Trails of Cold Steel Switch

The Trails series is now on Switch, but where should you start playing them? Our Trails of Cold Steel guide will help.

The Trails series are some of the best modern JRPGs you can play today, but it requires a significant investment to get into the series. Unlike Final Fantasy where each story is self-contained, the events of the Trails games often overlap to weave a story, more like Persona or Game of Thrones.

The Trails series is called Kiseki in Japan and is developed by Nihon Falcom. They’re also the developers responsible for the more popular Ys series of action RPGs. All of the titles are prefaced with ‘The Legend of Heroes’ and the series starts with Trails in the Sky on PSP, PS4, or PC.

These games are unique because of the worldbuilding and how the games reward you for paying attention to the lore of the world. The more you play, the more you learn about the history and magic system of the game. These games are very beefy, feature gradual plotting, but excellent story-telling that makes the slow burn worth it.

Where to start with the Trails series?

It’s best to think of the Trails series as composed of three arcs. Each of the three arcs is set in a different country and there are plenty of references and crossovers. Trails in the Sky is the first series and where most people recommend new players start, but the game hasn’t aged well compared to the Trails of Cold Steel Series.

Series Guide

You can start with the Trails in the Sky series if you’re okay with playing a less-refined game. But the Trails of Cold Steel series is a great place for new players to jump in, even if you won’t catch all the references to the Trails in the Sky series.

Cold Steel I is set in the militaristic nation of Erebonia and stars a group of schoolmates called Class VII. The gameplay resembles a mix between strategy RPGs and Persona. The second game is set after the class graduates and Trails III and Trails IV shouldn’t be played until you’ve revisited the Crossbell series.

Play Order – Trails of Cold Steel Guide

Only the Trails in the Sky and Trails of Cold Steel series have official English translations. The Crossbell arc (Zero, Azure) has complete fan translations that can be downloaded to enjoy them – but only if you are playing on PC. The games will likely make their way to Switch in the future, but for now, they’re only available for PC users.

Trails in the Sky is the logical start place if you don’t want any story spoilers whatsoever. But you commit to playing the games in release order, which can be hard to go back to if you’re used to modern games. Trails of Cold Steel provides a great entry point and then you can go back and revisit those games.

Cold Steel has a large and varied cast, feeling much like a Persona game. The gameplay is much more refined and easier to begin with for modern gamers. The only downside is starting here contains a big spoiler for Trails in the Sky SC and some minor spoilers in the Crossbell games.

Original Release Order

If you want to play the Trails games in their release order, here is your path to progress:

  • Sky FC
  • Sky SC
  • Sky 3rd
  • Trails Zero
  • Trails Azure
  • Cold Steel I
  • Cold Steel II
  • Cold Steel III
  • Cold Steel IV

Alternate Order

  • Cold Steel I
  • Cold Steel II
  • Sky FC
  • Sky SC
  • Sky 3rd
  • Trails Zero
  • Trails Azure
  • Cold Steel III
  • Cold Steel IV

The beginning of each arch focuses on introducing the main cast and the nation they’re from. As the story develops, mentions from the previous games are slowly woven in for long-time series fans to enjoy. Starting with Trails III on Switch is not recommended, even though it is the first Trails game on Switch.

That’s because Cold Steel III starts dead in the middle of the arc where the main story has pushed forward. The games assume you know the situation as it is developing by having played the previous games in the arc. It is very common for the final games in an arc to reference and spoil the plots of previous games since they are all interconnected.

Cold Steel III is a continuation of the story of CS1 and CS2. It pushes the main story of the series from the events of Azure and assumes that the player has played through the Sky and Crossbell arcs. It will reference and spoil both of those arcs immensely, so it is one of the worst starting points for new players to the series.

Thanks for supporting Ninty Gamer. This page contains affiliate links from which we earn a small commission on referred purchases.

Read More