A Challenging Sequel That Struggles to Match its Predecessor

In the realm of beloved franchises, it has become all too common for sequels to fall short of their predecessors’ success, whether it is a film, TV show, or video game. Ultimately, this fate befell Valkyria Chronicles 2, the highly anticipated follow-up to the critically acclaimed and cult classic Valkyria Chronicles. From the moment it was announced for the Sony PlayStation Portable (PSP), Valkyria Chronicles 2 faced an uphill battle in living up to its predecessor. The PSP, with its limited hardware resources, had struggled to compete with Nintendo in the portable video game console arena in North America, while its performance in Japan was relatively stronger and it managed to maintain some level of competitiveness against the Nintendo GameBoy Advance and DS, it still faced significant challenges elsewhere.

Originally released in January 2010, Valkyria Chronicles 2 takes players back to Gallia, two years after the events of the previous game. In this war-torn nation, Gallia finds itself engulfed in a civil war, a consequence of simmering unrest and anti-Darcsen sentiment among aristocrats and like-minded Gallians. Seizing the opportunity presented by the turmoil, the Gassenarl family forms the Gallian Revolutionary Army. Their objective: to gain control of Gallia and carry out a ruthless ethnic cleansing of the Darcsens from the country.

With Gallian laws prohibiting the formation of a militia during internal crises, Lanseal Military Academy turns to its cadets to bolster the front lines. The country’s military is still in the process of recovery from the previous war, making the academy’s role crucial in defending Gallia from this internal threat.

In the midst of the raging war, our story unfolds with Avan Hardins, the protagonist, residing in his hometown of Mellvere. An instructor from the esteemed Lanseal Military Academy arrives with heart-wrenching news: Avan’s older brother has tragically perished in the line of duty. The news devastates Avan, but before he can digest the enormity of this news the rebel army launches an assault on his hometown. After successfully defending Mellvere, Avan resolves to seek answers about his brother’s demise, deciding to apply to Lanseal as a student to search for answers surrounding his brother’s death as he is told by the instructor that the information is classified.

The main characters: Avan, Cosette, and Zeri

The narrative progresses to Avan’s entrance exam at Lanseal, where he crosses paths with two other central characters who will form the primary cast: Zeri, a composed and intelligent Darcsen, and Cosette, a young and clumsy girl with aspirations of becoming a doctor. Despite barely scraping through the exam, the trio finds themselves assigned to the same class: Class G, the least prestigious at Lanseal.

Eager and hot-headed, Avan assumes a leadership role among this group of misfits, eventually becoming the Class President. As Avan unites the class, they transform from a ragtag bunch into a formidable battalion, while struggling with school life and the ongoing Civil War that engulfs their surroundings.

I must confess, my excitement was truly genuine upon discovering that Sega was developing a sequel to Valkyria Chronicles. The fact that it was slated for release on the PSP didn’t bother me at all. On the contrary, it presented an opportunity to enjoy the game while on the go, liberating me from the confines of playing exclusively at home on a PlayStation 3.

As a fervent fan of the first game, I eagerly followed every piece of news, downloading the Japanese demo from the PlayStation Network, and spreading the news to fellow fans of the franchise1. Despite the seven-month wait for the North American release, my anticipation for the sequel remained unwavering. However, when I finally got my hands on the game, it quickly became apparent that it would be a mixed experience, failing to meet some of my lofty expectations. While I had reservations about the chosen platform, I still looked forward to seeing how the developers would tackle the hardware limitations of the PSP while delivering a worthy Valkyria Chronicles experience.

Early on, I realized that compromises were inevitable and certain aspects of the original game couldn’t be replicated. Two specific areas that underwent significant changes were the art style, which was replaced with a more anime-inspired look, and the gameplay.

The developers of Valkyria Chronicles 2 successfully improved the gameplay mechanics compared to the original game, aiming to make it more accessible and suitable for on-the-go play. As a result, battles became quicker to engage in. However, this improvement came at the cost of smaller maps and some decreased difficulty. In the game, players are limited to deploying up to 5 units per area on the smaller maps, with a maximum of 6 units for the entire battle. The player’s vehicle, if used, had to be initially placed in a reserved spot. Unfortunately, the reuse of these smaller maps in non-primary battles was a disappointing consequence of choosing the PSP as this game’s platform.

