Sunday’s Play – Yet More Valkyria Chronicles

I played some more Valkyria Chronicles today, completing another two missions and witnessing some more World War 2 parallels.  Read on for details.

Valkyria Chronicles

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With the princess rescued, Squad 7 are honoured and Welkin is given a medal by the princess.  Borg handles the ceremony, and in close up looks even more evil, with a long pointy beard and long, thin eyebrows.  Short of dressing him in black with some kind of skull motif there isn’t much more they could have done to make him radiate EVIL.  The princess reveals that Squad 7’s questions have had an effect on her, which can’t be good news for Borg.

In the next cutscene, Faldio comes to speak to Welkin, telling him that there has been no mention of the kidnapping in the news, and that Borg is the one pressuring them to stay silent to try and avoid war with the Federation.  Faldio is worried because as a historian he knows that eventually the bigger nations swallow the smaller ones, and says that Welkin has seen the same in nature, the strongest survive at the expense of the weaker.  But there’s also nothing they can do about it, at least not yet.

With the end of the cutscene comes the end of the chapter, which unlocks a few more things, specifically the Decorations tab for viewing medals (of which there seem to be twenty in total) and the ability to speak with the princess when in the Headquarters.

It seems that I overestimated Prime Minister Borg in my previous post, suggesting he might both have been behind the kidnapping and deciding to use Squad 7’s interference to frame them as traitors, because the game continues as normal with the next chapter.

Then chapter ten, “The Liberation of Fouzen”, begins.  In the first cutscene Welkin details the mission, with the militia being sent to liberate the industrial city of Fouzen, a primary source of the Ragnite fuel that is the main reason for the entire war.  The Imperial forces apparently have a large armoured train that they use to keep the city defended, and destroying it is Squad 7’s objective.  Apparently they have a Darcsen ally on the inside to help them.

Side note: The Darcsen are a race of dark-haired people.  They have no home of their own and are blamed for a great disaster in the past, leading to a lot of irrational hatred and mistrust directed at them to this day.  The Imperials have apparently been rounding them up into work camps since the start of the Second Europan War.  Some could probably see some parallels in there to real life events (the next cutscene is even called “The Concentration Camp”).

The next (optional) cutscene has the Empire’s General Gregor at one of the Darcsen work camps.  The people there are starving and Gregor beats one who begs for food and water.  Gregor demands to speak to the person in charge of the Darcsens, who is presumably the Gallian’s man on the inside.  His name is Zaka and he sticks up for his people, saying people are falling sick at one of the ragnite refineries.  Gregor dismisses the comments, calling the Darcsens “animals” that only need to be silent and obey.

Zaka points out the fairly obvious flaw in this kind of attitude: They’re using Darcsens for work, which they can’t do if they’re starved, mistreated and worked to death.  Gregor actually recognises the logic in his comments, and agrees to allow the sick workers to recover before they return to work.  It’s not exactly a humanitarian gesture, but it stops Gregor from coming across as being evil beyond reason.

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The mission itself is just a basic “reach the destination” one.  It’s another night mission, with spotlights that will bring snipers and mortars down upon anybody sighted by them.  The victory condition is for Welkin to reach the goal, which is interesting as he’s in the relatively slow tank.

The first attempt went okay and I progressed well through the map, mostly with just Welkin.  Rosie was sent up around the cliffs to pick off snipers, while Alicia kept up with Welkin and then took out the snipers on the opposite side when they were that far in.  My mistake was leaving one lancer alive behind me, as he fired at my tank from really far away (far enough that I doubt my lancers would ever have made the shot), struck its weak spot in the back and destroyed it in one shot.  Mission failed.

Other than that, I made key two mistakes on the mission.  One, I forgot to save at any point during it, so had to start over again from the beginning.  Two, I forgot to check what my ranking was after four turns, so I don’t know if I was on track for an A rank or if I need to make any changes to strategy.  So I essentially had to start the mission over without knowing what to do differently, other than killing that damn lancer.

On my second try I did almost the same things, but handled the lancer bit much better, getting across the final bridge but not quite having the movement to reach the end of the level in five turns (which would still have been an A rank).  The sixth turn dropped it down to a B rank, one short movement away from victory.  Rank B, 37,050 EXP, 65,250 DCT.  This was enough to give the squad three medals and four new weapons from the princess (one for each class), although as it was my first time visiting her some may have already been waiting before the battle.  The medals were:

  • The Lance of Gallia – For defeating an elite enemy.
  • The Crimson Heart – To a soldier wounded in the line of duty.
  • Order of the Holy Lance – For achieving victory with incredible speed.

