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The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel II

Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita
Genre: RPG/Strategy
Publisher: XSEED Games
Developer: Nihon Falcom
Release Date: Sept. 6, 2016


PSV/PS3 Preview - 'The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel II'

by Chris "Atom" DeAngelus on June 17, 2016 @ 2:00 a.m. PDT

Awakening one month after the events of Cold Steel, Rean tries to find his friends and reunite with his sister Elise. Rean and his fellows try to find the remainder of Class VII and Thor's military school.

Pre-order The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel II

It's not possible to discuss Cold Steel 2's plot without spoiling the twists at the end of the first game, so if you're still waiting to play the first game, you've been forewarned! For those who've soldiered on, Cold Steel 2 opens a few months after the cliffhanger ending of Cold Steel. The Erebonian Civil War is in full swing, and Rean and his friends have been separated after the mysterious appearance of Rean's giant robot at the end of the first game. Rean has to get his friends together and figure out exactly how to stop the country from tearing itself apart.

Our brief look at the world in the demo included a long-awaited trip to Rean's hometown of Ymir. Players of the first game may recall that when characters visited Ymir, the players only got a massively abridged summary of the experience. XSEED told us that the full story was revealed in a drama CD that was released exclusively in Japan. While they could not do a full dub of the drama CD, the story will be translated and posted on the website for all players to read. This, however, still represents the first time players get to visit Ymir, and it's neat to finally get to see the place that was discussed so often in the first game.

One of the big things that Trails of Cold Steel 2 boasts is a much larger cast than the first game. Players who played the first will recall that the only playable cast members were from Class VII, with the exception of a brief temporary join by Sara the instructor and Angelica the former Class VII member. The new cast is significantly larger and comprises a bunch of characters who were nonplayable in the first game. This includes the secret agent-slash-maid Sharon and elite Bracer Toval, both of whom show up as playable characters in the demo. All of the original cast will return, complete with new designs and new allegiances, though it looks like every playable character from the first (except for perhaps the traitorous Crowe) will make a return to your party at some point.

The core combat system in Trails of Cold Steel 2 is very similar to the first. In fact, almost all the combat is identical. You still have access to Link attacks and Orbments, though we're told they've both seem some significant rebalancing. Certain extremely powerful moves have been toned down to be a little less overpowered, but weaker moves have been given a buff to be more competitive. the combat system is going to feel very familiar to fans of the first game. Much like Trails in the Sky: Second Chapter, you're going to start at a higher level, so the game will feature harder enemies and less in the way of tutorials.

In addition to the regular combat, Trails of Cold Steel 2 will also feature giant robot battles. At the end of Cold Steel, Rean got the giant mechanical knight Valimar, having proven himself worthy to pilot it through the events in the first game. Players may remember the final boss involving Valimar, but more of the fights will occur in Cold Steel 2. We were told that the fights in Cold Steel were more of an early prototype of the combat system that ended up appearing in Cold Steel 2, but the basic idea is the same. They are one-on-one fights between two giant robots. While they are still turn-based, the emphasis is on countering the enemy's moves. Every enemy hint at their next attack, and you have to choose which body part to attack to counter it. Using special moves can lessen the damage they deal to you or increase the damage you deal to them. Rean also links to his classmates while piloting, which grants Valimar special bonuses based on who Rean is linking with.

Outside of combat, there's a lot to do. There's no longer a yearly schedule since Rean doesn't attend school, but you'll still spend time with certain members of your team to improve your relationship with them and learn more about them. There's also a wide variety of minigames to play, including the return of fishing and cooking, as well as new minigames, like snowboarding. Even the Blade card game has returned with increased complexity and better balance. While combat is a major part of the game, there's going to be plenty to do outside of fighting. We're also told there's more freedom, since you'll gain early access to an airship. You'll even get a chance to ride the orbal bike that Rean tested in the first game!

Trails of Cold Steel 2 will not feature a complete save carryover from the first game. Instead, you'll gain special bonuses based on your class ranking, total level, and a few other factors. The better you did, the better bonuses you'll get. The game will continue to recognize certain decisions and choices you made in the first game. The most critical of these is the "dance" scene near the end of the game, which will be directly recognized in Cold Steel 2. We're also told that while Trails of Cold Steel 3 has already been announced, Cold Steel 2 doesn't end on as critical a cliffhanger as the first, and Class VII's plot will come to a satisfactory ending in this title.

The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel 2 doesn't look to be reinventing the wheel. Instead it seems like a more polished and more refined version of the first game. More characters, rebalanced combat, and more things to do mean that there's a lot more to this game than the first. The concept of being caught in the middle of a civil war is also a more exciting start than merely attending a military academy. Fans of the first should find a lot to like here and what we saw of the game makes it an exciting addition to the PS3's RPG lineup. Trails of Cold Steel should be out later this year for the PS3 and PlayStation Vita.

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