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The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel III

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NIS America has announced that they will release The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel III for PlayStation 4 in North America and Europe in Fall 2019. Trails of Cold Steel III originally released in Japan in September 2017.


NIS America also states that this release will see the return of certain English localization staff that have worked on previous titles in the series. The game supports both English and Japanese voice overs with English and French text options. An English website can be found here.

About the game:
Nearly a year and a half has passed since the Erebonian civil war, and much has changed since then. From the shifting stances of countries to the internal politics of the Empire, and even the life of Rean Schwarzer, the shadows of the past have given way to the embers of a new chapter. Now graduated from Thors Military Academy, Rean has become an instructor at the Thors Branch Campus, a newly-opened academy that quickly finds itself thrust onto the national stage. It is here that he takes the lead of a brand new Class VII, and must guide a new generation of heroes into an unknown future. Though all is calm now, the nefarious Ouroboros organization continues to weave a dark plot that could engulf the entire continent in war...or perhaps something even more sinister.

Trails of Cold Steel III invites players into a world full of intrigue and excitement that is years in the making. They will embark on a whirlwind tour through the never-before-seen lands of the recently expanded Erebonian countryside, and encounter fresh faces as well as old friends familiar to fans of the series. In true Trails fashion, the deep, engaging story pairs with an incredible cast of characters and a combat system refined over decades of innovative RPG worldbuilding. This renowned title has also now been developed natively for PlayStation®4 hardware, a series first. XSEED Games had previously handled the localization and publishing of the series, including the previous two titles in the Cold Steel sub-series. XSEED isn't completely divorced from the franchise yet, however, as they are releasing PlayStation 4 enhanced ports of the first two Cold Steel titles soon in 2019.
 

 

Announcement Trailer:

 

The localization of the game has been a huge point of controversy since NISA are replacing XSEED as the handlers of the the third Cold Steel game. XSEED are credited to have made the Trails series popular in the west with their excellent work localizing the huge games starting with Trails in the Sky back in 2011. With NISA having made a mess of the localization of the recent Falcom title, Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana and its PC port, fans weren’t too keen on them getting the lore and text heavy Trails games.

 

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In their PAX South 2019 panel Nippon Ichi Software America addressed these issues and confirmed that they’re bringing back three of the key members of the original localization team from the first two Cold Steel games for The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel III.

 

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Localization of the Trails series was more of a passion project for these people and its great to see them returning. Brittany Avery even commented she never expected to return to work these games again:

 

Thoughts on the news? This certainly gives me some hope that The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel III will get a good enough localization effort.

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Trails of Cold Steel III & IV Changes Guide


A list of the major changes and new features between CS2 and CS3/4:

Controls
Starting in 3, Falcom updated the battle controls to a new 'Direct Input' system, removing the old menu and mapping each option to a single button. This looks pretty neat and it also speeds up combat a bit since you just press the button corresponding to the action you want without having to scroll through the menu first. For example, hitting Circle (probably X once it's localized) is linked to the Attack, Triangle is linked to Crafts and will open the active character's list etc.

Style Change
This is a mechanic unique to Juna in 3 (a new playable character in 4 gets it as well). It causes her weapon to shift between Striker and Gunner Modes. The former mode has better STR, boosts DEF and MOV and is better for hitting single targets while the latter adds RNG and has a small area effect so it's better for hitting groups of weaker enemies or for counterattacking. Style Change can be triggered in-battle on Juna's turn (it doesn't count as a turn-ending action) or it can be done from the equipment menu.

Brave Order
A new mechanic starting in 3, these are special buffs which each character has. They can be triggered by using the Order command and only one can be active at a time. Per the name, they cost Brave Points to use so you've got to juggle between using Orders and your ability to perform Rush/Burst attacks. Orders last for a set number of turns (which does not include enemy turns) and can have both a primary and secondary effect.

