Okay, full disclosure: I don’t think I’ve ever gone through this game while following a guide. That means that I’m bound to miss things. Apparently there’s an amazing skill hidden in this stage that never shows up again and that would make later difficulty spikes much more palatable, and I never knew about it. And I only found out about it after finishing this chapter and saving over it. I guess this is a guide for how to beat the game deathless on any difficulty despite missing tons of helpful items, then.
The Dawn Brigade now has access to the base menu stuff. Buying, selling, forging, assigning skills, pumping bonus experience into characters—everything you’d expect from Path of Radiance and a little more. This video consists entirely of sitting on the menu doing nothing, though, because I like the base menu music.
Up to this point, all items have had to be carried around by the various characters. Mostly Sothe since he’s the one opening all of the chests. Now that we have a convoy, we can finally dump that stuff in there and save inventory room for important things like vulneraries. Speaking of which, while vulneraries heal 20 HP instead of 10, “herbs” have taken their place and restore 10 HP. I can’t remember ever truly relying on herbs, but they can be helpful early on when a character has taken only slight damage and is waiting for a counterattack. They’re not hugely important.
Time for our first base conversation! Remember in Path of Radiance when we saved Nephenee and there were two other people who got rescued? Both were insignificant enough to see no actual use in that game, but one of them was named Brom, and Meg here is Brom’s daughter. You don’t find that out here, of course, but she’s even more insignificant than her father, and explaining that ahead of time saves me the trouble of having to bring her up again. Also, she’s looking for someone, and that someone turns out to be Zihark as part of some weird pseudo-arranged marriage deal that he wasn’t aware of. Anyway, she joins the group.
In Path of Radiance, I kept amassing coins that served no obvious purpose. They could be sold for almost no money, but that was it. Here, they can be used for bonuses when forging weapons, which can be incredibly useful. Even better, in Act 3 (which is still a ways off) all of the coins saved in Path of Radiance will be in the convoy for us to use. Remember kids: hoarding always leads to positive things!
The way that skills work in Radiant Dawn is a huge improvement over the previous game. Gone are the days of one-use skill scrolls that have to be carefully managed because they disappear when unequipped. Here, anything unequipped becomes a scroll. That means we can equip and unequip skills as needed, coming up with combinations to suit specific circumstances. It doesn’t stop there, either—there are a lot of characters we won’t be using in this game who have useful skills, so recruiting characters isn’t just an OCD thing this time around. Rather, it’s a chance to steal their skills before sitting them on the bench. And characters will finish the game able to equip far more skills than they could in Path of Radiance, so the whole thing is just bigger, more fleshed out, and more intertwined with other gameplay elements.
We don’t have Soren to give us a post-battle rundown, but the base menu has a “records” section that shows each stage’s MVP and how much bonus experience was acquired. That last chapter gave a surprising amount of bonus experience.
This right here is the best and worst of the game, honestly: supports. Since there are so many characters in this game, the support conversations that would give you quirky conversations between characters in Path of Radiance have been simplified down to a generic call-and-response format that you get when they talk to each other during a stage. However, any unit can support any unit (only one at a time), and support relationships can grant huge bonuses so long as the two are close to one another. This is the chapter where we meet Zihark’s eventual partner in crime, and their support (once strengthened to an “A” support) will give them a truly ridiculous evade bonus that allows them to dodge pretty much everything. It’ll be glorious. I understand why some people can’t get over what was lost, but it adds a lot of strategic depth that I can’t help but love. It’s a personal taste thing, I guess.
Aimee doesn’t just sell staves and such now, but also has this “bargain” section. These are sale items that she only has one of, and they change between chapters. There’s no way of affording everything, either, so it becomes yet another system that forces you to make hard choices about how you want to approach stages.
And since I failed to mention it earlier, another change is that staff users’ staves heal them slightly. They can also counterattack. Same with untransformed laguz. I’ll talk more about those changes when they become more of a factor, though.
The merchant guy who told us the rumor about Ashnard’s heir mentioned that he was supposedly trying to raise an army eastward near a place called the Desert of Death. Once Micaiah reaches some ruins in the area, however, she senses something calling out to her and goes to investigate (with Sothe tagging along, naturally). She stops to mention that he used to call laguz sub-humans but has become more tolerant, and he credits his time with Ike for this. Micaiah doesn’t have a great opinion of Ike, however, seeing him as the enemy responsible for Begnion’s subjugation of Daein. Then Yune suddenly flies off and she gives chase.
Micaiah doesn’t find Yune, instead stumbling on some laguz bandits in a room full of treasure. This stage is actually pretty easy compared to the last one; a few strong units go down, and the rest of them stay in the starting position to fight off waves of laguz who break through two separate walls. Laura can heal one of them pretty effectively (being laguz, they have no indirect attacks to worry about) and you can wail on them with Ilyana and Leonardo without too much trouble. They shouldn’t be able to kill any one unit in a single round, either, so the only risk is that Edward crits or otherwise weakens an enemy so much that they die after damaging him, creating room for another enemy to move up and attack. You can see this at ~5:31 in the video, with him only surviving thanks to a lucky dodge. Needless to say, you don’t want to be killing enemies with counterattacks except in very specific circumstances.
The stage ends when all enemies have been defeated, so the trick here is to get Sothe to all of the chests before all of the enemies have been defeated (and he can kill them pretty easily, which is a consideration). And of course, there are hidden items that I apparently missed, including a Master Seal and a Beastfoe skill that causes all attacks to do bonus damage against beast-type laguz. They must be hidden like items in the desert stages, which sucks. You get no warning whatsoever that they’re there. Oh well. They’d really be more convenient than necessary.
Micaiah finds Yune making friends with our third and final heron royal in the Radiant duology. That’s right—another heron for our collection. This one is named Rafiel.
Rafiel has been wandering since the Serenes massacre and has no idea that his younger siblings Reyson and Leanne (along with their father) are still alive, so finding out that they’re with Simba in Gallia is a surprise to him. He explains that a voice guided him to this place, just as it did Micaiah, and she surmises that someone or something wanted both of them there. This will be explained somewhat later.
Protecting Rafiel are Nailah and Volug, the only wolf-type laguz ever shown. They come from a civilization of wolf laguz across the Desert of Death that no one was aware of, only making it across the aptly-named desert after stumbling onto Rafiel. Both Nailah and Volug will be powerful enough to see near-constant use throughout the game all the way to the final stage, though Volug will eat up experience best left for other units early on and Nailah won’t become a party member until a bit later (and has the same problem). Volug is still worth using since he’ll be Zihark’s support partner, though, and I can’t overstate how effective the two of them will be once Zihark is recruited and they’ve spent enough time around each other to support.
Rafiel explains that after the massacre, he eventually made his way to the desert and almost died. Nailah found him and brought him to Hatari, where he dedicated his life to her, and the three of them crossed the desert (using Rafiel’s knowledge to survive the journey) after a voice called out to him and drew him to this place.
Nailah decides to go to Gallia, but Sothe tells her that it wouldn’t be safe for a group of laguz to travel through Daein. Instead, he tells her that they should join up and go to Crimea to find Ike, who has ties to Gallia and would make getting there easier.