Fire Emblem Fates, the most ambitious entry in the series but also the most disappointing for me. It had so many great things going for it… but some of the worst writing in the series…
|Developer||Intelligent Systems, Nintendo SPD|
|Purchase (Birthright)||Purchase from Amazon.|
|Purchase (Conquest)||Purchase from Amazon.|
|Purchase (Revelation)||Purchase from Amazon.|
|Purchase (Special Edition)||Purchase from Amazon.|
Oh, man. Here we go. I’ve actually been dreading this one for some time. Two years. Two fucking years before I finally finished this game…
So, Fire Emblem Fates. A game that used to get a lot of talk prior to its release. A mark in the series that Fire Emblem was finally reaching out to the mainstream gaming crowd. After years of cameos in Super Smash Bros. and individual entries met with mild success, it seemed like Fire Emblem was ready to take off.
I was hella excited when I saw the E3 trailer for Fire Emblem Fates. A single game released as three entries, each telling a different side of a whole storyline. So I was one of the lucky few to preorder the Special Edition that includes all three entries in a single game card, an artbook and a decorative pouch.
This sucker sold out quickly!
It looked like it was going to be the best Fire Emblem of all time! So after all that hype, what did my $80 get me?
Well, some fun here and there. And some buyer’s remorse. I mean, it was quite a letdown.
It’s certainly been quite a while since I posted a review, hasn’t it? Part of it was because I was playing this game. Part of it was because I went on an anime binge. And also, part of it was because of my job in real life. And yadda yadda yadda. But yeah… I put this game off for quite some time.
Okay, before I proceed any further, let me make this quick statement: I don’t hate this game. I was very disappointed with it, but I don’t hate it. It had so much going for it. I loved the premise of the whole series. And with Fates, there is so much it can do with the two main warring kingdoms with contrasting cultures and settings. We could explore the setting of each kingdom, the politics, the citizens, the complex relationships between the royal families, etc. This is practically a golden idea that should have not gone wrong.
It did, folks. I don’t know how, but it did. I expected a grand story for such a high profile RPG on the Nintendo 3DS. And it just does not deliver.
I put off the review for this game for quite a while. And the reason for that is: this game can get so long, tedious and boring. No, seriously. I was hyped up for this game when I saw the trailers and even talked about it a bit for my Fire Emblem Awakening review, which was almost two years back. I even said this:
And when I get my copy of the special edition, I’m going to be playing the shit out of it.
…Yeah, that didn’t happen. This is coming from a guy who made his real start in the series at Awakening and had since played various other games in the series. I pretty much turned into a Fire Emblem fanboy who wanted to trace back into the classics. The fact that I had this review sitting for two years before I finally completed a full playthrough should really speak for itself. There’s just something about Fire Emblem Fates that pisses me off. I simply can’t overlook it any longer. So now is the time for my long overdue review of Fire Emblem Fates. Behold, my 100th video game review on Breaking Canon! (And also one of my longest video game reviews of all time…)
Yay, me. Brace yourself, because this is going to be a looooooooooong one…
Endless Features and Tweaks
To understand the rest of the review, I should bring up a reminder. Fire Emblem Fates came out as three different entries. The first two are Birthright and Conquest, both of which you would see sold in retail. It doesn’t matter which one you play first, though Birthright is much more beginner-friendly. The third entry Revelation is an online purchase that requires either of the previous two games in order to play. But if you bought the special edition of Fates, you get all three games.
So in a roundabout way, Fire Emblem Fates pulled a Pokémon on us. Let’s hope the differences are large enough to justify $80 (or more if you paid for each game separately). We’re going to go over the actual positives of Fire Emblem Fates AS A WHOLE before I shit on its story and characters. So, here we go.
First off, the game mechanics are better than Awakening’s. Well, it’s a start, because I actually have mixed feelings about the mechanics of Fates. There’s a lot more thought into this game’s meta than what Awakening had as a magic system…
Here’s a quick rundown of the gameplay, for those not familiar with Fire Emblem. You control the blue units on a grid-based map while fighting against the red units. You start with the “player phase,” which you can move all of your troops and have them perform specific tasks (battling, healing, etc.)
The actual combat is a simulator where your soldier and the enemy soldier trade blows. If anyone falls, they’re dead and they’ll exit the map.
After you finish the “player phase,” then the “enemy phase” begins and your enemy can move their troops. If you’re playing Classic Mode, then keep in mind that your own troops can die in battle and will no longer be available for the rest of the game. But if you play Casual Mode or Phoenix Mode, your troops are safe. But if at any point you’re considering to play the previous Fire Emblem games, I recommend playing Classic Mode just to get used to the consequences of making poor decisions. Fire Emblem punishes careless players.