For example, Rean's Assault Formation 'Raging Fire' costs 1 BP and increases the damage your characters do during its six turn duration as its primary effect, also restoring 10 CP to all characters when it's first activated as its secondary effect. New character Kurt has Swordwind Formation which reduces the AT Delay of your actions to 30% of normal, has no secondary effect, costs 2 BP and lasts four turns. The primary Brave Order buffs are independent of the regular buffing system, so you can for example stack Raging Fire with an STR buff like Forte for even more damage.

Most characters start with their Brave Order already learned but a few learn theirs during the story. Everyone but Rean gets only a single Order while he gets four in total (one of which requires a sidequest to unlock).

Like Style Change, activating Brave Orders doesn't count as a turn-ending command. You can renew a currently active Order or change to a new Order without having to wait for the current one to expire. Also, when you access the Order menu you have access to the Orders for every character in your Active/Reserve list, you aren't limited to the character whose turn you're on. The only limitation to this is that Orders belonging to characters who are currently incapacitated can't be used.

Break
A new system in this series, though people who have played any of the newest Ys games will recognize it. Enemies now have a Break gauge parallel to their HP which is decreased when they're attacked. Crafts have a Break rating in the same way that they have a Damage rating, so some things are better or worse at lowering this gauge. S-Crafts for instance are generally terrible at dealing Break damage.

When an enemy's Break gauge hits zero, they'll enter Broken status and take a Delay penalty. Until their next turn, they'll take more damage from attacks, they'll lose any buffs they previously had active and every hit is guaranteed to trigger a Link. They'll also always drop an item when Broken. Once their next turn arrives, they'll exit Broken status but will still have to wait until their next turn after that to act again.

Exaltation
This is an enemy-exclusive mechanic triggered by HP loss. When sufficiently damaged, bosses (and some stronger normal enemies) will enter a special state where their stats are increased (the exact parameters depend on the enemy) and they'll always do Critical damage. Frequently they'll also get a set amount of HP Restoration. Exaltation lasts a set number of turns. Enemies can be forced out of Exaltation early by Breaking them and they'll actually take increased Break damage in this state but they'll also get their Break gauge restored to full when in Exaltation so it's not as easy as it sounds.

New Status Conditions
There are a couple new effects here. First up is Charm, which functions like Super Confusion. Enemies affected by it will attack their allies instead and if they don't have any allies to target, they'll skip their turn instead of going after you like Confused enemies would. Next is 'Flashing Blade' (limited to certain characters' self-buffs) which causes attacks to do extra damage; Kurt specifically takes a one turn penalty when the effect expires. The games also bring back Max Guard (now called 'Perfect Guard') from the previous arcs and add a complimentary buff called Perfect Reflect, which reflects both physical and magical damage and has priority over any other shield buffs you may have active.

Divine Knight Battles
These are largely the same as in CS2, except for the addition of Soldats. Aside from Rean and Valimar, the members of the new Class VII have access to Soldats and can use them during mecha battles. They have the same sorts of abilities as Valimar and have partners to activate things like EX-Arts, though their stats aren't quite as good. The new Break mechanic applies to these fights as well.

Valimar's stats can once again be upgraded by EX Orbs and the bonuses from this carry over to the Soldats as well.

Another minor change is that the shared EX-Arts now encompass all seven elements, with a couple returning characters getting theirs changed to Time/Space/Mirage ones instead of the ones they originally had.

ARCUS II
Paralleling the Orbment upgrades in SC and Ao, there's an enhanced version of the ARCUS appearing in the back half of Cold Steel. The biggest change is the addition of a secondary Master Quartz slot, allowing characters to equip two at once. The secondary M-Quartz receives less EXP, provides reduced stat boosts and only bestows its first special ability so it's not nearly as powerful as the one in the primary slot, but it still grants all Arts available to it. In both games, a Master Quartz can only be assigned to one character's primary slot at a time. In 3, they can only be assigned to one secondary slot at a time while 4 allows them to be equipped to as many secondary slots as you want.

