Sega made a very unexpected but welcome announcement this week: Valkyria Chronicles 4 is in development, on track for release in 2018. The news comes via a trailer posted to YouTube, which details the design philosophy behind the game and provides an in-engine look at the story and characters. It also highlights the a return to the tactical gameplay that most fans remembered, even after the series seemed like it had forgotten..
Valkyria Chronicles is a beloved cult tactics-RPG that made its debut on the PlayStation 3. A fictionalized World War II allegory, Valkyria Chronicles was about a plucky group of freedom fighters defending their resource-rich homeland from an invading empire as it spread across the continent. Fans came to love it for its grounded, thoughtful characters and its story’s humanizing take on war, as well as its clever third-person turn-based tactics.
But what makes the announcement of Valkyria Chronicles 4 surprising is the fact that the series has largely fallen out of favor with fans. Valkyria Chronicles wasn't the most popular game in America or Japan, but it did spawn a handful of sequels due to its small but passionate audience. But things were never quite the same after the first game. The second entry made the odd decision to become a PSP exclusive (making it even less accessible to a wide audience) and was held back by disjointed, repetitive mission structure in spite of an interesting campaign. The third game never came to the west at all, and the fourth game… well, the fourth game was Valkyria Revolution.
Valkyria Revolution was the game that made me (and many others) lose hope for the series. Released just this past summer, it was a spinoff set in an alternate universe that swapped out the more sober and relatable storytelling and tactical gameplay for bombastic anime tropes and much more of an action-driven design. The game tried aimlessly to merge elements of the previous games with its bad new ideas, and it failed both as a Valkyria game and as a product—it never attracted the new audience it was targeting. After the critical and commercial failure of Revolution, it seemed like a foregone conclusion that the already-struggling series would be put on hold.
The reveal of Valkyria Chronicles 4 proves that’s not the case. Judging by the trailer, Sega seems like it really wants to reel old fans back in and make amends by returning to the series’ roots. The in-engine story trailer shows the more practical armaments and reasonable character designs of the earlier games, as well as more mature themes like the erosion of ideals in wartime. For the first time in years, it looks like Valkyria Chronicles fans have something to be hopeful about.