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Update 0: Adventure's Outset
Well, not much else to do but start.
(Fun fact: the background changes between day and night based on what your 3DS's clock is currently set to. For example, because I recorded this footage when my 3DS's clock was around 8 PM, it's night time.)
Contrary to EOU and EO2U, EO5 goes back to only having two difficulties, ala EO4. Whereas the easier difficulty in EO4 was more akin to giving the player a bunch of conveniences as well as adjusting damage by 50% in the player's favor both ways, EO5's Basic is the baseline difficulty, with Advanced adjusting a whole bunch of values out of your favor.
I'll be going with Advanced, incidentally.
(Music stops here.)
(Any time Japanese text shows up, the dialogue transcriptions below will include translations of that text.)
At the heart of the great continent of Arcadia is the city of Aeolis, located at the foot of Yggdrasil.
(No GIFs this time around, sorry.)
For this reason, no one approaches the tree; in fact, it had been forbidden by order of the council that governs Aeolis. ...However, at some point, they released a proclamation: "To all adventurers on the continent of Arcadia: come to Aeolis and challenge Yggdrasil."
From the Earthrun race, who live all over Arcadia, came fencers, dragoons, cesti, and those known as reapers...
From the magic tower to the north, where the Lunarians carry out magical research, came warlocks and necromancers...
From the mountain-dwelling Therians came those who carry the blood of mighty warriors...
From the plains-dwelling Brownies came those called herbalists and shamans...
Seeking adventure, they all gathered in this town, their chests swelled with pride. You, too, are an explorer who set out for Aeolis, your heart gripped by the exciting proclamation. You have but one goal: to challenge the labyrinth of Yggdrasil, and explore its unknown forests. If you've made up your mind, then let the adventure begin!
Not much we can do besides go to the Explorers Guild. Can't even access the Options menu right now.
(The telop says "Armor-wearing man.")
Y'know, this town used to be full of promising young talent. Explorers with ambition, who risked their lives for the sake of adventure. Nowadays, it's nothing but riffraff; lowdown punks who don't wanna get hurt, so they're fine with living hand to mouth. ...New around here? If you're fixing to challenge Yggdrasil, you'd better make yourself a guild, and gather comrades who share that ambition of yours. ...So that is what you're here for, then. Let me welcome you. Whoops. Forgot my manners. Name's Edgar. I'm the head of this here Explorers Guild. Good to meetcha, I suppose.
Making a new guild?
Hard to demo stuff without saying yes here.
Great. Guess it'll need a name, then.
For the sake of this demo update, I'll just be using the guild I usually use for my personal playthroughs. Excuse the name, it was created when my friends and I were all idiot preteens.
TFKrew, huh? That's a name whose reputation you'll have to make yourself. You won't be hailed as a hero for nothin'. Next up, you gotta recruit explorers for your guild. Exploring the forest by your lonesome might as well be suicide. Startin' with at least 5 people with different tricks'll probably do you well. You can only have up to 30 people in a guild's roster. Give a good, hard think to who you choose as comrades.
30 is more than plenty, we'll need maybe 15 or so at most.
Character creation should be familiar if you've played any other Etrian Odyssey game before, but EO5 introduces a couple of twists into the mix. Firstly, this isn't a class selection screen--no, this is where you pick a race for a character. In a series first, EO5 divides up the class roster amongst four different races, all mentioned in the Yggdrasil pan.
In addition to this, a character's base stats are no longer solely reliant on their class--their race determines the bulk of their stats, with some additional modifiers coming from class specializations, which we won't see for a while.
Speaking of stats, anyone familiar with past EO games might notice that the TEC stat is missing. In EO5, it's been split up into two discrete stats: INT, which determines magical damage, and WIS, which determines healing amounts and magical defense. I assume this was done not only to make what stats control what more intuitive to people coming from other RPGs, but also because TEC was probably a nightmare of a stat to balance due to how much it controlled in previous EO games (magic damage, magic defense, healing amounts, disable infliction/resistance in EO3-EOU).
Speaking of stats, here's a short summary of them:
- HP: Health Points. If a character's HP reaches 0, they die. Certain skills on some classes consume HP in addition to TP.
- TP: Technique Points. Analogous to mana or MP in other RPGs. Needed to use every skill in the game.
- STR: Strength. Determines damage for STR-based skills, which nearly every physical damage skill falls under.
- INT: Intelligence. Determines damage for INT-based skills, which basically every magical damage skill falls under.
- VIT: Vitality. Determines how much damage a character takes from enemies--higher VIT equals less damage.
