Zurvanite

Trails of Cold Steel (and the Kiseki series in general)

761 posts in this topic

6 minutes ago, aneonfoxtribute said:

I believe I'm at the end of Act 2 and 

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Very very predictably, Olivier, Toval, and Victor are still alive.

 

Spoiler

What, you expected stakes in a Trails game?

 

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Made it through Aqua Shrine finally. Had to fight those things numerous times with various tactics. Speed was the key on the successful attempt. Had to get most people up to lvl 75 to.

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Meanwhile with me, in Act 3 of CS4. I 

Spoiler

beat the second Rivalry (the one against Rutger)

 

Edited by aneonfoxtribute
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Deep into CS4 Act 3 and 

Spoiler

I'm getting ready to fight Arianrhod one final time.

 

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<continues munching popcorn>

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I recommend drinking plenty of liquids to balance out all that popcorn. 

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Had a big session of about 2 hrs today that didn’t really advance me a single bit but it was all fun. CS2 Act 1 stuff

i got to Bareahard and did the dialogue rounds..phew. It’s great fun seeing the same people again and many of them in the same exact places. Doing hidden quests. I left off down in the water way and got stomped by the giant slug. Need to do a tad more grinding before I go again.

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Meanwhile in CS4 I did all of the romance events and surprisingly didn't really dislike them. I am not onto the finale 

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I was thinking, it has been mentioned before how this series is similar to the Cosmere in terms of detail and scope, but I just recently learned about the word "Sanderlanche" (don't know how it took this long), and it fits perfectly here too, with the end of each game, and multiplied at the end of an arc.

I remember at the time I played it, chapter 4 of FC was the most intense gaming experience for me to date. There was just too much happening and too many revelations suddenly in what was previously a pretty calm game. Then chapter 7 of SC came and well, you know. I'll skip 3rd here because its structure is pretty unique but it still has its moments. Then Zero did something similar to FC and Ao was just one revelation after another already before the halfway point. I'm expecting the same to happen with Erebonia but it's pretty interesting how both series can be compared from that standpoint too.

 

 

 

(tangent, I'm really starting to ship Machias and Emma)

Edited by Eluvianii
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2 minutes ago, Eluvianii said:

I was thinking, it has been mentioned before how this series is similar to the Cosmere in terms of detail and scope

Yeah, there's a very similar feel to the worldbuilding, with the biggest difference being that the Cosmere has planets and a time scale of roughly ten thousand years once all is said and done while Zemuria deals with countries and a time scale of about twelve hundred total, with most of the 'action' confined to the last decade or so of that span. But there's a similar emphasis on the shared setting, character crossover and major events in one story influencing another, while the overall structure is still designed so you can take each piece of the greater franchise and (generally) enjoy it in isolation, though you'll get more out of it all the more you see of the whole.

I've got to actually write down that list of fun parallels at some point and organize them, because even though I'm sure it's a coincidence it's very amusing to see such similar story beats and visual elements in both works.

Quote

(tangent, I'm really starting to ship Machias and Emma)

That does seem to be a popular ship. I dunno though, personally I'm with Rean in thinking that Machias and Jusis should just get a room already... :D

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@Weltall I would be interested in hearing your comparison.
 
My interpretation of the Trails plot structure is:
  • The protagonist becomes an adventurer working for an organization.
  • Slice of life shenagains interlaced with the political plot. Supernatural plot sprinkled in background
  • Political villains take over the country. The protagonist's friend is taken away. Protagonist is now on the run.
  • Protagonist links up the Resistance. They assault the capital. Protagonist rescues his friend. Political villains are  defeated, political plot is resolved.
  • The masterminds of the supernatural plot reveal themselves to be behind everything, supernatural plot becomes the focus.
  • Masterminds summon the final dungeon, which causes a nationwide crisis. The protagonists go to the final dungeon and defeat the bosses, who escape.
  • The protagonists defeat the masterminds. Petty villain mastermind 1 is taken out by competent mastermind 2. Ouroboros makes off with the ancient magic.
  • The end
 
More thorough breakdown (spoilers for every game from FC to CS4). Kinda got really long winded here.
Spoiler

Protagonist begins a new life of adventuring with the justification of a vague background goal. They meet new friends and go adventuring and have fun slice of life shenanigans. The vague background goal is a long term goal, but it is not urgent nor at the forefront of the plot. It serves as a justification for why the protagonist is adventuring until they stumble into the political plot.