Chapter objectives can vary, but the most common ones include “rout the enemy” (defeat every single enemy on the map) or “defeat the boss.” There are also some “king of the hill” missions and time-based missions as well. Compared to Awakening, there’s a lot more variety to the missions you complete, which is good. However, which ones you get depends on which version of Fates you’re playing.
One of the biggest changes to combat is the removal of weapon durability. In most Fire Emblem games, weapons have a limited number of uses and will eventually break, meaning you have to supply yourself with weapons regularly. The first exception to this rule is Fire Emblem Gaiden for the Nintendo Famicom, which treated weapons differently. And then comes Fire Emblem Fates, where weapons also don’t break.
However, there’s a catch. The majority of weapons in Fire Emblem Fates have either stat buffs or debuffs to them, meaning you need to take extra care when using the stronger weapons. For example, the weak Bronze/Brass weapons typically grant your character +10 Dodge during battle, making the enemy less likely to land a critical hit. Or you can use powerful Silver weapons, which debuff your troops after use in combat.
While this is an interesting idea, it can also make combat in Fire Emblem Fates unnecessarily complicated and clumsy when factoring in the damage output. It doesn’t help that your weapon levels gain experience very slowly and that certain classes can only cap at certain levels, making it tougher for you to use more powerful weapons anyway. In fact, very few classes can utilize S-rank weapons. Did you know that a Strategist class (Valkyrie in previous games) can’t get S-rank in staves, but a Butler/Maid can? Isn’t that confusing.
The previous Fire Emblem games balance out stronger weapons by giving you limited funds to buy them. They also tend to have smaller durability than weaker weapons, meaning you’d have to use them sparsely if you want to keep them for towards the end of the game. Specialized weapons like Armorslayers and Wyrmslayers were also very limited and tend to appear in treasure chests.
Fire Emblem Fates has probably the largest weapon selection in the series, making the weapons of the two warring kingdoms unique to one another—which is a cool idea. The Hoshidan army has katanas, naginatas, clubs, shuriken, magic scrolls, and yumi. The Nohrian army has swords, lances, axes, throwing knives, magic tomes and bows. I don’t think there’s anything inherently wrong with having a much larger weapon selection than before and make the weapons all unique somehow. But it can also be surreal to use an Iron weapon for higher damage output than a Steel weapon…
While on the topic of weapons, another significant change to the combat system is the Weapon Triangle. You’re familiar with this series staple, right? It’s like rock-paper-scissors.
Swords > Axes > Lances > Swords…
However, Fire Emblem Fates included bows, tomes and throwing weapons into the weapon triangle. Tomes = swords, throwing weapons = lances, and bows = axes. Therefore…
Swords/Tomes > Axes/Bows > Lances/Throwing weapons > Swords/Tomes…
Honestly, I actually like this change. This system prevents mages from being overpowered and it allows characters with a low Resistance stat to fight back against them, though lance-wielding Knights would have it better than axe-wielding Fighters. However, it also makes throwing weapons significantly useful because of their inherent ability to debuff an enemy unit.
Just like in previous entries, you can promote your characters to an advanced class to make them stronger once they leveled up enough. Awakening had Master Seals and Second Seals for reclassing options. Fates has an even larger variety: Master Seals for standard promotions, Hearts Seals for character classes that reflect a character’s personality, Friendship Seals for characters with A+ support ranks, Partner Seals for S support ranks, etc. There’s a lot more reclassing options than before, which is pretty neat. In other words…
Now let’s talk about another new major element of the gameplay. Fire Emblem Fates introduced a new mechanic called Dragon Veins, those yellow vortexes scattered across certain maps. Only Corrin, Azura and any of the Hoshidan/Nohrian royalty can use them. Dragon Veins perform special actions, such as damaging the enemy, changing the map’s layout and opening new paths. This reveals a new depth of gameplay that allows you to gain the upper hand against overwhelming odds. Naturally, this makes Corrin, Azura and anyone with royal blood to be the most important units in your army. And fortunately, you do fight some enemies that can use Dragon Veins depending on which version of Fates you’re playing, assuring that you’re not the only person using it.
However, I also do have mixed feelings on Dragon Veins. Sometimes, they can make a map more fun by adding a new depth of challenge. Sometimes, they turn maps into giant gimmicks that end up being tedious most of the way. A welcome addition with a flawed execution.
The Pairing mechanic returns from Awakening, but modified. And this is what it does:
- The primary unit gets a stats boost.
- The two units can build up their support points more easily (traditionally, two units would have to be adjacent to each other on the map).
- A dual guard can occur—meaning the secondary unit protects the primary unit, nullifying enemy attacks. But instead of being random chance like in Awakening, there is now a meter that builds up when your primary unit attacks or gets attacked.
