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Our review of the full game is available here: Review- Valkyria Chronicles 4 (Senjou no Valkyria 4)

The Valkyria Chronicles 4 (Senjou no Valkyria 4) demo for the PS4 was released on PSN in Japan on 26th February 2018. The demo goes up to chapter 2 of the game, includes a special mission not seen in the final product, and demo players can continue from where they left off in the completed game.

Valkyria 4 takes place at the same time as the first game, but features a completely different cast of characters and theatre of war. The player takes control of E platoon, an elite squad of the Edinburgh (the Valkyria Chronicles’ equivalent of England) army (part of the Atlantic Federation) consisting mainly of Gallian volunteers from the same village who signed up to fight in the war when their home came under attack from the East European Imperial Alliance (also known simply as the Empire),  led by protagonist Claude Wallace. The game begins three months into a war started by the Empire, which seeks to conquer the entire continent, in which 70% of the continent has already been occupied by the imperial forces. Seeing that it would be unable to continue fighting for long, the Federation launches Operation Northern Cross, an attempt to take the Imperial capital of Schwarzgrad, which E platoon participates in as well.

Excluding free battles, the demo features four stages: A simple tutorial, two actual stages (chapters 1 and 2), and a bonus stage unique to the demo accessible from the main menu after clearing chapter 2.

In chapter 1, E platoon is tasked with capturing enemy artillery located in an outpost fortified with heavy machine guns. The stage is divided into two phases: In the first phase, the player simply has to capture the control points in front of the outpost. In the second phase, heroine Riley, a member of the new grenadier class joins the player, allowing them to take out the machine guns and clear the stage.

In chapter 2, E platoon has to infiltrate a town and mark the locations of enemy tanks, a task made difficult by a large number of the tanks being fake decoys, and thick mist making it impossible to tell if a tank is real or fake except from close range. When this is accomplished, they try to call in artillery to bombard the tanks, only to find that their communications are jammed, and the second phase of the mission requires that the player use snipers to shoot at and change the numbers on several signal towers located around the map to send a message to the artillery under Riley’s command allowing them to take out the tanks.

The gameplay is far closer to that of the first game rather than that of the sequels, with several changes that seem small but are quite significant to gameplay:

  • Deploying a character from a control point only has them appear at that point the following turn.
  • Many classes have limited ammo that regenerates over time (turns), making it even harder to use the same character multiple times in one turn (there are exceptions, with scouts having unlimited ammo).
  • The tank only uses 1 command point, but there are generally more untraversable obstacles making it harder for it to adapt.
  • The addition of the grenadier class, which uses a portable mortar that fires projectiles over obstacles, and can bombard enemy units within range as they move for as long as any allied unit can see them (they do not have to be able to see the enemy themselves). Units hit by bombardment have their movement range reduced, and this is more effective against the player (it makes it so that the player has to keep moving while in range of a grenadier) than the enemy (as the computer does not have to take the time to think mid-move, grenadier bombardments almost never hit enemy units).

The end result is a very familiar-feeling experience that soons reveals itself to be very different from previous games. As it takes a turn for units to be newly deployed, and it is now harder for the same unit to be used non-stop in one turn, the player has to rely more so than before on using multiple units. Obstacles like chapter 1’s machine guns and chapter 2’s second phase’s objective requiring the use of snipers also facilitate the use of specific classes, making it harder for the player to clear entire maps with one or two scouts (that being said, despite all the changes, scouts can still relatively easily run over to a control point halfway across the map, toss a grenade in, and then capture it, all in one turn).

Ultimately, the demo makes Valkyria 4 feel like a very welcome return to the roots of the series, something that feels like an extension of the first game without making a misguided attempt to revolutionise it.

Senjou no Valkyria 4 will be released on the PS4 on 21st March 2018 and on the Nintendo Switch in summer 2018.

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