Six months ago, the parallel-universe-European country of Gallia was invaded by the Empire, and PS3 users were treated to one of the most unique and rewarding tactical experiences in modern gaming. Valkyria Chronicles quickly gained a devoted following, but despite its beautiful CANVAS aesthetic and one-of-a-kind third-person strategic battle system, the game was never able to move more than a few thousand units stateside. Valkyria Chronicles became the most tragically overlooked game of 2008. Now Sega has released three DLC packs on PSN, at $4.99 a piece, to expand the story and the number of missions so that die-hard fans can spend some more time with their favorite game and perhaps convince some new-comers to join in the fight for Gallia.
Hard EX Skirmishes
The first DLC offering adds a new Expert difficulty setting to all of the skirmishes, after you load up a Clear Game save. In this case, added difficulty is not another way of saying “more bad guys.” In fact, Hard EX battles play out like an entirely new game mode. Welkin’s Eidleweiss tank is not available, so the tactics required on every mission change dramatically. Add onto that, the fact that there are seven new enemy aces with new weapons to collect, and you have an entirely new Skirmish experience. All the things you’d expect from a new difficulty setting are there as well, including increased enemy stats and improved AI.
I am usually opposed to companies releasing a harder difficulty and charging for it, but in this case, enough extras come along with it that will make it worth the $5 price tag to fans. A few of the new weapons (particularly the new sniper rifle) are downright amazing, and losing your tank makes the game feel fresh. The Expert missions are HARD though, so if you struggled to finish the main storyline, you might want to hold off on this one.
Enter: The Edy Detachment
Next DLC on the list is called Enter: The Edy Detachment. This adds on a new report page, which can also be accessed from the title screen. The report follows a handful of secondary characters and what happens to them in between the 7th and 8th chapter of the main storyline. The Edy Report follows the same formula as the rest of the side stories in the game: intro cutscenes, a single mission and an epilogue. However, this report stands out because it attempts to flesh out some of your “faceless” soldiers by taking their personal flaws and applying them to narrative characters. The cast includes Jann, who some might remember making a splash on the internet for being a ham-handed handling of a homosexual character in a video game, Homer the masochistic pretty boy and a handful of other less-memorable characters from the Gallian roster. Although the story lacks the charm of the main characters’ tale, it is still nice to see your basic soldiers as something more than just meat-shields for once.
The mission only lasts 3 turns, but they are a hard 3 turns! You simply need to defend your starting base from 2 tanks and an onslaught of soldiers with only 6 troops. Sounds easy, right? Wrong.
Depending on how well you do, there are four different endings to this report, so you’ll be playing for a few hours and getting your money’s worth if you play to see all four. This DLC does not answer any nagging questions about Valkyria Chronicle‘s story, but it offers an interesting look at the members of Squad 7.
Behind Her Blue Flame
Probably the most anticipated patch of the three, Behind Her Blue Flame allows you to play as the Empire (the bad guys) and follows General Selvaria Bles. The player views a large chunk of the Gallian Conflict from the perspective of Selvaria’s personal engineer, Johann. Johann is just another faceless Imperial engineer, but through dialogue with Selvaria, he develops into a fairly interesting, well-rounded protagonist.
BHBF adds four unique story missions where you control an Imperial force, a new weapon in the main quest and a bonus unlockable mission on top of new cutscenes and a new storyline. The missions in this DLC pack are quite possibly the best missions in the game. The maps are recycled from the Gallian campaign, but switch the orientation so that you fight from the other side. Johann and Selvaria are given limitations that force the player to rely heavily on both of them to complete objectives. Selvaria cannot carry grenades or ragnite, so Johan has to clear debris from her path while keeping her in tip-top shape; Johan has weak defenses, so Selvaria has to take point and defend him. While the two protagonists try to complete one objective, the Gallians are relentlessly trying to steal the Empire’s base camp, so the player is constantly having to keep tabs on multiple fronts. This makes each level feel like a puzzle that you are solving, rather than just another “send-Alicia-into-the-enemy-camp-guns-blazing” Gallian mission.
Being able to view the story from the other side is a rare treat, and a great way to add to the Valkyria Chronicles experience. The missions were a blast, and learning more about the Empire’s most badassed badguy was fun. An expert player will truck through the entire campaign in about 5 or 6 hours, but most of us will die a few times, so expect to put some real time into it. If you only have $5 to spend, spend it here.
$15 for 10+ hours of gameplay on a game I already love is a no brainer for me. Those of you who picked the game up for $30, can buy all three without even approaching the full $60 price tag. Still, if Hard EX mode doesn’t sound like the fun kind of kick in the teeth, Behind Her Blue Flame is still a must have for anyone who owns the game. All three packs are available now on PS3 for $4.99 each.