Gamertell recently had the opportunity to attend an Etrian Odyssey III: The Drowned City demonstration led by Atlus’ Aram Jabbari and Nich Maragos that went into some of the new additions to the series introduced in the third game. The next step in DS first person dungeon crawling and cartography may not be out until September 21, 2010, but we now know a bit more about what party creation, sea exploration and dungeon scouring will be like.
Before the demonstration began, Jabbari showed a sneak peek of the Etrian Odyssey III preorder incentive, the Etrian Odyssey: Forests of Eternity artbook. There were images showing location art, character sketches and much more. It reminded me a bit of the Knights in the Nightmare DS preorder book, Knights in the Nightmare: Tome of Lost Souls. But where the Knights in the Nightmare book was more of a companion guide/artbook, the Etrian Odyssey III book is all about the art from all three entries in the series.
After that sneak peek, Jabbari and Maragos took a moment to show what party creation would be like in the latest entry. When the game began, there were 10 classes available. (There are also two unlockable, secret classes.) The prince/princess, gladiator, hoplite, buccaneer, ninja, monk, zodiac, wilding, arbalist and farmer were classes available to choose from. Jabbari put together a quick party with a farmer, gladiator, ninja, princess and monk to show how creation works. This time around, you not only have four character designs to choose from. You also have additional color palettes as well. So if you like one character design, but don’t like the color scheme, you can swap it for something else.
But characters aren’t limited to a single class. After a certain point, characters can also be assigned a subclass. Subclasses don’t effect stats, but they do effect skills. Your characters can learn skills from subclasses that they normally wouldn’t acquire. You can also sort through a character’s skills through the main menu, organizing them into their main class, sub class or common skills, to make organizing and upgrading easier. As always, you can reassign skill points in case you want improve or rework one of your characters.
In addition to normal skills, there are now limit skills. Limit skills are assigned to characters, and each has certain requirements and times when you can acquire them. One skill, for example, may need to be assigned to three characters via the menu in order to be able to be used in battle. Once a skill is assigned, you have to wiat for the limit gauge to fill up in battle. When the gauge is full, you can use that skill.
While in town, many of the places are the same. There’s the guild, an inn, a store, a bistro/bar. Some of these classic locations have some new features added in. For example, the bistro, where you get quests, now has a larger assortment of NPCs available to talk to. The store also has a forge now, and if you acquire hammers in your adventures, you’ll be able to create your own equipment.
There’s also a new location this time around, a port for sea faring adventures. Let me just say that exploring the uninvestigated waters seems like quite an expensive affair. Before you set off, you need to purchase supplies. Food, most importantly, which determines how many turns you can spend out at sea. You can also purchase flags, fishing equipment, cannons and other accessories which allow you to fish, find items and vanquish pirates. For example, the salted meat that Jabbari and Maragos took on the two sea voyages I watched only lasted 24 turns each time. After the turns are up, you automatically return to town.
Fortunately, turns aren’t too limiting. Currents can be found in the water. If you mark them on your map and plan ahead, you can ride the currents to explore further out without wasting turns. Stepping onto a current tile and being swept along only uses up one turn.
The port is also where you can initiate the new multiplayer modes. Etrian Odyssey III has a local wireless co-op multiplayer mode where you can take on Sea Quests. (You can also take on Sea Quests alone.) Once one starts, you choose either to host or join, and then work with other players to defeat a boss. When you win, you get items you can take back to your own game.
There’s also a tag mode, something quite popular in DS games as of late. Once you choose the Barter command, you can enter a passive, standby mode and share information with passersby who also have the game in standby mode. You can trade Guild Cards this way. Once you’ve collected some, you can access the Book section in the main menu to look at them and see what other people have done and accomplished in their copies of Etrian Odyssey III, and what teams they’re using.
Finally, we took a brief look at Etrian Odyssey III dungeon crawling. In particular, we looked at a new kind of map arrow. This arrow, which looked almost like a standard map arrow you’d use except it was a hollow outline, allows you to zip through a dungeon without moving. You simply set out the course on the bottom screen with arrows, and then if you move your party of characters on to one of those arrows they’ll follow them until there are no more arrows set down. Time still passes when you’re traveling like this, and you’ll still encounter enemies. It’s mainly designed to help you set up the correct path through dungeon floors and move quickly, without trying to remember which way was the correct path to the next set of stairs.
Also, there’s some good news. F.O.E. encounters once again give players experience! The first Etrian Odyssey rewarded players with experience after F.O.E. mini-boss encounters, but the second did not. The third once again rewards players who survive these tough enemy encounters.
That’s it for Etrian Odyssey III: The Drowned City for now. Be sure to keep an eye on Gamertell for future coverage of Atlus’ forthcoming DS game.