Fire Emblem Fates Review: Choose your Side
Hack, slash, and strategize in the newest Fire Emblem game that is separated into the two different titles Fire Emblem Fates: Birthright and Fire Emblem Fates: Conquest, a first for the franchise.Fire Emblem Fates takes what Fire Emblem: Awakening started and multiplies it on new levels. First and foremost, Fates has a plot that is brand new and unrelated to any canon established by Awakening. Secondly, Fates does not simply revolve around the idea of pledging your loyalty to a single kingdom, even though the idea is still there, its main focus has become more personal as your character must choose between their biological family and their adopted family. The game focuses on two kingdoms, Hoshido and Nohr, with your avatar being born in Hoshido and raised by Nohr royalty. This plot device serves as the preface to the path you choose in the game where you decide between Hoshido, Nohr, or neither.
Although this concept is nothing new or original it is definitely welcome in Fire Emblem because it empowers players with the ability to choose where their allegiances lie based on their moral preferences. One problem I had with the choice system is that depending which title you buy (my copy being Birthright) you are limited to the paths you can explore. I understand that the game warrants multiple playthroughs but limiting the players’ choices to just one path in a game that is supposed to be all about choices seemed a little misleading to me. Of course, players have the alternative to buy the other paths as DLC on the same cartridge, but even that begs the question as to why the game needed to be divided in the first place. Regardless, this is all just nitpicking on my part and will not subtract any enjoyability from the game as a whole no matter which version you decide to purchase with the exception of increased difficulty.
The character creation process is fast and simple with more options than Awakening and new classes that fit with the game’s theme. For example, units can be of the samurai class, the ninja class, or the apothecary class just to name a few. You can even assign one of these classes as a secondary skill set to your avatar for different abilities, making this avatar extremely malleable.
In terms of basic gameplay and general design not much has changed since Awakening, but Fates manages to bring in a host of new mechanics without making skirmishes stale or boring. For instance, your avatar and the royal siblings you side with are capable of opening up what is called Dragon Veins that can provide you and your units advantages on the battlefield like a boost in stats or additional damage to enemies. Another plus about the gameplay of Fates is that it manages to integrate an interface at the bottom of the screen that provides you with gameplay fundamentals and countless hints about mounting the best offense and defense. As a newcomer to the franchise I found this to be extremely helpful and any rusty veteran can look through these tips with no complaints because they are not force fed to you.
A feature of Fates that I enjoyed in particular was the addition of your own castle that you can customize by building new structures. The castle serves as a hub where your units can talk to each other and build relationships for combat bonuses on the battlefield. Moreover, the castle also acts as a recreational area where your avatar can start romances, play the lottery, forge weapons, and buy goods at a store. With the wealth of activities you can do at your castle you will probably spend more time there than on the actual game map. Speaking of the map, Fire Emblem Fates gives you the freedom to complete plenty of side quests in addition to the main quest line, plus with all the additional DLC content that is available now and will be available in the future there is always something to do in the game.
Fire Emblem Fates is what hardcore fans of the franchise have come to expect and gives them so much more to play around with. What I especially appreciate about this title is how it manages to introduce the real time strategy components of previous Fire Emblem games to new players like myself in a comprehensive way. Overall, the game is a real satisfying experience that will not disappoint any one who picks it up. If you have your 3DS handy, make sure to add Fire Emblem Fates to your collection for a familiar, yet fresh experience.