During the Nintendo Direct on September 13th , it was announced that Etrian Odyssey V would have a demo in the eShop and after that, nothing else in the stream mattered to me. I went to the eShop and waited for the demo, excited to finally play the new title. This is the first entry in over 4 years to not be an Untold remake and I’ve waited over a year for it since the Japanese release, back in August 2016. With how much I absolutely loved Etrian Odyssey IV, I couldn’t wait to play EOV. When you start up a new path on the game you’re told about this entry’s hub town, Iorys, which is the heart of the Arcania continent. Apparently they worshipped the giant Yggdrasil tree there in ancient times, but in the modern day, they had forbidden anyone to go there. Now however, a royal decree was issued, summoning all interested adventurers to explore the tree.
I knew EOV would introduce a little character customization, beyond picking a character portrait. However, I wasn’t sure if they would add it in the demo, or only let you choose a default portrait. To my excitement, they did include it and I spent a good couple hours making my party. Once I tested out my party in the first stratum I even realized two of them wouldn’t work well for me and I had to go back and make two more. In the new Etrian Odyssey’s character customization you can choose a portrait like always. But after this, you get to pick their hair color, skin color, eye color and what voice they’ll get, or if you want your character to have a voice at all. In older, non-Untold remake entries to the series, your characters are not voiced. Only the pre-made characters in the story mode of Untold The Millennium Girl and Untold 2 The Fafnir Knight had gotten their own voices before. I was surprised and happy to see you get lots of voice options and they are all dubbed in English. You can choose between 20 voices for each male and female, which add up to a total of 40. Every voice has a description of what kind of voice it is, such as knightly or shy.
After putting together my team, I made sure to check out each area in town. There was an inn, the bar where you get quests, the shop where you can buy new equipment and sell monster drops to unlock more, some sort of city government place where you’re given your main missions, the town exit to head to Yggdrasil and the Explorers Guild where I just came from and made my party. These are all standard areas for the hub town to have in any Etrian Odyssey game. Although every game does get its own new NPC characters to run these places. I think I’ll enjoy coming back to see these NPCs each time I leave Yggdrasil and go back to town. I’ve never majorly disliked any of the towns’ NPCs in this series. They all have their own unique personalities and quirks. Probably my favorite NPC this time around is either Ramus, who resides in the council hall, or Mirina, who runs the Twilight Tavern.
Having made my party, checked out the town and bought a few items, I finally headed off to explore Yggdrasil. One new change I noticed was the update to the map options on the bottom screen. In past entries, you had various symbols and then hit a tab to switch to more symbols. The map this time around lets you slide out the symbols box across the screen to see more. Personally, I found this a bit annoying to do and I much prefer just switching between tabs. The color options for coloring floor squares has a pop up menu to change the color too. And then I noticed that some of the symbols were changed a bit or they had different ones entirely. Funny enough, I’m not quite sure I’ve been using the right symbol for marking FOE enemies. For those of you that are unfamiliar with the series, FOE stands for Formido Oppognatura Exsequens. They’re these big enemies in Yggdrasil, who are visible outside of battle. You do not want to run into them when their dot on the map is outlined in red. EOV definitely doesn’t have my favorite setup for mapping tools and options. It works well enough though.
One other change I noticed that was added, were fishing spots and something that is more a call back to prior, original NDS Etrian Odyssey titles, where you can’t gather materials in various locations without putting a skill point into the required skill. Fishing is one of those spots. If you don’t give one of your party members the fishing skill, then you’re unable to fish at all. This is different from Etrian Odyssey IV where a skill wasn’t mandatory to gather materials to begin with, it only gave you the ability to gather more at once. And finally, the only other changes I really paid attention to were how the skill trees look. First of all, every character has their own race skills. There are four races and each one only has a select few classes they can be. Until you get a little further in, then you can sacrifice 5 levels to change your class and keep your race. Your race skills won’t change when choosing a different race’s class. The gathering materials skills, such as fishing, are all on varying race’s skills tab. The main non race related class skills don’t seem as diverse as in past series entries. There are only a handful to choose from, yet like always, you level up each skill to make it stronger or more useful. I’ll have to see how that all plays out later in the game. It’s really hard to tell how good or bad these skill trees are until you’re at least a few stratums in. I’m hoping that I appreciate these new skill trees a lot more when I start to level up my characters much higher in the full game and reach some of the more challenging stratum floors.
After finishing the demo, which keeps you contained to the first three floors of Yggdrasil, I can’t say whether this will be my favorite entry or not. At the moment, I feel like EOIV is still my ultimate fave. Nonetheless, I’m extremely excited for next month when the full game is released. Nothing beats exploring the depths of Yggdrasil in a brand new EO game. Atlus gives pretty long demos for the series titles on 3DS and I highly recommend it if you haven’t tried it out before. If you like first-person dungeon crawlers, or the RPG genre in general, perhaps it’s time for you to give the Etrian Odyssey series a try.