Fire Emblem Fates: Birthright Review

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Developer: Intelligent Systems, Nintendo SPD
Publisher: Nintendo
Platform: 3DS

A lot of people never played a Fire Emblem game before Awakening released. I was one of those people. And if you’re thinking, “I bet she just decided to play it because of the waifus!!” then you’re mostly right. I absolutely loved the matchmaking and children aspect that Awakening featured (not to mention FREDERICK!). However, I did also end up immensely enjoying the strategy gameplay that Awakening offered, though veterans of the series might say it is a step down compared to previous entries. SRPGs always terrified me, but Awakening was an excellent entry point for people just like me.

Thanks to Awakening‘s success, the Fire Emblem series is thriving again. The latest entry is split into three versions: BirthrightConquest, and Revelations. The former two have differences such as varied difficulty, stories, and characters, while Revelations features a sort of “neutral” path that should be played after both Birthright and Conquest. Seeing as how Birthright is the “easier” one of the trio, mostly due to the ability to grind for experience and gold in challenge maps, I decided to start with that one first.

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In Birthright, you have chosen to ally with the feudal Japan influenced nation of Hoshido. Fighting alongside your “true” brothers and sisters, your ultimate goal is to bring peace by stopping the evil King Garon, ruler of Nohr and your adoptive father. The story is typical Fire Emblem affair, but there are definitely some great and emotional moments, especially near the end of Birthright.

Gameplay is what you’d normally expect from the Fire Emblem series. You must move your characters, or “units,” across a map while keeping in mind stats, placement, enemies, and so forth. Usually the objective for a chapter’s map is to simply eliminate all the enemies or defeat the boss. Fates‘ makes an effort to stray from what Awakening did, however, by making map layouts much more interesting and including different objectives like protecting an area for a certain number of turns. As the “easier” game, Birthright doesn’t offer many of these different objectives, but there certainly still are some and you can see how varied the maps are versus the ones in Awakening.

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Like Awakening before it, Fates‘ difficulty modes include a “Casual Mode” that eliminates permadeath upon the defeat of one of your units. These units will simply be unavailable until the next battle, rather than unavailable for the rest of the game. Fates even features a brand new “Phoenix Mode” (which is only available on the easiest difficulty) that allows for fallen units to be revived with full health upon the player’s next turn. Such difficulty options are extremely welcome for SRPG newbies such as me and allow the chance to enjoy the story and characters, as well as being able to become accustomed to the strategy gameplay.

Supports (conversations between characters), marriage, and children have also returned to Fates. Although many of the supports lack some depth and are odd in the sense that characters suddenly fall in love with each other out of nowhere at their S rank, they are still very much enjoyable and worth achieving for some insight into characters’ backstories. Characters that do make it to S rank with each other will marry and have a child. You’re then able to challenge a Paralogue map in order to add that child to your army. Depending on the parents you’ve paired up, these children units can turn out to be extremely powerful.

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One major feature that Fates introduces to the series is “My Castle.” Essentially, it is the main hub of each version of Fates, where you’re able to customize your own fort with shops, buildings, and so on. You’re also able to battle with other players over the internet in either their castle or your own. If you decide to battle in your own castle, anything you’ve erected will aid you in some way such as offering less damage taken by your units or higher damage dealt by your units. Taking part in these castle battles is totally optional, but it’s a very fun way to interact with real people, build up supports between your characters, and earn rewards.

Birthright kept my utmost attention from start to finish with how much it offered; garnering around 60 hours of playtime for that version alone. By the time I finished Birthright, I actually hungered for more Fire Emblem rather than being burnt out by it. Thank goodness for that, since I still have Conquest and Revelations to go!


 

Pink Score: 4.54 1/2 out of 5 alpacas


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