Part 1: Let's Begin!Update 0: Let's Begin!
Let's get this show on the road, then.
As stated in the OP, I'll be doing a Classic mode run instead of a Story mode run.
A quick primer on difficulties:
- Picnic: Your party deals 200% more damage than normal, and takes 75% less damage than normal. All non-fixed healing is increased by 200%, as well. When your party is completely killed, you have the option to restart from one step before the battle where you died. Status ailments and binds are less likely to be inflicted on your party, and you have a higher chance of inflicting them on enemies. Certain environmental hazards in the Labyrinth also deal less damage.
- Standard: Your party deals and takes 100% damage. When your party is completely killed, you will get one chance per session to restart from one step before the battle where you died. After that, the game will just give you a game over, and restart.
- Expert: Your party deals 33% less damage than normal, and takes 66% more damage than normal. When your party is completely killed, you do not have the option to go back to before the fight. Status ailments and binds are more likely to be inflicted on your party, and you have a lower chance of inflicting them on enemies.
We'll be going with Expert, obviously, because why wouldn't you?
SYSTEM: This holy tree, revered by the people, is called Yggdrasil. Legend tells that the tree is connected to an unseen castle in the sky. Then, one day, the people of High Lagaard discovered a mysterious labyrinth within the legendary tree, filled with monsters! The ruling Duke issued a formal decree to investigate the Labyrinth, and to discover the truth behind the fabled floating castle. The legend of the castle and the news of the mysterious Labyrinth drew many explorers from all over the continent... ...But though countless hopefuls tried, none could conquer the Labyrinth, and its depths remained shrouded in mystery. ...You are yet another among the legions of explorers arriving at the Grand Duchy of High Lagaard, after hearing of the legends. Your quest is to reach the floating castle and find your fame and fortune within the vast Labyrinth. The city of Lagaard awaits!
SYSTEM: It appears that the animated city is full of explorers... Since you yourself came to make a name for yourself as an explorer, you should register at the Explorers Guild.
Well, it's easy to tell what the game wants us to do. To the Explorers Guild!
If you wish to become an explorer, you must first establish a guild. A guild exists as a group of comrades that aid each other through the perilous Labyrinth. So how about it, explorers...? Well, it's the first day of the new year. Shall we commemorate it with a new guild?
Good enthusiasm. That's what I like to see, explorer. Just write the desired name for your guild on this line. I'm sure that many in this city will welcome a new guild with open arms.
For the sake of this test update, I'll be using placeholder names for guild name and character names.
I've never heard of that name before. Is it some foreign tongue, perhaps...? Regardless, it has a nice ring to it. ...Well, that aside, it's time for you to register explorers with your guild. You can also register yourself, and personally explore the Labyrinth alongside your allies, if you wish. ...But as the head of the Explorers Guild, I will give you one piece of advice. Choose your members wisely, as you may only register up to 25 members with your guild.
And with this, we can start registering guild members. As is tradition for EO LPs, here's a gigantic summary of all the classes EO2U has to offer, plus portraits.
Landsknechts are as standard a damage class as it gets. Their primary and only job is to hit things, preferably very hard. Landsknechts have access to two different weapon types, and two skill trees for each: swords and axes. Swords have access to area-of-effect abilities, which are very useful in clearing out random encounters, while axes are fantastic for single target damage and generally have bigger ATK bonuses than swords. Investing in both weapon types' best skills takes a lot of skill points, however, so it's best to just pick one type and stick with it.
The other big thing Landsknechts have going for them compared to the other physical damage classes is their durability. Landsknechts have several advantages over other classes in this department: they can equip heavy armor, they can equip shields, and their VIT stat (which, and this is paraphrasing a lot, basically helps control how much damage a character takes) and max HP are each the third highest amongst all the classes.
Survivalists are a support class that deal minor damage in battle, though they do have an option for decent burst damage, can inflict a few status ailments fairly reliably, and have access to a variety of useful support skills, both in the Labyrinth and in battle. In random encounters, Survivalists have access to some decent skills that help clear out trash mobs, and their access to Blind and Paralysis can make certain otherwise-troublesome random encounters a breeze. Like mentioned previously, they're also capable of actually respectable burst damage, but it requires a not-insignificant level of setup, and only starts to become available and/or viable in the midgame.
