorations will aid you in yours. For once, you might not actually have to do everything yourself.
I'm an avid RPG gamer and I love to see the classic formula get some new concepts to keep it fresh. I think so far The Legend of Legacy is doing just that.