- Your enemies may also have units paired together, meaning they can use a dual guard too. This didn’t happen in Awakening, which was why the Pairing mechanic was so overpowered in that game.
- There is no dual attack like in Awakening, which the secondary unit attacks the enemy.
In fact, the dual attack is still in Fates, but it works differently. First, your unit cannot be paired up with another. Second, your unit has to be adjacent to another one of your units for a dual attack to occur.
These changes do make the Pairing mechanic more balanced so that you don’t curbstomp every enemy along the way. Unfortunately, this would also mean that the enemy AI would take opportunities to have two bulky units paired together, forcing you to use several attacks to kill them both off. And that can be irritating.
Skills also make a return, and they’re more abundant than ever. Every single character now has a personal, unique Skill. It’s a really cool idea that helps reflect the personalities of the characters. For example, Arthur has the Misfortunate skill, which makes it more likely for him to gain critical hits. It reflects his trait of having horrible luck in any given situation. However, it also makes Arthur more susceptible to critical hits, which was further augmented by his terrible Luck stat. But you can amend that by giving Arthur some Goddess Icons to improve his Luck… or give him the Veteran’s Intuition skill, which makes him far less vulnerable to critical hits. He actually turned out amazing after that.
Most classes allow characters to learn two Skills, though there are some exceptions that allow you to learn up to four. You can also gain more Skills by visiting other players’ castles online and defeating them in combat. And because people managed to hack the game to give Skills to characters who normally can’t learn them (such as Aptitude), it’s pretty easy to customize each character and turn them all into one-man armies.
Friendships, Skinships and… Mindfucks
Next up is the My Castle feature. It’s exactly what it sounds like. You have a customizable castle where you can build various facilities: your shops, resource spots, a Private Quarters for Corrin to interact with other characters, a Forge to improve weapons and a whole bunch of other stuff that I’m not willing to describe in full detail because THIS SECTION OF THE REVIEW IS ALREADY TOO LONG! Also, you can move around freely in this castle as a tiny sprite, which is a clear reference to Fire Emblem Gaiden.
Except in… you know, Birthright…
But I’ll give some highlights. First, the Private Quarters. You can invite your allies inside to build up support between Corrin and the ally. Seems like a neat little feature at first. You get some extra conversations outside of supports, which is always welcome.
But in Japan, that’s another story… Believe it or not, there was a PETTING mini-game here. I am not fucking with you. It’s called Skinship and you actually pet characters in a Fire Emblem game!
Ah, yes, nothing like stroking your elder sister’s hair (and bewbs…) in a pervy fashion. What is this, Pokémon-Amie Incest Edition featuring Fire Emblem?
..But then again, it’s Camilla. Miss Hot Sister here knows how to give “dearest brother” Corrin a boner…
I know Camilla is not really Corrin’s sister. Shut up and let me have my dirty and offensive joke. Lord knows I suffered enough through this game.
Skinship was removed from the English localization of Fire Emblem Fates. While people do try to defend this feature by saying it’s cutting content for the wrong reasons, well… I personally don’t care for it. It feels like an unnecessary, tacked on feature added in to appeal to otaku and that’s about it. I know that in Japan, patting people on the head can be a sign of showing affection to them. I guess that’s the idea here… but I can only imagine male Corrin trying to pat a cold and serious ninja like Saizo on the head. That image… is just too weird in my head… I can’t even…
Anyways, my next highlight for My Castle is the Prison building, which is actually a pretty cool mechanic. The characters Orochi and Niles have the ability to “capture” enemy units, including generic boss characters. And eventually, you can use them in battle. For example, you can use Niles to capture Haitaka in Chapter 9 of Conquest, provided that you already have a Prison built.
While the boss characters unfortunately don’t get additional dialogue or supports in Fire Emblem Fates, I can really see this idea being expanded upon in future Fire Emblem games. Imagine that you can capture boss characters and even form supports with them. It’d be another way to recruit enemy characters into your cause. That’d be so freakin’ cool!
…Wait, capturing enemies to recruit them into your cause? Is Fire Emblem Fates trying to be Pokémon again? Stop it, game! Stop trying to be something else you’re not!
Speaking of which, Waifu Emblem strikes again.
Oh, no… so many waifus… SO MANY WAIFUS! MY HEART CAN’T TAKE IT! AGGGGGGGHHHHHH!
Yeah, Awakening’s biggest pandering gimmick is back in full force (and I call it ‘gimmick’ because it’s not necessary to the story). Your avatar character Corrin can romance ANYONE of the opposite sex in the army, with the inclusion of two bisexual characters for same-sex marriage (Niles and Rhajat). Some people went as far as making a LBGT mod for Fire Emblem Fates to make everyone bisexual for more gay romance pairings. It’s quite a spectacle.
