Valkyria Chronicles, much like the other games I’ve talked about so far, has a very good approach on handling game difficulty through strategy. For example the chapters in Valkyria Chronicles give you a rundown of the basic level layout and of the objective, as well as at least a rough estimate of the enemies you will be encountering on the battlefield. As such players can individually choose the different squad members’ starting positions where they would be most useful.
Having Scouts up at the front would allow them to move in to battle quickly and provide more information to the player about enemy positions and movements. Lancers would be most effective closest to enemy armored units to take them out as quickly and efficiently as possible before they put the rest of the squad in danger. Shocktroopers would be most beneficial in areas with large amounts of enemy infantry. Snipers would best be placed in the back lines away from the heat of the battlefield in relative safety. Lastly, Engineers are best placed surrounding the player’s Tank to provide support.
Full knowledge and use of the each unit’s strength is an important strategy, that levels are designed to challenge the player to come up with an efficient strategy using these different units. For example there is little reason to bring Lancers into a mission with no enemy armored units. Nor is there much reason to bring Snipers into close quarters combat.
Other important mechanics that Valkyria Chronicles employs is effective range, cover, and line of sight. Different classes are equipped with different weapons that are effective in different ranges. Snipers are deadly and accurate at far range where no other class can fire off an accurate shot. Lancers boast large rockets, while deadly, are rather inaccurate at hitting targets that aren’t the size of a small tank. Scouts and Engineers have rifles which are effective at both close and medium range with a falloff the farther the target. And Shocktroopers are extremely effective up close, and effective at medium range but have a very large drop off the farther the target gets. Knowing how to navigate battlefields so that these units are always within their own effective range but are not put in danger by an enemy unit with superior range is important.
Cover is also very important in formulating a strategy and adds to the game’s difficulty. Cover makes it substantially harder to be hit by an enemy but not impossible as exposed body parts can still be hit. While effective, cover does not make the unit invulnerable as even cover can be blown away and destroyed, leaving a layer of strategy that the player must account for. First, can the enemy destroy the cover my unit is using? Second, can I destroy the cover the enemy is using? Third, can another enemy unit flank my position in an upcoming turn? Lastly, can I flank the enemy unit with another one of my units before he has a change to move said unit. Cover adds an interesting layer of difficulty, that the player must account for in their strategy.
Line of Sight is an important aspect of Valkyria Chronicles, after all, a player can not fire upon, or be fired at, when enemies are not in view. This is extremely important as when a unit’s turn ends it is extremely important for the player that the unit is within as few line of sights as possible, as that drastically limits the amount of enemies that can immediately fire upon them. Additionally, if a unit starts a turn with a large amount of enemies within their line of sight this can prove difficult because of intercepting fire. What this essentially means is if you try to fire upon an enemy or move your unit from their starting position, enemy units that are close enough and have you within their Line of Sight will immediately start firing upon that unit and dealing damage to them. So the less enemy eyes on each unit, the better.
While I’ve talked rather extensively about Fire Emblem, XCOM, and Valkyria Chronicles individually there is a shared mechanic between the 3 games I would personally like to get into, namely how each game calculates attacks from unit to unit and how the different approaches lend themselves to that game’s difficulty. I’ll leave that all up to a post for next time where I go into detail. For now this is all I have.