Allow me to preface this by saying that I absolutely LOVE the Fire Emblem series. I’ve been grabbing each game since The Sacred Stones and I’ve loved each of them. They are maddeningly difficult, insanely addictive, and incredibly fun. The whole premise of a game that is almost an expansion of chess, where your moves and decisions have to be 2 steps ahead if you hope to keep your characters alive!
Then Fire Emblem Awakening came out… and OH MY GOD WAS IT AWESOME!!! The story was awesome, the characters were lovable and memorable, the cameos were respectful and appropriate, and the character interactions were terrific, even the newly added marriage feature works well and allows you to do some customizing to a second generation of characters. Though honestly, the only characters worth marrying in my opinion (for the main character anyway) are Lucina and Tiki. I mean the others really did seem forced.
Anyway… then the announcement comes out that a new Fire Emblem is in the works, but no… not one, THREE! Conquest, Revelation, and Birthright, three separate story lines all surrounding the same characters… meaning that I was going to be gaming for a while. Seriously, each Fire Emblem has ridiculous replay value, so this was going to be a while.
Well… I just finished all three and how did I feel about them? Honestly… I thought they were good as far as Fire Emblem goes. Were they a smash follow-up to an otherwise perfect game that set the bar through the roof? Honestly… not really. Don’t get me wrong, they’re good, I’m glad I played them, and I’ll definitely replay them at some point, but it’s not like Awakening, which was one game that kept me plugged in for months on end and has me at the point where I want to replay it again even now.
So what were it’s good and bad points overall? Let’s take a look. The gameplay is pretty much the same as before. Each game starts off in the same place, you’re a prince that has never left his castle. However, eventually he’s called upon to make a choice between his supposed birth family (Birthright), the family that raised him (Conquest), and the high road (Revelations).
My main problem with this setup is it’s kind of a nature vs. nurture story where you’re faced with the ethical quandary about where your loyalties should lie; with the people who raised you or the people who are truly related to you. The problem is that… this is not the case. SPOILER ALERT!!! You’re actually related to neither side. I get that this was done so that your marriage options would be equal on both Birthright and Conquest, but doing it this way makes the decision a lot less of an ethical quandary. I honestly found myself saying… ‘Well wait, if I’m not related to you, why did I side with Hoshido in the first place!?’
Minus points for the plot flaw…
Other than that, I just really didn’t feel this story as much. You really didn’t know what was going on until late in the game, at which point they dump a large amount of exposition on you regarding the game’s primary villain. It really doesn’t hold up as well as I would have liked.
Honestly, of the three, I liked Conquest the best. This story arc was the standout from the other two. It gives the hero constant ethical quandaries between being loyal to your family and doing what is right. It was also the most challenging of the games, bringing us back to the lack of leveling roots.
The character interactions are okay, though I don’t really feel anything for them… unless you decided to marry one of the main characters, at which point things became uncomfortable and incestuous. (I mean seriously did anyone really NOT marry Camilla?)
Yeah, I don’t believe you!
I mean I know that you’re not related to any of them and as such you’re not breaking any laws of nature… supposedly, but come on, the taboo is still there. Even if the person isn’t blood, you’ve still been raised with them, there is still a familial relation, so even if you’re technically not related… well… Honestly, I have a hard time believing that if someone would be okay with marrying their sister, whom they recently found out wasn’t their sister, they’d then have a hard time with an actual familial taboo. It’s… awkward to say the least.
(Marry Scarlet, the story actually takes an unexpected turn.)
Now onto what I did like. The castle. Oh yes, I LOVED customizing my castle and battling people via streetpass. The added challenge of putting up impenetrable defenses really pushed this game back into ‘great’ territory. Allowing you to run through the castle, to have every armament you need at your fingertips, and having additional character interactions pushed this movie into the ‘win’ territory.
Do I like this game? Yes.
Do I recommend this game? Yes.
Was it a stand out: Ehh… not really.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s a good game. The problem is that if you played Awakening, you have to curb your expectations a little. It gets points for bringing a lot of new material to the table: Divergent storylines, a home base, and interactive decision-making, are all a plus for this game, however the overall story itself is somewhat weak. If you’re looking for the standout in this series, go with Awakening. That said, I wouldn’t recommend skipping this one. Like I said, it brings a lot to the table, it just needed a bit more fleshing out.
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I completely agree with you about the “they’re not really your family” thing. It destroys the dichotomy that the entire game is based around. For Birthright and Conquest, you can mostly ignore it and act as though they’re you’re real family (except for certain support conversations), but there’s no avoiding it in Revelation (and it seems to me that, of the three, Revelation is the real story, with the other two being more alternate storylines).
