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Valkyria Chronicles 4 is a Great Fit for Switch... With Some Compromises

The Valkyria Chronicles 4 on Switch is in a rough spot in some ways.

Analysis by Kat Bailey, .

I love the idea of Valkyria Chronicles on Nintendo Switch. Turn-based tactics games feel like an inherently portable genre to me, but platforms like the PSP have always felt too small for a series that puts a premium on art like Valkyria Chronicles. Enter Valkyria Chronicles 4 on Nintendo Switch, which on the face of it is the perfect compromise.

Picking up a Switch with Valkyria Chronicles 4 is a revelatory moment. After the compromises of Valkyria Chronicles 2 and 3, it feels like the scales fall from your eyes. It's bright, clean, and beautiful on the big Switch handheld screen.

At first blush, it feels like a neat solution for the franchise. Valkyria Chronicles is still quite a beautiful game, but it's no longer the technical showcase that it once was, making it a natural fit for the less-powerful but still capable Switch. The story scenes stand out really well, and its turn-based tactics mesh well with the Switch's portability. Best of all, it's not limited to the handheld version, seemingly making it the best of both worlds.

But then you get to the actual battlefield and, well, there are a few compromises there. It's immediately noticeable, for example, that the actual soldiers and terrain are less detailed than before, taking away from its artistic splendor. Frame rate drops are also small but noticeable; and while they don't entirely impede gameplay, they do stand out.

Unfortunately, while these are compromises are nothing new—see Xenoblade Chronicles 2 when undocked—they do take a bit of the shine off of the Switch's Valkyria Chronicles 4 port. It speaks to the difficulty of porting even a game like Valkyria Chronicles when it isn't developed with the platform in mind, and the challenge of making handheld work. Valkyria Chronicles 4 for Switch is still technically under development—it's due out at the same time as the North America release—so Sega is still optimizing the port, but there's clearly some work to do.

These issues aside, though, Valkyria Chronicles 4 looks like a very nice sequel, albeit very similar to the original game. Like before, it's a turn-based tactics game that involves picking from a pool of soldiers with various weapons and quirks. It utilizes an AP bar to determine how far a character can travel, with each move costing one or more control points. Its strong points are its likable cast, complex maps, and anime-style storytelling, which has just enough emotional depth to resonate.

Valkyria Chronicles 4's story is concurrent with that of the original game, turning the spotlight over to the Federation, who are in the process of launching a massive counterattack into the heart of the Empire. Unfortunately, based on various trailers, the Federation is due for a harsh lesson—don't launch land wars in a fantasy version of Asia. Snow is apparently a major factor in Valkyria Chronicles 4, which should help set it apart from the previous game.

Regardless, I've personally been a big Valkyria Chronicles fan since the first game, which blew me away with its high-quality anime art and in-depth tactics. I especially liked the way that it broughts its characters to life with unique quirks, in-game dialogue, and memorable designs, even if they didn't have any real story beats. Marina is my gal forever.

I really want it to work on the Switch, and I'm holding out hope that this is an early version that is due to be optimized. But even if it's not, I'll probably be playing this version. In the end, the allure of a properly portable Valkyria Chronicles—complete with animated cutscenes—is too strong.

We'll see how it looks when it's released later this year. Even if it doesn't work out, there are always the versions on PS4 and Xbox One, as well as the newly-announced PC version. Regardless, it's good to have Valkyria Chronicles back.

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Comments 10

  • Avatar for Jonnyboy407 #1 Jonnyboy407 10 days ago
    I'm pretty pumped for this game. Any word on a release date?
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  • Avatar for NateDizzy #2 NateDizzy 10 days ago
    @Jonnyboy407 Last I heard was sometime in October, but that's still up in the air.
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  • Avatar for Godots17thCup #3 Godots17thCup 10 days ago
    Marina was so freaking good; I took her on basically every mission once I had access to her.

    I also liked the little character beats and bits of story that would happen around the edges of Valkyria Chronicles' main plot; I was especially fond of Largo's passion for vegetables and his sweet little friendship & romance with the captain.
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  • Avatar for moochan #4 moochan 10 days ago
    As long as it doesn't dig HARD I'm find with a slightly downgraded graphics.
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  • Avatar for Folkenhellfang #5 Folkenhellfang 10 days ago
    I never noticed any performance issues with Xenoblade 2, other than the one time it crashed on me while docked.

    I get that the enthusiast press might be more likely to be annoyed by a game's performance, but that sort of thing is not a big deal to me. I also don't play games for a living so that could be part of it as well. For my money, the things that matter in games are the mechanics, the systems, and the narratives. My concerns about performance died in the 16 bit era.

    VC 4 looks to be a solid return for a uniquely awesome series. I just hope I can find the time to play all the October games this year.
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  • Avatar for TheWildCard #6 TheWildCard 10 days ago
    I feel like Kat could make "Is this game good on Switch?" a regular feature for as often as the topic pops up in previews. :p
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  • Avatar for friv #7 friv 10 days ago
    Deleted June 4000 by Unknown
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  • Avatar for Jonnyboy407 #8 Jonnyboy407 9 days ago
    @NateDizzy I heard the same thing. Amazon just changed my preorder to dec31 2018 :/
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  • Avatar for NateDizzy #9 NateDizzy 9 days ago
  • Avatar for NightingaleXP #10 NightingaleXP 8 days ago
    Game graphics and performance at lower settings on less powerful machine?

    Sure, okay, I don't care. Switch purchase for me for sure-- I feel increasingly out of step with what the enthusiast press (not singling you out, Kat, your takes usually line up pretty closely with mine) thinks is important.
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  • Avatar for Gamer-Law #11 Gamer-Law 6 days ago
    Release date of 9/25/18 has just been announced. That leaves the devloper little time to address the Switch-related issues that Kat has identified.

    Personally, I am still going with the Switch version as I am willing to forego a certain amount of graphical fidelity in exchange for portability. The slow down in handheld mode could be problematic, but my hope is that can be optimized prior to launch.

    Either way, I am very much looking forward to this release. A launch date that falls three weeks after DQ 11 leaves me wondering when I will get to it—but it will be a great fall for gaming.
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