And let’s not forget the incest. Holy shit, Corrin is allowed to screw anyone that he/she once called brother or sister. There’s even one pairing that you would have EXPECTED to be incest. And the game refuses to acknowledge these pairings as incest too.
Again, I know Corrin is not related to any of the Hoshidan or Nohrian siblings by blood. They’re all basically stepbrothers and stepsisters. But it doesn’t change the fact that they all treated each other as siblings, especially Corrin. And if the S-support conversations say anything, Corrin had fallen in love with one of his siblings, while still viewing them as siblings.
Your marriage to one of them does not affect the main storyline, therefore your sibling husband/wife will still refer to you as their sibling, making it extra creepy. And male Corrin possibly having sexual fantasies about his older “sister” Camilla (who is like a loving mother to him… ew…) is fucked up enough. Now, Azura, on the other hand…
By this point, I think quite a few older Fire Emblem fans are enraged by this weird direction that the series is headed to. Tactical RPG series about fantasy medieval wars… slowly turning into a dating sim with cosplayers. It’s official. We’re in Hell. We’re jerking off to virtual characters and fanfiction levels of shipping, and now we’re in Hell. There’s no turning back. God has abandoned us the very moment that Fire Emblem Fates came into existence! SOMEBODY SAVE US!
Oh, no… wait… what’s that on the horizon? Are those children? Wait, something is not right about them… they’re almost as old as their parents! Wait, they ARE older than their parents! WHAT IS THIS SORCERY! LORDIE SAVE US FROM THESE UNHOLY ABOMINATIONS!
Guess what else is back? Children! Remember the time-traveling children from Awakening? That’s fucking weird! How about babies being thrown into pocket dimensions where time moves much faster and somehow turn up OKAY?!
I’m dead serious. When you get your first S-support pairing, you’re treated to a special cutscene that explains where the babies in Fire Emblem Fates come from! And no, it ain’t storks. Here’s the actual text:
The bond between this pair grew stronger still… a union that soon proved fruitful. The castle that everyone called home was no safe place for infants. Where could newborns be hidden in such dangerous times? The answer was in the Deeprealms—tiny worlds strewn across the astral plane. This solution wasn’t without its complications, however. Time in the Deeprealms passed far more quickly. In the blink of an eye, babies grew into children. Soon after, to adulthood! Parents would deal with this dizzying pace of maturity in their own ways. But they could rest assured that children would be safe…for a time.
..You read that right. In Fire Emblem Fates, married couples conceive a child immediately, no matter how old they are (some like Hayato, Sakura and Elise are probably around 13-14 years of age). Then they throw the little shits into Babyrealms, where time moves much faster and all those poor children grew up without parents for probably 90-95% of their life. And probably very lonely and mentally damaged.
…I…I don’t know any other way on how to RESPOND to this, except…
There is so much ‘what’ and ‘why the fuck’ in this small passage of text. I mean… you decided to have a kid in the middle of war. And lord knows how long pregnancy lasts for every woman in your army, possibly prolonging the war to absurd lengths. Assuming this is partially grounded to reality, this is probably… nine months per pregnancy? So it’s highly possible that the war lasted for YEARS because our horny soldiers can’t keep their dicks and cunts to themselves long enough to know that having a kid around this time is a TERRIBLE IDEA! Then after having said kid, you throw him into a pocket dimension?
Grk…! I have so many questions now!
- Shouldn’t there be a policy for soldiers NOT to literally fuck each other while being on active duty, while they’re sent on missions to cut and stab people? Isn’t there a code of ethics somewhere?
- This bears repeating. If it’s so dangerous to have kids in the middle of war and you can’t take care of them, THEN WHY THE FUCK WOULD YOU HAVE KIDS IN THE MIDDLE OF WAR!?
- These characters would have to think ahead of time when having kids in the first place. What makes them think that the Deeprealms would be safer than the real world? We later see that even the Deeprealms are not safe from being invaded by soldiers and monsters. And time passes faster in these pocket dimensions, meaning it’s highly possible the kid could get killed before the parents could intervene.
- Who the fuck is nursing these kids? The mothers themselves or some wet nurses? None of these kids would’ve survived as babies unless someone nurtured them for the first few years. God forbid these kids learn to hunt and forage at such an early age…
- Some of the kids had caretakers, but not all of them apparently. Why were none of the caretakers trained to fight off enemies in case of an invasion?
- Why do the kids only complain to the fathers about their abandonment issues? Why never the mothers?
- Why were some of the kids able to fight back at all and even surpass their own parents in combat ability? They weren’t trained warriors. This makes no fucking sense.