Camilla annoyed me. Why? The total fanservice of her. The fact that male gamers assume she’s the only one to marry (like you did) because she’s got boobs spilling out of her top and a weirdly creepy attachment to her adoptive brother. To answer your question, no, I didn’t have any of my avatar characters marry her. My only male avatar was in Birthright, where I had him marry Sophie, which I didn’t end up liking much, since Sophie’s character is all about horses, which makes for some weird conversations. Especially since Sophie is the daughter of the avatar’s best childhood friend, which you’d think would provide for some alternate material to base conversations on. But nope, it’s all “I love horses!” A lot of the characters are very shallow, one-trick ponies in this way. GAIUS LOVES CANDY! KIRAGI LOVES HUNTING! MITAMA WRITES HAIKUS! SOLEIL IS A LESBIAN EXCEPT NOT REALLY! FORREST DRESSES LIKE A GIRL AND EVERYONE NEEDS TO LEARN THAT THAT’S TOTALLY COOL!
Okay, so part of the problem was also those characters that it tried to make some big liberal political statement about, which is annoying when one learns that part of that comes from the Americanization of the game. Just like the Americanization made it so that a whole bunch of the child S supports aren’t really marriages and many of them are actually rejections. WTF is that?
I do like quite a few of the characters, especially the first generation ones. But, percentage-wise, I like a lot less of them than I did with Awakening. There were *several* characters I didn’t even want to ship/marry, either because I didn’t want to inflict them on a character I do like, didn’t want their offspring, or both. Azama is a terrible father and husband. Peri is a homicidal lunatic. Charlotte is a golddigging bitch and I intentionally killed her in Revelation just so I didn’t have to have her in my army. I didn’t dislike any of the Awakening characters as much as I dislike some of the ones in this game. (And I thought that most of the female characters in this game were pretty ‘blah’. I had a hard time pairing them up because most of them felt like blank placeholders.)
Oh, and I did do a sibling pairing in my Conquest game, where I had my female avatar marry Xander. Which is fine except that to avoid making the children too hard to get, you have to marry people off mid-game, and in the later storyline cutscenes, Xander still refers to the avatar as his sister even after they’re married and have a child. So … awkward.(My Revelation avatar married Kaze, because he’s a sweetie and a girl needs a loyal guy like that.)
But the biggest thing that makes me not as excited about Fates as I’d like to be is the fact that there’s not one single game that has all the characters I like in it. Revelation comes closest, but in that one I still miss having Scarlet, Izana, and Yukimura. (Oh, that’s another thing; I wish there weren’t so many avatar-ship-only characters.) So to me, there isn’t one totally satisfying story. You have to piece it together from bits of three different stories, and it never really fits as a single whole.
So, I liked Fates. There are a lot of things I *really* liked about it. But in the end it’s not as satisfying as Awakening was.
Sorry for the super long comment.
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“The fact that male gamers assume she’s the only one to marry (like you did) because she’s got boobs spilling out of her top and a weirdly creepy attachment to her adoptive brother. ”
HAHAHAHA!!! Very true. To be fair though, I actually did NOT marry her on my playthroughs, opting for Scarlett or none at all… and in the previous game I married Lucina and she’s… well… not well-endowed at all. I was more making fun of the people who fell for the obvious fan service.
Honestly, if they were going to go with the whole creepy attachment deal… then they really should have gone all the way with it. Now don’t get me wrong, I do not condone incest and things like that, but come on, our own history is full of it. The Hapsburgs were known for inbreeding in order to keep their bloodlines ‘pure.’ It honestly would have kept the storyline a lot stronger and let’s face it, the time period is about right when things like that happened. It happened, we all know it did… and still does in some cases (lookin at you West Virginia!) 😉
Would we find it icky and uncomfortable? Hell yes. But keep in mind, the people playing this game… for the most part, are the same people watching Game of Thrones. We’ve seen it, we’ve been exposed to it, and yes, we can handle it.
Scarlet is a much better option, IMO, except I wouldn’t advise it in Revelation, since once you lose her you don’t get to remarry, and it’s still treated like a bigger blow to your brother than you, even if she’s your wife. (An example of how the support/marriage side of the game doesn’t mesh well with the main storyline side.) I also married my male avatar to Lucina in Awakening; I think the game kinda nudges you to do that with a male avatar, like how it nudges you to marry Chrom with a female avatar.
I’d like to congratulate you on your good taste in not falling for the fan service. At some point such things are insulting even to the people they’re trying to “service”.
Whether they wanted to keep sibling marriage or not (because I kind of agree with you about it being period-believable, and it’s not like it would be *required* but merely another option), I think they should have kept your blood relatives as your blood relatives.
