Part 7: The Valiant WingAfter Gash leaves, Edge is left with himself, the pendant Gash gave him, and a dragon that looks very different than he did when he last took to the air. Still, even after his transformation, Roderick flew to where Edge wanted him to go and is now waiting patiently for him, like he always did.
In fact, as Edge stands at the edge of camp and looks over at his friend, he seems even *more* familiar than he did before, despite the new appearance. It's an unexplainable phenomenon, and while it seems strange to Edge, it does not seem so in a bad way. "The dragon is responding to me...", he muses.
He walks closer to his friend and peers into his eyes for a moment, then raises a hand and slides it across the leathery skin of his neck, as if he were stroking a pet. He automatically repeats the motion a few times, and when he stops, Roderick joyfully raises his head to the sky and calls, flapping his wings in delight.
(I think he's happy.)
However, Edge is still a bit puzzled about exactly what happened back when the Gigra re-emerged from the sand. What was that shape-changing all about, and how did Roderick do it? How often can he do it? And perhaps most importantly, is there any way that Edge can influence how he morphs?
As if in perfect response to his thoughts, Roderick starts morphing again, and a voice in Edge's head explains exactly what each form of the dragon means.
Welcome to the final element of Panzer Saga gameplay - the morphing of the dragon, which Team Andromeda first introduced in Panzer Zwei (at the end of each level, Lagi grew bigger and more powerful, and the shape he took was based on how often you used lock-on lasers and the berserk attack). Once the dragon attains the Valiant Wing model, you gain the ability to shape-shift at will, changing the attributes of the dragon as situations warrant, from level to level, fight to fight, or even moment to moment. Based on which attribute is highest, the dragon is then put into one of five different "classes", which are each given a new "full-gauge" ability that requires 3 gauges to use (but no BP), as well as an ability that activates when all three gauges are full. But before I get more into that, let's check out the four attributes of the dragon and what each of the five classes means.
The first class is the one shown above, Normal. All of the dragon's attributes are roughly equal (all below 150), no bonuses or penalties are awarded, and as the dragon levels up, his attributes increase equally among all categories and he learns new Berserk techniques randomly across all categories. The Normal class' full-gauge ability Healing Wing restores a lot of health, and when all gauges are full the dragon slowly regains health.
Attack class: In this class, with the Attack attribute higher than normal, the dragon's lock-on lasers are more powerful and there are more of them. However, as you can see here, an increase in Attack power comes with a corresponding decrease in Spiritual power, which reduces the effectiveness of Berserk attacks (as well as making them cost more BP to use). On level up, the dragon's lock-on lasers become more powerful and his learning priority is towards Attack-class Berserk techniques. The Attack class' full-gauge ability, Assault Wing, further increases laser power until the end of the battle, and when all gauges are full, the dragon will occasionally unleash a lock-on volley without spending any gauges.
Defense class: With a higher than normal Defense attribute, the dragon takes less damage from enemies than before, but with reduced movement speed due to a low Agility. On level up, the dragon's HP will increase more than normal with priority to Defense-class Berserks. Protection Wing, the full-gauge ability, will further decrease damage taken until the end of the battle, and defense will also be increased when all gauges are full.
Spiritual class: With a high Spirit attribute, the dragon's Berserk techniques are not only more effective, but also use less BP, with a reduction in lock-on laser power as the downside. The dragon will gain more BP than normal on level-up as well as learning Spiritual-class Berserks. The full-gauge technique Berserker Wing will replenish a sizable amount of BP, and while all gauges are charged the dragon will slowly regain BP as well.
Agility class: Finally, there is the Agility class, whose high attribute in that category allows for faster movement in battle (thus letting the enemy's gauges charge up less while moving) as well as slightly faster charging times, with the drawback of taking more damage when actually hit. On level up, Edge's gun power will increase at a faster rate than normal, as well as giving learning priority to Agility-class Berserks. You can increase the speed at which the gauges recharge with Swift Wing, the full-gauge technique, and with all three gauges full, any abnormal status effects that are afflicting the dragon will be wiped away.
In addition to those four basic classes, it is also possible for the dragon to assume the best of two worlds, and have a mixture of attributes, with the corresponding visual changes (the dragon can only belong to one Class at a time, however):
Thus, you can either have the pointed helmet and heavy tail of the Attack/Defense hybrid - a slow-moving, flying tank that relentlessly rains showers of death on its enemies...
The frail, nimble body of the Spiritual/Agility hybrid that belies its true powers...
The ungainly, stunted body and flared helmet of the Defense/Spiritual hybrid, resolutely using its mystical techniques...
Or the sleek, deadly look of the Attack/Agility hybrid, which only darts into view long enough to kill something, then is gone.
The Type Select menu can be accessed at nearly any time, so the dragon's attributes can change as events warrant - even in the middle of battle! A type change does require one gauge, but still - an Attack-class dragon can deliver a powerful lock-on volley to an enemy's weak point, then shift into Defense mode to ride out the counterattack; or an Agility-class can charge up its gauges while dodging the enemy's stronger attacks, before shifting into Spiritual mode to deliver a powerful Berserk technique; or the complete opposite of either of those situations, or any others you could possibly think of.
However, for most enemies that sort of thing isn't needed, so Roderick will probably spent most of his time in a single form, increasing his related attributes and getting stronger and stronger as time goes on. But which form will that be? That's up to you.