Monday’s Play – Still Valkyria Chronicles

More Valkyria Chronicles today.  Despite essentially taking twice as long to do each mission because of my quest for A ranks – I’m both playing levels for the first time to learn how to do them and then replaying them for rank, which pretty much means I’m doing my first and second playthroughs simultaneously – I think I’m proceeding at a good pace now.

NOTE: I seem to be reaching a point where big events are beginning to happen, so SPOILERS will likely follow.

Valkyria Chronicles

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My first attempt today was a complete retry from the start, using what I learned from the poor attempt yesterday to do better this time.  Initially it went well, smoothly taking the first enemy camp and completing the the first objective (destruction of a bridge used for reinforcements), taking it in two turns and being ready to move towards the second objective.

Fortunately I saved at that point, because the next turn things quickly started to go wrong.  I pushed forward too fast and got my engineer (responsible for tank repairs and ammo replenishment) killed, leaving my tank immobilised in the middle of a bridge, its damaged treads making it incapable of anything but limping forward incredibly slowly.  To compensate I pushed forward even faster, hoping to activate a key reinforcement point (an elevator to my main camp) to bring in a new engineer, but all that did was get another two people killed, leaving my tank alone.

It was clear then that this attempt was a write-off, so I just pushed forward slowly with the tank to get another look at troop placements, until it was destroyed.  Time to try again.

Things went much better after a reload.  I pushed forward sensibly, activated the elevator and brought down some shocktroopers to make short work of the nearby enemies, then pushed forward to the final area, with my tank providing cover for Alicia to move through and reach the final objective, activating the bomb.  The mission ended in five turns, rank A, 47,140 EXP, 86,140 DCT.  The princess gave out the same medal as yesterday (the Fouzen Service Medal), but this time gave out more weapons: two scout rifles, one shocktropper assault rifle and one lancer lance.

The bridge collapses and General Gregor insults the Gallians, saying, “Cowards!  Too afraid to face me directly?!”  That seemed a little hypocritical, considering he’s saying it while in his invincible armoured train with a powerful cannon.  The train plunges into the water below, with Zaka at least convinced that that’s the end of Gregor.  If that’s true then it would be the first major casualty of the war (for named, important characters, that is).

As the mission ends Captain Varrot radios in to say that the Imperials are fleeing the city but have set fire to the Darcsen concentration camp on their way.

The next cutscene of the chapter is quite an unhappy one.  Squad 7 discover that all the Darcsen were rounded up into a building in the camp and burned alive.  It hits Rosie particularly hard, with her realising what her own hatred of Darcsens can lead to when left unchecked.  The entire squad pitches in to sift through the ruins and look for survivors.

The chapter ends with a cutscene that occurs a while later, once Squad 7 have returned home.  Their victory is seen as the key moment in the siege of Fouzen, so they’re quite proud.  Alicia is worrying about the Darcsen when Zaka walks in, in full Gallian uniform, announcing that he’s joined the militia and has been assigned to Squad 7.  I assumed he was going to be a mechanic leader unit, but he reveals he has experience as a tank commander, giving Squad 7 a second (small) tank, which is very nice.

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The next chapter starts with a briefing.  Squad 7 are being sent north to the coastline, to mop up remnants of the Imperial forces.  The camp they’re sent to is only accessible by a narrow path, essentially a choke point that will get them mowed down in a frontal approach.  Welkin comments that the enemy would ideally need to be blinded in the approach.  This sets Isara off with an idea, and the cutscene ends.

In the next cutscene Ellet tells the squad about  the origins of the Feast of All Spirits, the holiday that occurs tomorrow (the day of their mission).  Apparently it stemmed from old spiritual beliefs and used to be about giving gifts to everybody important to you, but has since become more like our Valentine’s Day, giving gifts to your true love.

Isara comes in and gives Darcsen Luck Charms to Largo and Rosie, saying that she has always wanted to be their friend and would like to use the festival to do that.  Largo accepts it gratefully but Rosie doesn’t, falling back on her dislike of Darcsen as an excuse, but suggesting there’s something more to it (Rosie found one of those charms in the fire at the Darcsen camp, which has likely had an impact).  Isara and Zaka (both being Darcsen) leave immediately after that, and when its just Largo and Rosie alone they talk about Rosie wanting to apologise to Isara for all she’s said about Darcsen, but not knowing how.  It’s a nice bit of development for Rosie, even if it seemed likely all along that her irrational hatred was going to soften by the end of the game.