- In Awakening, we actually get a cutscene of Chrom leaving baby Lucina with some trusted royal servants while he goes off to fight for his country, which is perfectly fine. He had Lucina AFTER his war with Plegia, during a more peaceful time. We can also assume this is what the other first-generation characters did with their newborns as well. It’s also quite plausible that these particular couples have their kids AFTER all the fighting is done. And with the bizarre time travel subplot, we managed to get some battle-ready children from the future. Why does Fates have to rely on such a convoluted way to raise kids?
What the hell were all of these characters smoking? I just don’t see how this would’ve worked out at all! Furthermore, all of the children characters addressed some sort of complaint about neglect, abandonment, and loneliness. But the game never treats these issues as actual problems! The game just handwaves them off as if saying, “There, you got your easy-bake, battle-ready kids! Who cares about how it impacts the story or how it turns every first-generation character into horrible parents? See, these kids are fine! No mental scarring whatsoever! They’re there and ready to kick ass, so just shut up.”
What the hell even happened? This is easily the most contrived and poorly thought out story reason to include children in a Fire Emblem game. In Genealogy of the Holy War, the second-generation characters aged normally without any weird anomalies affecting their growth. There was an actual time skip. In Awakening, there is a time travel plot device set up earlier in the story. It may not be the best way to explain this mechanic, but it’s still somewhat believable because the circumstances fit surprisingly well. The second-generation aged normally… but their older selves from the future traveled to the past to help prevent a disastrous future, which was a major plot point.
Fates had you mucking up the space-time continuum and this somehow has no consequences. Most of the kids turned out alright despite the neglect and long periods of time without their parents. So why include it? Because Awakening did it and it was so popular for it!
…Oh, and also… if Corrin is not married by this point, he can fuck any of the children too. Yes, including little Percy (if Corrin is female). I would just like to throw that out there to up the creepiness factor. If sibling incest isn’t yucky enough for you, you can also bang your siblings’ kids for TWICE the amount of uncomfortable implications… which the story will never address. Nothing like banging your nephews/nieces by name only. Or a good friend’s hot daughter.
Hey, Caeldori, my niece! You look like a certain SOMEONE I know from a different time and place (I made sure Subaki ended up with Hinoka for that, hee hee hee…) How about you and I get a drink?
Hey! Subaki! Buddy! Is your daughter around? We were going to do a “sparring” session tonight…
Holy fuckballs, is this game weird. I haven’t even gotten to the actual story yet and we’re already at sibling incest and Babyrealms. I… I got a headache…
So anyways, let’s wrap things up before we get to the BIG complaints. I’m just getting started here, so let’s sum up the good parts of Fire Emblem Fates. The gameplay mechanics, for the most part, are fantastic. Intelligent Systems managed to pull it off quite well, despite a few hiccups here and there. The graphics? Pretty much the same sprite styles and same character designs as those of Awakening, so they’re alright.
A really nice touch is that during gameplay, your soldiers’ portraits will change expression depending on how much HP they have and who they’re fighting. Your character will smirk if they’re confident they can defeat the enemy soldier, but will frown if they feel they could really get hurt. It’s a minor addition, but it adds more character in my opinion.
The soundtrack? Liked it, though only a few tracks truly stood out to me—which I’ll point out as I go through each individual game.
Oh, and before I forget…
Thanks to whoever suggested and brought Phoenix Mode into Fire Emblem Fates. I didn’t think there would be a more blatant way to insult your audience by including a mode that is even more casual than Casual Mode. Thanks for implying that a portion of your consumers are morons who are so bad at Fire Emblem that they’d need this mode to brute-force their way into every chapter. It’s like saying people want to buy a tactical RPG… without using any tactics to play the game! And also, thanks for implying that your story writing is actually good enough to warrant a mode that lets you ignore much of the actual gameplay to experience more story. Because I most certainly want to throw $80 into a glorified visual novel with bare bones interaction! THANKS!
And now, our feature presentation… the story of Fire Emblem Fates. Be afraid, people.
Prologue and the Branch of Fate
So Intelligent Systems pulled a bold move for the story of Fire Emblem Fates. They hired a prolific mangaka named Shin Kibayishi to direct the story of the game. Aside from manga, he actually did write scripts for television before, including for historical dramas. So what kinda happened was that in the case of Fire Emblem Fates, he came up with a script that’s more suited for a TV series than a video game. That, and the fact that Fates had a writing team of MORE THAN TEN WRITERS, who worked in separate smaller teams to meet the game’s deadline.
So, yeah. This is why the story of Fates is such a trainwreck. The developer hired a man who never worked on a video game before and stuck him in a large team of writers who probably all have clashing ideas on how to execute the story. Fucking wonderful.