A significant change in Valkyria Chronicles 2 was the storytelling approach. Instead of chapters, the game introduced a calendar system, with each month featuring multiple battles, including the primary battle. Cut-scenes were replaced by visual novel-style screens that depicted characters, the location (for example their classroom), and their dialogue. To access the main battle and the associated interactions, players needed to complete two standard missions per month. The unlocking of potentials, character abilities, also underwent changes. Rather than unlocking the potentials through specific conditions like characters being incapacitated in battle or capturing a base, potentials now unlocked based on battle circumstances or character-specific missions. For example, destroying a light tank with Anisette (a shocktrooper) unlocked the potential “Exploit Weakness”, or Melissa’s Stalker potential, unlocked upon succcessful completion of her character mission, increases the likelihood that her attackls will cause a status ailment to the enemy.

Additionally, the activation of potentials during battle changed. While both games would have potentials activate based on circumstances, random activation, or by using an order, Valkyria Chronicles 2 introduced the morale meter which would contribute to the activation of potentials. The higher the morale the more likely that an activated potential would be a positive potential, such as being able to have another turn, and the less likelihood that an activated potential would be a negative one. In addition if the morale meter reaches zero it is an automatic loss condition for the battle. The morale meter would be increased by defeating enemy units or capturing bases and decreased with a character being injured or capture of non-main bases.

Furthermore, another related change was made with regards to the potentials activating during battle, although in both games potentials would activate either by circumstance (if a character was in a desert location and has a Desert Allergy) or randomly, unlike the previous game there is no order that will cause the potentials to appear more frequently, this behaviour is replaced with the morale meter. The morale meter works pretty simply - it increases when enemy units are defeat or enemy bases are captured and decreases when character units or bases (as long as it is not the main base) are captured.

Overall, Valkyria Chronicles 2 offered improved gameplay mechanics, smaller maps, a calendar-based storytelling system, revised potential unlocking conditions, and a morale meter for potential activation during battles.

The morale level directly affects how often potentials are activated as well as which kind of potentials as there are negative and positive potentials that will affect the character - for instance a negative potential may decrease accuracy and a positive potential may increase the character’s strength. Although I have praised the improved gameplay of Valkyria Chronicles 2, it does suffer in a few areas. The difficulty seems to have been decreased as characters that fall in battle aren’t permanently gone from your party (you simply can’t use them for a few battles).

In the original game losing supporting characters permanently added to the difficulty and challenge of the game. It was disappointing to see that this was removed from the sequel.

There are a few other areas that received notable upgrades from the original game, including the class and tank upgrade systems, which introduced a heightened level of customization. In the case of the tank upgrade system, significant changes were made. Instead of utilizing blocks to represent tank upgrades, a menu system was implemented which included a graphical preview to show the tank’s upgrades visually. Furthermore, customization options were expanded to include the choice between a standard tank or an Armoured Personnel Carrier (APC). Each upgrade also carries a weight value, necessitating consideration of the vehicle’s maximum capacity to ensure it does not exceed its weight limit with the upgrades enabled.

The class upgrade system also underwent a transformation from the linear system in Valkyria Chronicles. It now offers a more personalized approach2, allowing players to upgrade classes and select which branch type of class to assign each squad member to. To illustrate, take the character Anisette, who begins as a Shocktrooper.

Once the requirements are met, she can be upgraded to a Veteran Shocktrooper, leading to branching paths such as Elite Shocktrooper or Commando, or she can become a Gunner, which enables her to evolve into either an Elite Gunner or Heavy Gunner.

Each class brings its own set of advantages and disadvantages. For instance, Commandos are the sole carriers of flamethrowers, while the new Gunner class wields a machine gun capable of firing in a wide, horizontal arc, or the Heavy Scout which is one of the most powerful classes in the game, but they have limited mobility.

Once unlocked, characters can freely switch between classes, provided they possess the necessary materials, however they can only switch within their assigned class, for instance Anisette cannot become a Scout or Lancer. It’s worth noting that Avan enjoys the unique ability to switch to any class.

The controls were also modified to accommodate the PSP’s absence of trigger buttons and analog sticks. One notable change involved mapping the function of the Start button to end a turn, replacing the role previously assigned to the circle button, this does take some adjustment once you have gotten used to the controls of the original game, the third entry in the series - Valkyria Chronicles 3 - retains the same control scheme.

