Being technically the seventh entry into the series, Atlus still continues to improve and add features to a system that was already extremely robust. Sometimes these additions while not being great in scope make all the difference when exploring the vast expanses of the labyrinth. New this time around are better icons in order to easily check resource gathering points which will fade out once used as well as the ability to teleport to each floor instead of specific Geomatic Poles which were huge in Etrian Odyssey 4’s much more vast world. So with all of these features alongside a brand new storyline and separate dungeon, there are multiple reasons in order to delve right back into the second chapter.
The Etrian series has always been heavy on the gameplay and the exploration catering to the more hardcore of Dungeon Crawlers. While it could be fair for one to worry about adding in the story elements with named characters and custom classes that would affect what makes the experience what it is, these additions never hurt the core elements that makes the series what it is. While the introduction to these classes do make it a bit more accessible to newcomers being designed to specifically work together, it also caters to the veterans wanting to experience something new. If the story provided classes are deemed not up to the task for the player's personal style, then each member of the team short of the main character’s class can change after only a little ways into the Dungeon. This allows for simultaneously easing new players in and allowing older players to experience the story and tackling of the dungeon in their own way. Let’s be honest in the fact that having a perfectly crafted party to a play style is the only way to progress along smoothly.
Whether exploring the Dungeon and its floors in either Story or Classic mode, building maps is just as present and important as it's ever been. Alongside the autofilling walls introduced in Persona Q, icons now light up if they’ve been used or are in valid potions. Paths through the brush that need to be unlocked from the other side can be set into place but it is only when actually crossing through that they will glow yellow stating that the path can indeed be used. Gathering points can also quickly be viewed as available or taken with the same concept. This finally eliminates traveling to those out of the way gather points when you’ve already been in a dungeon for a while and can’t remember if you actually picked it up or not.
As you explore, fighting monsters is a must. I mean how else are you going to acquire materials and experience in order to delve even further into the dungeon? Using a party of up to five, combat is still handled with all actions being inputted before the turn starts and then played out according to speeds of the characters and their enemies. At times careful consideration should be taken as to how to proceed especially against bosses but at other times? Throwing all caution to the wind and letting the enemy group have it can also be worthwhile especially if the situation honestly can’t get any worse and it seems like the only way out instead of attempting to retreat. While there may not have been any changes here, there were changes present in how skills could be acquired when leveling up which made all the difference down the road compared to before.
Skills have always been drawn out in a horizontal kind of manner with the stipulation that “You must be this level in order to acquire this skill”. More often than not could have players super grinding just to get that last bit of experience in order to move over the threshold into the next tier as the grass is always greener. Untold 2 does things a bit differently. While there is some horizontal movement in skill acquisition, the bulk of the list is vertical unlocking in regards to points instead of actual levels. I know what you’re thinking, what does it matter if you still need to level to get skill points? It matters in the sense that some quests, story or side, grant extra skill points for their successful completion.
Moving over to this new point based system allowed for much more experimentation with skills. Adding in a bit of a bonus in certain circumstances is the fact that a point put in the top of a skill tree could unlock the basic moves free of charge. Receiving freebies instead of having to pay for each and every single skill was a definite change that made experimentation much easier as a character still requires the sacrifice of two levels in order to reset their skill points. Places in which this was most beneficial would be the elemental slashes of Fire, Ice, and Electricity. Unlocking the ability that leads to these three automatically unlocked all three allowing for the versatility out of the gate instead of the eventual arrival which by that point the skill would be less effective because the points had been used elsewhere.
An interesting new addition comes in the form of a Town Management system that blends several elements together in one location. Originally designed as a Restaurant not unlike the concept used in Capcom’s Monster Hunter series, players can have their party sit down to a meal in order to receive bonus stats and effects for a certain amount of steps within the dungeons. Like with the weapon system that works on bringing in items in order to create something new and usable, food works the same way except once you have the ingredients and the recipe… you need to figure out which ingredient actually work with which recipe in a game of trial and error.
Town Management however comes into play with the fact that the restaurant needs to promote itself and the only real way to do that, is to expand your influence which in turn requires expanding the town. Complicated? In practice, no. In theory? Maybe just a little bit. Honestly everything sounded much more complicated than it had to be but the quick and easy is that by developing more recipes, the restaurant can cater to more people which in turn presents the party with the profits of the advertising campaign. Now while money is needed in order to further develop the city’s quarters, after a while this money is more than helpful in order to do what really needs doing. Dungeon exploration and buying the equipment to pull it off. As an added bonus it does provide storage for loot alongside a trading space for your Grimoires which make a return!
Grimoires are tomes that allow for any class to use any other class’ specific ability that is written within its pages. With the amount of Grimoires that can drop however, after a little while holding on to that many is impossible and selling them at first is the only real option. Realizing that this is a waste, your advertisement campaigner / restaurant chef tells your party that she has opened up a form of trading with other adventurers. This trading system allows either the player to pick and choose with a scale to balance out the trade or to have her take care of things herself while the party is busy dungeon crawling. As Grimoires come in a variety of levels to either grant another class the ability or bolster an already learned skill, there will be a lot of low level Grimoires before there are higher ones making this system brilliant to have in place.
Etrian Odyssey Untold 2: the Fafnir Knight is a great remake of the second entry into the series. Enhancing old features and adding in new ones alongside a brand new story that never compromising what makes the series what it is, the only real thing to do is wait for Etrian Odyssey 5 or Untold 3.
Article by Pierre-Yves