Fire Emblem Fates

Fire Emblem Fates

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.

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Xander is the Crown Prince of Nohr and one of the siblings the protagonist grows up with.

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!

Birthright

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.

Conquest

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

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.

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Corrin (Male and Female) and Azura

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

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

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.

Revelation

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.

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This is the Before Awakening DLC. It’s currently free on the Eshop, and is definitely worth a download if you’re curious about what happened before the events of Awakening.

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.

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This is what Fates’s cutscenes look like. Impressive huh?!

Verdict: 9.5/10

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.

Positives

-Fantastic story

-Tons of content

-Fun and addictive strategy gameplay

-Perfect difficulties

-Strong technical performance

Negatives

-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

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XCOM 2

XCOM 2

More than Just a Guerrilla Movement

It’s been 22 years since the very first XCOM game, UFO: Enemy Unknown or otherwise known as X-COM: UFO Defense. To say that XCOM: Enemy Unknown was simply a successful reboot would be a severe understatement. Not only did it serve as the new XCOM game fans craved for so long, but also set an extremely high bar for turn based strategy games. So when XCOM 2 was teased and inevitably announced, a lot of hype surrounded the game. XCOM 2 did exactly what Enemy Unknown did, set the bar even higher for turn based strategy games, even if technical bugs hold it back sometimes.

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The size of some of the late-game enemies is huge!

Join Us or Become Them

XCOM 2 takes place 20 years after the events of Enemy Unknown, but don’t fret if you haven’t played Enemy Unknown. On their first play-through, most players actually lost the war against the aliens in Enemy Unknown and so the canon ending is that the aliens successfully invade earth and take charge. The form the Advent group, made up of high ranking alien and human officials. You play, once again as the commander for the XCOM initiative tasked with overthrowing the aliens and taking back Earth. I really liked this setting for the story. It feels like it’s a desperate last attempt to defeat the aliens, using anything and everything you have at your disposal to do so. A short way into the main story you discover that the aliens are preparing the Avatar program. I won’t get into specifics to avoid spoilers, but all you need to know is that completion of this event is a game over. This brings an excellent sense of urgency and purpose the revived guerrilla movements of the XCOM program. The story was surprisingly good in my opinion and moves with the various missions fluently.

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This is the Archon. Awesome design!

The Strategic Layer

If you’ve played Enemy Unknown, XCOM 2 will feel familiar in terms of gameplay, but with a few new additions. You’ll be spending most of your time on the Avenger when outside of missions. The repurposed alien supply craft serves as a mobile base of operations for XCOM and its facilities. Here you can research projects, build items, customise soldiers, seeing what the Proving Grounds can come up with, and build new facilities to meet your requirements at the time. The Proving Grounds is a really cool idea, you build items that you don’t get an unlimited supply of such as Wrath Suits, W.A.R Suits and Spider Suits, which are as cool as they sound. You can also create experimental grenades, ammunition types and heavy weapons which give you random variants. For example experimental ammunition can create ammunition with poison effects or tracer rounds which increase your aim. The character customization also received a massive overhaul and it is wonderfully detailed, allowing you to create friends and loved ones in the game to create an attachment to your soldiers. Your main resources are Intel and supplies, each serving their own purposes. You’ll be faced with multiple decisions at different times, each with different outcomes, so choose wisely. Dark Events are a new addition to XCOM and make it even more difficult to make choices. These Dark Events act as de-buffs and come in threes. The catch is that you can only counter one, meaning that one of the other two can activate at any time. I really liked this system and it gave me something extra to think about during missions. Speaking of which, missions mostly play out the same way as they did in Enemy Unknown, just more refined. It still runs on the same R n G formula and all levels are procedurally generated, which allows for lots of replayability. One of my favourite parts of XCOM 2 is the various enemies you encounter. Throughout the campaign you’ll meet different enemies of varying sizes and threats. All returning enemies like Sectoids and Mutons have been changed too. Advent troops are the main enemies you’ll be seeing, and after a while they start to get repetitive but you can expect to find a new enemy every few missions. One enemy I like in particular is the Archon. I don’t know why I like it so much, I just think its design is really cool. Through combat, soldiers get promoted to a class out of Ranger, Sniper, Specialist and Grenadier. Each class and both skill trees for each feel fleshed out and viable in any play-through making it once again, hard to pick out of two very useful skills. XCOM acts as a guerrilla movement, Firaxis took this opportunity to implement a new mechanic called Concealment, which is signified by a light blue outline around the edge of your screen. Most missions, all of your units will be concealed, meaning the aliens aren’t aware of your presence and will continue patrols as usual. This allows you to setup your units for an ambush, meaning you can clear a group of enemies in fell swoop. Pulling this off feels incredibly satisfying and I really hope this mechanic returns in any future instalments. Multiplayer also makes a return in a similar form to Enemy Unknown. You make your own custom loadout, choosing from all human units and all except 1 alien unit from the main campaign. I never experienced any connection issues in the multiplayer segment of the game and I intend to keep playing it.

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The blue streaks represent concealment.

A Rocky Revolution

XCOM 2’s biggest problems are fortunately technical ones. I say fortunately because Firaxis and 2K are aware of said problems and they will eventually be patched. However, during your 20-30 hour play-through expect to experience bugs, minor framerate issues and game breaking glitches. Some of these didn’t affect me all that much such as guns not rendering in when shooting at enemies, units not rendering in general and as I said small frame rate issues. I did however encounter a few bugs that did inhibit my enjoyment. The first bug I encountered was when I took a 100% shot at an Advent soldier, only to watch my soldier turn 90 degrees to the left and fire into open air, not damaging the enemy unit and I was punished heavily for it, so I had to reload my save. I never experienced this bug apart from this one occasion though. The second bug I encountered was on a particular mission called Operation Spectral Fog. Once I reached the end of the mission, I saved and stopped playing. When I came back to finish the mission off, I tried to load my save only to find that the game would crash every time I reloaded any save from that mission, forcing me to effectively restart that mission. This bug appears to happen in other missions based on other posts I’ve seen by other players, however I never experienced it apart from this particular mission. It did frustrate me, as it was a story mission and one of the longer missions in the game.

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Concept art for the Advent Stun-lancer.

Verdict: Must Buy

XCOM 2 is a must buy if you’re a fan of XCOM or turn based strategy games in general. If you aren’t terribly interested in strategy games or the XCOM franchise, I highly recommend you look into various reviews and opinions before you buy it if you haven’t already. If XCOM 2 interests you at all, please look into it and if you like what you see, buy it, you won’t regret it.

Positives

-Concealment mechanic

-Story and Setting

-Alien Design

-Strategic Elements

-Customisation

Negatives

-Small Performance Issues

-Technical Issues

Thanks for reading guys, Dying Light: The Following is next!

Harry.