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The Legend of Heroes Thread - Trails of Cold Steel in the Sky

Discussion in 'jRPG Weeaboo Discussion' started by Crooked Bee, Feb 16, 2014.

  1. Ventidius Savant

    Ventidius
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    So, I finished Cold Steel IV yesterday. Some observations, with spoilers included:

    - Definitely the longest game in the series. Took me around 90 hours in all to finish it, which is about 10-20 hours more than it took me to beat the first three. I generally got the impression that this game simply has more content (levels, areas, encounters, quests, etc) than any of the others.

    - I'm not sure the increase in size actually works to the game's advantage. Even though the content quantity has been increased, it seems that the quality has been diluted to an extent. Level design is a case in point. There is only one level that springs to mind that comes close to the better dungeons from ToCS 3, that being the Einhel Keep level, which I admit was pretty cool. Prof. Schmidt was conjuring some heavy Mad Overlord vibes there. Other than that, the level design seems to have experienced a regression, something that reverses the trend seen since ToCS 2 onwards of actually improving the level design in each game. A part of this was them more or less ditching the levels where two or three parties cooperated with each other to progress through the dungeon. There are still levels where you control many parties, but they operate pretty much separately. Kinda sad they didn't expand on this idea.

    -Some users have already stated in this thread that the combat gets harder in every Cold Steel entry. I concur with that, and this game definitely continues that trend. This is probably the hardest of the Cold Steel games. I played it on Hard, and have got to say it gives Cold Steel 3 Nightmare a run for its money. The tactic of alpha striking with S-Crafts/Domination - the importance of which has frankly always been blown out of proportion by people who want to dismiss the combat in the series - has been brutally nerfed. Of the ToCS games, this is probably the one with the lowest amount of bosses that can be taken out with this kind of strategy. There are, of course, still some major encounters where it works, not to mention the odd boss/sub-boss for which it is the optimal strategy.

    I haven't played through the Sky games, but I've seen people mention in forums that Earth Wall spam is the most broken strategy in those. Supposing that is indeed the case, then ToCS 4 could perhaps be seen as a throwback to that, as the most surefire strategy to get through sticky situations was usually to keep my party buffed up with Adamantine Shield, Crescent Mirror, and Shining (not to mention bringing Emma along for both her S-Craft and Order). Part of this is due to the high durability of the bosses, which means you have to secure your own survivability in turn, but it's also due to the increased proliferation of status effects, as enemies (and not just bosses either) will after some point start handing those out like candy.

    When the combat is at its best, it works very well and is typically an exercise on knowing the system, paying attention to the types of attacks, moves, status effects, and tactics used by your foes, and using buffs and positioning to counter. The best example of this was probably the Pantagruel boss gauntlet. At its worst, however, the combat feels like a bloated battle of attrition where the outcome (in your favor) is not really in doubt, due to how cheese-able some of the buff-centric strategies can be. Even the bosses that can cancel your buffs don't change that, neither does the new ability some enemies have to riddle you with "negative" orders that debuff/hinder you and prevent you from using orders. Compared to that, even the battles in ToCS 2 and 3 where you could indeed just alpha strike were preferable. At least those were over quickly.

    Early game is still generally more challenging than late game, as expected, and this is probably the most interesting thing about ToCS 4's rather sluggish early game (something that was especially disappointing considering how strong the intro was). Overall, the combat is something of a mixed bag, and even though it is likely the hardest of the ToCS games, it's still not a particularly difficult game. It should be noted, however, that like the other ToCS games, it's not mindless either.

    -The game proceeds in a very linear and story-driven way, with exploration being weaker than it was in previous entries. The return of the ToCS 2 style open world is welcome, and the shift away from the school setting means that side content is structured in a less rote manner than it was in 1 and 3, as expected. However, the actual side content is not as interesting as it was in ToCS 2. Probably because back then there was a civil war going on in the explorable regions, while in 4 the actual war is only going on in the frontier with Calvard. It's fine that you can travel around to many regions, but there isn't much of a point when there isn't much of interest there. This is perhaps compounded (or alleviated, depending on how you see it) by the fact that the class score system feels more lenient than in previous entries. Furthermore, since the regions are practically the same as in ToCS 3, there isn't much of a sense of slow exploration and discovery of new areas of the setting (which was a strength of both ToCS 1 and 3). IMO in this aspect the game has neither the strengths of ToCS 2 nor those of 1 and 3. That said, some of the side quests are really cool, like the ones with Estelle and Lloyd (both in the final Act).