- WIS: Wisdom. Plays a role in determining how much damage a character takes from INT-based attacks, and is used for calculating non-fixed healing.
- AGI: Agility. Determines when a character acts in a turn, their accuracy, and their evasion.
- LUC: Luck. Determines a whole bunch of things, including accuracy and evasion, but is primarily used for disable infliction rates and resistances.
With all of that in mind, let's go over each of the races:
"The most populous race of Arcadia. Residing all over the continent, they have the most classes to choose from. Though generally average in most ways, they boast high Vitality."
Earthrun possess physical stats ranging from decent to great--their HP and VIT are the highest of any of the races, and their STR's pretty good too. They also have the best LUC of any of the races, making them better at inflicting and resisting disables, among other things. Unfortunately, their TP, INT, and WIS are all pretty bad (they actually have the lowest TP of any race), meaning that they need to watch their TP pretty closely, they make for really terrible spellcasters and healers, and they take more damage from magical attacks than other races on average.
"Tall and thin magic studying race. A race that's long studied magic in the frozen land of Sidonia. Perhaps because of that, these thin people have exceptional Intelligence."
Lunarians are the offensive spellcasting race. Their STR and AGI are sub-par, and they have the worst HP and VIT of any race, but their INT is through the roof, and their WIS and LUC are nothing to scoff at. This, pretty obviously, makes them really good at dishing out burst damage with magical skills from one of their classes, and through...some other means for the other class. Just don't expect them to be very quick, or be able to take hits.
"Warrior race with the blood of beasts. A people that hail from the deep forests of the mountainous land of Yamato. Said to be descended from beasts, their incredible Strength and Agility make them peerless warriors."
Therians are the agile physical damage dealer race, similar to Ronin from EO1 and 2. I'd say their job is entirely, y'know, dealing damage, but one of their two classes is more akin to a support that can occasionally contribute some damage. They do offer the best damage-dealing class in the game, though, which is augmented by their incredibly high STR and AGI. They have okay HP, TP, VIT, and LUC, but nothing spectacular. They suffer from even worse INT and WIS problems than Earthrun, though, so they make for even worse spellcasters and take even more damage from magical attacks.
You might recognize the name "Yamato" as another, more old fashioned name for Japan. However, in this case it's written as "Mountain Capital". Honestly, I wasn't sure if it was meant to be a place name at all, at first, but it became clear that it's the fantasy-Japan of this setting, where all the katanas come from.
"Small, friendly race close to nature. A small-statured people who make their homes in the Great Plains. They worship Mother Nature, and can make medicines from plants or call upon divine power."
(EO5's romanization of Brownie is closer to "Bronie," but like hell am I gonna be calling them that.)
Brownies are a somewhat odd race dedicated entirely to supporting. They have the absolute worst STR and LUC of any race (the LUC part is more relevant than you might think), and pretty bad HP (just a little more than Lunarians), but actually decent everything else--they have the highest WIS of any race, and their VIT's not too far off from Earthrun. Their INT's pretty good, too.
Note that in addition to their stat differences, different races have access to totally separate trees of racial skills. Especially important are the racial Union skills (essentially limit breaks, they'll be explained in more detail later), some of which are powerful enough to completely change your strategy.
Informative, no? Let's move onto the main event, however: the classes.
Front Row Evasive Attacker
Swordsmen who dodge attacks with nimble movements while attacking with chained strikes.
Fencers are a combination of dodge-tanks and supporting attackers. Dodge-tanking should be fairly simple to understand just from the name, but supportive attacking might need further explanation: about half of their basic skillset and one of their specializations are dedicated to Chain skills, which are slight retoolings of the elemental Chaser skills that Landsknechts had in EO1/2/U/2U. And yes, I said Chasers, not Links from EO4--Chains are sadly not as easy to use as Links.
I personally prefer using Fencers as dodge-tanks, but Chains aren't bad--they're easier to set up than Chasers ever were, and can deal really good damage even with only 3 Chains per turn. Hell, you could have two Fencers in a party, one for dodge-tanking and one for Chains, and it'd actually work out pretty well.
Y'know, before we go any further, how about we actually try making a character? That sounds fun.
Oh lord that's a big change from previous EOs.
One of the major selling points of EO5 during its pre-release phase was the expanded character customization. In EO1/2 and U/2U, you had a choice of a select amount of portraits, and that was it (2U DLC excluded). EO3 introduced palette swaps for each portrait, and EO5 carries on that feature. However, now, you can also adjust a bunch of other things about characters--specifically, their hair, eye, and skin color, as well as giving them a voice (we'll get back to that).
