Fire Emblem Fates : Early Thoughts

Fire Emblem Fates is split into two games: Fire Emblem Fates: Birthright (White Night Kingdom), and Fire Emblem Fates: Conquest (Dark Knight Kingdom). There are major differences between the two versions, both in gameplay and story. Birthright plays similar to Fire Emblem: Awakening, whereas Conquest inherits the style of the older, more traditional Fire Emblem games (with limited resources and time to build your characters). It is, hence, considered more difficult than its counterpart overall.

After playing Birthright for a fair amount of time, I feel that I should give my early impressions on the game to hopefully give you a bit more insight on what you’re in for.

 

The Fire Emblem Fates logo

The Fire Emblem Fates logo

 

The premise is fairly straightforward; there is a war between the peace-loving kingdom of Hoshido and the glory-seeking kingdom of Nohr. The Avatar (the player character who you create at the start of the game) is given the choice to side either with a kingdom, or to be neutral. This choice determines the available allies, character classes, and gameplay style. The neutral path will see you attempting to bring both nations together to combat a greater evil, which at the time of writing this, is yet to be released.

The game plays almost identical to Fire Emblem: Awakening. The pair-up feature makes a welcome return, as does the marriage system. One major change to the series is that, for the first time, all weapons have infinite durability (save for healing staves) giving you an easier time in managing your team’s equipment. That said though, I feel that Intelligent Systems took the lazy route and decided to give all weapons of each category universal icons, bit of a downgrade. I’m not sure if this gets changed somehow later on, but it’s a tad disappointing.

 

The customisable protagonist in this game is referred to as your Avatar

The customisable protagonist in this game is referred to as your Avatar

 

A new feature added to Fates is “My Castle”; a hub area which you return to after each battle. Here you can talk to your teammates, and customise your ingame home. You can also place decorations and shops around the area, and these can be upgraded. These activities make the game feel quite Animal Crossing-y, but are not mandatory pursuits if you just want to play the core Fire Emblem elements. The only part of this feature the game forces you to do is to simply place down the weapons and items shops. My Castle lets you challenge other players via StreetPass.

There is a new addition to battles to help spice things up. Via a special ability known as the Dragon’s Vein ; terrain and weather can be altered in certain areas. It’s a nice way to add variety to battles, but I have yet to encounter anything that diverges from the classic Fire Emblem gameplay in some revolutionary fashion.

 

Fire Emblem Fates : evolution rather than revolution...

Fire Emblem Fates : evolution rather than revolution…

 

A minor nit-pick I have with Fates is the weirdly out-of-place pandering they have strewn here and there. The feature to have units marry one another and have children in Awakening was nice and unique, but I wished that Fates would have done something to change that up somehow. It doesn’t really help that there’s a feature that can be executed in “My Castle” which is reminiscent of Pokémon’s “Pokémon Amie” minigame ; you invite one of your companions to your room, and using the touch screen, you stroke at their face and hair using the stylus in order to build up points for the Support function. It screams of nothing but fan-service, and while I myself do not hate this, I feel that there will be a vocal few out there who will have some very disapproving words to say.

Overall, Fire Emblem Fates looks very promising. The variety of difficulty choices and several gameplay tweaks makes this definetly something worth checking out, especially if enjoyed Awakening.

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