    -The character system and the combat mechanics seem roughly the same as in ToCS 3. Not much experimentation going on here. Some enemies now have "negative" orders, as I mentioned, but the overall impact is negligible. Lost Arts are back and there are now Level 4 EX Orbs for your mechs, but mechanically, this is probably the Cold Steel game that changed the least from its predecessor. Not that that's a bad thing, mind you. Cold Steel 3 was great in terms of character customization and systems. The combat mechanics had their drawbacks, but they also made for good fun a lot of the time. A lot of that carried over to this game, leaving aside the changes in the approach to encounter design. Probably the best thing to be said about this element in ToCS 4 is the fact that, after a certain point, you get a great cast of characters plus a lot of control over said cast. When it comes to these last two points, this is probably the best game in the series, and it certainly facilitates the building of your ultimate Cold Steel band of bros (or waifus?) and (mostly) keeping it together all the way through (though "mission locked" characters still abound, as usual). There were apparently some complaints about some fan favorties (like Crow) being too weak, but overall I found that the unit balance was decently done, and I didn't have a lot of problems with my preferred party setup.

    -The story is probably the weakest in the series. They avoided the trap of blaming everything on Ishmelga, but at the cost of making nonsense of the motivations of a lot of the characters working with Osborne. The 'fantastic' stuff seems, as I feared after ToCS 3, to have taken over completely. It has, of course, always been there. Not only in the series, but in Cold Steel itself. But in 1 and 2 this kind of thing was usually subsumed within political/war drama elements that were honestly more interesting. In ToCS 3 it does take over, but more or less by the end of the game. Here it permeates everything from the get-go. That said, the game sorta compensates by simply offering a lot of spectacle and 'epic' moments, the best parts probably being those that involved a lot of the characters and groups working together (both Class VIIs, the SSS, the Bracers, Mille Mirage, etc). Highlights include the Pantagruel and the Mishelam section near the end. The interactions between Rean and Cassius were pretty cool too, especially that classic anime moment when Rean masters the ultimate technique. I also think that, whatever its flaws, the story provides adequate closure for the arc, even if IMO it's not as interesting as those of the previous three games overall and by itself.

    All in all, I felt ToCS 4 was, in its own way, just as good as ToCS 2 and 3 and better than ToCS1. Like all of the other games in the series, it has its pros and cons, but when all is said and done, it does have this going for it: it's one of those rare games that gives you a feeling of having completed an epic journey by the end. In part this is simply due to how freaking time-consuming it is. But that is also due to both the game's massive scope and the fact that it brings an already epic series to its conclusion while delivering a lot of memorable moments in the process. I'd definitely recommend it to people who have stuck with the series from 1 to 3.

    EDIT: In retrospect, I was probably a bit harsh on the game in my concluding assessment. Amended that.
     
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2021
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  2. Sarathiour Learned

    Sarathiour
    Joined:
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    Falcom posted a few update and screenshot regarding Kuro no Kiseki :

    Show Spoiler


    [​IMG]



    Higher Rez Turn-based screenshot:
    Show Spoiler

    [​IMG]



    Some have speculated that i wil be kinda like atelier Ryza combat system, but my interpretation is that it will be sill pretty close from the previous one : The diamond-shaped icon on top of screen are probably placeholder, and will serve to represent your team action order on the left, and the enemy's one on the right.

    Also combat link are gone, and we will get new mechanics instead, like the S-boost gauge on the top left of the screen.
     
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  3. Gearmos Educated

    Gearmos
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    Trails of Cold Steel IV is coming to PC/Switch on April 9th. It has just been announced on the NGPX+ stream.
     
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  4. rashiakas Cipher Patron

    rashiakas
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    Pathfinder: Kingmaker
    9th eh? time to finish my 2nd playtrough of tocs3 then.
     
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  5. Sarathiour Learned

    Sarathiour
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    [​IMG]

    IDK why, it was working this morning.
     
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  6. Sarathiour Learned

    Sarathiour
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    What the hell
     
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  7. Rahdulan Arcane Patron

    Rahdulan
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    Don't hotlink, re-upload the image somewhere.
     
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  8. Sarathiour Learned

    Sarathiour
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    Well here goes nothing :[​IMG]
     
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  9. StaticSpine Arcane Patron

    StaticSpine
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    So you can switch to TB:positive:
     
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  10. Ysaye Savant

    Ysaye
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    So presumably if you are in real time action, the dodge mechanism (ie. the ability to press x to dodge) only kicks in if the mathematics allows for it, similar to how I recall it working in Ys 8 (I haven't played Ys 9 yet so don't know if that was brought over to that game?), whereas if you are in turn based mode, it automatically happens on the enemy attacking OR you get a limited time to press X on the enemy's attack turn, sort of similar to how link attacks occurred in previous Trails?

