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While the Valkyria series had fairly consistent releases over the years, the battle system of its first two sequels left something to be desired. The limitations inherent in shrinking the game down to fit on the PSP dramatically changed map size and thereby the way the game played. There was also an attempt at an action RPG spinoff, but the less said about Valkyria Revolutions the better. However, Valkyria Chronicles 4 marks the return of the original game’s grander scope and it has come back in full force.
Sega didn’t just rest on its laurels and regurgitate the original game’s unique marriage of SRPG and third-person shooter, it took the second chance to refine the battle system to perfection. Gone are the gimmicky boss battles with giant tanks, replaced with some tough but fine-tuned conflicts which emphasize speed rather than size. The map design has been overhauled to better match and balance the battle system; running a scout past enemies to capture enemy bases is no longer a viable strategy. Players have to carefully plot paths past machine gun nests as well as account for the new class of grenadiers that rain down terror from above. Sega absolutely nailed the combat and RPGamers received one of the best SRPG battle systems in a good while as a result.
When a pixel-art indie game manages to win an award for combat over triple-A titles, there’s something special there, but such is the case with CrossCode, Radical Fish Games’ impressive action RPG. CrossCode utilizes buttery smooth controls and realistic-feeling physics to create a fast-paced combat system that lets players fight up close, from a distance, and with a variety of elemental and special attacks. There’s a wide assortment of enemies throughout the game, each of which require different tactics to defeat, and a number of phenomenal, exciting boss fights to test your skills. All this leads to a game that feels like a better, faster Legend of Zelda title, a feat that deservedly lands CrossCode second place in this category.
Known to have an intricate and complex battle system, the Monster Hunter series has often been a tough sell for newcomers, with a variety of different weapons and combos to learn. With Monster Hunter: World, Capcom finally found a way to make the combat friendly to newcomers, without losing an ounce of complexity. New button prompts, easier controls than were available on the 3DS titles, more welcoming multiplayer, and a nice difficulty curve help players easily work up to the meat of Monster Hunter: exciting battles against giant monsters. As far as action RPGs go, it is difficult to top Monster Hunter: World’s battles.
by Joshua Carpenter, Adriaan den Ouden, and Mike Apps