The next (optional) cutscene has Welkin trying to come up with a plan for the assault when Alicia comes in, covered in dirt and with some butterfly or moth in her hands, which Welkin identifies as a “mottled vagabond”.  They’re a migratory species and Welkin has never been able to find one, so he’s very happy with the gift.

Alicia mentions that while it’s not a very romantic gift, she thought it was fitting.  She then mentions how giving a gift to the person you like is supposed to make things go well for you, then gets all embarrassed.  Welkin realises what she means and also gets embarrassed, and the cutscene ends.

The next cutscene is also optional, and has Isara upset in the garage.  Zaka comes to reassure her that Rosie wasn’t trying to be rude, and tells her that it will take time both to get close to Rosie and to change the relationship between Darcsen and other people in general.  He adds that she’s probably a little on edge about the operation tomorrow, which reminds Isara that she actually has a plan she needs to bring to Welkin.  Logic points to it being the plane we saw a few chapters ago.  Isara runs off, and the cutscene ends.

The final cutscene before battle has everybody back in the briefing room the next day.  Welkin mentions he and Isara came up with something, and then Isara storms in to say that “it” is ready.  It turns out the plan is to use smoke rounds to hide the troops from view, so I was wrong about the plane.  Zaka points out that she must have stayed up all night to get them done, and Isara says that the squad are like her family, and she can’t let them die.  The cutscene ends and it’s time for battle.

A side note:  Each chapter screen shows all that chapter’s cutscenes and battles in book format, with any you’ve not viewed greyed out.  The final one for the chapter (after this battle) is a great big picture of Welkin, Alicia and Largo looking very sad, suggesting something dramatic is about to happen.  With Isara getting a lot of focus and being gameplay irrelevant (she sits in the tank with Welkin, making her replaceable without actually losing anybody) I have a bad feeling about her future.

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The briefing for the mission shows the choke point mentioned in the cutscenes, with Varrot adding that there are also heavily fortified bunkers that are going to be difficult to attack directly, but could possibly have ragnite stored nearby that could be set off by a gun shot.  It then says that “if your shocktroopers have classed up to elites by now, you can also use their flamethrowers to take them down”, which I didn’t realise could happen.  Mine are still regular shocktroopers (at level ten), which made me feel suddenly inadequate.

As mentioned in the previous entry, all the enemy units are now elite units with extra surprises up their sleeves, and Varrot adds that the flamethrowers are effective against crouching enemies, which is exactly what their “poision gas” cloud was being used for in the last mission.

Both tanks are present in the mission, the first time I’ve got to use Zaka’s Shamrock.  Statwise it has less health than the Edelweiss but more action points, essentially meaning it’s faster but less powerful.  It can’t fire the smoke rounds, but Zaka says it can make up for it by “picking up the slack on offence”.

The beach machine guns are quite simply called “Invulnerable Gun” to hammer home the point.  The mission went okay at first, though for the tanks the smoke shots make it difficult to see (for foot soldiers it’s more zoomed in and gives you a better view through it).  The tanks are blocked from accessing most of the level, but have a vantage point in the centre that gives you a view of almost the whole battlefield (apart from the objective, the enemy base camp).  Moving up and taking the beach camp was easy, but after that things went as well as they should for a level I’ve not played before.

I sent some troops in the wrong direction, pushed further forward than I should, and started losing key units.  The line about flamethrowers being useful began to ring true, as the enemy used them to great effect on my units while I struggled to damage enemy troops in cover, who take an incredibly low amount of damage now.  The objective screen reported that I was still on track for an A rank on the eighth turn, so there’s no need to rush that much, which is nice. The final camp (the objective) has two tanks and a bunch of soldiers that will take several turns to get through, which stopped me from getting the victory on my first attempt, with the rank dropping to B on the ninth turn.

I completed it in ten turns, with every enemy on the level dead.  That was a B rank, awarding 47,750 EXP and 89,650 DCT and was awarded 3 good sniper rifles and no medals.

That’s where I stopped for the day.  I’ll re-attempt it tomorrow for the A rank, but my first look at the post-mission cutscene suggests I wasn’t far wrong with my prediction earlier in this post.

Image Sources:

Lancer Posing: Sankaku Complex (CAUTION – links to site with adult, NSFW content)

Alicia Image: Dark Diamond

Imperial and Tank: Ripten

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