Customizing hair and eye color is actually pretty in-depth. There's a couple of presets for each, but you can also manually set RGB values for both the primary and in-shadow colors.
Meaning you can do dumb stuff like this.
Eye customization works much like hair customization does, with one exception. See that "LR LINK" checkbox?
Turning it off enables heterochromia!
Skin customization's more limited compared to hair and eyes, but you still have a decent amount of options here.
Worth noting that Lunarians have a ton of weird, alien-looking skins, unlike the other races.
And lastly, voices. You have a selection of 20 voices per gender, each labeled with an archetype. Note that voice selection isn't restricted based on portrait or race--you're free to, say, put one of the annoyingly high-pitched female voices on the large angry Cestus.
Here's samples of each of the voices. (Any audio oddities are Premiere's fault. They don't get in the way of anything, anyway.)
As for what each archetype translates to, along with what their sample translates to:
1: Hot Blooded; "Let's do this!"
2: Youth; "I'm going!"
3: Confident; "Let me show you how it's done."
4: Somber; "Time to go?"
5: Rascal; "Here I go!"
6: Military; "Go!"
7: Intellectual; "I'll be going."
8: Cowardly; "Why me?!"
9: Calm; "I'm going."
10: Gentleman; "Let us proceed."
11: Gentle; "Let's go."
12: Nihilistic; "Let's start this."
13: Samurai; "Advance!"
14: Invigorating; "Let's give it a shot!"
15: Polite; "I'm going."
16: Cocky; "Here I go!"
17: Cold; "I'll go."
18: Excitable; "It's party time!"
19: Apathetic; "Guess I've got no choice..."
20: Rough; "Let's do this, you bastards!"
21: Tomboy; "Let's go, everyone!"
22: Domineering; "I'm going!"
23: Soldier; "Let's show them how it's done."
24: Princess; "Let's get going, everyone!"
25: Lively; "I'm psyched for this!"
26: Feral; "Roar!"
27: Meek; "I'm going!"
28: Airhead; "I'm goooing."
29: Composed; "I'm starting."
30: Cheerful; "All right!"
31: Boyish; "Just leave it to me!"
32: Hag; "Well aren't you eager?"
33: Serious; "Winners make the first move!"
34: Cool; "I am going."
35: Old Fashioned; "Might as well give it a shot."
36: Timid; "I-I'm going!"
37: Stubborn; "Leave it to me!"
38: Cruel; "Do I really have to?"
39: Taciturn; "...I'll help."
40: Sexy; "Let's get this started!"
If you're boring, you can also choose to give no voice to a character, but why would you do that? Having some noise in battle is always fun, as long as it's not some of the more irritatingly high-pitched ones.
It's the Jouji Nakata customizer of my dreams
Also, something of a weird change coming from the English versions of EO, names are limited to 6 characters in the JP versions. It's probably not that restricting if you're typing in Japanese, but it can be a pretty big pain trying to spell out a name in English.
Well, that was a fun detour. How about we get back to classes?
Front Row Defense Specialist
Dragon knights who boast of wearing heavy armor as tough as dragon scales. Can also bombard with their cannons when not defending.
Dragoons are basically Protectors from EO1/2 and/or Hoplites from EO3 after being given a bunch of spit and polish, and some okay offensive capabilities. Their primary job is keeping the party alive via damage mitigation (and some semi-unreliable tanking if you feel like it), but as their description mentions, they also have a couple of offensive skills to use on turns where you don't feel a shield skill is necessary.
It's really hard to go wrong with a Dragoon, honestly, assuming you have a party that isn't overly defensive.
Making history: The first time a Dragoon has ever actually been exciting in an RPG.
Front Row Technical Attacker
Warriors who fight with their tempered fists. Can disable their enemies with precise strikes to their weak points.
Cesti are combination damage dealers and disablers, and one of my favorite classes to use. In EO1/2/U/2U terms, think Dark Hunters, but a little less good at inflicting binds and with far lower variety of ailments, in exchange for which they gain fun combo skills and skills that both drain their HP and become better as their HP goes lower (both of which are their own specializations). Binds are incredibly powerful disables, and having a class that can inflict good damage (or at least amplify it on other classes) while inflicting them is a massive plus in my book. Much like with Dragoons, I find it really hard to go wrong with using a Cestus.
