For anyone that's been a fan of Nihon-Falcom Corporation in the west during the last few years, you've probably become familiar with XSEED Games. The publisher has been a strong western partner for years now, to the point where they've been trusted with the source code for updating some of the company's PC games for a western PC release. For the longest time, Falcom titles—including the Ys series, as well as The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky—have been some of the only Japanese titles on the platform. Now, following Trails in the Sky's PC release, they're bringing The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel to the west.
Trails of Cold Steel takes place after the Trails in the Sky trilogy, and although only one of those titles is currently available in the west, it's perfectly possible to jump into the series with this release without being too lost. Whereas Trails in the Sky took place in the country of Liberl, Cold Steel focuses on the military nation of Erebonia - a highly classist society, that is currently undergoing some political turmoil. One such example of this is the class of military academy students that you'll play as; while many classes in the academy are broken up by the student's rank in the society, the player's class is the one new class that was created based on skill alone.
Much like in Trails in the Sky, there are a variety of characters that you can play as in the title; though, compared to Trails in the Sky First Chapter's 8 playable characters, the cast in Cold Steel will enter the double digits. Each character has a variety of Arts (magic attacks) and Crafts (skills) that can be used, and the overall battle system can be called an evolution of the system that was in place for Trails in the Sky. The new Link System (where you can set two characters to rely off each other in battle, taking advantage of a new affinity system) and the ability to swap characters in battle on the fly adds a lot to the game, and as a result, even in the game's somewhat short prologue, a lot of new depth could be found.
The game's new artstyle is fairly similar to that from Ys: Memories of Celceta, and although I won't make the mistake of saying that they probably use the same engine, the game definitely looks to be using many of the same graphical effects. Much like other Falcom titles, the game's soundtrack is fantastic, and the music does a lot to enhance the game's more intense moments (which the game's prologue could definitely be described as such!)
Unlike Trails in the Sky, Trails of Cold Steel will only be available on PS3 and Vita; no PC version exists, and although XSEED told us that they let Falcom know about the demand for the title on the platform, as of now the game only exists on console. Trails of Cold Steel is currently in the editing phases of development and is scheduled to be released this fall; and, yes, Trails in the Sky Second Chapter is still on the way. For that title, XSEED hopes to release in the next month or two.