So, let’s begin.
Fire Emblem Fates stars the avatar protagonist (default name is Corrin, sex is determined by player) and he/she was having some sort of prophetic dream. For clarity’s sake on this review, I’ll be referring to Corrin as “he” from now on since I used the male variant in my playthroughs.
Corrin was a prince raised in seclusion at the vaguely European, dark kingdom of Nohr. He was locked away in a tower by King Garon, as if Corrin is in a bizarre fairy tale. He is very close to his siblings, who are the crown prince Xander, seductive princess Camilla, genius prince Leo and joyful princess Elise.
And let me tell you… how the Nohrian siblings treat Corrin as this oh-so-wonderful god’s gift who would never hurt a fly… REALLY annoys me. Even Corrin’s servants remark how he is so kind to all living things, and it’s just… all so saccharine. I don’t recall a single Fire Emblem entry that puts so much praise into a protagonist, especially one who hadn’t even done anything yet.
We got Elise playing favorites by saying:
“Yaaay! I’m glad to hear that. Spending time with my brother (Corrin) makes me so happy!”
“I love you so much! I love you more than anything in the whole, wide world!”
…Which sends a message to her other siblings, “I don’t love you as much.”
Also, Xander told Corrin:
“You could be the one to bring light to our kingdom so long shrouded in darkness.”
Okay. Not only is that a painfully clichéd line, but why is Xander telling this to someone who doesn’t know how the world works and has little to no experience in real warfare?
I’ll tell you why. Because the story of Fire Emblem Fates as a whole panders to your avatar character as this super special person who is one of the most important elements to the war between Nohr and Hoshido. In other words, Corrin is a Mary Sue. I know! I KNOW! ‘Mary Sue’ is an overused term, but bear with me. I’ll explain why Corrin meets the criteria in due time.
So anyways, the tyrannical ruler of Nohr, King Garon, decided to let Corrin out and allow him to participate in the war between Nohr and Hoshido. Corrin must follow Garon’s orders to a tee, or else face execution. And that includes coercing Corrin to kill some Hoshidan troops without warning.
Furthermore, Garon has this tendency to laugh evilly. He sits on an evil-looking throne, in the sinister Castle Krakenburg (no, seriously, that is the name of the castle). He gifts Corrin an evil-looking sword called Ganglari. He sent a war criminal (Hans) to assist Corrin to capture a supposedly abandoned fort in neutral territory. Also, his two henchmen Iago and Hans are evil-looking as well.
All these things should’ve sent many warning messages to Corrin’s head, since he never really interacted with his father before. But nope. Corrin’s siblings insisted he follows Garon’s orders simply because daddy says so.
…We barely started the game and it has gotten dumb already. But this is just the beginning, people.
So Corrin gets involved in an accident where he fell into a sinister area known as the Bottomless Canyon. One of his servants, Lilith, changed from human form to a dragon form to save his life. Lilith took Corrin to an otherworldly realm known as the astral plane—where you will run your base of operations (My Castle) for the rest of the game. Basically, this realm is some sort of pocket dimension created by deities known as the First Dragons, where time and space operate differently.
First, there’s time travel in Fire Emblem Awakening. As out of place as it was in the Fire Emblem series, it served a major purpose in that game’s story. Now we’re traveling across dimensions? Since when did Fire Emblem turn into fucking Star Trek?
So Lilith returned Corrin back to the real world, where he was captured by Hoshidans. Corrin then meets the Hoshidan royalty: crown prince Ryoma, tomboyish princess Hinoka, moody prince Takumi and shy princess Sakura. We learned that these siblings were apparently the real siblings of Corrin, and that King Garon kidnapped him when he was a little child. And Corrin gets to meet his biological mother: Mikoto, the queen of the distinctly Japanese kingdom of Hoshido—even though Corrin has no resemblance to her at all, due to the nature of character creation. And the pointy ears. Corrin has pointy ears like an elf.
Corrin also meets Azura, a princess of Nohr who was kidnapped by Hoshidan spies and had since lived a peaceful life at Hoshido. The two felt a unique kinship to one another for some odd reason. Okay then…
For a while, it seems the Hoshidan royalty enjoys Corrin’s return (except Takumi, because #BlameTakumi lol). And just like with the Nohrian siblings, the Hoshidan siblings treat Corrin as this ultimate cinnamon bun who must be protected at all costs. Except Takumi, because he (rightfully) suspects Corrin as a possible Nohrian spy.