Note that despite the bit in the description about "tempered fists", Cesti actually use gauntlet-type weapons. Brass knuckles, etc. So there's no weird unarmed attack scaling to worry about. Not many other classes can do binds at all, so when you throw in their excellent damage potential, it's hard to imagine a party that wouldn't be improved by adding a Cestus.
I hope you know which portrait to pick.
Front Row Debuffing Attacker
Users of a mysterious force known as miasma, with which they spread disease and frailty to their enemies. Their peculiar style reaps their foes with large scythes.
Reapers are kind of a strange class. They're debuffing damage dealers with some options for inflicting ailments as well. The description mentions miasma, and that's for good reason--their skills almost entirely focus on one particular thing, Miasma Weapon, which is essentially a state you either manually trigger or can passively activate through a few skills. In a way it's almost easier to describe them through their specializations: one focuses on damage and ailments, while the other focuses on debuffs and supporting other party members.
Moving onto Lunarian classes:
Back Row Elemental Attacker
Users of an ancient school of magic. They freely command the elements to attack.
Alchemists, Zodiacs, Runemasters--whatever you want to call elemental magic attackers, Warlocks follow in their footsteps. They are all about inflicting magical damage, usually of the fire, ice, and volt variety. EO2, EO3, and EOU experimented with giving them access to physical damage, but none of those worked out. In EO5, however, Warlocks do actually have a specialization that gives them magical cut, stab, and bash damage, and they're not actually garbage this go-around! How about that?
Fuckin wizards, how do they work?
The downside to Warlocks is that Lunarian stats mean they're incredibly fragile, and it's really easy to end up with a useless Warlock that's bled dry of TP really quickly in the early and midgame if you don't invest your skill points right.
Pet-based Jack of All Trades
Summoners who command the spirits of the dead. A jack of all trades who can attack, defend, or support.
The title and description really do sum Necromancers up quite neatly. Their skill trees are kind of all over the place with all types of skills, with one consistent theme: summoning, using, and expending summons. Necromancers are one of two summon-focused classes in EO5, and one of three that can summon overall (Dragoons have two summon skills that aren't crucial to their function). They can be a little finicky to use due to that fact, but they do make up for it by being able to fill quite a few roles at once.
Unlike in EO3, pets in this game go into special pet slots in front of the front row. There are three of these pet slots, and unlike the other pet classes Necromancers are encouraged to use all three of them at once. This can mean that they don't play nice in some party set-ups. The summons themselves will attack random targets each turn (or randomly do nothing, sometimes), but mostly they exist solely to be sacrificed by the Necromancer's spells. Both Hound and Necromancer pets can be summoned out of battle, so you don't have to worry about summoning 3 ghosts every single battle.
get dressed you fucking corpsehugging hippies
Shifting over to the Therian classes:
Pet-Based Ranged Attacker
Veteran hunters skilled with a bow. Good at making combined attacks with a falcon or wolfhound to bind their foes.
Hounds are the other summon-focused class. They operate a little differently from Necromancers--instead of working with multiple disposable summons, Hounds summon either dogs or hawks, both of which almost function a little like autonomous party members. Dogs focus on healing while hawks focus on damage. This isn't to say that the Hound themself is just a vehicle for the summon, though--they can contribute a little extra damage with their bows, and Therians' high STR means it's not totally insignificant.
You can name your Hound pets. Technically, they're actually part of your guild, in that you can see them on the guild management page. There's only one dog and one hawk per guild, even if you have multiple Hounds in your party. Luckily they can share, and pets that have received multiple commands on the same turn will act multiple times. Pets have their own separate stats, so even as a Therian with low WIS, Hounds can make decent healers. On the other hand, this also means you can't increase their stats with equipment.
Wanna pet that dog
Front Row Offense Specialist
Experts who cleave their foes in two with the razor sharp blades known as katanas. Masters are able to wield multiple katanas at once.
Masuraos are almost direct parallels of Ronin from EO1/2/U/2U--aka hard-hitting damage dealers that are also very fragile compared to other classes... Except the last part doesn't apply as much to Masuraos, because they have not-awful VIT and access to heavy armor, so unless you go with the 4-sword specialization (we'll talk about that when we get to specializations), they're not as fragile as you'd expect. Meaning that they're big physical damage dealers without too much of a downside. They don't do a lot outside of inflicting damage, though.
And lastly, Brownie classes:
Back Row Support Specialist
Mediums who communicate with the invisible spirits, and can call on their blessings to heal or buff.
Shamans are really kind of strange and unwieldy. They have the standard buffs you'd expect from a buffing support class, of course, but the rest of their skills all operate on manipulating buffs they themselves or the entire party have to put down various effects, such as dispelling specific elemental resistance buffs to reduce all enemies' resistance to that given element for one turn.
