It is high time to hit the high seas again and make some new relationSHIPs with the Azur Lane: Crosswave – Character Bundle!
Genre: Action, Adventure, RPG
Developer: Idea Factory,
Publisher: Idea Factory
Franchise: Azur Lane
Release Date: 5 Oct, 2020
I will admit when I picked up the Character Bundle, I assumed it was going to be five short single-story missions each featuring a new main ship and some extra support ships. Considering Azur Lane: Crosswave already had a decent number of main ships and support ships I was not even sure if it was worth picking up the DLC since I had already completed all the chapters of the game and had my fleet tailored perfectly to fit my needs. Giving it a little thought I figured well maybe it wouldn’t hurt to give it a try because I had enjoyed the game when I had reviewed it previously. Turns out that these DLC were quite a bit more than meets the eye and certainly more than my expectations, they are entirely new chapters for the game (I can bet the DLC would sell a lot better if they made that little bit of information clearer!). Since we already have a full review of the game and these do not really change the core elements of the game and I always do my best to avoid spoilers, I will keep this review to just what the downloadable content has to offer.
Released individually and as a discounted collection of all five, Azur Lane: Crosswave has expanded its roster with five new warships each with three new support ships. Each DLC offers a new story chapter in addition to the ships. The chapter of course focuses on the individual DLC’s main character, but it is still a proper chapter for the game. While the new chapters are numbered in sequence and appear to follow the main story, they are actually available much earlier and do not require you to finish the game before starting them. You do not really spoil the main story if do you opt to skip ahead though, so you truly can do them whenever you want once they have been unlocked. Completion of the DLC is not required to add the ships to your fleet either, simply having the DLC allows you to use the characters. It is definitely nice to have a few new ships even if they slot into roles you already had access to.
The new characters all appear to have extra care and detail put into their models to keep them unique rather than just being basic edits of an existing character. For example, Taihou, the aircraft carrier, has a rather nice oriental fan motif going on whereas Roon the heavy cruiser has a kind of scorpion look to her in battle. The other three new main ships include Formidable who is another aircraft carrier, Sirius the light cruiser and Le Malin the Destroyer. Since the HDN Neptune is my go-to light cruiser, Sirius had her work cut out for her to dethrone the Purple Goddess of Planeptune! Shame HDN Neptune is no longer available for newer players and also a shame the other Goddesses never joined the fray in Crosswave.
One thing that I would like to reinforce is the fact that despite there being other classes available for them to choose from, the Developer added two new main aircraft carriers. They are not just carbon copies of each other though. Ships of the same class can use the same loadouts for the most part; however, each ship has its own more unique special effects. This means that despite you already having ships of that class in your fleet, you may have reason to choose a different one. If these new ships are worth replacing your tried-and-true ships is up to your own personal preferences of course, but I did enjoy seeing how these new ships performed in battle. The same goes with the support ships; each one has its own special bonuses when added to your fleet. Having fifteen more support ships definitely allowed for greater variety and tactics in battle although you did have to purchase each one individually in game. It was to my good fortune that I had enough in-game currency to buy them all. Carefully selecting the support ships that synergize with your main fleet is part of the fun of this game.
In terms of combat, each of the new ships do kind of feel like their already existing class counterparts and their new unique effects do not really impact gameplay significantly. It was not really expected going in that there would be a drastic paradigm shift in terms of core gameplay though so that should not come as a surprise. Even the new support ships did not really feel all that different from what was already available. When it comes down to your decision if you want to pick up these DLC or not is more than likely not driven by a shortage of available ships in your fleet but more along the lines of wanting additional story. If that is the case, then these DLC are definitely something you want to pick up. Each one has its own chapter of story for you to enjoy with all the events and story battles that entails. As mentioned, the story revolves around the new main ship and is isolated from the others so it doesn’t really matter if you play them out of order. It plays the same as the main story where between events you can navigate around the map looking for supply chests and interacting with non-important events at your leisure.
Each of the new main ships and the support ships have their own interesting personalities which is a good thing because a fair amount of time is once again spent in story mode. That is pretty typical of an Idea Factory game and one of the main draws I have for them. While you will get to know the main ships far better than the support ships, the supports sometimes do make an appearance in the story portion of events. Since each ship has its own personality and quirks and its own story to tell, it is definitely worth picking up the DLC if you want additional meaningful content for the Azur Lane: Crosswave.
So, should you pick up Azur Lane: Crosswave – Character Bundle (or the individual DLC)? I could tell you which of the five stories and main ships I liked the best and which I liked the least, but ultimately that is subjective and your opinion may differ. Crossing dimensions for a moment, there are those fans whose favourite Neptunia character is Blanc and those that are Vert for obvious non-personality-based reasons, and my favourite is Neptune (Noire has no friends/fans!). With that in mind, it doesn’t seem right to suggest which “ship” looked best or which story kept me playing “just a little longer” when it likely comes down to personal preferences rather than concrete reasoning. All of the stories have their interesting parts and all the characters are worth trying at least once. Ultimately it comes down to you looking at the images of the various ships as well as their classes and figuring out which ones you want most if you are not buying the bundle. When I was playing the main game, I did not really use aircraft carriers much due to preferring the cruisers and other faster reloading gun-based ships. With two of the DLC being aircraft carriers it meant I had to revisit the class again and I did find myself enjoying them a bit more this time. The individual DLC price point does seem fair since there is a decent amount of story content to go along with the new character DLC but all five might start to look a bit expensive for those of you on a tight gaming budget.