‘Valkyria Chronicles 4,’ is a true sequel worth the 10-year wait
After a decade of disappointing sequels and a mediocre spinoff, Sega is inally giving “Valkyria Chronicles” fans what they want: a true sequel. Fans have wanted a proper follow-up since the cult classic was released on the PlayStation 3.
The original was a magical blend of turn-based combat, tabletop strategy and engaging narrative. The campaign followed a ragtag group of soldiers from Squad 7 as they battled the Empire for their homeland of Gallia. For its time, the game was a revelation, showing the potential of the genre before Firaxis’ “XCOM” reboot.
With “Valkyria Chronicles 4,” Sega keeps the core gameplay intact but tweaks it with a new class called the grenadier, along with weather elements, ship orders and last stands. It also takes place in the same time period as the irst game, but the narrative follows a different crew — Squad E of the Edinburgh Army.
Led by Lt. Claude Wallace, the platoon ights on the Eastern front of the Second Europan War. It’s a conflict that echoes World War II, but “Valkyria Chronicles” features fantastical elements in the form of Valkyria. These are living weapons who have supernatural abilities and can single-handedly take out battalions.
As part of the army defending the Atlantic Federation, Claude takes part in Operation Northern Cross and later Operation Cygnus. These two efforts are meant to short circuit the Empire by capturing the capital, but an early winter and an unexpected adversary get in the way.
“Valkyria Chronicles 4” does a great job of forging a narrative that leshes out the concepts of the original. The team creates a narrative that’s more nuanced with surprisingly complex villains and lovable side characters. The Valkyria are still the center of the story, but in this iteration, they’re more like weapons of mass destruction rather than super-soldiers, and their treatment raises inner conflict on both sides.
All of this sets up a storyline that overcomes its predictability. Despite the transparent twists, the narrative manages to keep players enthralled. Much of that has to do with the gameplay.
On each turn, the two sides are given command points, which they use to take control of squad members. When picked, players have full control and they can make troops climb ladders or maneuver a tank between narrow spaces. They usually perform one action such as iring a gun, and depending on a character ’s class, range and weapon, they hit or miss the enemy.
What’s interesting is that sight lines play a crucial role in combat. Characters must be able to see an enemy before firing. Because of this, cover and other environmental elements become vital for survival. The way players move the squad is reminiscent of tabletop games such as “Warhammer 40,000.”
With classes specializing in different ranges and types of combat, it’s important that players pick the right mix of troops before a battle. If players won’t face tanks, it’s better to ill a spot with an extra scout or shock-trooper instead of a armordestroying lancer.
The grenadier presents a new wrinkle because it’s a powerful unit that helps clear enemy-dense areas so that other troopers can capture an objective. In some ways, it’s better than the sniper, but the way Sega designed the mission, each class has a chance to shine and prove pivotal in combat.