Spoiler
  • In Sky, Estelle becomes a junior Bracer, with the vague background goal of becoming a fully fledged Bracer, but she's having fun adventuring with Joshua and the friends she makes along the way. 
  • In Crossbell, Lloyd becomes a detective, with the vague background goal of solving his brother's murder, but he's having fun adventuring with his friends. 
  • In Cold Steel, Rean joins Thor's Military Academy, with the vague background goal of trying to figure out what he wants to do with his life, but he's having fun adventuring with his friends.

 

As the protagonists are adventuring, they discover the political plot.

Spoiler
  • In Sky, it begins when the airship the Linde goes missing, which was carrying Estelle's father, thus prompting her to investigate.
  • In Crossbell, this begins in Ao, when the Red Constellation arrive in town, thus beginning a chain of events.
  • In Cold Steel, it begins in Celdic when Class VII uncovers the market stall thieves as being Provincial Army soldiers, and the final cutscene of the chapter when we see G and C plotting. By the end of the first chapter, the player is cued in that there is some sort of conspiracy in the country. This becomes the dominant plot for the first half of the arc. With each chapter, more and more of the political plot is uncovered, the characters are established, and the protagonists slowly realize how vast the political conspiracy goes.

 

This eventually culminates in two events: 1. the political villain's take over, and 2. the protagonist's mission to save their friend.

Event 1 is when the political villain take over the country.

Spoiler
  • In Sky, it begins when the protagonists learn that Richard has had the Grancel Royal Guard imprisoned, and when they see an Intelligence Division airship landing at the Zeiss airport with soldiers looking for them.
  • In Crossbell, it begins when Dieter and Arios announce Crossbell's declaration of independence over a television broadcast, and white CGF soldiers begin walking the streets.
  • In Cold Steel, it begins when Osborne is assassinated and the NA launch their take over of the country. Once the villain take over begins, the country the player has found comfortable now suddenly becomes hostile territory, with the protagonists becoming wanted fugitives.

 

Event 2 is when the protagonists get a personal motivation to oppose the bad guys by trying to rescue a friend. Beforehand, we had seen how the political villains were affecting the country, but we weren't personally invested in their defeat. This personal motivation usually involves saving a character we had become invested in over the course of the game. We want a return to the status quo, when we were all friends and happy during the comedic slice of life segments.

Spoiler
  • In Sky, it happens twice: first is when we see Kloe is captured, and second is when Queen Alicia pleads with Estelle to save her daughter. Thus, Estelle and the player are motivated to save Kloe.
  • In Crossbell, it's when Lloyd learns that Arios has taken KeA away, and then the SSS is arrested and split up when they were 10 feet away from KeA.
  • In CS1+2, it's when Rean is forced to face Crow in battle, loses, and is forced to flee while his friends are still in danger. Thus, the player is motivated to find his friends again and to confront Crow. In CS3+4, it's Rean being captured and Class VII being scattered at the end of CS3.
  • In CS3+4, it's Rean being captured and Class VII being scattered at the end of CS3. At this point, the story becomes urgent and very focused on the completion of these plot goals (liberate the country + reunite everyone + save friend).

Note 1: It is interesting how in every case except Sky, the cast is split up and reuniting everyone becomes a major plot goal.

Note 2: It is interesting to note that Kloe and Rean are completely friendly to the player, and do nothing for the duration of their captivity, as opposed to KeA and Crow. KeA works with the antagonists but does not directly oppose the player, and gets a couple scenes of her doing things. Crow is an antagonist who is very active during the plot, and has committed crimes, which lends the "bring back Crow" plot an undercurrent that it might be a forlorn hope, because if the protagonists do actually win, Crow will probably be executed by the government, which ties in quite well with the more grounded, bittersweet tone of CS1+2. Rean, the protagonist we have spent 3 games with experiencing his struggle, is the one I was most personally invested in to rescue, and thus felt the most urgent.

 

After the villain takeover, there is build up to the final confrontation with the political villains. The player, now a wanted fugitive, must try to sneak around the country and reunite/find their friends and assemble a resistance to retake the capital and overthrow the villains.