Ugh… and Corrin’s naivety can get grating. The Hoshidans despise the Nohrians, often referring to them as “Nohrian scum!” And yet Corrin doesn’t understand why. It’s incredibly obvious from the get-go that Nohr had a lot of questionable characters running the kingdom, including an obviously evil king and his evil henchmen. Not to mention the two kingdoms are in a WAR with each other. Furthermore, monsters known as Faceless attack Hoshido regularly. The Faceless were created by Nohrian mages, and Corrin responded with this:
“But… the Nohrians wouldn’t send monsters to terrorize innocent people…”
…Yeah, He said that after witnessing firsthand how King Garon ordered him to mercilessly execute some Hoshidan soldiers. Or how Garon’s henchman Hans murdered some Hoshidans and even a Nohrian knight (Gunter) without warning. Yeah, clearly Nohrians wouldn’t do such terrible things!
Even Eirika from The Sacred Stones isn’t this dumb! She was also a princess who lived a sheltered life, but she knew who was dangerous and not to be trusted… except… well, you know…
So right out of nowhere, some shadowy figure attacks the capital city and murders Queen Mikoto. This saddens and angers Corrin, who suddenly turned into a dragon—which, by the way, the story doesn’t bother explaining its existence 95% of the time.. Azura manages to revert him back using a magical song and a dragonstone. After the battle, things take a hard left turn. Eventually, the Hoshidan and Nohrian siblings come into conflict. The Nohrian siblings, still seeing Corrin as family, want him back. But the Hoshidan siblings want to keep Corrin with his true family. So Corrin must make the decision on who to side with.
Cue dramatic frame.
Depending on this one choice called the Branch of Fate, you’re basically picking which game you want to play. This is the one scene that is showcased the most in the game’s commercials. Do you want to side with Hoshido (Birthright), Nohr (Conquest) or neither (Revelation)? And no matter which side you pick, some people are going to be pissed. And the war will escalate from there, because both royalties really want Corrin with them.
So in other words, Corrin’s existence makes everything worse. And our poor special snowflake protagonist has it so bad that we must absolutely sympathize with his plight. Well, gee golly gosh. I’m sure there are some poverty-stricken citizens in Nohr that could use some support by now. But nope! Poor Corrin is always going to have it worse. Because he’s the Bella Swan in Fire Emblem Fates. YES, I FUCKING SAID IT. I’LL TAKE ALL OF YOU BITCHES ON! BRING IT!
Well, let’s go pick a side now. How should we do this? Hmm…
From cslucaris at Tumblr
Hmm… cute sibling waifus or sexy sibling waifus? How about… BOTH!
If you’re lost by this point, don’t worry. These first few chapters of Fire Emblem Fates are packed with random bits of exposition that we don’t know if it matters or not. And so much stuff happens in these chapters that it’s easy to forget the small details. And of course, the Corrin shilling. It gets old pretty quickly.
So, here’s what I’m understanding so far from Corrin’s perspective. “You mean to tell me a kingdom ruled by a ruthless king who hires former war criminals as officers might be BAD? Perish the thought! And even though Hoshido kidnapped Azura like Nohr kidnapped me, Hoshido is still GOOD! And I’m the Chosen One destined to save the world with the legendary blade Yato, which is somehow the key to world peace! And also, I’m the only royalty who can turn into a dragon… for some reason…”
Wow, Corrin. You’re the luckiest little shit in the world. No, I’m serious. You hit the fucking jackpot in the gene pool. You’re a prince with beautiful maids and a handsome butler looking after you, so you’ll never know poverty firsthand. You’re apparently SO KIND that almost everyone likes you, except the cartoonishly evil people. You have a total of NINE SIBLINGS from different kingdoms who care about you. You had a very loving mother. You can somehow command an army and fight really well in battles, despite being a total rookie on the battlefield. You can turn into a big dragon to scare your enemies off. And furthermore, you get an overpowered legendary sword that is said to be the key to world peace. And that won’t even be the end to your fortunes!
These are just the first few chapters, and there are already problems. Fates REALLY wants you to know that Corrin is so lovably kind that it somehow makes him a natural leader and fighter who excels in everything… but also makes him a complete dumbass at times. Even Xander warned him earlier…
“Mark my words, Corrin… One day an act of kindness may be the death of you.”
And we would all celebrate that fateful day because we’re sick of your shit, Corrin.
Anyways, time to shift focus on each individual entry of Fire Emblem Fates. Now we’re really digging into some shit.
Fire Emblem Fates: Birthright is a game geared towards new/casual players, which features a level grinding system (using the Scout command on the world map). In this timeline, Corrin decided to side with Hoshido, therefore betraying the family that raised him for most of his life. The Nohrian siblings lose their fucking mind and will do whatever it takes to get their sweet little prince back.
Good job, asshole.
