Valkyria Chronicles 4 is already out in Japan, but is finally coming west on PC, PS4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch this fall. While the gameplay will be super familiar to series fans, it does introduce a brand new class — the Grenadier — which has the potential to change up the typical strategies that Valkyria Chronicles fans may have gotten used to since the series began.
During E3 2018, I had the chance to go hands on with one of the earliest chapters in Valkyria Chronicles 4, which introduces the Grenadier. I could already tell from that chapter alone that the Grenadier will be one of my new favorite classes due to the exciting new strategic opportunities it provides.
The mission I played was titled Chapter 1: The Battle for Fort Krest – Siege of the Castle. As the title suggests, this level has Commander Claude Wallace and Squad E taking back a castle from imperial soldiers. The map was T-shaped, with enemies lined up on the walls surrounding my soldiers and at the other end; debris also blocked the main pathway, so Claude’s tank couldn’t get through.
Starting off in the mission, it looked like things would go very, very poorly for Squad E. While my tank and other units were able to take some of the enemies on the ground, the enemies utilizing turrets on the walls were hard to take down. Then, just when I needed it most, a Grenadier named Riley Miller ended up changing the tide of the battle.
In the final game, she will turn out to be a former friend of Claude’s who comes back to assist her long lost friend. She wields a miniaturized grenade launcher, which packs much more power than the typical soldier. This grenade launcher takes time to carry around and set up, but has lots of power and amazing range.
With this, I was easily able to aim up at the walls, taking down these enemies that were normally tough to aim at. This allowed me to modify my strategy, as I could take out (normally) annoying enemies from afar, or at least deal enough damage for my other units to swoop in and get the kill. I also knew she would also be able to provide devastating support fire during enemy turns, which quickly swayed the battle in my favor.
While I only had exposure to the Grenadier unit in this level, I could tell that it is a game changer. It will be very useful to have this kind of firepower from a range that not many other units can pull off. Riley also seems like a very interesting character, and though I did not really get enough time within this level to get to know her, I’m looking forward to seeing her development.
Though the Grenadier is poised to add a whole new level of strategy to Valkyria Chronicles 4, I was happy to see that the game still plays similarly to the original. After the series’ stint on handhelds and an action-oriented spin-off, it needs a nice-looking return to form, which is what Valkyria Chronicles 4 seems keen on doing.
The game did feel good on a controller during my demo, though it did run into some sensitivity issues when it came to aiming on the build I played. While I could quickly switch from aiming at one enemy to another, precise aiming was finicky, making it sometimes hard to get the exact shot I wanted. Hopefully this gets tweaked a bit more before launch, because otherwise the gameplay of Valkyria Chronicles 4 is on par with the original games.
I was very nervous when I first played Valkyria Chronicles 4 due to my lofty expectations for the title. Fortunately, the game delivered, as the level I played was just as fun as many levels from the original Valkyria Chronicles. On top of that, the new Grenadier class should open up some interesting tactics, especially when missions get more hectic and the number of enemies increases.
While the controls may have to be tweaked a bit before launch, the game otherwise plays like an enhanced version of the first title, which I don’t see as a bad thing. These new characters all seem interesting, so I’m looking forward to spending much more time with them and seeing this war from a different angle than ever before.
Valkyria Chronicles 4 is currently available in Japan, though the game will be heading west in fall 2018 for PS4, Xbox One, Switch, and PC.