One thing to note about Survivalists is their primary weapon, bows, and pretty much all of their damage skills use their AGI stat instead of their STR stat for calculating damage.
Protectors are a support class whose entire job is mitigating incoming damage towards the party, which they excel at. A Protector is capable of reducing incoming physical damage to a given row by up to 70% later in the game, and they're also capable of completely nullifying elemental attacks. They don't really do tanking, outside of a skill that's decent for random encounters and certain bosses, but useless for others. They aren't fantastic at dealing damage, either--their STR stat is mediocre and their "best" damage skill is meh at best. Plus, they usually have better things to do, such as keeping your party from dying.
Dark Hunters are a combination disabler and physical damage dealer class whose damage is tied to binds (a type of disable in the EO series that I'll explain in detail later) and status ailments. There's two primary ways to build a Dark Hunter: specializing in whips, which give access to binds, and swords, which give access to status ailments. I tend to prefer whips due to how powerful that skill tree's "ultimate" skill is, but swords are a perfectly viable way to build a Dark Hunter as well.
The downside to Dark Hunters is that while their damage is very, very high while an enemy is disabled, their damage when an enemy isn't disabled is piddly. Additionally, while they're decent at inflicting status ailments on their own, you'd ideally want to pair them with a disabling support--either a Survivalist or a Hexer, depending on how you build your Dark Hunter.
Medics are (well, should be used as) pure supports. They specialize in healing your party and very little else. What they lack in variety, they make up for in expertise--Medics are very, very good at their jobs. In some ways, in fact, they're too good at their jobs, as more often than not they'll heal for far more than anyone in your party needs. In fact, for many people, that was the deal breaker for using a Medic in EO4--you don't need someone THAT good at healing. Fortunately, EO2U devised a way to put that over-expertise to use: Overheal, a charge skill that increases the amount the Medic will heal next turn and, this is the important part, lets any extraneous healing be added to the target's max HP for one turn. Overheal, when used right, can take a lot of the sting out of late and postgame bosses.
Oh yeah, Medics also have attack skills. Don't use them. Only one of the three skills in the Staff Mastery tree is worth it, and you need a party built around it, with at least 2 Medics.
Alchemists are all about one thing, and that's elemental damage. They're extremely fragile, having both the lowest VIT and max HP stats out of any of the classes, but they're the single best source of elemental damage, and one of the best damage dealers in EO2U period. Alchemists have two primary attack skill trees: Formula Mastery, which is standard ranged elemental spell stuff, and Palm Mastery, which are non-ranged elemental attacks with a bunch of weird and useful interactions with other skills. Palm skills are integral to several strategies for cheesing very tough bosses, but I tend to stick with the Formula Mastery tree due to one particular skill it contains that propels Alchemists from "decent" to "amazing" levels of damage.
Troubadours are purely a support class. They're all about buffing up your party and accelerating your damage dealers' outputs to ridiculous levels. On their own, Troubadors are pretty bad--low damage output, average durability. In an actual party, however, Troubadours range from "pretty good" to "potentially the most broken class in the game." A lot of the reasoning behind that involves weird mechanics that need to be discussed in depth on their own, however.
Ronin are all about physical damage, with a few sources of elemental damage. Stat-wise, Ronin have the highest STR in the game (albeit by 1 stat point at max level compared to Landsknechts), making them the best physical damage dealers in a stat vacuum. Damage percentages-wise, the numbers on their skills don't reach the ridiculous levels of other damage classes like Dark Hunters, but they're still pretty high. This expertise at damage is offset by the Ronin's primary weakness: they're very fragile compared to most other front line classes. Their VIT is the second-worst amongst the classes, and their max HP is towards the bottom as well. They also can't just go to town from the start of a battle, unlike the original EO2--Ronin need to set up Stances first by using specific skills before they can use their main damage skills.
Ronin are best described as late bloomers, relative to the other damage classes. They're pretty mediocre for a good portion of the early game, and just merely good in the late game. Where they shine is the postgame, when you finally have enough skill points to make use of the Katana Mastery tree's ultimate skill.
Hexers are debuffing and disabling supports, and I could honestly end the explanation right there and you'd get the idea. On a serious note, though, Hexers are the best class in the game for inflicting ailments and binds--the base infliction chances on their skills are better than pretty much every other class, and they have the highest LUC in the game (LUC being the stat used in infliction calculations). The downside to this is they pretty much don't deal any damage, and against bosses that resist and/or nullify multiple ailments/binds, Hexers are significantly less useful.