Spoiler
  • In FC, the player acts more as a liaison between different groups. The protagonists travel to Grancel to meet the Queen... and get tasked by the exiled royal guard to deliver a message to her. They deliver the message to her, and are then tasked by her to rescue Kloe. The protagonists then spend five minutes gathering up four Bracer guild members and meeting with the royal guard, and then assault the royal villa and the castle.
  • In Ao, the player spends about 10 hours on the run, going around slowly meeting up with sympathizers. Unlike in FC or CS2, the resistance has pretty much already been formed in Mainz and in Crossbell, with the protagonist just acting as a liaison linking them up with each other (and recruiting Heiyue). The player is given an airship, and there is the feeling of power the player has being in command of it, defeating the occupying forces, and shutting down the bells which power the shield around Crossbell. This feeling of power is reinforced when we get a scene of Dieter calling his generals (Arios, Sigmund, and Shirley) as they freak out over the player - whom they had thought they had taken care of - systematically dismantling their defenses and retaking territory.
  • In CS2, the player spend the first 30 hours on the run. In a surprising moment that ratchets up the tension, the villains assemble and raid the protagonist's hideaway, Ymir. Rean is defeated and forced to go with the NA. The NA then tries to convince him to join their cause (unlike the SC version, this is one rather plausible). After an escape, the tension dies down as the player is in command of an airship and goes around easily liberating Eastern Erebonia for another 20-30 hours, which gives the player a sense of empowerment, as well as the sense of being on a campaign.

Note: In every arc except Sky, the player is given an airship to travel across the entire country with. But in Sky, the whole resistance is localized to just the city of Grancel, so meeting up and linking up everyone is just a matter of walking for a couple minutes.

 

The political plot climaxes with the liberation of the country's capital city and the overthrow of the villains. All of the work the player has made to organize a resistance pays off as the resistance launches a coordinated assault that the player takes part. There are usually two phases: an assault on a small location outside of the capital city (ie a villa), and then the actual assault on the seat of power inside the capital (ie the castle).

Spoiler
  • In FC, the first phase is the villa rescue. The playable party, the B-team of bracers Kurt/Carna/Grant/Anelace, and the royal guard capture the Royal Villa, with the B-team luring Intelligence Division soldiers away from the Villa into an ambush by the Royal Guard, while the protagonists raid the villa to rescue Kloe. The second phase is the Grancel Castle raid. Half of the player party then use Grancel city's sewers to infiltrate the castle and lift the gate so that the royal guard can storm the castle, while the other half of the player party uses a hijacked airship to touch down on the castle roof and secure the Queen.
  • In Crossbell, there is no playable first phase, only the assault on the seat of power itself. The resistance comprises of two Gralsritter airships (Wazy's and Kevin's), the CSPD resistance in Crossbell led by Dudley and Sergei, and Heiyue led by Cao Lee. Kevin calls in some "friends", and the Brights unexpectedly show up for a cameo to fight the Blue Aion. With shield around Crossbell down, the two airships enter Crossbell, with Kevin and his ship veering off to distract the Purple Aion. The CSPD roll up to Orchis Tower (the seat of government) to try to take it, while Heiyue arrives and starts clearing out soldiers in the city. The player party arrives on Wazy's airship and climbs up Orchis Tower to fight Dieter in the White Aion. We had already seen the power of the Aions demonstrated during the villain takeover, when they casually wiped out entire battallions, so seeing Kevin's airship and the Brights fight against them felt incredible. It made it feel like there were stakes. The 5 minute montage showing different parts of the Resistance fighting in different locations also made the operation feel huge.
  • In CS2, the first phase involves freeing the imperial villa, and the second phase involves the Infernal Castle. The resistance comprises the 3rd and 4th Armored Divisions, led by General Craig, General Vander, and Major Neithardt, and the Crimson Wings (the player party) in their airship, the Courageous. The operation begins with the 3rd and 4th Armored Divisions assaulting Heimdallr. In the first phase, the Crimson Wings fly over to the Imperial Villa to rescue the royal family. With only three moving parts, the operation doesn't really feel huge like it was in Crossbell. The tactics used to take the Imperial Villa aren't as interesting as when the Resistance tried to take the Royal Villa in FC either, as in CS2 the Crimson Wings merely fly in and drop off the player party in the middle of the yard and run in. It also doesn't help that - unlike FC - the enemy soldiers guarding the villa are not intimidating at all (in FC they wore black, wore masks, wielded halberds, and hit like a truck and had high speed, and were moderately difficult to fight), as in CS2 the provincial soldiers are generally treated as comic relief, do not look threatening, and are very easy to defeat in gameplay. The montage of the war scenes with the 3rd and 4th Armored Divisions is a little hype, as two enemy generals, Aurelia and Wallace (who were hyped up earlier in the game), sally out to face our generals in a 1v1. After the first phase, the final dungeon spawns in place of the castle, which becomes the second phase as the player party infiltrates it to take down the political villain, Duke Cayenne.

