Notes from Etria

Hello there. Are you playing Etrian Odyssey IV right now? You should be! It’s not only the best entry in the series — “best” in the sense that it’s incredibly substantial, far more varied than past entries, and adjustable to work for either pro or novice players — it’s also the best RPG on 3DS. Well, localized RPG. I’m willing to concede the possible superiority of Dragon Quest VII. Maybe.

Here is a fun fact for you about Etrian IV: It also contains the single best character class ever to appear in the entire series. Namely, the Arcanist. Arcanists essentially combine the abilities of the mainstay Hexer class (debuffing enemies) with the strengths of Etrian III‘s Princess class. An Arcanist throws down spell circles that inflict various ailments on opponents, much like a Hexer. However, these circles remain in play for three rounds, meaning for the cost of one spell you have three opportunities to impede one or all of a group of enemies — fire-and-forget binds, essentially. Better yet, these circles lightly heal the entire player party at the end of a round. And finally, Arcanists can do the Princess thing where they dissipate the effect early in order to channel that magic energy into non-elemental damage against a foe, substantial healing for the party, etc. I’ve basically built my entire party around her… which is a shame, because my Sniper and Nightseeker were pretty handy at first for their debuffing capabilities. Now, not so much. Sorry, ladies.

Arcanists aren’t game-breaking, thankfully. The tech point cost for their skills is pretty hefty, and they’re tragically fragile in combat. I wish there were a way to turn my Fortress into a TP battery for my Arcanist, since the former is running her passive class-exclusive skill that causes her to regenerate TP whenever she’s attacked. Which often, since she uses Taunt constantly to draw enemy fire. The Arcanist has a high-level TP recharge skill, but it’s kind of hit-or-miss.

Incidentally, it turns out that subclassing my Fortress as a Nightseeker turned out to be a pretty great idea, since she frequently uses both Auto-Taunt and Auto-Cloak when entering combat, allowing her to waste an enemy’s first turn on attacking her only to whiff with a guaranteed evasion. This is the first time an Etrian game has really gotten me thinking this hard about team synergy and proper cross-character support — I’ve always gone in with a party of five islands unto themselves. Not so this time.

So basically I guess what I’m saying is that I’m super into this game and I’m going to be sad when I finish, which will be soon. Then it’s on to other things to review. I suppose the good news is that aside from some experimental forays on Normal mode to get a feel for its difficulty, I primarily played on Casual to facilitate an efficient review process… which means that at some point I get to go back and replay EOIV for “real.” I’m not sure what about this game inspires my masochistic streak, but I love it.

7 thoughts on “Notes from Etria

  1. I want to play it, but I need to finish Fire Emblem first, as soon as thats out of the way I’ll be diving head first into my first real taste of Etrian Odessy (I have 1 and 3 but never played them)

  2. I just unlocked the Arcanist class myself, and wanted to have my own character, so I’m currently grinding him up to the rest of my party’s levels. I’m trying to replace my Medic with the Arcanist, so it will be interesting to see how that goes. So far, he seems to fit in pretty well, and I’m loving his bind abilities.

  3. Ugh, my backlog hates you, good sir.
    I need to finish Fire Emblem (i’ve somehow hit the 40 hour mark and am only 2/3rds through the main storyline…) and on my shelf right now I see Paper Mario: Sticker Star & Tales of the Abyss… lest we forget my job. That might be necessary.

    The double edged sword of owning a well supported handheld, eh?

    ::opens 3DS and taps the eShop icon::

    eh, screw it, let’s dungeon dive.

  4. I hated what I played of EO. Not my thing. But your posts about the series always, ALWAYS make me want to give it another chance, but I’m pretty sure I still won’t like it.

  5. Uhh I’d really like to play EO 4, unfortunately I live in Europe, so we don’t have it here yet. And no Fire Emblem either. At least we will be getting both, unlike EO 2 and 3, which were never released here.
    The trailers for EO 4 look great, with interesting sounding new classes and higher res artwork.

  6. I both downloaded the demo last month and pre-ordered the game thanks to all the words you and the TT people have written in its favor.

    Maybe rolling 2 or each class wasn’t the best idea for finishing this thing in a timely manner, though – I’m still on the first land and haven’t refought the red bear yet.

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