Gunners are backline damage dealers who can do either physical or elemental damage. They're pretty good at that job, and it's entirely possible to substitute an Alchemist for a Gunner if you desire. They also have access to one of the best passives in the game, and can deal some pretty big burst damage between the ultimate elemental Gun skill and their charge skill.
Also note that guns, much like bows, use the AGI stat in damage calculations instead of STR.
War Magi are combination supports and damage dealers. They have access to a pretty wide variety of ways to heal the party, as well as a skill that makes bosses that rely on ailments/binds much easier. They also have access to War Edge skills, which are by and large pretty mediocre, aside from the skill at the end of the tree: Ailing Slash, which ignores physical damage resistance on a target and deals very heavy damage if the target has an ailment. It's one of the best damage skills available to you for a large portion of the game, and one of the main reasons you should consider running a Hexer or Survivalist alongside a War Magus.
You know how I said Protectors don't do tanking? That's because tanking is a Beast's job. Sure, they have some damage skills, but they're wastes of skill points--a Beast's true strength lies in keeping everyone in your party alive. The most significant difference between a Protector's damage mitigation and a Beast's tanking is that a Beast can eat every type of attack during a given turn, instead of having to choose what to protect against. They're also very durable, which you'd expect out of a tank class; Beasts have the highest max HP out of any class, and their VIT is second only to Protectors.
Sovereigns are something of a god class. They do all of the following things: healing, buffing, purging debuffs from the party and buffs from the enemy, manipulating Force gauges (which I'll explain later on), and damage dealing with some support from teammates. It's pretty hard to go wrong with them, assuming you don't stack them alongside Troubadors due to how the buff system works in EO2U.
Highlanders are unlocked through $2 DLC, and were previously featured as the protagonist's class in EOU. Highlanders are, much like Landsknechts and Ronin, entirely about dealing damage. A lot of their skills don't really stand out, but the skills at the end of the Spear Mastery tree enable the Highlander to deal some pretty nice delayed burst damage. The fact that it's delayed means their overall DPS isn't that fantastic compared to some of the other classes, but they're still good enough that they have a place in parties that need damage dealers.
It's worth noting that most of the Highlander's skills cost a percentage of their current HP, so it's a good idea to keep an eye on their health so you don't end up putting them too close to death from using skills.
For the time being, let's go with this placeholder party of Landsknecht/Dark Hunter/Beast, Medic/Alchemist.
(Fun fact: this is the party I used the first time I played EO2U.)
For the sake of time, I'll skip all the Grand Duchy mission stuff and go straight to the first battle.
When a battle starts, this effect plays.
Combat in EO games is, on the surface, a pretty simple affair. Here's what each command on the menu does, in order:
- Attack: Attacks with your equipped weapon. Try not to use this too much after the very early game, it really does not deal much damage.
- Skills: Opens your Skills menu, showing you what skills that character can currently use.
- Defend: The character will not act this turn, but all damage they take is reduced (I'm reasonably certain it's a 50% reduction).
- Items: Opens the items menu. Self-explanatory.
- Switch: Lets you swap characters' positions in the rows. Not very useful, outside of very specific strats.
With that out of the way, let's go over actions for this turn:
The Landsknecht will use Tornado, which is a sword skill that deals splash damage to enemies in the same row that are on either side of the target.
The Dark Hunter will use Cuffs, a whip skill that deals minor damage and attempts to bind the target's arms.
The Beast will use Hit Taker, which lets them take damage in place of any given party member for a set number of times per turn.
There's nothing for the Medic to do, so he'll Defend.
The Alchemist will use Fire Formula, the most basic Formula.
New to the series in EO2U is this confirm dialog right before a turn begins. Really helps when you screw up the last party member's action, which I did quite a bit in every previous EO.
Hit Taker activates instantly at the start of every turn, meaning you won't run into bullshit like a party member taking damage before Hit Taker goes off.
Here's what Cuffs looks like. It didn't bind the Hedgehog's arms, which is kind of annoying at early levels due to how arm binds reduce physical damage output.
And here are Fire Formula and Tornado.
After one more uneventful turn that wasn't worth documenting:
The battle ends! Anyone still alive at the end of a battle gets EXP, and you are given monster drops and ingredients if you roll for them succesfully.