 

The supernatural plot

As the political plot unfolds, long before the political villains take over the country, a second plot, the supernatural plot, begins to lowkey develop in the background, but the audience isn't consciously aware that this is a major plot. This plot always revolves around ancient magic or an ancient artifact from the country's past that the bad guys are trying recover for their own ends.

Spoiler
  • In Sky, the supernatural plot lowkey begins when Estelle escorts the reporters to one of the Tetracyclic Towers and encounters Weissman, who begins expositing about Sept-Terions and ancient civilizations.
  • In Crossbell, the supernatural plot lowkey begins when the SSS meet KeA, and as the player learns more about the Crossbellian alchemists.
  • In CS1+2, the supernatural plot lowkey begins as the player is introduced to the magical lore of Erebonia, of Cryptids and Witches and Gnomes and Lance Maidens and of when Heimdallr was massacred by an evil dragon hundreds of years ago, but again this is background lore that is not at the forefront, so the player is not consciously thinking about this while the political plot is happening, which makes it a surprise when it does come to the forefront.

 

The masterminds

Once the player defeats the political villains, the political plot is wrapped up... and the masterminds of the supernatural plot are revealed, and the supernatural plot takes center stage. In each arc, the true masterminds of the supernatural plot are a duo or a trio of characters. They usually have little to no connection with each other, usually never having been in the same scene together before the reveal. The masterminds are friendly with the player and are usually authority figures that the player trusts, or an expert about the ancient and supernatural world.

Spoiler
  • In Sky, it's Loewe and Weissman.
  • In Crossbell, it's Arios, Ian, and Mariabell. 
  • In CS1+2, you have two pairs: Crow and Vita, and Osborne and Rufus.

 

It is also revealed that the masterminds are are responsible for enabling the protagonists to go adventuring in the first place, with the ulterior motive that the protagonists will unwittingly help progress their plans.

Spoiler
  • Sky: Weissman sends Joshua to Cassius to spy on him, Weissman shows up at the Grancel gate to help Estelle and Joshua get through.
  • Crossbell: Mariabell and Arios give money and aid to the SSS and have them take care of KeA until they need her.
  • CS1+2: Osborne and Rufus establish Class VII and arrange events so that Class VII is able to take out their enemies for them). 

The execution of each mastermind reveal: 

Spoiler
  • Sky: Weissman was one of the first mastermind reveals and the player was completely unsuspecting. The juxtaposition of his sadistic real self with the jovial man we had fun adventuring with is shocking. 
  • Crossbell: Arios and Mariabell being revealed to be supernatural villains doesn't feel impactful because they had already been heavily connected to KeA. Ian being a supernatural mastermind comes out of left field, but Ian isn't a threatening or interesting character. 
  • The CS1+2 masterminds are  unsuspecting and quite shocking: Crow and Vita are neither experts nor authority figures, just funny comedic side characters. The player has probably deduced that Crow is C by the end of chapter 6, but the apparent the death of the ILF and closure of the political plot, and the fact that the player likes Crow leads to the player being in denial about Crow. The Osborne + Rufus mastermind reveal is unusual in how late it comes, as rather than heralding the final dungeon, the mastermind reveal instead comes after the final boss has been defeated. Osborne is apparently killed off, and Rufus is unveiled to be a political villain, which makes the twist that he is actually a mastermind to be shocking. 
  • In CS3+4, Osborne and Rufus are already known to the player as villains, so the mastermind reveals are Lughman, George, and Ishmelga. However, by this point the player is well acquainted with this formula and can  easily pick out Lughman as a mastermind. George was neither an expert nor an authority figure, just a friend and the guy who fixed up your stuff for the past 2 games, so in CS3 the player fully trusted him, so his face heel turn comes out of left field. Ishmelga comes out of left field because up until this point, every character except Celine was human, so a demon robot being a mastermind piqued my interest, but later on Ishmelga falls flat as a character.

 

The final dungeon

The mastermind summons the final dungeon so they can reach the ancient artifact/magic/whatever. The final dungeon is a huge structure and its appearance causes nation wide panic.

