Redefining War on the PS4
Looking back, it’s hard to believe it’s been eight years since Valkyria Chronicles and its iconic tank, the Edelwiess, first rumbled onto the the PlayStation 3. One of the last generation’s best kept secrets, SEGA’s criminally overlooked SRPG redefined the genre, cleverly melding traditional turn-based strategy gameplay with tight third-person shooter elements to deliver an experience all its own, and it was fantastic.
Now, nearly a decade after we first saw Welkin Gunther and his ragtag Gallian militia overthrow the vile East Europan Imperial Alliance, SEGA is bringing Valkyria Chronicles to the PlayStation 4 to give those who may have missed out on the the first time around a chance to wage war on Sony’s latest shiny black box. Sporting a 1080p/60fps overhaul to the game’s lush, Canvas Engine-powered visuals, Dual Audio tracks and all of the DLC from the PlayStation 3 version of the game, Valkyria Chronicles Remastered certainly seems worthy of its name. While the game’s May 16 release is still nearly a month away, we’ve spent the past few weeks showing the Imperial armies the business end of our tank’s cannon on the PS4, and we have to say that we’re quite impressed with what’s on display.
For those of you who never managed to play through Valkyria Chronicles when it first released (shame on you), I suppose a bit of a story primer is in order. The game’s story is set in the year 1935 E.C., set against the backdrop of the continent of Europa, loosely based on World War II-era Europe. The Empire, also known as the East Europan Imperial Alliance – who come across as a bit of a mix between Nazi Germany and the Roman Empire – invade the Atlantic Federation in a push to conquer their land and capture their precious reserves of Ragnite, a resource that pretty much everything from tanks to medical equipment. This act of aggression by the Empire sends the land spiraling into the Second Europan War. Early in their campaign, Imperial forces storm the sovereign Principality of Gallia. This is where the game’s story begins, with players assuming the role of Welkin Gunther, a kindhearted school teacher with a love for nature as he ditches his textbooks for a battle tank and takes control of Squad 7, a band of militia fighters, as they fight to liberate their homeland from the evil forces of the Empire once and for all.
While all of this political intrigue is certainly great, it really just serves as an excuse for one kick ass SRPG full of fanciful takes on 20th century tech. Players take command of a variety of classes such as Scouts, which are good for exploring a map but lack impressive firepower, Snipers who can dispatch enemy units from a mile away with dead-eye precision but are utterly defenseless at close range, and Shock Troopers, who can lay down steady volleys of machine gun fire and are pretty much the most well-rounded grunts of the bunch. Other, more specialized units include Lancers, who can destroy enemy mechanized units with a well-placed shot from their Javelin-like rocket launchers, and Engineers who can lay restock your army’s ammo and repair your most valuable asset – the Edelweiss.
A relic of the First Europan War, the Edelweiss is Squad 7’s iconic tank, which serves essentially as your “Hero Unit” in most missions. The Edelweiss is piloted by Welkin and is pretty much impervious to small arms fire and can decimate enemies as they hunker behind cover with its punishing mortars, turn tanks to scrap metal with its anti-armor rounds, and mow down grunts with its machine guns. While it may sound like a rolling death machine, the Edelweiss does have an Achilles heel in the form of its glowing, Ragnite-powered engine. One stray rocket or artillery shot to this vulnerable spot on the rear of your tank can turn it into a smoldering wreck, quickly taking players back to the title screen, heads hanging in shame.
Those who cut their teeth on the original PlayStation 3 version of Valkyria Chronicles will surely remember how stunning the game looked when it released. While the game’s character models look a bit dated, the game’s Canvas Engine looks great in 1080p, making the Gallian soil you’ll wage war across look more vibrant than ever. The game’s lush, flowing visuals look more watercolor than ever, and sharper resolution makes the little details in the gorgeous cinematic sequences truly shine. The enhanced frame rate really helps in combat as well, bringing a greater deal of fluidity to the engagements and making the the enemy and player model’s movements appear much more natural this time around.
Completionists disappointed by the fact that Valkyria Chronicles’ original release predated Sony’s implementation of the Trophies have cause to celebrate as well, as Valkyria Chronicles Remastered has implemented them, setting the gauntlet for players hoping to secure that prized platinum trophy for overthrowing the empire.
Overall, Valkryia Chronicles Remastered has made a strong case for itself in the hours we’ve spent with it so far. The game is simply one of the best to be released in the past decade, and watching the game’s lighthearted, yet occasionally sobering story unfold all over again has been nothing short of a treat. The updated visuals and streamlined performance this remaster brings to the table on the PlayStation 4 are nice bonuses that add a new layer of shine to the game, and the dozens of extra skirmishes crammed into the package in the form of the added DLC content are great bonuses for fans who’ve yet to experience SEGA’s last-gen SRPG epic.
Stay tuned for our full thoughts on Valkyria Chronicles Remastered when our review goes live on May 10th.