Another major change is that offensive Arts have been almost completely revised, with a few spells retained and others modified slightly but most are new. The support spells are unchanged.

Naturally there are parallel changes to Quartz, with a lot of the previous S-Rare ones getting reworked or swapped out for new ones. There are also new Quartz affecting the Break mechanic.

Many Master Quartz return but some new ones replace previous ones (like Kagutsuchi which is effectively the same as CS1/2's Force) and others are entirely new.

As with CS1 versus 2, in 3 you can only unlock Slots in your ARCUS II while in 4 you can upgrade them as well and doing this is required to equip more powerful Quartz.

Crafts
Most returning characters get at least a little tweaking of their Craft lists, with abilities removed or consolidated and (almost) everyone gets new S-Crafts.

Assault Attack
This is a new addition to the field attack system. By accumulating 'Assault Points' you can store up to two uses of this ability, which functions as a long-ranged field attack that will put you in maximum advantage if you trigger a battle with it, like fighting an enemy stunned by a field attack in 1/2. Assault Points can be earned by destroying objects on the field and there are also Quartz that cause the gauge to fill up over time.

Photography, News and Black Records
A set of related systems. When you visit particular locations or talk to certain NPCs, Rean will think that this is something that Vivi or Munk would be interested in and will take a picture or make a note in his ARCUS. You can send these on to them at any time, or the game will do it automatically at the end of a Chapter. For the Black Records, when you find one you can scan a copy of it and send it to Rosine for translation.

Map Indicators
Characters who dispense quests that aren't disclosed to you in the course of the story will have a green exclamation point indicator that appears over their head on the main screen and also in the mini-map. IV adds an indicator to the travel map that tells you when a location has gotten new content since your last visit, which includes new NPC dialogue as well as quests and other event triggers.

Fishing
While the system returns from the previous games, the way you catch fish is now different. They did away with limits per fishing spot and the attendant bait system entirely. Replacing it, you have a new bait item that's consumed each time you try to reel in a fish (if you mistime the catch or deliberately blow it, you won't lose the bait). The fishing minigame is now a two-phase process. When you find a fishing spot and make a cast, a gauge will come up with a 'target zone' broken up into regions that differ depending on the fish you've hooked. Hitting Circle (or probably X when it's localized) while the indicator is over the target zone will then trigger the second phase of the minigame, with the size of the fish being determined by where within the target zone the indicator was. The gauge in the first phase rotates around the screen for a set time period allowing you a few chances to check the timing, though you can only hit the button and try a single time.

Once the second phase is triggered, you have to hold the button in order to reel the fish in while keeping a couple factors into account. If the fish is struggling, continuing to reel in will increase the line tension until it snaps and the fish gets away. However, if you completely let go while the fish is struggling it also might get away anyhow as there's a distance gauge you have to pay attention to. If you pull the fish all the way to your position on the distance gauge without snapping the line, you catch it.

There are items you can purchase or receive as rewards in order to upgrade your rod. These adjust the parameters of the minigame in various ways to make it easier, such as increasing the time you have in the first phase of the minigame or reducing line tension automatically if you're reeling a fish in during the second phase and it suddenly starts struggling.

Vantage Masters
This is a new card-based minigame that replaces Blade. It's based on an older Falcom tactical RPG series called Vantage Master and uses most of the same elements, just reworked into card form. Unlike Blade where you just get a deck and start playing, VM requires you to actually build your deck by finding or buying new cards. Think of it as Magic the Gathering, Trails Edition. Characters who will play VM with you are marked by a special icon when you talk to them.

The game is played in turns and how many actions you can take during that turn is determined by your Magic Points. You start with a set number and the points refill each turn, along with increasing the total by one point per turn until they hit the cap of ten. You start with three cards in your hand and draw a new one at the start of each hand. The game is played on a grid with each player having a front row of four space and a back row of three.

