In each Valkyria Chronicles story, players are following a division of an army. While your force can be large and fierce, a few specific characters are always the stars. Valkyria Chronicles had Welkin, Alicia, and Isara, who get caught up in the Second Europan War when evacuating Bruhl. Valkyria Chronicles II takes place during the Gallian Civil War and focuses on military academy students Avan, Zeri, and Cosette. Valkyria Chronicles 4 continues that trend, but does so in a way that gives us more characters to focus on and care about, a mystery surrounding their history, and more units that are reliable and provide CP.
Valkyria Chronicles 4 is a tale presenting another side of the Second Europan War, which was explored in both the first and third games, but this time does so from the Atlantic Federation’s eyes. Squad E is a group of Rangers taking part in Operation Northern Cross, a push into Empire Territory. While there are plenty of people from different walks of life here, the focus is on a group of four friends who somehow, through the magic of video game coincidences, end up in the same squad. We start out in the middle of things, with childhood friends Claude Wallace, Raz, and Kai Schlen on a mission. We then are introduced to fellow member of the Hafen squad Riley Miller, who appears as ranged support on a particularly tricky mission.
From there, we get to see what happens when friends reunite after a tragedy that led to all of them pursuing forms of military life. This is told through both stories set during the Second Europan war and flashbacks showing what led to Claude becoming head of the Armored Ranger Battalion Squad E, caused bad blood between the friends that was not resolved until after they all joined the war effort, and led to other events. The way this is executed is rather masterfully done. Valkyria Chronicles 4 is a game with heart. It can be dramatic. There are moments when it is genuinely funny. You might be enraged by certain events. Other times may make you want to cry. At the core of almost all of these moments are Claude, Raz, Kai, and Riley. Each one of these people is interesting and believable. They are personable and occasionally they even make stupid decisions, but it all adds up to make things more intriguing.
Having these four is also a boon when playing Valkyria Chronicles 4. As an explanation for people who have never played the game, each character belongs to a certain class. Claude, for example, is usually in the tank with Miles, but can also act as a mobile Scout on some missions. Raz is a Shocktrooper that is all about shock and awe power. Kai is a sniper that should always be acting from a distance. Riley is a grenadier who can provide suppressive power and ranged attacks. (You also have Engineers for resupplying and tank maintenance and Lancers for dealing with tanks.) This means each one is a member of one of the four classes that should always have at least one unit from it deployed on every map, regardless of layout. You should always deploy all of them when you can.
There are a lot of reasons for this, aside from each being generally good, in terms of stats. Part of this is because they tend to like each other, which makes them work better together. This might mean they will offer supporting fire or more social Potentials will trigger more often. Speaking of Potentials, some have some that play off of one another and make them more effective. Kai has “Fool’s Protector,” which will increase her attack power if both her and Raz are deployed and near one another. Raz’s defense-lowering Mad Dog kicks in if he is around people he does not like, so it is good to have Claude and Kai around him. But best of all, each of these characters gives you one Command Point (CP). Each turn, you get a certain amount of CP, with each one allowing each unit to take action once. You want to have as much CP available as possible.
The story surrounding Valkyria Chronicles 4’s four childhood friends is also to the game’s benefit. Each of the Valkyria Chronicles games has a strong military component, where keeping track of the battles and progression of the war effort can be incredibly interesting. But for people who may not be as into those kinds of details or strategic elements, the story surrounding these friends offers a more personal element. We know something bad happened to them in their hometown, but is only after we really get to know then and understand the circumstances that the story opens up. We know there is a bit of a mystery involving what happened with Squad E not long after Claude was put in charge, but we have to earn it. Those personal touches help propel the tale forward for those who may be more concerned with people than the war effort.
Having these four people around in Valkyria Chronicles 4 helps make the game a little more special. They are four good units who are great in any battle. They are interesting people who are well developed in the story. They also give people a more personal story to follow, one that might be more identifiable. Having Claude, Raz, Kai, and Riley around makes the game more personable.
Valkyria Chronicles 4 will come to the Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC on September 25, 2018.