Trails of Cold Steel 4: The End of Saga is one of my most anticipated RPGs for a long time. Not only will it be another chance to visit Erebonia and spend time with the tremendous cast of characters, but the cliffhanger ending of Cold Steel 3 left us desperate for more.
Here is a recent trailer to whet your appetite further:
Trails of Cold Steel 4 is already two years old in Japan but those of us who don’t speak Japanese are counting down to the release date set for 27th October 2020. With my pre-order placed, here are the reasons I’m excited for the fourth and final chapter of the Cold Steel story.
There will be no spoilers, except for previous Cold Steel games and things revealed in the Cold Steel 4 trailers.
We need to find out what happens next
Unlike the Courageous, things were left up in the air when Cold Steel 3’s credits rolled. There is a more detailed recap here, but it’s fair to say the ending was as shocking as it was untimely.
The wait for Trails of Cold Steel 4 hasn’t actually been as long as it might have been, with a year between the Western release dates. This is likely down to the fact that Cold Steel 3 and 4 were originally going to be one (presumably humungous) game, but it’s still a tough one to stomach with the way the curtain was drawn.
Rean is in Osborne’s clutches, a dark curse has gripped the land, and Erebonia is set to wage war on Calvard. We also haven’t confirmed Angelica’s alleged demise, and I am currently choosing to believe Olivier has somehow escaped death himself. With so many questions left unanswered, Trails of Cold Steel 4 can’t come soon enough.
It’s been well-received in Japan
Like the other Cold Steel titles, Trails of Cold Steel 4 recorded a strong score in Famitsu, arguably Japan’s most famous video game publication.
Trails of Cold Steel 4 scored 9/8/8/8 for a cumulative total of 33/40.
To put this in perspective, this is the same score as Cold Steel 3 and two points better than Cold Steel 2, which recorded 31/40. The first Cold Steel game is still its highest scorer of the series at 34/40, but the consistent scores suggest there has been no dip in quality since the previous instalment. It’s also reported that Cold Steel 4 sold better than Cold Steel 3, with around 110,000 copies sold in its first week compared to Cold Steel 3’s 87,000. Though neither matched the Cold Steel 2 sales, it’s speculated this is likely due to the lack of a PS Vita version.
More Trails crossovers than ever
We all love it when a mixture of established characters from their own titles are mashed together, hence the success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and every other film studio’s desperate rush to recreate it themselves.
There have already been plenty of crossovers in other Legend of Heroes games, but Trails of Cold Steel 4 looks like it will be reaching another level altogether. A different trailer shows us that the main characters from Trails in the Sky, Estelle and Joshua, will be playable alongside Tita and Agate who have already shown up. I’m also excited to see Renne join them, now adopting the Bright family name.
The beloved Crossbell games were referenced repeatedly in Cold Steel 3, and on this occasion most members of Special Support Section (SSS), including protagonist Lloyd Bannings, will get their chance to shine. We already got a brief playable segment at the end of Cold Steel 2, but with the Sky protagonists on the roster it’s the first time all of these characters will come together to play a significant part in the very same game. To me it can’t help but feel like the Legend of Heroes’ version of the incredible Avengers films.
As a neat bonus, it also appears Falcom have secured all of the original voice actors for these characters.
We will finally see the Ashen Chevalier at full strength
Rean was a student in the first couple of games, and though his ogre powers and bond with Valimar gave him a significant edge, he was still too green to be considered on the level as the powerful Ouroboros enforcers. Then, much of Cold Steel 3 saw Rean trying to suppress his powers to stop himself losing control and threatening his comrades (ie, exactly what he did at the end of the game).
The promotional material showing Rean’s white new hairdo without the usual demonic eyes suggests to me he will finally master full control over his mysterious powers and find the strength to go toe-to-toe with the likes of McBurn, and presumably Osborne himself at some point.
The 7 Divine Knights
The dramatic conclusion to Cold Steel 3 saw six of the Divine Knight pilots take the stage at the same time, but there was otherwise relatively little screentime for the colossal fighting machines. There is still a seventh knight to enter the fray, and there can surely be no doubt that they’ll each play a key role in the story’s conclusion.
I don’t know about you, but I say more massive robot battles are a good thing.
One of the pilots, the Azure Siegfried was also unmasked as Crow Armbrust, leaving an interesting dynamic still to play out. This may have been the least surprising plot twist of the century, but Crow had spent much of Cold Steel 3 apparently unaware of his previous identity and relationships. His revelation in the final chapter is likely to be significant, as he will surely join his Class VII friends and hopefully renew his rivalry/friendship with Rean.
A true romance conclusion
The previous Cold Steel games have given the player a chance to pick their favourite love interest for Rean towards the end of the game. It has proved tricky for Falcom to establish continuity in Rean’s lovelife, as the choices made in previous titles have never had any carry-over effect on the later ones. Most of the options so far have ended with romance-limbo between Rean and his chosen partner, so it will be nice to have the opportunity for a romantic route that hopefully reaches a finite conclusion.
Since actually weighing in on the waifu/best girl debate is tantamount to online suicide, I’ll leave it at that.
(Before anyone gets mad that I selected a picture of Sara and not Laura/Alisa/Fie/Emma/Claire/Crow/Celine/whoever, it’s because my actual partner in real life is called Sara!)
The new class VII will fulfill their potential
As we see from the gameplay trailer, the task to free Rean and restore him to his good self looks to be falling on the shoulders of the new Class VII members who spent the last game under Rean’s instruction.
With new outfits and a new resolve, the branch campus Class VII are clearly more hardened and experienced from their experiences of Cold Steel 3. Ash looks to have shaken off the curse that saw him shoot the Emperor and Juna has clearly put her frustrations towards Rean firmly to one side.
If they succeed (which they certainly will), then it seems like new and old Class VII will come together as equals to join forces and save Erebonia from its many threats.
Read my Trails of Cold Steel 3 review here.
Trails of Cold Steel 4 can be pre-ordered now.