Fire Emblem Fates review
I have been a fan of Fire Emblem for as long as I can remember. Back in the days of the Gameboy Advance, I played Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones, and have played every US release thus far. Fire Emblem: Awakening brought the series to new heights, with changes to the game that not only made it more accessible to new players but also gave fans more of what they loved so much about the series. Now Fire Emblem Fates has released I can honestly say that Nintendo has upped the ante by adding even more content; so much in fact that it wouldn’t fit in one complete scenario, and was split into three versions that each encompasses a side of the game’s central conflict. In this Fire Emblem Fates review we will look all three versions of Fire Emblem Fates, these being Birthright, Conquest and Revelation.
The central plot of all three versions, centers on a conflict between the countries of Hoshido (a feudal japan-esque country that contains Ninjas, Samurai, Shrine Maidens and a very eastern cultural symbolism) and Nohr (a more western oriented land that contains a darker, more brutal outlook, with Cavaliers, knights, dark sorcerers, and other common staples from the other Fire Emblem titles.) A third location is the kingdom of Vaila, which can only be visited when Nohr and Hoshido are at peace as both nations worship dragon deities who are aspects of Vaila’s divinity.
You are placed into the role of Corrin (an avatar that is customizable and can be either male or female) that was born into Hoshido royalty, yet was stolen by Nohr as a child and raised as a prince or princess of Nohr instead. Depending on whether you play Fire Emblem Fates: Conquest or Fire Emblem Fates: Birthright, you will be forced to side with either your Nohr family or your birth family in Hoshido, fighting with your chosen family against the opposite side. Corrin has the Dragon Vein ability (an ability common in both royal families) that enables you to harness “dragon vein” spots on the ground on battlefield maps, where the terrain can be changed in a variety of ways. Examples of this are burning down forests to even the battlefield, creating bridges across cliffs out of rocks, and even lowering mountain ranges for foot-soldiers to cross without problems. This ability is unique to royal family members in your fighting party, however, Corrin also is descended from the ancient dragons worshiped by both countries; being one of the only characters that can actually turn into a dragon during combat.
The Fire Emblem Fates differences between each of the three versions is a different storyline and a different gameplay focus. Fire Emblem Fates: Conquest version is based around the Nohr side of the conflict, with Corrin joining his adoptive family to fight off Hoshido and eliminate corruption from within Nohr’s borders. This version is designed like earlier entries in the Fire Emblem franchise, with more emphasis on strategy, fixed amounts of experience and money awarded in each chapter, and a variety of objectives not seen in the Fire Emblem Fates: Birthright. All three versions are complete games with complete storylines, however, Fire Emblem Fates: Revelations does give what is referred to as “the True Story” of what is behind the central conflict in both the other versions.
Fire Emblem Fates: The Birthright version is arranged similarly to Fire Emblem: Awakening, with Corrin siding with his birth family in Hoshido in order to prevent the Nohr invasion after the assassination of Corrin’s mother (Hoshido’s Queen) which was orchestrated by the king of Nohr. Birthright offers more opportunities to grind for Experience and Money, as well as offering a more lighthearted and straightforward approach to the game and its battles.
The third version, called Revelations is only able to be purchased as a DLC, and should ideally be completed after both Fire Emblem Fates Conquest and Birthright have been completed. It showcases the true version of the Fire Emblem Fates’ plotline and allows you to choose neither Nohr nor Hoshido but allows you to recruit warriors from both sides of the conflict in order to uncover the real mastermind behind the darkness falling over the world. Part 3 of Fire Emblem Fates, Revelations is also a more middle-ground sort of experience, with aspects of both the strategy of Conquest and the ability to grind for experience from Birthright.
In all versions, there are three difficulties, Normal, Normal (actually called Hard but just skip the regular normal difficulty), and Lunatic. In addition to these three difficulties, there are three modes that determine what happens when characters fall in battle. In Classic mode, once a character falls they are gone for the entirety of the game, whereas Casual mode enables the characters to return to life once the battle has ended. A new mode has been introduced in Fire Emblem Fates called Phoenix Mode, in which characters will revive on the next turn rather than at the end of the battle.
These difficulty settings make Fire Emblem Fates (and all of its versions) much more accessible for any skill level.
If you only have an hour a day to play, and don’t want to deal with permadeath or a higher difficulty then perhaps Normal and Phoenix Mode are for you. Hardcore players might try classic mode on Lunatic difficulty for a more intense experience.
Another twist on Fire Emblem Fates’ gameplay comes in the classic weapon triangle found in every entry of the series. Swords, Axes, and Lances made up the original triangle but with Fire Emblem Fates a second triangle has formed as the inclusion of hidden weapons (such as shurikens, daggers, and a few other things) forms a triangle between Tomes, Bows, and Hidden Weapons. This gives ranged fighters a hierarchy of their own.
