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First Look at The Legend of Heroes: Trails Through Daybreak + Demo Release Date

Elaine looks determined as she readies her Kaleido Fencer move in The Legend of Heroes: Trails through Daybreak

In just over a month, it will be time to return to Zemuria with another installment of the Trails series. The Legend of Heroes: Trails through Daybreak kicks off the Calvard arc, the fourth arc in the greater Trails series. If you are new to the Trails series or generally curious about it, you can read my So you want to get into The Trails Series article to help you get all caught up. Thankfully, it looks like Trails through Daybreak will give plenty of new players a great starting point to get their feet wet into this fantastic RPG series.

Thanks to the great people at NIS America, I attended a preview event for Trails through Daybreak to check out the game. The first thing to know is that NISA is releasing PS4, PS5, and Switch demos of Trails through Daybreak on June 4th. Note that the PS and Switch demos will be slightly different. The Switch demo will only include the prologue, while the PlayStation 4/5 version will contain the prologue and first chapter of the game. A NISA representative explained that this is due to the amount of space allowed for demos on each platform, and Switch has tighter restrictions. But don’t fret Switch users, as NIS America made it clear that the prologue is lengthy, so there is plenty to play when the demo comes out. And yes, demo progress will carry over to the full release of the game.

What’s New With Trails through Daybreak

As a huge fan of the Trails series, I understand how important the plot is to the players, so I will keep the spoilers for Daybreak minimal in this preview. I will largely focus on gameplay elements I found interesting and refreshing for returning fans and some stuff that I think new players will enjoy.

Trails through Daybreak takes place one full year after the events of Trails into Reverie in the Republic of Calvard. It will be our first time seeing this part of Zemuria outside of the few minutes spent in the city of Altair in Trails to Azure. Our new main protagonist is Van Arkride, a so-called Spriggan who will take on any job, including jobs that the Bracer Guild and police will not. Whether it’s detective work, bounty hunter, or anything you need, he will do it for the right price. Joining him in this new adventure are both returning faces and some new ones, including the other main protagonist, Agnès Claudel, a young first-year student of Aramis Academy who gets involved with Van at some point in the story. And that’s all I will delve into for the story, since I’m mostly here to talk about Daybreak‘s gameplay.

The most significant gameplay change in Trails through Daybreak is that combat has been overhauled since Reverie. Every Trails game since Trails in the Sky FC has been a turn-based affair with improvements to the system each time. If you are afraid I am about to say that Daybreak is not turn-based, don’t worry because it still is, for the most part, with its new hybrid-type system. You even have a choice to seamlessly switch from the new action-based system to the turn-based system at your leisure. For example, you can start a fight off in the action battle system and do a good amount of damage to stun your enemy. Then, you can switch to the turn-based mode and gain an advantage in combat with strategic, well-placed abilities. The only time you cannot do this is during boss battles, which will be strictly in the turn-based mode. After watching some gameplay of this system, I was impressed with how seamless these mode switches are, allowing you to approach battles based on your preferences. I also think playing a bunch of characters in the action mode will make combat even more fun and immersive for both newcomers and returning fans.

This battle system change wouldn’t have been possible without Trails through Daybreak‘s new graphics engine. We got a peek at this new engine at the end of Reverie, but Daybreak is the first Trails game to use the new engine throughout. Along with a fidelity upgrade to character models and the world around them, the engine also allows for smoother character animations. One of the biggest issues since Trails of Cold Steel has been the very lackluster and clunky action cutscenes. Thankfully, starting with Daybreak, we can expect a much higher quality experience.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a new Trails arc if we didn’t get a new orbment system. This time, we have the Xipha Orbment [Editor’s Note: If you’re wondering, yes, Xipha is an acronym for “eXternal Interface for Post Human Activation” — the more you know]. This 6th-generation Xipha Orbment works a bit differently than the Arcus units from Cold Steel and previous generations. In Daybreak, quartz is used for stat-boosting effects like defense, shield, attack, or EP Cut instead of affecting what kind of arts you can cast. While their use case is different now, it does matter what you put in each slot. Putting specific quartz in various orbment lines unlocks the powerful new Shard Skills. Shard Skills do such things as adding elemental properties to your attack or decreasing an enemy’s strength. While watching the gameplay demo, I felt it looked like a revamped version of Trails in the Sky‘s orbment system.

So what about arts, you ask? Arts now have their own section of the orbment in the Arts Driver. The Arts Driver is a circuit board-like accessory you add to the orbment that comes pre-loaded with different sets of arts. You can also customize it to your liking as you progress and buy arts individually, as well as get better Arts Drivers. These changes give you the freedom to build characters to your liking, stat-wise and ability-wise, without forcing specific abilities as prior Trails games did.

The last major change in Daybreak is Van’s alignment values system. Depending on what you choose to say in certain situations during the story, his alignment will switch between Law, Gray, and Chaos. During the preview, a NISA rep explained that this wouldn’t have a huge impact on the story overall, but it will determine, for instance, which side characters join the group at specific parts of the story. So, there is now a reason to go back and play certain sections with different choices, adding replayability to the game in future playthroughs.

Based on what I saw, that’s about everything I can go over without going into spoiler territory. As a massive Trails fan, I am excited to see this breath of fresh air come to the series, as it can sometimes be overwhelming. Although I have yet to play it myself, from what I have been told, I am also happy that Trails through Daybreak can be a fresh new starting point for newcomers as well.

Finally, don’t worry Twitch fans! Even though we are knee-deep in our summer marathon over on the RPGFan Twitch channel, we will still find time to stream Daybreak when it releases, so come join us on release day! Trails through Daybreak will be available on July 5th for the PlayStation 4 and 5, Nintendo Switch, Steam, EGS, and GOG, so pick it up wherever works best for you! Learn more and pre-order through the official Trails through Daybreak website.

I leave you with a first look video of my time with the game:

The Legend of Heroes: Trails through Daybreak First Look

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Scott Clay

Scott Clay

Scott streams games for our Twitch channel almost every night! He enjoys playing games on stupid hard difficulties, creating unnecessary challenges for games that don't need them, speedrunning and telling everyone why Lunar 2 is the best RPG ever made. You should stay awhile and listen!

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