One drawback of being a fan of JRPGs while living in the western part of the world is we sometimes are late to the party. The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel III will release in the US just a few days shy of two years after its release in Japan, and to make worse a fourth entry in the Trails of Cold Steel saga came out to Japanese audiences in 2018. As they say, better late than never and based on the reception first two entries the release of the impending third entry will likely be worth the wait.
Trails of Cold Steel III picks up a year and a half after the end of the Erebonian civil war. Rean Schwarzer has graduated from the Thors Military Academy and is now an instructor at the Thors Branch Campus, the newly-opened academy that has quickly made a name for itself on a national level. Rean is tasked with molding a new Class VII, instructing a new generation of elite heroes to face unknown dangers. As political climate shifts in the post-war era, history tells us that such periods of peace are often short lived, and there’s some speculation as to what the nefarious Ouroboros corporation is up to during this quiet time.
Unlike its predecessor, Trails of Cold Steel III will not allow players to load clear data from the previous title to have the character relationships and decisions carry over. Part of this reasoning was technical, since the first two games were PlayStation 3 and Vita titles and this is was built natively for PlayStation 4. This may be disappointing news for returning fans, but this also makes this title more accessible for newcomers as they can jump right into this without feeling obligated to play the previous entries (though we do highly recommend them). An interactive introduction is included to assist newcomers in getting caught up in the story, but this can also serve a good refresher for returning fans who may have taken some time in between this and Trails of Cold Steel II.
After spending some time with a hands-on demo Trails of Cold Steel III, we’re pleased to say that it seems this release is the right combination of the familiar and new. Players will be leading a new group of characters in the new Class VII, with many familiar faces mixed in with new characters. Turn-based battles are staples of JRPGs. It’s what fans of the genre wants and are accustomed to but it does require some changing and evolution or else every one of these games will end up being identical and boring. Trails of Cold Steel III has a dynamic turn-based system where characters can occasionally chain attacks together or charge up to unleash a devastating attack.
The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel III appears to be everything fans of this series would want in the third installment. Rean Schwarzer has moved from front line hero into a more academic role to allow a new group of heroes out into the world. The engrossing story continues in this new entry while the intricate combat system seems to be the next natural evolution of the formula fans are used to. The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel III is scheduled for an exclusive PlayStation 4 release on September 24. From what we’ve played this seemed to be on the same high level of quality of its predecessors.