‘Fire Emblem Fates’ Review
By Maggie Davis
Released in North America as of February 19, 2016- nearly a year after a stunning trailer at their E3 2015 presentation- Nintendo released not one, but three new games into the Fire Emblem franchise, entitled Fire Emblem Fates. As the start of a grueling war rages between two neighboring countries, Nohr and Hoshido, players are forced into the role of the player unit, Corrin, to command their troops in these strategy-driven role playing games. The games are only available for the Nintendo 3DS.
Corrin is a young royal (players can choose whether to make them male or female when they customize their unit before the start of the game) who was raised in Nohr, but has grown up in near isolation from their royal siblings in the Northern Fortress. After the player is given the battle tutorial, Xander, the crown prince, Camilla, Leo, and Elise come to take their sibling back to the capitol to live together as a family with their father, King Garon. However, after disobeying an order from the unforgiving king, Corrin is sent on a fool’s errand to evaluate an old fort on the border of Nohr, and is captured by Hoshido. During their stay, they discover that they are not a royal born to Nohr, but to Hoshido. They had been kidnapped as a small child and feared to be lost forever.
But as the Nohrian royal children invade Hoshido to retrieve their lost sibling, Corrin and the player are faced with a choice: To stand and defend Hoshido against the family that raised them, siding with their ‘true’ siblings, High Prince Ryoma, Hinoka, Takumi, and Sakura (the path of Fire Emblem Fates: Birthright), or to turn their back on the family they scarcely know and remain loyal to their family in Nohr (the path of Fire Emblem Fates: Conquest).
Or do they?
Fire Emblem Fates is a trio of games that walk hand-in-hand, providing a third option for players reluctant to choose a side- after all, no choice is without consequence, and like Fire Emblem Awakening (2012), those consequences are dire. The player has the option to have Corrin refuse to choose an allegiance to Nohr or Hoshido, but be branded a traitor to both nations. This leads to the path of the third game, Fire Emblem Fates: Revelations.
- Gameplay: 8/10
- Sound Quality: 9/10
- Graphics: 10/10
- Compatibility: 5/10 (Game is only available for Nintendo 3DS.)
- Optimization: 10/10
- Fun Factor: 9/10
- Uniqueness: 10/10
- Total: 61/70 Review Points
Overall, the games’ artwork is stunning, and the gameplay rules are simple following the weapons triangle and other minor rules for various character classes. There are varying degrees of difficulty depending on which route the player decides to take. For example, Birthright allows for more opportunities to farm for items and experience, and holds a little more true to the original feel of the franchise, whereas Conquest allows for little to no extra experience or items. This provides a greater challenge for the player’s tactical skills and ability to deal out supplies.
A new mode was also added to the game menu, aside from ‘Classic’ (if a unit dies, they are permanently removed from the game file), and ‘Casual’ (units that die will retreat from battle and reappear in the next chapter). The new ‘Phoenix’ mode allows inexperienced or struggling players to retrieve fallen units on their next battle turn.
Fire Emblem Fates is a wonderful series and provides a wonderful story with it, but proves to be a challenge for inexperienced gamers. These games are longer than most would expect- I highly recommend playing them over a span of a few days (this is from me, who marathoned Fire Emblem Awakening for 18 hours, and let me tell you how bad of a decision that was). The gameplay varies between the three paths, but becomes grinding and tedious as a player gets nearer and nearer to the end.
However, the games have a lot to offer for customization, choice, challenges, and opportunities for players new and skilled alike.