The Choice is Yours
Sticking to the roots of its series, Fire Emblem Fates makes a conscious effort to push the franchise in a new direction. Fates magically caters towards Fire Emblem veterans, newbies and those who got into the franchise with 2012’s fantastic Fire Emblem Awakening. Fates consists of three full length games; Birthright, Conquest, and Revelation (Even though Revelation is considered a DLC). I’ll be splitting up specific components of the review into three parts, in order to give my opinion on that specific component for the respective version.
Hoshido, Nohr or Neither?
Fates is set in a land that is ruled by two rivalled kingdoms; Hoshido and Nohr. Hoshido works towards peace, and is generally a lot more happier and alive than Nohr is. Nohr is much darker, and are extremely violent in nature, especially towards Hoshidans. The first 6 chapters of Fire Emblem Fates are the same no matter what version you own. The story of Fates follows Corrin (or the name you prefer), a child of Nohr royalty. Corrin grew up in Nohr with his/her (i’ll be saying his because my Corrin was male) Nohrian siblings, and their father, King Garon. Garon sends Corrin on missions to prove Corrin’s strength and loyalty for Nohr, but after a mission goes awry, Corrin is taken hostage by Hoshido, who are the enemy of Nohr in the war that’s currently taking place. Corrin is told that he is actually Hoshidan royalty, and that he was kidnapped by Nohrian forces as a young child, meaning that King Garon and his children aren’t Corrin’s real family. Corrin meets a mysterious girl named Azura, who unveils to Corrin that she was Nohr royalty, but was kidnapped by Hoshido. After a string of events (that I don’t want to spoil) Corrin is forced to choose a side. Siding with Hoshido is the Birthright path, siding with Nohr is the Conquest path, and choosing neither is the Revelation path. All paths are extremely unique and different, each path with its own ending and plot. Fates as a complete package has a fantastic storyline, and here’s why!
The Birthright pathway follows Corrin and his siblings as they try to win the war for Hoshido, deal with King Garon, and usher in an era of peace between the rival kingdoms. Birthright’s cast of characters is definitely the weakest of the three paths. Birthright only has one real standout character, Takumi. All the rest feel underdeveloped and very basic, and there were even a few I completely forgot were there due to minimal input in the story. All deaths in the storyline were impactful, and one in particular resulted in me shedding a tear or two, which definitely isn’t a bad thing in a Fire Emblem game. Birthright’s ending is definitely satisfying, and it’s by no means a bad storyline, in fact, it’s far from it, but in my opinion it’s definitely the weakest of the three pathways.
Choosing to side with Nohr results in the Conquest pathway. Conquest follows Corrin’s decision to stay loyal to Nohr, and fight for them in the war alongside the false siblings you grew up with. Corrin attempts to overthrow Hoshido with his own, more merciful methods than Nohr’s current ones. I’d love to share more, but I won’t in order to avoid any potential spoilers. I found Conquest’s cast of characters to be much more lovable and likeable. I eventually cared for each and every character in Conquest and the deaths effected me quite a bit too, however, one death did feel a bit too forced. I was extremely satisfied with Conquest’s characters, plot, and ending after finishing Birthright, and it’s definitely the stronger story out of the two.
Revelation is the third and final path of Fates. I say final because it’s highly recommended that you play Birthright and Conquest before taking on Revelation, and I couldn’t agree with that recommendation more. Revelation is the path Corrin takes if he decides to side with neither Kingdom. Revelation follows Corrin’s attempt to unite the two kingdoms in order to bring peace. The plot gets a lot thicker than that, but I really don’t want to spoil anything. Revelation melds characters from Birthright and Conquest to create the cast. Siblings from Hoshido and Nohr are prominent in this pathway of the game, which is fantastic because it takes the best from both sides. Characters like Camilla, Elise, Takumi and Azura are what make Revelation’s story the best of the three, with an incredibly satisfying, complete ending. Revelation also has impactful deaths, and a plot twist you won’t see coming.
A Conquest of Turn Based Strategy
Fire Emblem is well known for its difficulty as a turn based strategy RPG, and Fates is no exception. Birthright is considered the easiest, then Revelation, with Conquest being the hardest of the three. Fates’s gameplay isn’t terribly different from Awakening’s, and that is very much a good thing. The combat works off of the Weapon Triangle, which is now colour coded, making it easier to remember which is which. This of course influences which units you use and where you use them. Fates is filled with jump for joy, luck based moments, and they feel as good as ever here. While not in combat, you can build and improve your very own castle. You can build and upgrade structures, such as armouries, an arena, and a prison. You also get the opportunity to improve your castle defences against streetpass invaders, and you can attempt to seize castles too. Amiibo support is present, and it’s honestly really cool. The first time you tap any Amiibo, they show up at your castle and give you an item. The second time, they give you an accessory based on the Amiibo. The third time allows you to battle them and claim them as a unit for your army. Fates manages to improve on the gameplay of Awakening, even when it seemed perfect, but that doesn’t mean it’s flawless.
Birthright might be the easiest of the three, but don’t consider it a push over. Some of the later chapters proved to be quite difficult, with multiple attempts required to complete. However the difficulty is never unfair, and that goes for all three pathways. The one problem I have with Birthright’s gameplay, is that mission objectives aren’t all that varied. There are a few that stand out, but for the most part it’s rout the enemy or kill the boss.
Conquest is no doubt the hardest pathway in Fates. Gold and experience is extremely limited, unlike Birthright. Conquest caters more towards those looking for a core Fire Emblem experience, much like the older games. People are going to have trouble finishing Conquest, much like I did, but it’s definitely well worth it. Conquest is a lot more varied with its objectives opposed to Birthright. It constantly changes between rout the enemy, seize, hold the zone for X amount of turns, and more. It’s refreshing, and always varied.
In my opinion, Revelation’s difficulty was perfect, and this is coming from someone who got into Fire Emblem through Awakening. Revelation somehow finds a perfect middle ground, with the difficulty similar to the last and early stages of Birthright and Conquest respectively. Much like Conquest, Revelation varies in objectives, such as seize, rout the enemy, find and kill the boss, and more. Revelations has 1 or 2 objectives less than Conquest, but definitely more than Birthright, making it the strongest path for Fates in my opinion. However, I cannot stress to you enough, that you really should complete Birthright or Conquest if not both, simply to avoid spoilers, and to better understand and appreciate the story.
A Technical Revelation
Fire Emblem Fates has a charm that no other 3DS game does (apart from awakening). Maps are varied, unit sprites are cute, unique and identifiable and this is all while it looks very pretty. Much like Awakening, Fates has fully animated cutscenes, and while they are few and far between, they’re a treat to experience. Much unlike Awakening, is that Fates is always running at 60 FPS, making for a smooth experience for the whole journey.
Fire Emblem Fates is an amazing tactical RPG, and it’s a fantastic entry point into the series, even if Awakening is a little better. There’s a lot to love about Fates, and I can definitely see myself playing it in the future, and it’s definitely one of the best in the series. Fire Emblem Fates is a must have for any 3DS owner, even if you don’t like tactical RPGs, it’s worth a try.
-Tons of content
-Fun and addictive strategy gameplay
-Strong technical performance
-Birthright doesn’t have enough varied objectives
Thanks for reading guys, just so you know, that final verdict is for Fates as a whole package. Up next is Overwatch which will be up tonight or tomorrow, then Mirror’s Edge Catalyst! -Harry