A great place to jump in

My favorite RPG franchise had a new English release last week, Trails of Cold Steel III. I love it so far! It feels like the series’ Avengers: Endgame moment, pulling together plot threads and characters from the past seven games for a big finale.

Given that, it’s been interesting seeing how they promote this game. It’s obviously unreasonable to say there are several hundred hours of prerequisite story, so the PR campaign attempts to thread a needle: appealing to long-time fans who are hungry for that story to pay off while somehow also sounding approachable to curious new players.

This isn’t anything new, of course—virtually every iteration of every franchise will claim to be “a great place to jump in,” no matter how absurd that sounds. (BioWare argued that the final game in the Mass Effect trilogy was, somehow, a good place to start.) But I get it: they need to sell the new game, and limiting the audience to people who finished the last one is bad business.

There’s something especially funny about Trails trying that approach, though, given how long and dense and interconnected that series are. Even Falcom president Toshihiro Kondo seems like he can barely make the pitch in this PlayStation blog interview:

Is this a good starting point for newcomers to the franchise?

It is perfectly fine. There is a comprehensive encyclopedia in-game that contains story summaries, character bios, and explanations of game terms and major organizations.

Perfectly fine!