Spoiler
  • In Sky, the Liber Ark causes an international crisis because it absorbs orbal power, shutting down orbal technology across Liberl, and even in parts of Erebonia and Calvard. This ups the stakes as Erebonia threatens to invade Liberl to stop the orbal shutdown phenomnea. Also, rather than immediately heading to the final dungeon, we get to see the impact the orbal shutdown phenomnea has had on Liberl as we travel around Liberl restoring power. After the final boss is killed, the Liber Ark begins collapsing into the lake below, and we get an exciting escape scene.
  • In Crossbell, the Azure Tree causes no real problems of significance. It's just a giant tree that houses the final dungeon. After the final boss is killed, it just disappears.
  • In Cold Steel 2, the Infernal Castle spawns in the center of Heimdallr, and cryptids and magic knights begin spawning in town, threatening civilians. The war between the Imperial Army and the NA is put on hold as everyone rushes into Heimdallr to protect the civilians. We get a brief montage of everyone fighting the monsters, being cool, and cracking jokes, but we don't really get to see the threat of the monsters. Once the player defeats the final boss, the Infernal Castle and the monsters disappear and everyone who wasn't didn't travel into the castle forgets that it existed.
  • In Cold Steel 3, the Gral of Erebos spawns over the Imperial Villa, right outside of the capital of Heimdallr. Like in CS2, Cryptids and Magical Knights begin spawning in town and terrorizing civilians. Unlike CS2, however, this isn't played up as a cool scene of heroes kicking ass, but rather as a terrifying event as we see civilians running away from elephants trying to trample them, and our heroes desperately try to protect the civilians from the monsters. It is also worth noting that at this point the story is very dire, as the player is trying to rush to the final dungeon to prevent a beloved party member from being sacrificed by the bad guys.

 

The ancient artifact/magic the bad guys are after is usually boring. 

Spoiler
  • In Sky, it was just the power over Space... except Weissman and Ouroboros didn't really use it to do anything special. 
  • In Crossbell, the Sept-Terion of Zero is used to justify the reveal that the entire game takes place in an alternate timeline. The timeline plot is somewhat interesting, but the artifact itself is not. 
  • The only time I was interested in the artifact was in Cold Steel with the Divine Knights. The Divine Knights are very cool. They have cool designs and powers, and a little bit of character themselves. They are used by the characters and add more to those characters. The Divine Knights open up additional possibilities for those characters, as they are now strategically valuable and the target of the attention of the factions in the setting. The Divine Knights also have a fascinating history. The writers also side stepped the formulaic "collect the 7 dragon balls" plot the plagues the Sept-Terion storyline by having it so that only Rean gets a DK, while all of the other 6 are either lost or in the possession of the antagonists, with no real hope of obtaining them for the protagonists. 
  • In CS3+4, the ancient artifact/magic is the Curse, which turns out to be really boring because it's just randomly causes people to do evil, and feels like an unsatisfying motivation for the supernatural villains (which hurts more in CS3+4 because all of the political villains are turned into supernatural villains. Everyone's motivation becomes the Curse).

 

The ancient artifact at the center of the supernatural plot is fought over by two villains.

Villain 1 is a petty asshole who just wants to use the artifacts to make himself powerful and hurt people

Spoiler
  • In Sky it's Weissman
  • In Crossbell it's Dieter (this is quite jarring since Dieter was not written like a petty, power tripping asshole before his "Justice" rant atop the tower. He had come off as a quite likeable, sympathetic, and level headed character)
  • In CS1+2 it's Duke Cayenne. (Unlike Dieter, the petty asshole reveal makes much more sense)

 

Villain 1 is power hungry vengeful, who with a little bit of knowledge about the supernatural world, begins power tripping and has delusions of being a god or on top of the world.

The protagonists defeat villain 1... only for villain 2 to show up and take the artifact from villain 1. Villain 1 shrinks as he realizes that he was a big fish in a small pond and has begins to comprehend his much more powerful and knowledgeable villain 2 was all along. (major CS4 spoilers below!)

