Last week, I downloaded a game called Fire Emblem Fates (FEF). I haven’t finished the game, but today I feel confident enough to at least share my thoughts on it.
First, what is Fire Emblem Fates? Well, it’s a tactical RPG, a type of game similar to chess. In chess you have a bunch of pieces, and in the game you have a bunch of pieces called units. The goal of the game is to use these units to defeat the AI’s pieces. We repeat this process until we beat the game, but FEF is much deeper than that. Each unit is unique, with their own strength, skill, personalities, and weakness.
Besides the gameplay, there is the story. For most Fire Emblem games, their story is a core piece of the game as a whole. In FEF’s case, the story is relatively simple. The game revolves around a war between two countries, Nohr and Hoshido. Nohr is a vast empire seeking expansionism, while Hoshido is a peaceful country preferring isolation. It’s quite easy to see how these two countries would be at odds. However, the twist that makes the story a lot more intriguing is the protagonist, your own character. As a prince/princess that was born into the Hoshido royal family but grew up in Nohr’s royal family, you as the protagonist have a connection to both sides of the war. Now, the player has to chose a side.
It’s a very interesting idea, and a plot that I think could work out well. Unfortunately, there’s just one problem, the protagonist. Unlike the last FE game I played, the protagonist doesn’t really go through a character arc. The protagonist from beginning to end, didn’t feel engaging. In the route I’m playing in, the protagonist is fighting against the family he grew up with. However, the protagonist doesn’t seem affected by the deaths of his family. Perhaps it’s just my nitpicking, but the story doesn’t seem all too engaging.
In Fire Emblem Three Houses, another FE game I’ve played, the player could make radical changes and determine the fate of an entire continent. Each of the four routes the story took in Three Houses was different and engaging. No matter what you do, you’re forced to kill units you grew connected to during the first act. In comparison, Fire Emblem Fates has you fight against a family that you barely have any knowledge of. As the player, you’re not invested into the characters of the opposing side. It’s only when you’ve played through both routes do you have any emotional connection the characters. Three Houses gives you an entire act to bond with units, while Fates needs you make that bond in few section for any emotional impact.
Rather than the story, I find my decision for choosing a side is more swayed by units and classes. Like most games that release with two versions, there is some kind of version exclusivity for each one. In this case, each version has their own units and classes. If you pick one version for a certain set of units, you won’t have access to the other half. However, the most important factor is likely the difficulty. Conquest, the route that follows Nohr is much harder than Hoshido’s route. The reason for this is because Conquest there is no grinding for experience or money. In Birthright, the route that follows Hoshido, you can make your units stronger in a safe environment. You can’t do this in Conquest. This is particularly important, because in all Fire Emblem games once a unit is gone, they’re gone for good. With very few exceptions, there are no revivals. In cases like Conquest, resource management is much more important.
Overall, Fire Emblem Fates is still a fun game. Compared to Fire Emblem Three Houses, I have to say Fates is the lesser of the two. However, that doesn’t take away from the characters of Fates. Three Houses just had a better story and protagonist, the only two downsides for me in Fates.