Yeah I learned that the hard way… I was hoping that the marriage would affect the plot, perhaps Scarlet would survive or be resurrected somehow… NOPE! No bearing at all, which is another point against this game.
Honestly, the game seems to be pushing you towards Azura… which I didn’t like. She’s… Well not as strong a character as I’d like. Honestly after trial and error, the only suitable choice for the make avatar is either Anna (if you want to do the while Dragon gate), or Reina. Of the two Reina is the better option, Anna’s love of money over all else (including her husband) is a tad vexing.
Also, the avatar is her only potential mate, so you won’t lose out on any of the offspring… and her S level interaction it’s very heart-warming.
I did get the Azura thing, too. Actually seriously considered shipping my male avatar with her, but with that playthrough I hadn’t married anyone by the time the game (Birthright) ended, and then I didn’t want to marry someone who’d die/disappear (I shipped her with Lazlow on that one, I think, since that way they’d *both* end up leaving). Plus she’s the avatar’s cousin, so that’s weird. Not that this game can really stop cousins from marrying because that would potentially block like half the pairings.
I agree about Anna. Her one-note greed makes her a frustrating potential wife. Though personally, I find Reina a little too bloodthirsty.
One advantage to playing a female avatar, IMO, is a lot more good marriage options.
I’ve had this since launch, and I still haven’t finished. It just didn’t manager to hook me like Fire Emblem: Awakening. That was just such a stellar game, and it was gonna be hard to follow up. Great post!
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To go over this point by point.
Romance between step siblings raised together for most of their lives(Contrary to the westermarck effect) is something I’ve seen in a lot of media, both Japan and elsewhere. Fire Emblem used it earlier in the Japan only Genealogy of the Holy War, its just something I’ve learned to accept.
As for why side with Hoshido, because they’re the good guys and Nohr is obviously the bad guys, I suppose?
You don’t really say much about your specific problems with the story, but you do mention the exposition dump about one group of villains, Anankos and his underlings, being responsible for the whole conflict in the plot. I have to point that was also the case in Awakening where Grima and his followers were behind every single conflict and every single irredeemable baddie worshipped Grima.
Gangrel got into power thanks to Grima, Walhart was being manipulated by Grima’s followers, even most of the obligatory random bandits were working under Grima just as Anankos was behind everything. And we do learn more amore about Anankos and Valla then we do about Grima and his nonsensical cult.
And whilst you haven’t mentioned it, Fates world building is a problem and they didn’t even mention the name of the continent. However this problem was also present in Awakening, there are numerous continuity errors enough to make a wiki page, there’s zero explanation for the Taguel who claim to have been there all along but never existed in any other game, there’s hints of a prior war which is never really elaborated on, ETC.
All of this was just slightly less noticeable.
Anyhow what are your specific story complaints about Fire Emblem Fates?
IMHO I just don’t feel like they’re expanded enough. Fates felt a lot more rushed and the decisions you make don’t seem to affect much.
Let me give you an example… if you reach S class with certain key characters, it has no effect on the story at all. In Awakening, if you married Lucina, it affected her dialogue in multiple parts of the story, as it did with other characters as well.
I actually married Scarlett to see if reaching S class with her changed her fate… not only did it not change her fate, your supposed brother is actually far more bothered by her death than you or your daughter are… in fact, it doesn’t seem to do anything at all. This is just one example and it’s honestly the most glaring.
The decisions you made in Awakening didn’t matter either though. You could choose to sacrifice yourself to kill Grima or simply seal him, yet even if you sacrifice yourself, you magically come back to life anyhow removing any element of choice or sacrifice.
That was the one and ONLY example of an S support changing anything in Awakening and there are supports that change things in Fates, if you get an A or S support with Kaze, he doesn’t die in revelations.
Let me ask you this, would you prefer it if no attractive died at all like Awakening did? If every waifu and husbando magically came back to life with no explanation and joined your army, even if they clearly died and were your enemy before?
For me, Fates for its issues touches on that War isn’t a game and people will die, unlike say Awakening where no one beautiful stays dead unless they’re Phila, Emmeryn’s underdeveloped assistant. Awakening’s “only BAD and UGLY people die in war” philosophy was quite frankly insulting to me.
A few points here…
That wasn’t the only choice. The coversation changed if you married Lucina and it added dialogue in the extra missions.
The dialogue also changed if you married chrom.
No, not at all, I’m not sure where you’re getting that. I had no issue with Scarlette dying, it’s the fact that it was an unceremonious death that Corrin barely even acknowledges, which when he’s married to her is actually kind of sad.