Anyway, I tried the mission again (from a save I remembered to make a couple of turns in), trying to do much the same as before, but at the final bridge (which is guarded by one tank and two lancers) I changed tactics.  On my previous, B-Rank attempt I killed both lancers first and then ended my turn (the fourth turn), which I thought was the best way to proceed as it meant they had less enemies capable of destroying the tank.  However, it also meant that on the fifth turn I had to spend three phases destroying the tank with Welkin, which meant he didn’t have enough movement (which reduces each time you reuse a unit) to reach the exit.

This time I focused on the tank and left the lancers alive, not quite killing but leaving it only needing one shot.  Welkin survived the enemy attack and was able to destroy the tank on the next turn and move to the exit.  Right before finishing I used a nearby engineer to kill the two lancers, meaning I killed exactly the same amount of troops, but in one less turn.  Rank A, 43,850 EXP, 77,690 DCT.

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The post-mission cutscene has Squad 7 meeting with Zaka and being told of his plan.  Essentially he needs the militia to distract the army while he plants a bomb under the tracks.  Detonating it when the armoured train is at the right point will send it crashing down into the canyon below, which will hit both the Empire’s strength in Fouzen and the force’s morale, as well as allowing the Gallian troops to properly invade.

Meanwhile, Rosie looks over how the Empire have treated the Darcsen.  Throughout the campaign so far she has been hostile to Isara (a Darcsen), based wholly on existing prejudices and stereotypes, and here she sees just what that attitude can lead to.  Zaka speaks with her and asks her what she likes.  When she answers that she likes to sing, Zaka points out that there is an incredible range of different kinds of music, just like every person is different, including Darcsen.

In the next cutscene, Isara is horrified by the treatment of her people.  Zaka says all they can do is work to change people’s minds, but it won’t be quick or easy.

Back in the headquarters, Ellet had a new report to buy, Squad 7’s R&R.  There’s no additional mission with this one (Largo’s Passion is still the only report to have one so far).  It’s a series of cutscenes and, as the name implies, focuses on a brief vacation for Squad 7.  It’s mainly just for giving the characters more dialogue together that isn’t focused around the war, gently adding to the existing character development and story.

It begins with them called into the briefing room, grumbling about having another mission so soon, but Captain Varrot announces that everybody is being given a break instead.  The Squad has been granted access to the princess’ private shoreline, giving them their own personal beach vacation.

On the beach, Alicia arrives with a new swimsuit she bought with Rosie (not expecting to need one when she left home to join the army), and is very nervous around Welkin because she likes him.  Welkin’s embarrassed when he’s asked what he thinks of her costume, because he really likes her as well.

Looking out at the sea, Isara is embarrassed when Welkin reminds her that she used to be scared of water.  Then, while the others play, Largo and Varrot watch (in full uniform).  Both joke about the other being too old to want to join in, although both are only in their thirties (we’re talking the jRPG kind of ‘old’ though, which I’ll get into in another post).  There’s good banter between the two.  It ends when Largo talks about when they both first enlisted and mentions somebody called Frederick.  This has an affect on Varrot and she asks Largo not to talk about him, then gets up to go for a walk.

Ellett arrives and mentions she has a boyfriend, which I think was mostly to show that she was actually here and therefore able to ‘write’ the report we’re watching.  It ends with with a game of beach volleyball, initially Welkin and Alicia against Isara, until they convince Rosie to join in and even things out.

With that over, it’s back to Fouzen and the mission to destroy the tracks.  For some reason the city (or at least this section) is built on some kind of canyon or ravine, so there are lots of narrow routes and bridges for the Squad to navigate to reach their target.  All units on the level are “Elite” units, which seems to give them extra tricks.  The shocktroopers have some kind of poison cloud gun that does a lot of damage even to crouching units (who normally get big damage reductions), and the scouts have some kind of personal mortar weapon.  It means there are a few more things to keep in mind when positioning units, but it’s not a huge change.

In addition to two tanks that need to be taken care of, the level is dominated by General Gregor in the armoured train.  As well as being able to fire mortar shots anywhere on the map, the train moves back and forth across the top of the map and will fire at any units that try and move when he’s near.  It’s something that needs to be kept in mind, because the first objective – a bridge being used for enemy reinforcements on the north-east of the map – is in range of the train when it’s on that side, making an approach difficult (and maybe impossible).  When the train is in the centre of the track it will shoot anybody trying to cross the central bridge, and when on the right it will fire at anybody making the approach to the final objective (the bomb).

I messed up on my first attempt while crossing the central bridge, losing all my units while trying to rush through under the train’s gaze, but on my next attempt things went a little better and I advanced steadily, completing the mission in maybe seven or eight turns, which was a rank C, awarding 32,260 EXP and 58,260 DCT, as well as two royal sniper rifles and the Fouzen Service Medal (for beating the encounter).

That’s where I stopped for the day.

Image Sources:

Varrot and Largo: ZonaForo de MeriStation

Alicia and the Edelweiss: Kotaku

VC Group Shot – Eurogamer Gallery

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