Valkyria Chronicles is arguably one of the best and most overlooked games on the PlayStation 3. If you own a PS3 but don’t own Valkyria, do yourself a favor and give it a whirl as it’s one of the hidden gems the PS3 has to offer. Now if you’re like us who played and loved the game, then you were also excited when Sega announced all three Valkyria Chronicles DLC packs will be coming to the west.
After patiently awaiting the DLC packs, Sega finally releases them at $5 each. The pricing struck me as odd. Is a new difficulty mode really worth the same as a map pack? Is one mission really worth the same as multiple missions? Let’s check out the first DLC pack, Hard EX Mode, and see if it’s worth $5.
Expert mode only applies to skirmishes. In order to play it, you have to complete the game and load your cleared data. This isn’t an ordinary difficulty update where they’ll just throw more enemies with improved AI and stronger firepower. While more enemies with stronger firepower are present (mainly shock troopers, tanks and machine gun turrets), the expert mode also alters your starting position, enemy positions, units and map objectives; it completely feels like you’re getting nine new missions.
Instead of capturing the main base, the mission objective for the first skirmish is to kill all enemies. Upon entering the first battle, I noticed something: I have no tanks! Zaka wasn’t on the squad, and Welkin wasn’t aboard the Edelweiss. This spells trouble for anyone who heavily relies on tanks, so you have to espouse new strategies in order to survive these hellish battles. If you rarely use tanks, then your tactics won’t greatly change, but you’ll tend to be more careful when taking action.
Enemies and mines are cleverly concealed so watch your step. In some missions, machine gun turrets and shock troopers will be surrounding your main base from the start which is ridiculous because you can’t take three steps without being killed; you can’t comfortably get into position and focus your shots. To make matters worse, enemies constantly call for reinforcements (mainly shock troopers) thus making it difficult to capture some of their bases. Sure it seems impossible to beat, but you have to wisely plan your moves and have patience. It took me over 2 hours (not counting the 10 times I died) to complete the first skirmish.
One thing Sega advertised for this pack was improved enemy AI, but I didn’t see it. The enemy AI is still terrible as they constantly ran towards my base while ignoring my units and the shots they were receiving thus causing them to die. When an enemy repeatedly gets shot, he tends to stop, but that rarely occurred here.
The DLC also adds new weapons, and you have to defeat the enemy ace in expert skirmishes to acquire them. The new weapons include:
- Two new rifles
- One new machine gun
- Two new sniper rifles
- One new anti-tank lance
- One new flamethrower
It’s not worth your time trying to kill the aces and acquire these sub-par weapons, but considering how difficult these battles are, you most likely won’t see the day when you kill an ace. The new rifles have weaker aim and firepower against foot soldiers, and you can obtain better rifles throughout the main campaign. The only advantage the new rifles have is they deal great damage to tanks. The new lance has the best aim, but it’s incredibly weak.
Only players who seek a challenge or would like to see what’s inside their PlayStation 3 controller should purchase this DLC. Its grueling challenge will force you to adopt new strategies, but once you complete a battle, you’ll feel proud. If you were pretty comfortable with the normal and hard difficulty, then you shouldn’t bother with the expert setting.