Was Fire effective?
As a big fan of the original Etrian Odyssey, I was delighted to get a chance to play the sequel: Etrian Odyssey II: Heroes of Lagaard. It's no secret that I love dungeon crawlers and it's always enjoyable to play something that isn't randomly generated. There is also something about making your own map that just pulls me into the game. Also, as a reward for those who triumphed over the first title, there's a password that will unlock a special item that cannot be lost. Maybe some incentive to finish the first one after all.
There are a lot of small changes to the sequel that should make it more enjoyable. I think the most important change comes in town. In the original game, buying and managing equipment was cumbersome. There was no easy way to view current equipment and then compare it to the sales list. Typically, I would view one item, remember its stats while backing out of the buying menu and pressing the button to call up the party menu. Select the correct character to view the piece of equipment and compare that with the remembered stats, then decide if it's worth the money. Once the item was purchased, I would have to return to the party menu to actually equip it. The new system uses both screens to show how the listed equipment will change the stats on each character and characters can be cycled with the shoulder buttons. This is typically how almost every RPG does shops and is a very welcome change from the original.
There are a lot more job classes available than before and almost all of them are ready from the beginning. All the previous classes returned plus three more. There was the Beast class blocked, but no details were offered on how to open this class, nor did I really try to find out. I do plan to play this game a great deal once it comes out, after all. I made sure to have a War Mage and Gunner, but I didn't get enough time to really explore them. The game will feature thirty character slots giving ample room to explore all the classes.
More options for maps
Once my party was registered with the Hall, I entered the dungeon. I was actually disappointed to see that the first stratum is once again a forest. Upon closer inspection, the graphics look much more detailed than before. A lot more effort was put into making the background more vibrant and colorful. Instead of a pixelated sea of green forming a wall, there looks like a plausible amount of noticeable vegetation. Entering battle, there is another graphical enhancement on the creatures as well. I never had a problem with the monster sprites from the original, but I can clearly see now how they could have been better.
As I entered the dungeon, the knight stopped me. He explains that I must prove my mettle before being allowed to roam free in the dungeon. He escorts me off and I reappear a bit ways off from where my map started. In order to prove myself, I must map all of the area leading back to camp. This actually takes me three different attempts before I can please the knight that the map is sufficiently complete. There is also a familiar area where the family can take a rest. All I will say about this is: Don't try and outsmart the game or yourself; go with the gut decision.
If you didn't like Etrian Odyssey because of the gameplay elements or the brutality it can unleash, chances are the sequel isn't going to be your cup of tea. If you loved, or even simply liked, the original game, this new one will definitely hold true to what made the first one so much fun.