The signature card that gives the game its name is the Master, which represents the player. Your deck can only have one of these in it and they begin the game in play. If their health is reduced to zero, that player loses the game. There are also Natial cards, creatures who fight for the Master. The Master and Natial cards function similarly, having an Attack rating and a Defense rating (functionally it's their HP) and a range of possible passive attributes and Skills which cost MP. Natials also have elements with a chain of weaknesses, while Masters don't. Masters and Natials can move to empty spaces (or swap places with another card that hasn't acted yet that turn) and can attack or use Skills.

Magic cards cost MP and do things ranging from damage to boosting stats to tampering with the draw mechanics. There's also a fourth card type called Crystals, which spawn randomly on the board (if there are any free spaces) and which provide a +1/+1 boost to a Master or Natial who moves onto that space, plus adding 1 MP to your total and restoring the ability to use any Skills that a Natial might have if they've already used them (Masters renew their Skill automatically with a new turn). You can also stock up to three Crystals in your deck to distribute at will.

There's a lot of intricacies to the game but that should do for a basic introduction.

In addition to new mechanics there are some things that have been removed...

Awakener's Call
Sorry, no more calling Valimar and spending three turns stomping enemies into paste.

Overdrive
Also gone, though some Brave Orders let you pull off similar effects via AT Advance.

The following mechanics are all exclusive to CS4 so I've hidden them under a tag in case anyone doesn't want to be 'spoiled' on these.

Spoiler

Auto Battle
4 adds the ability to turn control over to the computer during battles. In auto-battle characters will only use their normal attacks, plus Assist if a Link triggers, nothing fancier.

Trial Chests
These return in CS4 and allow characters to upgrade their Brave Orders to increase things like their duration or the buffs they provide. Like in CS2, the chests can only be opened if you bring the right combination of characters. Once you've found a chest, you can warp to it from the travel map as long as the story isn't preventing you from going to the location the chest is in.

Lost Arts
Similar to CS2, after a certain point in the game powerful Cryptids and Magic Knights will begin to appear on the map. Finding and defeating them will unlock special Quartz that grant Lost Arts. They work the same way as in CS2, consuming all your EP in return for very powerful effects but can only be used once per battle.

Soldat Summoning
During the story, members of the new Class VII can unlock the ability to summon their Soldats to perform powerful attacks, This is accessed from the Craft menu but costs EP rather than CP and can only be done once per battle. It's also locked during certain battles.

Pomtto
This isn't strictly new to the franchise but it hasn't been seen in any localized game so far. It's a two-player Tetris-like game played over ARCUS II, with falling blocks in the shape of colored Poms. The Poms can be four possible colors and they drop from the top of the screen in a one-by-two column, which can be two different colors or mono-color. Every so often, a new row of Poms will rise up from the bottom of the screen and push everything up (increasingly quickly as the game goes on). You can see the next such row waiting in the wings at the bottom of the screen and you can also see the next several blocks waiting to fall from the top along the side.

You can flip the falling block 180 degrees (changing which color is on the top/bottom) but you can't flip it sideways. When three or more Poms of the same color are adjacent to one another, they'll vanish and any Poms stacked on top of them will drop down to fill the gap. Doing this earns you CP which can be used to either wipe out entire rows of Poms (starting from the very bottom of the screen) or to raise up the opponent's blocks from below. You get a bonus to your CP gain when you cause a lot of Poms to vanish with the same move. There are also Shining Poms that appear within the stacked Poms. They're removed when an adjacent Pom vanishes and give you 100 CP each.

If the Pom stack rises up so that a new falling block has nowhere to go then you lose. The goal of the game is to survive long enough that this happens to your opponent. All the above mechanics apply to both players, so in addition to keeping an eye on your own screen you need to be prepared for your opponent to use their CP to raise your own stack, or to look for an opportunity to use your CP when it will really hurt them.

As with VM, you find characters who will play Pomtto with you by looking for a special indicator when talking to them. Doing this causes you to share account information, unlocking them for play. Unlike VM, you can play Pomtto with anyone you've unlocked and at any time, so you don't need to go find them if you want a match.

 

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