The Legend of Heroes series, now more popularly known as Trails, is one of Nihon Falcom’s many JRPG franchises. Unlike its more well-known compatriots Final Fantasy and Persona, the Trails games are incredibly niche, but they have a strong following due to the game’s unique combat system and long-running storyline.


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The Trails series has twelve mainline games currently out, although several of them are still only available in Japan. Despite the many localization issues, Trails fans wait eagerly for each entry to come out in the West. Here are the best Trails games in the series, up to the Cold Steel saga.

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9/9 Trails Of Cold Steel 3

Many story arcs in the Trails series can be split up into two parts, with the first game generally feeling weaker due to having to do a lot of setup. Trails of Cold Steel 3 suffers from this a lot, as instead of telling a compelling tale, it simply sets the story and characters up for the next entry.

Gameplay-wise, Trails of Cold Steel 3 introduces a lot of options to make combat more interesting, such as the Brave Orders that can be used to turn the tide of battle. However, the roster of party members is frequently limited and changing, which doesn’t give players a lot to play around with.

8/9 Trails Of Cold Steel 4

The final game in the Cold Steel saga is a massive crossover adventure, featuring the Cold Steel cast teaming up with characters from the Liberl arc and the Crossbell arc. Trails of Cold Steel 4 boasted the largest roster at its release, with almost 40 playable characters. Although most of these characters are guest characters that can only be used in limited situations, this still gives players the chance to play as individuals they haven’t seen in years.

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Compared to its predecessor, Trails of Cold Steel 4 features similar gameplay, but gives players much more freedom to explore the country of Erebonia. In addition, with more party members to use, combat in the final game in the series is much more fun in comparison.

7/9 Trails In The Sky The 3rd

Trails in the Sky the 3rd is a midpoint between the Liberl and Crossbell arcs, with side character Kevin Graham now serving as the main protagonist with new character Ries Argent. The game is a massive lore dump, covering events in the far past as well as stories that hint at events in the future.

However, this game suffers in the gameplay department, where the player merely wanders generic-looking labyrinths and dungeons. The interactivity and exploration that defines Trails games are nowhere to be seen in Sky the 3rd, and that hurts the game overall.

6/9 Trails Of Cold Steel

The first game in the Cold Steel series starts off the Erebonia Arc, introducing Rean Schwarzer and the members of Class 7. The game takes place at a school, a setting not previously explored in the Trails games, as Rean and his classmates learn to use their new Arcus orbments.

Trails of Cold Steel makes a lot of changes to the Trails formula, and while some changes are certainly welcome, other changes, such as the introduction of bonding points, are more divisive. Trails of Cold Steel has its fans and detractors, but the game is still fairly popular in the fanbase and considered a popular starting point.

5/9 Trails Of Cold Steel 2

The second game in the Cold Steel series follows up on the massive cliffhanger at the end of the previous game, with Rean separated from all of his classmates. With a war brewing and chaos over the land, it’s up to Rean and Class 7 to keep things from going out of control.

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Trails of Cold Steel 2 makes a few adjustments to its predecessor’s combat system, but its most beneficial change is breaking away from the first game’s limited structure and allowing players to explore the world as they like. While there are still some aspects of Cold Steel 2 that aren’t ideal, it is definitely the peak of the Cold Steel games.

4/9 Trails In The Sky (FC)

Trails in the Sky is the progenitor of the Trails series, although it was initially part of the unrelated The Legend of Heroes series. This game introduces the sunny-hearted Estelle Bright, who with her adoptive brother Joshua Bright becomes a bracer in Liberl, an adventurer that protects and supports the people of a particular area.

Trails in the Sky‘s game mechanics are fairly basic compared to how they would eventually become in later arcs, but that doesn’t stop the game from being an incredible JRPG experience. Trails in the Sky is an incredible introduction to the world of Zemuria and the Trails franchise as a whole.

3/9 Trails In The Sky (SC)

Trails in the Sky SC is the second game in the Sky trilogy, and it is easily one of the best games in the series. Estelle and Joshua Bright, once inseparable, are now embarking on different paths after Joshua remembers his past. Determined to bring him back, Estelle travels Liberl in search of him.

Trails in the Sky SC leverages some of the Trails series’ greatest strengths such as incredible characters and the fleshed-out world of Liberl in order to create an unforgettable and epic adventure. While it may not have the best combat system, it remains one of the greatest JRPG adventures of all time.

2/9 Trails From Zero

In between the Sky trilogy and the Cold Steel saga are two games that never got to make it to the West until quite recently. Trails from Zero is the first game in the Crossbell arc, and it features the adventures of Lloyd Bannings, who becomes the leader of the Special Support Section, a ragtag group of officers meant to help the citizens of Crossbell while improving the image of its flailing police force.

Trails from Zero revamps the Trails combat system, making it much more dynamic and active, with many of the changes introduced here carrying through to later games. However, its strongest feature is the city of Crossbell itself, which is a setting that feels more alive than most other JRPGs.

1/9 Trails To Azure

Trails to Azure is the follow-up to Trails from Zero and the second part of the Crossbell arc. This game dives deeper into the issues of corruption ingrained in Crossbell and the struggle of trying to survive while stuck between two large continental powers. The Special Support Section faces tougher opposition as ominous events begin to threaten the existence of Crossbell itself.

Trails to Azure refines the system Trails from Zero introduced even further, making for one of the best combat systems Trails has to offer. Add to that an incredible story and unforgettable characters, and Trails to Azure easily stands out as one of the greatest JRPGs ever made. While the game hasn’t yet made it to the West, the game has had unofficial translation patches, and it is set to come to the West early next year.

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