    And presumably the big plusof all of this for Falcom with all of this is that they can finally get rid of transition from the general movement to battle (it becomes if it were seamless)?

    For the player (that likes turn based), it means that meaningless battles can just probably be "sped up" by attacking the enemies on the map in real time, whereas the actual interesting ones can be brought into turn based?
     
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  11. It sounds like a real mess to me, and goes against what makes Trails great.

    I hope the TB mode is actually TB and an evolution of the system from the previous games, rather than a dumbed down version of it.
     
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  12. Ventidius Savant

    Ventidius
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    Having two different combat systems is always going to result in issues because developers have to spend time and resources tuning the game for both modes. Achieving the same level of quality for the combat that the dedicated turn-based games attained alone would be a challenge, but improving it would seem like a rather tall order. They do have experience on their side, I'll admit, as they have experimented with many different approaches to encounter design and combat systems in the Cold Steel series alone. At this point, they probably have a feel for what works and what doesn't. I'll probably end up buying it at some point down the line, but I am a bit skeptical overall and do think this could very well lead to decline.

    That said, I have to wonder why they think this is a good idea at all. First, the combat in the last two games could be sped up and/or automated to the point that trivial fights weren't really much of a time sink. Second, Falcom already has two Action RPG franchises in play for people that like the genre (Ys and Tokyo Xanadu), so why not keep their catalog diversified? And third, my impression is that turn-based games have been doing better financially as of late, what with the recent successes of franchises like Divinity: Original Sin, XCOM, and Fire Emblem. Not to mention I recall reading that the Cold Steel games themselves have been doing progressively better in terms of sales. It would seem like a better idea to take advantage of a rising niche in which they could realistically, and through steady work, secure a lead than trying to muscle into a larger market where competition is likely to be much stronger.
     
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  13. cruel Savant

    cruel
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    This seems like a massive decline, unfortunately. There is no way they can balance the combat to be challenging in both turn based and real time mode. Combat system is one of the greatest thing about Cold Steel games and one of the reasons I liked those games so much. If they replace it with some real time button mashing crap like newer Ys games (couldn't stand those for more than 10min), my interest in the franchise will be gone. Hope I'm wrong.
     
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  14. Sarathiour Learned

    Sarathiour
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    Yeah, one style is doomed to be easier than the other, that's a given.
    I don't want to be too pessimistic for TB though, if you pay attention to the UI, there still seems to be the classic command :attack/craft/art/item, and a new one called S-boost. It was also confirmed that they will still be buff/debuff art, and not just" choose your flavor of damage".

    I'm also skeptical , but we still have shitload of time before this game is going to be any close from a western release.
     
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  15. Balancing the two different modes will be hard I agree - but if the game has an increased budget and a larger team they could pull it off.

    Maybe they will look for statistics on who leaves it as a real time rather than switch back to TB and base future decisions off that.

    Good point about Ys and Tokyo Xanadu being real time though. Trails has always been turn based from day one, with no dumbing down, only added mechanics. Whichever way you look at it, adding an optional real time mode is still decline. I hope this is a one off and they will be persuaded to go back to exclusive TB for the next one.

    We still have Hajimari in between, regardless.
     
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  16. CyberModuled Savant

    CyberModuled
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    I don't even play these games for the gameplay and I sympathize with fans. This looks poor and the turn based looks very tailored for the real time combat.

     
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  17. Jinn Arcane

    Jinn
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    Turn-based looks very similar to the past system, except the movement looks freeform. Hopefully there is some kind of "movement point" gauge going down I'm not seeing there, but I'm guessing it's free movement until you use an action. So movement and positioning might not take up your turn, which is definitely decline, but besides that the turn-based system seems very close to Cold Steel.
     
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  18. Shinji Learned

    Shinji
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    Turn-based looks great.
    Not sure why they felt the need to add a "real-time action" mode, though.
     
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  19. NerevarineKing Educated

    NerevarineKing
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    I'm a long time fan of the series and I'm not sure why we're automatically dismissing this system. The animations in the Cold Steel games look pretty bad and this already looks much better. I'll see for myself how it plays, but I seriously doubt it's gonna be an issue in the slightest. I'm a fan of both Ys and Trails so I can enjoy both types of combat.
     
