The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel II Interview – Developing on PS4, Combat & the Golden Age of JRPGs

PlayStation LifeStyle recently got a chance to chat with Nihon Falcom President, Toshihiro Kondo about the upcoming game, The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel II.  We got a chance to ask about PS4 development, the combat system, lessons learned from the original, and much more.  The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel II is set to release on September 6 for the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita.

PlayStation LifeStyle: What lessons did the team learn from the original Trails of Cold Steel that were implemented into Trails of Cold Steel II?

Toshihiro Kondo: We were starting from scratch when designing all the motion and modeling for the previous game, but we were able to refine them for Cold Steel II as we got used to the design and modeling process. Since I heard that fans liked using the relationship points system when characters were in school, we adjusted development a bit to implement a similar system into Cold Steel II.

PSLS: Have there been any tweaks to the combat system this time around?

Toshihiro: Yes, there are a lot. In the first Trails of Cold Steel we found out that Rean has a special power, and he can now activate that power during battle in Cold Steel II to use abilities such as “Spirit Unification” and “Awakener’s Call.” Additionally, one of the new systems, “Overdrive,” allows partners to attack repeatedly multiple times.

PSLS: With the setting changing from school to airship, will we see any airship battles?

Toshihiro: Yes, the airship Courageous will be actively travelling in Cold Steel II, especially during the second half of the game. So players should look forward to watching intense airship battle scenes, though they are non-interactive.

PSLS: Was there any thought to skipping the PS3 and developing Trails of Cold Steel II for PS4 instead?

Toshihiro: Not really. Since the previous Cold Steel was released on PS3 and Vita, we always had it in our minds to develop the sequel for the same platforms.

PSLS: With the school setting not present in this sequel, how can players expect to interact with the members of their party this time?

Toshihiro: Cold Steel ended with the Class VII members scattered across the land. Cold Steel II begins with Rean’s journey and follows him to multiple locations, ultimately reuniting him with Class VII members during the course of that adventure. Players will see how much all of the party members have grown during the time they were separated, and I believe fans will enjoy being reunited with other Class VII members and feel nostalgic each time it happens. I think it’s one of the best set of moments to happen across the entire Trails series.

PSLS: We were big fans of the character-driven writing in the first game, which blended humor and drama very effectively. How will the sequel develop these characters even more?

Toshihiro: The story of Cold Steel II is more serious than the first game, but I believe that players will enjoy watching the party members grow as they become more cohesive and powerful in order to protect the empire.

PSLS: The first Trails of Cold Steel felt like a throwback to the “golden age” of Japanese RPGs. Is that something the team was striving for with this franchise?

Toshihiro: We always try to create something that we can all be proud of while trying to pursue our ideals at the same time, but bringing back the “golden age” of JRPG is not necessarily our main goal when we create games.

PSLS: The middle of a series can sometimes feel unsatisfying, since it doesn’t have the freshness of the original and doesn’t conclude the story. How do you make the second game in a trilogy stand alone as a fun game?

Toshihiro: The Trails series is often singled out for not concluding its stories, but that in turn allows us to make the overall story and world as large as they are which I don’t think is common for the typical JRPG. Since each Trails game tends to be on a very large scale and players have to wait for the sequel, we try to create something that makes it worth the wait.

PSLS: What would you say to players who didn’t play the original game? Can they start with the sequel and still enjoy the story?

Toshihiro: In Cold Steel II players have the option to return to the original story in case they would like to refresh their memory, so I guess technically players can start Cold Steel II without playing Cold Steel, but I highly recommend playing the first game before jumping into the sequel. The Trails games tend to be very large, mainly because there is so much content and so many details that simply can’t fit into a single game.

We would like to thank Toshihiro Kondo for taking the time to answer our questions. The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel II will be out on September 6 for the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita.