Etrian Odyssey, the bastard-hard, first-person dungeon crawler has gotten good reception on the first three games for putting emphasis on gameplay and making it a challenging but balanced game. A fourth one is in the works for the 3DS.
Atlus confirmed a good while ago that Etrian Odyssey IV is coming out for the 3DS later this year. Now, onto the details I know of.
One thing Etrian Odyssey is notorious for is its high (but fair) difficulty, but this also alienates players who are not as skilled as others. EO4 will have an easier difficulty setting that can be changed whenever you want in-game (named ‘casual’). This will likely get many more people interested in the series which is genuinely awesome, but aimed at very skilled players.
The staff of Etrian Odyssey 4 includes veteran composer Yuzu Koshiro, one of the best composers of Japan, character designer Yuji Himukai, monster designer Shin Nagasawa, and the backgrounds and scenery will be designed by the Princess Mononoke artist Nizo Yamamoto. Etrian Odyssey is also known for its bright art style and its old-school synth music, and the fourth entry is not likely to disappoint.
While Etrian Odyssey 3 had a total of 12 classes, including 2 secret classes, Etrian Odyssey 4 only seems to have seven. Whether they will have more broad skillsets compared to the previous games or if it will be much more rigid is not yet known.
EO4 will utilize much more graphics enhancements than the previous entries. Monsters will be in full 3D rather than 2D static sprites, and the dreaded F.O.E., who will completely destroy your party if you run into them, will now be visible on the screen in their true forms rather than a placeholder orange ball.
From what a gameplay trailer shows, monsters appear to have formation rows much like the players, instead of being in a single rank.
Also in EO4, much like in EO3, is an exploration mechanic outside the dungeon, this time involving a hot-air balloon and likely more regional-scale cartography. Prowling the official site it’s likely there will be explorable areas each with their own dungeon, whether these are in addition to the labyrinth or separate, I can’t tell. Sorry, I’m still a beginner at Japanese.
Cartographing the area is still in as you would expect, of course. To take that out of Etrian Odyssey would be heresy of the highest order.
Quite a few things deviate from Etrian Odyssey’s established mechanics, and others return to its roots, but regardless of this the game looks awesome.
Etrian Odyssey 4 gets a Japan release this summer, no word yet on a US or UK release.