Weapons also no longer have durability (though Staves for healing still do) and instead are based on stat changes and penalties. More powerful weapons may have more penalties attached to them giving them a sort of risk and reward style of strategy. This might not play too deeply into the easier difficulties but when you get into Lunatic mode (or even simply any difficulty under Classic mode) then a few stat points here and there can definitely make a difference.
Overall Fire Emblem Fates is played on a grid-styled map with each character of your team moving on the map taking on the enemies on the map and attempting to fulfill a variety of objectives. This could be seizing various keeps or even wiping out all enemies on the map. Each turn is done in phases; the player phase enables you to move your characters, heal allies or attack the enemy while the enemy phase gives the enemy force an attempt to do the same. If Corrin is killed (in most modes) then you are defeated, but the terms of victory and defeat can change depending on your difficulty/mode as well as the chapter and combat circumstance.
Fire Emblem Fates has unique classes associated with it though some may only be playable depending on which version of Fire Emblem Fates you are playing. Nohr units are closer to what you might find in an older Fire Emblem title, with cavaliers, great knights, and wyvern knights paired with dark mages and troubadours. Hoshido, on the other hand, has characters and units that are different yet are parallels of their Nohr counterparts. For example, a Knight is similar to a Samurai, though each class has unique stats and different weapon proficiency.
Outside of battle, a new mechanic called “My Castle” has been added, where you can build up your own base of operations where shops can be created as well as a variety of other functions that allow you to speak with your companions to raise your support level. The support level is a level that is raised when two characters fight adjacent to each other (or paired) long enough. Pairing units adjacently allow them to perform dual strike attacks, while using the “Pair up” command allows one character to provide stat bonuses to another, sacrificing their capability to move and attack in exchange.
When characters fight alongside each other enough their support level increases; the levels can increase from C, all the way to S (in some cases.) an S rank gives the maximum stat level increase, and can cause the two characters to be married and possibly have children (though in same-sex relationships there is no capability for children.) Nintendo has also added the A+ relationship which is a buddy-style friendship between two units that could not have children together (or are already paired up.) Each character can have one S rank and one A+ rank support before the rest of their friendships stop at A rank.
Children have stat bonuses passed on from their parents and tend to be more powerful units though their class can depend on which two characters are in a relationship with one another. I am also happy to say that Fire Emblem Fates is the first game in the Fire Emblem franchise to include a same-sex marriage option, particularly with the character Niles. While Marriage was included in Fire Emblem Awakening, it was not available to same-sex couples until this newest entry in the franchise.
You should also be aware that enemies can pair up now as well, providing stat increases to enemies and making certain fights more difficult. This is an interesting concept and I would encourage caution in utilizing your weaker units as they can be eliminated quickly with these pairs of units.
In addition to the previously mentioned functions, My Castle is also where you can defend your base from invaders via StreetPass, with your party being able to fight alongside you in your base in order to defend it from those who would destroy you. Lilith, your dragon companion (who tends to the base when you are away) will also join you in battle when you defend against intruders; however you can increase her capabilities and strength by using food items like berries to increase her level.
Fire Emblem Fates (in any version) is absolutely huge in scale and is likely one of the most ambitious entries in the franchise. I was skeptical during the development of Fire Emblem Fates when the multiple versions were revealed as I was concerned that each version would be a tiny fragment of a larger whole. I was wrong, but only partly. Each version has its own self-contained story with Birthright and Conquest based around both sides of the conflict, yet Revelations gives you the clearer picture and allows a more thorough experience. Overall I think playing through all three will give you the full experience, and Fire Emblem Fates does not get old each time you run through, with likely 100 hours or more of gameplay in all 3 versions combined. If you buy one version, the other two are discounted on the Nintendo eShop, so it isn’t such a hard hitting thing for the wallet either.
Fire Emblem Fates is absolutely beautiful no matter what version you play and both versions carry the same signature depth of storytelling that the series has always been known for.
I cannot think of many negative to say about Fire Emblem Fates; It is accessible for hardcore and casual gamers, provides a deeper experience than any Fire Emblem game to date, and has a large amount of replay value even if you have completed all three storylines once. Nintendo also plans to release DLC packs for Fire Emblem Fates for more maps and levels to provide even more content to this already massive strategy RPG experience.
I can honestly say that Fire Emblem Fates is entirely worth buying as well. Fire Emblem Fates provides 3 (if you have all the versions) fantastic storylines, with deep characters that I found myself growing attached to quickly; and addictively fun combat that I could lose myself in for hours. Fire Emblem Awakening was a tough act to follow, but Fire Emblem Fates is definitely a worthy successor to the game that rejuvenated the franchise and brought it to both a hardcore and casual audience.
Never played a Fire Emblem game before? Check out our Fire Emblem Fates beginner guide!
• Accessible for all Skill levels
• Large amounts of Replay Value
• Deep, engaging gameplay
• Fantastic plot and game mechanics
• Needing to buy the other versions as DLC is somewhat frustrating, despite the discounted price
• Tutorials seem somewhat simplistic