Having written about the Etrian series recently, and at great lengths about one of the titles, we’re determined to send some new players in its direction. That said, despite our clear fandom for the games, they can be very difficult to penetrate for new players. After a few minutes of soft introduction, these games have a habit of throwing stat sheets, class choices, equipment, skills and map making at first timers, all in quick succession. This can be hard to deal with at first, and whilst most players are likely to know what they’re getting into up front, there are still a great deal of differences between each of the titles in the series, some of which may not immediately be apparent. Today then, we’ve broken them down into categories for each player type, to attempt to entice some of you to pick up this magical series of games.
- Etrian Odyssey Untold 1 & 2
- Etrian Odyssey 4
We should probably define things a little better if we’re honest. Beginners to the Etrian series are likely to be those that have previously experienced RPG games in some form or another; a Final Fantasy game perhaps, or a western RPG like Dragon Age. These are those that enjoy an RPG for its many facets, one of which is likely to be its storyline, which it must be said literally doesn’t exist in some Etrian Odyssey games. Oh sure, there’s always a thinly spread background story that exists, but it does so in a similar fashion to that of Monster Hunter. They know you’re not there to read thousands of lines of text or listen to a sweeping voice over speech, but we appreciate that they give us something to follow along between battles.
That being the case, by far the best option for these players is that of the Etrian Odyssey Untold titles. These are remakes of the original EO1 and EO2, but with a new story option tagged alongside the Classic mode. Here you will have a party of characters that are predefined, each with their own story beats, ambitions and goals to drive you along. Do not, whatever you do, expect these to be fantastical, twisting novels that wrench at your heart and pull you forward, but do expect to be entertained between dungeon dives, and have some of the more complex mechanics revealed and explained in a better, easier to understand kind of way. Outside of these two titles, which we should note still feature the hard-as-nails Classic mode, we would also recommend Etrian Odyssey 4, which features a 3D world map replete with side quests, extra loot options and, key to our recommendation, optional dungeons in which to level up. This final point acts much like the story mode in Untold, giving players a chance to learn, level up and get used to the many complexities of the game.
For RPG Veterans
- Etrian Odyssey 5
- Etrian Odyssey 3
- Etrian Odyssey Nexus
Next up, we’re recommending three titles for the more experienced of RPG players. To understand if you’re part of this particular section, then we have a simple test methodology: Have you taken it upon yourself to research the ‘post game’ section of an RPG? Have you taken on what might be defined as a ‘super boss’? Did you ever plan your time out to line up with a Fusion Alarm? If you’ve done either of these, or indeed understood most of them, then you’re likely to be just fine with these three particular titles. They are the full Etrian Odyssey experience, completely unfiltered, but with enough bells and whistles akin to modern titles to keep you interested.
Of the three here, our absolute favourite choice has to be Etrian Odyssey 5. This is the game in which the formula was perfected, and for us it stands atop the series in terms of quality, systems and pure entertainment factors. Should you want to experience the very best of what an Etrian game can be, this is where you should begin. Whilst the others are truly great games, with EO3 being a pure and unfiltered version of the original vision and Nexus being a strange celebration, EO5 is where you should land first. It features both race and class choices, enough to encourage plenty of experimentation, and the titles system will have you tweaking and changing things until the very end. The dungeons are varied and interesting, the traps and puzzles are hard but fair, the FOEs dangerous enough to warrant serious thought and the unit designs are charming enough to keep you interested. Etrian Odyssey 5 is the apex of this series, and an experienced player will find a game that ticks more than enough boxes to be considered alongside the greats of the JRPG genre.
- Persona Q & Q2
There are likely to be a subset of players, which we actually expect to be very large in number, that quite like the idea of mapping out a dungeon, but really don’t want to get dragged into the time consuming character creation and skill optimisation sections. They may also be less inclined to take on a game that has little to no story to talk about. For those we would first question if an Etrian title is for you at all, but if the idea of first person dungeoning and map making is enough to intrigue you, why not try the Persona Q games?
These games manage to be a ‘lite’ version of both the Persona and Etrian titles, wrapped into one glorious little game. They feature the aforementioned mapping and first person perspective, but accompany them with the various casts from the Persona titles as they embark upon some truly strange scenes, events and labyrinths. They’re not canon to the Persona storylines at all, and the social aspects have unfortunately been stripped away, but the combat is absolutely fantastic, and the Persona theme allowed the developers to approach some very novel and interesting locales. Persona Q2 in particular manages to mash the cast of Persona 3, 4 and 5 all together into one game, and whilst the character interactions are shallow to say the least, the sheer joy of dungeon diving with various mixtures of them is wildly entertaining, and very well suited to a player new to the Etrian theme.
Categories: Etrian Odyssey Nexus