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  20. Jinn Arcane

    Jinn
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    Well, there's one who's indifferent about it, one sad about it, and there's two of us who say that it looks fine. I wouldn't say "we've" dismissed anything.
     
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2021
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  21. Ventidius Savant

    Ventidius
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    So, apparently, they are making a Trails of Cold Steel anime series:

    https://www.siliconera.com/trails-of-cold-steel-will-receive-an-anime-adaptation-in-2022/

    Show Spoiler

    Trails of Cold Steel Will Receive an Anime Adaptation in 2022
    By KITE STENBUCK 10 hours ago

    [​IMG]


    Nihon Falcom announced a TV anime adaptation of The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel on the company’s 40th-anniversary stream. The show is scheduled to air in 2022. [Thanks, 4Gamer!]

    Falcom revealed the upcoming anime adaptation is a global joint project with four other companies. In addition to the content brand SYOU and the anime production company NADA Holdings, Falcom will also work with Funimation Global Group, LLC, which handles global anime distribution, and UserJoy Technology Co., Ltd., which has been distributing Falcom titles to Taiwan and other Asian countries.

    Trails of Cold Steel consists of four games that began with the first title’s release on the PlayStation 3 and Vita in September 2013. The last title in the tetralogy, Trails of Cold Steel IV, was released first in Japan for the PlayStation 4 in September 2018. The game tetralogy primarily told the story of Rean Schwarzer, who enrolled at the Thors Military Academy in the Erebonian Empire. The new press release stated that the anime adaptation will depict the story in West Zemuria based on the original games.

    All titles in the Cold Steel tetralogy are currently available worldwide on the PlayStation 4. The series is also gradually making its way to the PC and Nintendo Switch. NIS America will release The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel IV for Nintendo Switch and PC via Steam on April 9, 2021.


    It's funny, since I have as of late been thinking that it'd probably be a good idea if someone adapted some of the Trails arcs to anime. For one thing, the Cold Steel series has better world-building, characters, visual design, and plot than the vast majority of anime series out there. It definitely sounds interesting and I, for one, look forward to this.
     
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  22. Urthor Liturgist Patron

    Urthor
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    Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire
    It seems like they have got the production committee together, who usually jointly fund the project, but not the studio. We'll see how it goes then.
     
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  23. HoboForEternity sunset tequila Patron

    HoboForEternity
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    damn the action basically is just ys game with extra steps

    at first i thought it was more of atelier ryza with some ATB, which is isn't too bad i guess.

    the TB mode looks ham fisted and just to minimize potential damage.

    then again i like yakuza 7 and it is such a departure from the usual series, so i won't be that guy and at least give them a chance.

    :dealwithit:
     
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  24. normie Arcane Patron Zionist Agent

    normie
    Joined:
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    Insert Title Here
    https://geofront.esterior.net/2021/03/14/closing-the-curtain-on-trails-from-zero-patch-1-1/

    Show Spoiler

    Closing the Curtain on Trails from Zero: Patch 1.1
    [​IMG]

    Hello, everyone! It’s been one year since Trails from Zero released, and we’re ecstatic to be able to celebrate that anniversary with this post. We’ve made quite a few changes to Zero in this past year, and the time has finally come for us to publish Zero’s last feature update and for the game to take its final bow and ride off into the sunset.

    Why did there need to be an update?
    Three major things have happened in the year since Zero released: NIS America launched Trails of Cold Steel IV, we edited the entirety of Trails to Azure, and thousands of you have told us about your experiences with our patch. As you can imagine, that leads to more changes to the script than could possibly be documented here.

    To give you a general idea, we first and foremost implemented every newly localized term in Cold Steel IV. This includes things such as the naming of the Residential District, Elie’s Randy-given nickname, Ilya Platiere’s moniker, and so much more.

    Beyond that, there have also been changes to the script to make the game more congruent with the editing style of Azure, add more polish, as well as correct any text bugs that have been submitted to us over the last year.

    The technical changes
    However, there have also been several other changes to the game underneath the surface. As alluded to in the last Azure update post, Zero’s script is built on a new format than from when we originally released the game a year ago. This format, which is also what Azure uses, is based on EDDecompiler. The change has made both games much easier to edit and is partially responsible for Azure’s editing process having been as smooth as it’s been.

    A positive side effect is that our Zero script is now more consistent with the Japanese releases. What I mean is, an unintended consequence of the older, clunky format was that we had the ability to inadvertently change the number of text boxes in the game. This occasionally led to instances in the main story where some text boxes would not have voice acting when playing a scene using the Evolution voice mod.

