You earn XP and gold in battles and skirmish. The gold can be spent on upgrading your military tech, and there are branching paths, etc, available. Your tank, Edelweiss, can also be upgraded, and have special equipment fitted, limited by a grid placement system, so compromises must be made.
All characters level together as a class so switching between them is free and easy. As you’d expect they gain a variety of abilities as well as stats as they level.
Scouts, like the charming Alicia here, have excellent scouting capabilities, and can stealth about, but are fairly weak in combat. Those scouting abilities are extremely valuable, however. Did I take this shot to demonstrate going prone in long grass to obtain the advantage of stealth, or just to show off Alicia’s pantsu? You decide.
Soldiers are particularly good at shooting things, and there is little else special about them. Range is short, armour is good. Probably your mainstay.
Antitank soldiers are robust against attacks from armour, but weak to infantry, and their antitank lances have limited ammo (ammo is replenished automatically from turn to turn however, and replenishment can be speeded up by capturing strategic points).
This is an engineer, weak but obviously capable of repairing your tank, laying mines, building fortifications, etc.
Snipers are slow and incredibly weak, but have long range and massive damage. The miss rate I have encountered so far is extremely high however. They are very restricted in number so using them carefully is a must.
She suffers from back pain. There are a number of story essential characters, but the rest, rather than being nameless pawns, are actually fleshed out sub-characters, fully voiced and unique in appearance and personality. Their personality actually affects how they perform in game; they have compatibility with each other which mean some perform better or worse together.
Each also has unique personality traits, with a plethora of personalities ranging from hikikomori and lone wolves who hate fighting near their comrades, to gregarious soldiers prone to lose their nerve away from their unit; there’s also a variety of womanisers, homosexuals, racists and others – most entertaining. Some unfortunates even suffer from hay fever and so fight badly near flowers. There are dozens of them, but your squad is but 20, and only 9 can enter the fray, so careful selection is needed.
There are plenty of other interesting features. You can visit the graveyard to pay respects to fallen comrades (soldiers not medevaced three turns after falling are lost forever), where conveniently you can learn new orders (you can use these by spending command points to obtain bonuses and special effects, such as calling in a sniper to take out a stubborn adversary). A skirmish mode where you can grind experience and gold is also present.
Ellet is a good natured but prying journalist who delves into the story behind the characters in a large amount of optional reportage. There are also optional skits in the main chronicle.
Valkyria Chronicles possesses an extremely well developed story, and deep characters behind the game itself. An encyclopaedia covers everything from character bios to weapon stats and national histories. All this, coupled with the solid gameplay basically make this a near flawless experience.