With the news of Trails of Cold Steel IV making its way to North America very soon, we also had the opportunity to do a quick Q&A with Nihon Falcom president and producer Toshihiro Kondo. Kondo was candid about how the team went all-out to close out the Trails of Cold Steel arc, giving hints and confirmations about various aspects of the arc’s end. As we all know by now, anything is possible when it comes to this series.
[Editor’s Note: This interview contains light spoilers for Trails of Cold Steel III]
Cold Steel III had a somber ending; what can we expect from Rean and his cohorts and the challenges they face this time around?
You might be able to imagine due to III’s ending, but IV opens with Rean being separated from his companions. It is similar to II, but the Erebonian Empire is once again making a push towards war and Rean’s companions’ circumstances are even more severe. I think you can tell from the characters’ clothing in the game’s key visual that they are not able to continue their lives as students. Things are escalating quicker than ever before.
Are we still mainly going to control Rean, or will other characters take the spotlight? Any new faces?
Rean is still the main character. However, IV is the culmination of a larger story we have been telling since Trails in the Sky. Many characters make an appearance as this title marks a clear delineation in the overall story. Faithful comrades from outside of the Erebonian Empire will show up as well. The number of characters who join the party is the largest in series history.
Cold Steel III introduced a lot of new elements to combat. Are you adding anything new to the gameplay? If so, what and how will it function?
Aside from Rean, other members of the Thor’s Branch Campus will be able to call upon Panzer Soldats. Players will also be able to use powerful Lost Arts, which are from an ancient age and have various affinities. Using these are at the expense of a full EP gauge, but their power is unmatched. We’ve also implemented full auto mode for the first time. It’s a convenient feature for those players who want to proceed through the story on a lower difficulty level or those who want to see everything the game has to offer.
While not a new feature, I think players should pay special attention to Quests, as IV has the most out of any game in the series. These will tie up some loose threads that have been carried on throughout the entire Trails of Cold Steel series. There are mysteries as well as information on characters who have appeared in the series that will be revealed.
Are we still in a school setting, or does this entry move away from that given the events of the last game? Similarly, will social events play out similarly to past games?
I hinted at this in a previous answer and those who have reached the end of III might already have figured this out, but the students of Thors Branch Campus cannot continue on with their lives as students. How these characters will react in the face of adversity and overcome the challenges they encounter is something I want everyone to savor.
Bonding events are the same as in previous games. As this is the last game in the series, each and every bonding event is rich with detail.
This is the final entry in the Cold Steel arc. How did you approach this as a team to ensure it would be a satisfying finale, and what are you most proud of?
This title holds an important place as the end of the Cold Steel series and the mid-point of an overall story that began with Trails in the Sky. We’ve hinted at various mysteries since Trails in the Sky and all of those related to the Erebonian Empire will be revealed here. Additionally, characters who have made appearances in previous games will cooperate with Rean and his companions here against a common, final enemy. Many characters will join the party and you could say that the final swell in this grand tale is unlike anything ever seen thus far in any JRPG. I think you will be shaking your heads in agreement once you pick this game up.