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.