    [​IMG]
    Taken from trailsinthedatabase.com
    In the above, the blue text would be a text box that correctly has voice acting play with it, and the black text indicates that we added a text box where there wasn’t one, thus no voice acting would play. These instances were rewritten and consolidated to the correct box count, and this mistake won’t be repeated when we eventually release Trails to Azure. All in all, the scenario files are far more stable in this format, and any crashes related to the scenario should be a thing of the past.

    There have, of course, been several other fixes that you can read about in the changelog below. A few highlights are improved controller support, corrected resolution option settings, and a new-and-improved version of our installation and launcher program. We’re also happy to say that the few of you interested in installing and playing the game on Linux should have a much better experience with this version.

    One feature we, unfortunately, were unable to implement was support for any languages beyond English and the original Japanese — namely Chinese. However, with the coming PC port of Zero no Kiseki: Kai by Clouded Leopard Entertainment for Chinese and Korean, I think that will be a non-issue for any fans wanting to play in Chinese. We apologize and thank you for your understanding.

    [​IMG]
    The visual changes
    Finally, among the features added to Zero are visual improvements. This includes a few new textures that have been backported from Azure to enhance the graphics in Zero. Additionally, there’s one visual improvement that I’m personally very proud to announce: the support for HD video.

    The unmodded version of the game doesn’t support video higher than 240p — the same as what’s in the PSP version, obviously. Our lead programmer, Jose, was able to add support for 1080p. All of the game’s movie files are now in full HD, including a remastered opening edited by our video editors, Choojermelon, DrCullenPHD, and _seaPancake, and a new ending done by our graphics maestro, Sorcerian.

    To our talented artists and editors, thank you for indulging me and making this goal of mine a reality. I felt as though HD movies were the one thing Trails from Zero was lacking for it to truly be a complete and modern port. Hopefully, everyone who plays Zero from now onward will appreciate this addition, and, suffice to say, you can also expect HD movies to be a part of Trails to Azure.

    Farewell to Zero
    Thank you all for going on this journey with us. Trails from Zero has been a project that has touched and changed many of our lives. Sharing it with you all has been the opportunity of a lifetime.

    We’re still hard at work finishing up Azure, so please be patient with us. Releasing this month is unlikely, as the game still has several outstanding bugs and things to be completed before we’re comfortable launching. However, we are getting closer, and the game has taken great strides this month. We can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

    Before you go, have a look at Trails from Zero‘s updated opening and feel free to peruse the full changelog. Thanks again, and see you all soon.

    Changelog
    Mod/Functionality
    • Implement support for higher resolution movie files.
    • Improvements and design adjustments to Sound Test and the underlying music.json. The format should now be easier to explain. It now displays entries with their disk/track numbers in the original soundtrack.
    • Fix resolution settings not sorted/matched correctly on some systems.
    • Fix controller analog stick behavior: Dead zones are now radial instead of biased toward cardinal directions. Using the stick to navigate menus should also be improved.
    • Improvements to voice matching. More “vanilla” lines should play during cutscenes where no “additional” voice is present.
    • Fixed three known “default pose” Lloyd appearances in theater event scenes.
    • Fixed two known “default position” party appearances in event scenes where the bus is ridden.
    • Use Evolution timing/sequence for chase scene after theater scene at end of Chapter 2.
    • Use Evolution timing/sequence for chase battle scene in Chapter 3 Day 2.
    • Improve voice timing throughout the game.
    • Implement Japanese descriptions for the settings menu when Japanese display mode is used.
    English Files
    • Fixed typos on a couple of quartz notebook pages.
    • Improved appearance of various textures, most notably the place introduction images.
    • Changes to align with choices made in Trails of Cold Steel IV.
    • Countless changes to the text of the game to correct typos, as well as for accuracy, consistency, and much more.
    ZeroLauncher
    • Ported launcher to .NET 5, which is a more modern base. Includes numerous improvements and bug fixes.
    • The program is now a “self-contained executable” and does not have a separate setup process. Simply run the launcher with the mods in the same folder, and it’ll present the same installation process.
    • Greatly improved install speed and correctness for the game’s original files (.arc archives).
    • Improved the install progress reporting to show the files being copied.
    • There is now a 32-bit and 64-bit version of the same launcher, allowing those with 32-bit operating systems to install the game and mod. Linux users may appreciate this, as well.
     
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