The weapon upgrade system largely maintains consistency with the original game, albeit with a few minor differences. Plans, obtained as rewards for defeating enemy aces, are now required, along with materials obtained from battles. However, one drawback of the new approach to tank, class, and weapon upgrades in Valkyria Chronicles 2 is the increased demand for materials, which may lead to a more grind-heavy experience in later stages when striving to fulfill the requirements for weapon medals.

The missing element

One notable addition in this game, missing from its predecessor, is the inclusion of multiplayer gameplay. While the process of setting up multiplayer sessions via adhoc wireless networks between two physically close PSPs can be cumbersome, it proves to be an incredibly enjoyable addition once established. However, due to the game’s poor sales3 and limited player base, it is likely that many Valkyria Chronicles fans never had the opportunity to experience this feature.

Personally, I had a chance to play a few rounds with a friend, utilizing my old PSP with the UMD version of the game and my new PSP Slim with the digital version from the PSN. It’s an unfortunate consequence that more fans of the game were unable to access this feature and fully enjoy it.

Undoubtedly, the gameplay stands as the strength of this game. However, other aspects such as the story, characters, and character interactions fall remarkably short in comparison to the original title.

Complaints about Valkyria Chronicles 2

While I have some minor critiques of the game, my primary concern revolves around the characters and story. As a devoted fan of Japanese-developed role-playing games (JRPGs), I highly value a game’s narrative. While some argue that a strong story is not essential for an enjoyable gaming experience, many of the popular RPGs, such as Bioware’s Mass Effect series, are acclaimed for their captivating stories and engaging gameplay.

Personally, a weak story hampers my engagement of a game, and at times, Valkyria Chronicles 2 suffered from this issue, though its enjoyable gameplay helped compensate for certain narrative shortcomings. This situation brings to mind an anime series called Kanon4 (the 2002 version) that was recommended to me. Initially, I struggled with the character designs and found it difficult to proceed beyond the first episode. However, after persisting with multiple attempts, the series grew on me, and I began to appreciate its qualities.

My experience with Valkyria Chronicles 2 evoked a comparable sentiment at certain points in the narrative. There were instances when I struggled to fully immerse myself in the game due to the erratic progression of the story. One moment, the focus would be on Class G winning an inter-class competition, only to suddenly shift to defending a village from rebels, and then rapidly transitioning back to a serious plot point.

The original game captivated players with its intriguing narrative and compelling storyline, exploring themes of racism and overcoming bigotry. It featured a memorable ensemble of characters that left a lasting impression. In the sequel, while the supporting cast receives better development, there are instances where the game relies heavily on familiar anime clichés and character tropes. We encounter the haughty foreign prince, the cool, introverted glasses-wearing student, the serious and reserved foreigner, and the overly energetic leader.

The reliance on clichés and character tropes becomes recurrent in this game, however, amidst these familiar tropes, the game introduces unique personalities such as Marion, who exhibits a moral upbringing and an endearing, albeit comedic, passion for weaponry.

In terms of character interactions, the game tends to follow a somewhat predictable path, resembling scenes from visual novels triggered when players visit specific locations. Although lacking originality in this aspect, these interactions play a crucial role in shaping the narrative and leading to specific missions where the related characters must be deployed alongside Avan. This provides an added incentive for players to engage with the supporting cast and explore their dynamics within the game world.

Comparatively, the plot progression in the first game felt more cohesive, building events that contributed to the overarching story. In contrast, Valkyria Chronicles 2 felt fragmented, jumping abruptly from one scenario to another. Avan’s initial motivation to enroll in Lanseal takes a backseat to the task of uniting his class.

It is disappointing that the development team couldn’t develop the main cast of characters in Valkyria Chronicles 2 as effectively or organically as they did in the original game.

The original’s characters overcame personal prejudices, faced the consequences of war, explored themes of friendship, loss, achieved dreams, and even found love. It baffles me how the natural progression of Welkin and Alicia’s relationship was portrayed in the first game, while the characters in Valkyria Chronicles 2 lacked similar depth of development. Moreover, the hinted romance between Avan and Cosette ultimately amounted to nothing.

One more thing...

In replaying the game recently I was intrigued by the narrative surrounding the antagonists - specifically with regards to Gilbert Gassenarl, the head of the rebels, and his son Baldren. When we are first introduced to the pair we learn that Gilbert has managed to secure discreet funding and resources from the Atlantic Federation for his rebellion. In contrast his son Baldren is shown as being patriotic and disagrees with the involvement of the Atlantic Federation in their cause.