Spoiler
  • In Sky, it's Ouroboros taking the Aureole from Weissman. 
  • In Crossbell, it's Ouroboros and the Crois conspiracy taking the Aions away from Dieter. 
  • In Cold Steel, it's Osborne kicking out Ouroboros and demolishing the NA to absorb the NA's assets, take the Divine Knights, and hijack the Phantasmal Blaze Plan). 
  • Interestingly, a reversal of this happens in CS4, in which villain 2 Arianrhod is backstabbed and killed by petty asshole villain 1 Rufus Albarea, who through patience and cunning, managed to become just as knowledgeable about the supernatural world as Arianrhod.

 

The main character's vague background goal

If the political plot was the B plot, and the supernatural plot the A plot, then the protagonist's goal would be the C plot. This plot is important to keep the player invested when the A and B plots are on break.

Spoiler
  • In Sky, Estelle's goal is to become a fully fledged Bracer. We also follow in the footsteps of the legendary Cassius Bright, so as a Bracer we are incentivized to become the best Bracer we can. Thus, getting up our Bracer Rank is one of the implicit plot goals we want to stick around for. It can't hold up the game on it's own, but it is one of many incentives.
  • Cold Steel has the bracer rank in the form of the school grades, but they aren't played up storywise (except you get validation from Sara and Towa with a voiceover depending on what grade you got). The real C plot begins halfway through the game, when the school festival is brought up, and the class decides they are going to put on a concert. This plot is built up in the background for the rest of the game. So when the ILF are apparently defeated and the supernatural plot hasn't taken over yet, the C plot fills the void as we finally arrive at the school festival, the event which the game has been building up for the past 30 hours. We are invested to see this through.
  • Crossbell, in contrast, doesn't really have an ongoing C plot. Oh yes, at the start Lloyd's motivation is to resolve his brother's murder, but after the prologue that plot goal is never brought up again, except in an offhand statement with an NPC in the final dungeon. The plot is completely forgotten until the mastermind reveal in Ao, when Lloyd out of nowhere accuses Arios of killing Guy. It feels very jarring.

 

The big plot twists everybody remembers

When you browse through forums and watch let's plays on Youtube and Twitch, you will find that two key moments in the plot structure tend to elicit the most powerful reactions from players and thend to be the most memorable: 1. the villain takeover (ie, Dieter's declaration of independence in Ao, the NA takeover at the end of CS1), and 2. the mastermind reveal (Weissman at the end of FC, Osborne and Rufus at the end of CS2). If I had to guess, the villain takeovers tend to be memorable because of how they disrupt the status quo. The setting had been very comfy to adventure through, but now it suddenly becomes hostile occupied territory, and the player suddenly becomes a wanted fugitive fighting to overthrow the villains. It feels urgent and dramatic. As for the mastermind reveal, it's probably memorable because of the shock value of a character you thought was one thing, suddenly turning out to be heinously evil and several steps ahead of you, giving you a powerful and despicable adversary you want to become strong enough to bring down. There is also the shock value of hearing that everything up until this point had actually been orchestrated in service of the mastermind's goal.

 

Using this, I'm going to guess the plot structure of arc 4 (presumably in Calvard).

Spoiler

If the red haired character on the Falcom calendar is the MC and he is a part of Heiyue, then:

  • MC returns home to the Eastern Quarter to work for Heiyue. His life as an adventurer involves doing jobs for Heiyue and improving the community and expanding Heiyue's influence. SoL shenagains. He reunites with his childhood girlfriend who is now a Bracer, Elaine, and/or becomes best friends with another Triad member, and/or meets up with his other childhood friend, who is now somewhat of an antagonist/rival towards the MC as this friend is now working for the Rocksmith Agency.
  • MC stumbles upon the political plot, which will probably be corruption within the government (either the President or the Rocksmith Agency, possibly both).
  • The political villains gain power and take over the country. (The Anti-Immigration League almost certainly doesn't have the resources or the popular opinion to take over the country, so that leaves the government as the only real possible adversary here. The AIL might fulfill a similar role to the Imperial Liberation Front in being pawns). The MC's friend is taken away/arrested (either their Heiyue bro or Elaine).
  • The MC tries to link up the resistance to overthrow the government (the resistance being Heiyue + Bracers + Gralsritter + any other factions, possibly includes the AIL). The MC might also get an airship (could be owned by Heiyue or the Bracers, or a ship stolen by Heiyue or the AIL).
  • The MC rescues his bro/Elaine. The MC faces off against his old childhood friend who joined the Rocksmith agency (who may or may not join the party after his defeat). The government is defeated.
  • The masterminds reveal themselves. They are trying to obtain/make a Sept-Terion of Water to reverse desertification (which will the protagonists will oppose because it will somehow involve abusing/sacrificing their friend), OR going by Gramhardt's statement at the end of Hajimari, they are trying to use a Sept-Terion of time to create a better timeline (use we kinda already did that, reusing a plot point, but I can't interpret his statement differently).
  • The masterminds summon the final dungeon. The use of the Sept-Terion causes a nationwide problem that also begins affecting neighboring countries. Perhaps the Sept-Terion of water backfires, or the Sept-Terion of time begins summoning demons (because the Time element in Trails is more associated with demons and hell then it is with actual time manipulation). The protagonists use their airship to travel to the final dungeon and defeat the bosses.
  • The protagonists defeat the supernatural villains. Ouroboros makes off with the magic, the end.

