Choosing which version of Trails from Zero to buy is an overcomplicated mess

Update (September 7 2022): NIS America has now officially confirmed that the PlayStation 4 release of Trails from Zero will not include any of the enhancements from the PC and Nintendo Switch versions of the game, per a statement to Gematsu.

The Legend of Heroes: Trails from Zero finally receives its official English localization later this month on September 27. What should be the long-awaited release of the first entry in the Trails' series Crossbell Duology, however, feels like it might run the risk of being overshadowed by a set of discrepancies between the PC, Switch and PS4 versions of the game - and how NIS America has not done an adequate job of communicating these differences.

Long story short, while the PC and Switch releases of Trails from Zero will come with a number of Quality-of-Life and graphical enhancements courtesy of PC modding legend Durante's studio PH3, the PlayStation 4 release will remain largely the same as the "Kai" version that was released in Japan a few years back. As explained by Durante during a Reddit AMA a few months back, and going by screenshots uploaded to Nintendo's official page for Trails from Zero - most of the enhancements of the PC version will be included in the Nintendo Switch release of the game, meaning that even the Switch release of Trails from Zero will come with significant upgrades compared to the PlayStation 4 release. Unless you've been keeping up with all of the game's updates leading up to launch, it makes perfect sense that most players would've never known that they might be opting for a strictly inferior version of the game.

PS4 vs. PC Comparison Images

If you're a Trails fan, chances are you've played many of the games in the series on PlayStation 4. Trails of Cold Steel III and IV were exclusive to the system in the west when they originally received their localizations, and similar things can be said for other Falcom titles like Ys VIII and Ys IX. With how PC players have had access to the Geofront fan translations, it makes sense that a disproportionate number of players interested in Trails from Zero might have opted for the PlayStation 4 release. Having all the games in one place on your shelf is one thing, but it's essentially unheard of for a Switch version of a game to be graphically superior to the PS4 version of the same game. Not to mention that next year's release of Trails into Reverie will likely retain the bonuses from the Japanese release for having save data for Zero and Azure on your system, further incentivizing players to stick to the same platform.

This discrepancy could have been avoided if NIS America had contracted Durante's team to make enhancements to the PlayStation 4 version of the game as well, but it makes sense why that wasn't the case. These PC and Switch releases are essentially entirely new ports, and with what might be a smaller pool of players interested in the games, it doesn't shock me that they opted to just go with the same PlayStation 4 release that Falcom released themselves in Japan. There's also the possibility that since the PS4 version already existed in Japan, that Falcom did not allow NISA to make their own version of the game for the same platform. If the PC and Switch versions were at parity with this release there wouldn't be any problems, but with the extra care put into these releases, PlayStation 4 players are now left in an uncomfortable situation; do they play the game on the same platform they've played the other releases in the series, or do they opt to purchase Trails from Zero for another platform? For those that already ordered a PlayStation 4 version of the Limited Edition, that means they'd have to double-dip entirely if they wanted to play a version of the game that's not compromised in some fashion.

So, consider this a PSA. NIS America should have done a better job of communicating how the PlayStation 4 version of Trails from Zero won't feature the changes that were developed for the PC and Switch releases of the game, or should have made an effort to ensure that those same changes found their way to the PlayStation 4 release in some form. For anyone that's already locked into the PS4 release thanks to pre-ordering the LE; I'm sorry. This whole mess could have, and should have, been avoided. If you want a rundown of some of the improvements that are being added to Trails from Zero on Nintendo Switch and PC, Durante has put up two blog posts on Steam detailing some of the changes.