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  1. #1

    [3DS] Etrian Odyssey V

    Demo's out now on the US eShop and the game will be out in the same region this October, don't know about EU releases.
    The demo allows you to level characters up to level 10 and explore part of the first dungeon, and you'll be able to carry over saved data to the full version.

    Etrian Odyssey V opens up in a very familiar way: you get to a city known for its dungeons, you register your guild at the local office, and then select at least five adventurers to go through a simple mapping quest give by the local authority to ease you in with the various game mechanics, like getting horribly maimed by caterpillars or poisoned by pretty butterflies.
    But when selecting adventurers Etrian Odyssey V hits you with probably the biggest change since the first game: there are four races you can choose from. For the sake of simplicity I'll call them humans, elves, dwarves, and fanservic...I mean bunny people, each race with their own strengths, weaknesses, and exclusive classes. Humans have 4 classes to choose from, other races just 2.
    Class skill trees are much less complex than before, but you also get race skills to mix with the rest, and so far I've never complained how the EO team balanced their character customization. Sure, some classes were essentially mandated in the endgame but that's not an easy pitfall to avoid.
    Additional races and classes (including subclasses) are unlocked by progressing through the game.
    Then you choose a character portrait, a character's hair, eyes, and skin colour, plus a voice if you want. And finally a name. And I'm someone that has a hard time coming up with names for characters, now I'm allowed to customize them? Creating five characters took more than 30 minutes.
    Anyway, voices. Etrian Odyssey V is the first in the series to be fully voiced (no chance to use Japanese voices in the demo), party characters included, and it get boring. FAST. My suggestion is to turn off voices completely and resist the temptation to give characters a voice.

    This opening sequence also reminds you that you're playing on a 3DS with possibly the best depth effect I've seen on the handheld, every element of the interface has multiple layers, as well as backgrounds. This does get in the way when editing characters, but other than that this game begs to be played with the 3D slider turned up to 11.

    So I've now got my party of five composed by a Fencer (similar to the first game's Landsknecht), a Masurao (think the Samurai from previous games), a Dragoon (a mix between Gunners and Protectors), a Warlock (elemental mages), and a Shaman (healer).

    On this first quest the difficulty isn't as brutal as it was in the first two games, but it's not as easy as if was in III and IV, at least on advanced difficulty. It's a bit too early to speak about class/race/party sinergy, but almost every class can, in some form or another, use elements to attack and I've already eyed double-strikes and follow-ups for the Masurao and an hybrid healer/dancer class that can dispel buffs and nerfs to cast an elemental spell, so it'll probably focus on this for the first part of the game.

  2. #2
    I've reached the third floor of the first stratum, therefore going as far as the demo allows me to. The third floor hasn't been completely cleared bcause it's roaming with FOEs and despite showing that they're as strong as my party, I've postponed fighting them to the full version so that I don't waste any experience, as my five main party members already the demo's level cap (10 in this case).
    The third floor is interesting as it features simple lever-based puzzles to open the way forward, it's not much but it's nice to see that developers made the labyrinth itself a bit more interactive than before. And this being just the third floor in the whole game, I suspect that such puzzles will get more complicated (hopefully without going intot he teleport hell of the final stratum in EO1).

    So, instead of battling FOEs I've tinkered with the party a bit, replacing the Masurao with a Rover. Rovers are a mix with Rangers and Beastmasters from previous games, they can summon a wolf or an eagle to attack enemies or heal the party. The cool thing is that this animal companion doesn't fill a party slot (like happened with Shinobi clones in EOIII) and lasts until you get back to the city. I went for the eagle because it has more stab attacks, and stab attacks can trigger elemental chases from the Fencer. Also, the animal companion heals the party at every turn, not by much but so I'm thinking to replace the local Medic with something else, probably a Dancer for buffing/nerfing, as the class also has some healing capabilities; it doesn't have resurrection capabilities, but there's an union skill just for that, although it might not be enough in later battles.

    It didn't take long for enemies to start their combined attacks, first with a warthog eating living acorns to power up, to 3 living trees combining up into one giant living tree (and of course at full HP no matter how badly wounded were its components).
    Plentyof ways to get miscellaneous experience points, from turning in quests to stumble across events in the labirynth, like salvaging a purse from a turtle or doing the right thing when harvesting fruits.
    Dungeons now also feature fireplace to cook food for some on-the-go provisions, as well as foraging tiles to gather random fruits and vegetables that in turn can be cooked or used for quest.

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