Back Row Healer
Doctors who make medicines from herbs. Can also use those herbs to poison their foes.
It wouldn't be an EO game without a Medic class, would it? Herbalists can function exclusively as old-style Medics if you want, and they're really good at that job. However, they also have access to Smoke skills, which attempt to inflict an ailment (with lower-than-average base inflict rates), and apply a debuff to enemies that reduce their resistance to that ailment. As I mentioned earlier, Brownies have really terrible LUC, so inflicting ailments with a Brownie Herbalist is an exercise in frustration. However, there's a way to create a character that can make good use of Smoke skills, which we'll see in a few updates.
"This is a class Brownies use. They're terrible at using half of it." Race equality!
And there we have it, a guild of ten misfits ready to demonstrate the combat system, because I'm saving all the other tutorial stuff for when we actually have a real guild.
I'm gonna roll with Dragoon/Cestus/Reaper, Necromancer/Hound for now. I wouldn't necessarily use this party in an actual run because of the Necromancer and Hound kind of stepping on each other's toes, but eh.
You can totally beat the game with both a Hound and a Necromancer in the same party. Don't let the Man tell you what to do.
What if you combined them. What if you had a ghost dog. I'm gonna sell this idea to Atlus.
Starting a battle plays this effect.
I'll save full enemy writeups for the actual first update.
Note the blue thing with Japanese characters above the front row--that is a dog that I had the Hound (Jib) summon in the field. It's also why Jib is missing TP.
The battle UI's undergone a massive overhaul compared to previous EO games, but all the basic functions are still here. In order, you have the following commands:
- Attack: Attacks with your equipped weapon.
- Skills: Lets you use skills.
- Defend: The character will not act on this turn, in exchange for taking 50% less damage from all sources and reducing their chances of being disabled.
- Items: Lets you use consumable items.
- Switch: Lets you swap party members' positions. Summons cannot have their positions swapped.
- Union: Lets you use Union skills. We'll see those very shortly.
- Escape: Attempts to end the battle immediately. Disabled if the character's legs are bound.
Ned's only skill is Line Guard, which reduces all physical damage taken by a row for one turn. Line Guard functions almost exactly like its counterpart in EO3, with the exception that the damage reduction is the same for both rows.
Glock, meanwhile, initiates the Union skill Double Attack, with Ned cooperating, on the left Roper.
Union skills can be initiated by anyone with a completely full Union gauge, and require a certain number of party members to cooperate. When a Union skill is used, all participants have their gauge drained to 0, and the Union skill is used at the start of the turn. In Double Attack's case, it requires two participants, who both will basically do normal attacks on the targeted enemy.
Note that only the character who initiates the Union skill needs to have a full Union gauge: all participants are drained, but they can still participate with 0. If you plan it right, you can use, say, a 4 person Union skill two turns in a row. No one can partipate in two different Union skills on the same turn though.
Party members using Union skills can also take actions as normal. In Glock's case, he'll use Arm Break, which inflicts bash damage while also attempting to bind the target's arms, on the left Roper.
Yorsh sets up a Double Attack on the right Roper, with Jib cooperating...
And will use Scythe of Numb Stasis for her normal action, which'll deal cut damage to one row. If she had the Miasma Weapon state, it'd also attempt to inflict paralysis.
Heavy will use Ghost Summoning, which consumes a bit of his HP to create a ghost with some slight bonus HP.
Jib's only skill is Dog Whistle, which is useless right now, so he'll just attack.
Spending two characters' Union to get two extra normal attacks on one enemy is pretty decent for the earlygame.
These two did it, too.
Like Clarste mentioned earlier, pets have their own special row, if the dog didn't give it away already.
This battle shouldn't take too long.
Line Guard looks like that when it activates. Enemies hit really damn hard early on, and Line Guard can often be the difference between life and death for a character.
Early enemies hitting hard in an Etrian Odyssey game? I don't believe you.
The dog has its own passive AI--every turn, it'll provide a small amount of healing to whichever party member has the lowest amount of absolute HP at the start of the turn. This can include itself.
Anyone still alive at the end of a battle gets EXP, enemies drop items, I'm sure you could assume this information.
Well what if there's some redneck out there who still thinks that RPGs are in the age where spiders drop gold coins? Maybe they'd be confused by the fact that you're just getting items instead, Ragnar. Think of the elderly and the sheltered here.
And that should do it for this demo update. Next time: we actually start!