Note 1: if Elaine is the protagonist, then the red haired Heiyue guy will fulfill the role of the friend in need for her to save. Rocksmith agency friend will still probably be an antagonist.

Note 2: Zin will probably be the big good mentor/authority figure of Calvard, just as Cassius was in Sky, Arios was in Crossbell, and Victor/Aurelia/Matteus were in Cold Steel. Yun-Ka Fai could also share this role, but he doesn't have a stake in the political shenagains of Calvard, so he might be relegated exclusively to the ELOB subplot.

 

Edited by Val the Moofia Boss
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In the finale, and I am doing a certain sidequest that will mean literally nothing if you didn't play Sky. Nice. 

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I must say I'm surprised by the returning character content. I didn't think they would actually follow up on character arcs, I thought they would just stay the same only showing, like, how their new norm is. But no. 

Spoiler

Renne seems to be going for an even farther character resolution, with her actually talking to her parents now, Joshua gets some more time in Hamel, and Schera and Olivier actually get together.

Spoilers for up to the finale

Edited by aneonfoxtribute
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Oh right, also, I forgot to post this the other day.

Spoiler

FIRST

SECOND

THIRD

FOURTH

FIFTH

SIXTH

SEVENTH

EIGHT LEAVES! BREAKING DAWN!

It's so great.

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Oh my god yes. I just passed the point of no return and

Spoiler

I GET TO CONTROL ALL FIVE TEAMS ENTERING THE SALT PALE I'M SO HAPPY

 

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CS2 Act 1 stuff

i have cleared Bareahard. It’s not very challenging but it made for pure fun with all the character building in the end. Jusis and Sara back in the fold. Daddy is pissed off. Doovaile(I hate this pronunciation! It should be Duvalyay) and McBurn seem interesting. So I’m back in Ymir and taking the natural break in the game to end the day. Will pick back up tomorrow

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Spoiler

Fun fact about Duvalie! She is actually a returning character! Her and the other two Stahlritter (who have not appeared in CS as of where you are) are fought as bosses in Azure. McBurn is a new character, but he mentioned Loewe. Loewe is a character from the Sky trilogy. 

CS2 response to Briar

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I am in front of the final boss door right now. But alas as it is one in the morning and tomorrow is a weekday, I must save it for tomorrow. If it was earlier, or if it was a weekend, then I might have actually plowed straight through to the end. 

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Congrats

CS4 ending

Spoiler

Imagine if that was actually the ending. Four games... 500+ hours of investment in this guy... I'd probably be so bitter I'd never play another Trails game (unless the teasers for Hajimari promised to save him)

 

Edited by Val the Moofia Boss
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17 hours ago, aneonfoxtribute said:
  Reveal hidden contents

MCBURN WHAT WHAT WHAT WHAT WHAT WHAT

CS4 final dungeon

Fun fact, you get foreshadowing of this (well, more foreshadowing) if you:

Spoiler

Bring Gaius to the confrontation in Orchis Tower. When you see the shadow of McBurn's true form, Gaius thinks that this is what Barkhorn told him about. Barkhorn is implied to be the Dominion most familiar with the Beyond, having been the one who investigated the original Salt Pale some thirty years ago. So there's a subtle implication that whatever was happening in that scene was related to the Beyond in some way.

Related to an earlier post of oyurs, yes, that S-Craft is amazing, one of my favorites in the entire franchise. xD I'm not 100% sold on the localized name but I'll admit that the Japanese didn't make for a particularly easy translation.

Spoiler

The Awakened version of the S-Craft has a name a bit closer to the Japanese though, so it works out being pretty clever all around.

And congrats on finishing the game!

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