This discontent eventually leads to Gilbert’s death at the hands of his son when it is revealed that Gilbert’s intent for the rebellion were selfish in nature - he wanted to take control of Gallia and secure a seat in the Federation’s council5

As a result of this action Baldren ascends to the leadership of the rebel army at which point their downfall begins. Baldren’s actions combined with his personality and appearance remind me of Mobile Suit Gundam’s Gihren Zabi and I am left to wonder if the development team was perhaps inspired by the classic Mobile Suit Gundam series in creating this character.


Valkyria Chronicles 2 faced a formidable challenge from the outset: living up to the critical acclaim of its predecessor while navigating the constraints of the PSP platform. Despite these hurdles, the game returns players to the war-torn realm of Gallia, immersing them in a civil war driven by political unrest and entrenched biases. As military academy cadets rise to defend their homeland, Valkyria Chronicles 2 presents an intriguing narrative that regrettably the game does not live up to.

While Valkyria Chronicles 2 is undeniably a good game and a worthy addition to the franchise, it falls short as a direct sequel to the original. It occupies a rather peculiar space - on one hand, it significantly improves gameplay mechanics, offering enjoyable battles that are easy to pick up and play. The inclusion of multiplayer adds another layer of excitement, and the customization options for upgrading characters, artillery, and vehicles provide players with greater control over their characters. However, certain classes, like the Anthem Corp, feel unnecessary, and the grinding required to upgrade characters and equipment can become demanding.

The improvement in gameplay is overshadowed by the questionable narrative direction and characterization choices that were made to appeal to a broader audience. As a result, the game relies on clichés and tropes in narrating the story, detracting from the overall experience. Additionally, the decision to release the game on the PSP had detrimental effects for the entire franchise outside of Japan, hindering the chances of an English version for Valkyria Chronicles 3 due to the extremely poor sales of this game. Despite the best efforts of the fan group Gallian Liberation Force to replicate the success of Operation Rainfall, an official English release has not materialized in over the decade since the game was released. Fortunately, thanks to the dedicated fan community, an unofficial translation for the Extra Edition version of Valkyria Chronicles 3 exists and a new translation was announced as of April 2021 but nothing concrete has materialized.

In the end, Valkyria Chronicles 2 feels misplaced as an immediate sequel to the original. Valkyria Chronicles 3: Unrecorded Chronicles would have been better suited, in terms of narrative and pacing, to serve as a direct continuation. Hindsight suggests that Valkyria Chronicles 2 would have been better positioned for release following Valkyria Chronicles 3 or as a standalone entry, similar to how Valkyria Azure Revolution borrowed elements from the Valkyria Chronicles franchise while forging its own path.


There are differences between the different variations either with regards to equipment or AP use, for instance the Heavy Scout is considered to have great combat ability but has limited Action Points (AP) whereas a Scout Elite has the most amount of AP.

The characters can switch between the classes, but if I recall there is a price (in terms of consumable in-game drops) that are used to permit switching classes. With regards to switching classes the characters can only switch within heir type, for instance Zeri cannot become a lancer or scout - there is an exception with Avan being able to switch to any class.

  1. My love for the game drove me to collaborate with the launch of a moderately successful Valkyria Chronicles group on Facebook, I had never done anything similar before. In addition I purchased the Original Soundtrack (OST) for the game and a figure of the game’s heroine, Alicia Melchiott (my first and only anime-esque figure that I own). ↩︎

  2. With regards to the class upgrade system, the first tier starts with the basic class, the middle tier then splits the class in two, then finally the 3rd tier has 2 final variations based on the class selected in the middle tier. If we use the Scout as an example, the first tier is the Scout class, in the second tier the Scout can become a Sniper or Scout Veteran, and finally if the Scout became a Scout Veteran they can become a Heavy Scout or Scout Elite or if the Scout became a Sniper then it could become a Sniper Elite or AT (Anti-Tank) Sniper. ↩︎

  3. At one point in my career I was able to see actual sales figures for Valkyria Chronicles 2 in North America and they were depressingly bad - I believe it was around 16,000 to 22,000 units sold in total 2-3 years after the original release of the game. ↩︎

  4. In 2006 a superior remake of Kanon was produced by renowned animation studio Kyoto Animation (at that time known for The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya and the Full Metal Panic sequels). ↩︎

  5. It seems as though Gilbert is this game’s version of Maurits von Borg from the original game who chose to sell out his country to become a ruler of Gallia as a vasal state to the Federation and then the Empire. ↩︎