Honestly, Birthright is quite an easy game, even if you don’t spend your time grinding for levels. If you know how the weapon triangle works and how you can use unit placement to your advantage, you can pave through most of this game with no trouble. The enemy level curve, for the most part, is steady enough that you can pretty much level up any of your units with little problems. But if you’re not quite that good in Fire Emblem or you just want to grind for support conversations, then Birthright is a good place to start.
This game also features Dragon Veins the least number of times, most of them not doing anything real impressive. You have some that directly damage the enemy, create heal tiles on the ground, change the ground to be easier to walk on, etc. It wasn’t until towards the end of the game where they can seriously hurt YOU instead.
The Hoshidan classes and weaponry are quite interesting to say the least. You have Ninjas who throw shuriken and are lethal against mages, Oni Savages who are like a repurposed Fighter class to be more tanky against mages, Spear Fighters who put up a good offense and defense, and Kitsune who are good against mages and cavalry. There are more classes that resemble older classes in the series: Samurai are basically repurposed Myrmidons, Diviners are repurposed Mages, Sky Knights are repurposed Pegasus Knights, etc.
However, there are certainly some unique promotions. The Oni Chieftain can wield axes and tomes, the Basara can wield lances and tomes, the Priestess can wield staves and bows, and Kinshi Knights can wield lances and bows… while having extremely high mobility.
Some of the Hoshidan weapons best operate as defensive weapons during Enemy Phases. Some unique ones include the Kodachi (throwing sword), any Venge weapon that deal powerful attacks during Enemy Phases, specialized weapons such as the Axe Splitter that do extra damage against a weapon that it has an advantage over in the weapon triangle, magic scrolls that all grant extra stats during battle, etc. In other words, staging counterattacks is easy with Hoshidans. Also, Hoshidans have the better healing tools called rods (or “festals”). Compared to Nohrian staves, rods are less potent but have an extended range of two tiles away instead of one. This makes it easier for your healers to stay out of range of enemy attacks.
Birthright’s soundtrack is… okay, I guess. The map themes sounds like calm traditional Japanese music, which sometimes don’t really fit with the violent tone of stabbing Nohrian soldiers. The battle variations do add a bit more excitement though. My favorite theme of the bunch is “Justice RIP,” with its melancholy tone.
The Hoshidan characters are okay, I guess. My favorites include Kaze, Takumi, Sakura, Saizo, Oboro and Selkie. There are two common themes with the Hoshidan characters: they’re either stiff and no-nonsense or they’re total jerks, with few exceptions.
But some of the support conversations rub me the wrong way, usually in an uncomfortable fashion. Hana calls Corrin out for something that’s not even his fault. Orochi has a habit of collecting gossip and blackmailing men whose dirty secrets she knows and can be both sadistic and spiteful. Azama is so far up his own ass that he talks to almost EVERYONE with disrespect (like how he harassed poor Sakura), just because he’s a monk—also, he’s more capable in manipulation than Orochi.
But there are some good characters that had those traits I mentioned. Saizo the Fifth is both a stiff and a jerk, but he also had a rough childhood and he’s one of Hoshido’s top officers who takes his duty VERY SERIOUSLY. He is short-tempered as well and has no patience for whatever he deems as incompetence or cowardice, but he does feel remorseful about his behavior later on. He’s also a good foil to his more gentlemanly brother Kaze, and their support is one of the few where Saizo is a little more vulnerable and personal.
However, some of the Hoshidan children bug me. Remember when I said that the children mechanic was brought back into Fates because Awakening did it? Well, THREE of the eight Hoshido-exclusive children are blatant Expys of Awakening characters!
- Caeldori – basically Cordelia without the interesting character flaws and emotional baggage of survivor’s guilt, making her even more of a Mary Sue and a Goodie Two Shoes. In other words, BORING.
- Asugi – Gaius, but even more obsessed with sweets to the point of easily discerning dessert recipes from just tasting them
- Rhajat – Tharja, but even more open with her stalker tendencies and behaves cartoonishly “evil” at times
Yes, I know Awakening is popular and all, but let’s NOT take the Pokémon route and reference past games at every possible opportunity. Let’s NOT flanderize existing character traits to make them more cartoonish. Okay? Please?
But yeah… everything about Birthright is just… okay. Passable. Even the story, which is the least bad from Fates. Our supposed pièce de résistance, frequently showcased and whored around by this game’s PR and commercialism, and it’s only okay in Birthright.
So after Corrin chose to side with Hoshido, Prince Xander doesn’t take the news too well and swears to bring Corrin back with him (by force if neccesary). Corrin tries to convince Xander that his father Garon is evil and must be overthrown, but Xander is not having any of his shit. So, the war escalates and the Nohrian siblings become your main enemies in Birthright. Corrin helps the Hoshidan army take the fight back to Nohr to eventually take down King Garon.
While Birthright has a straightforward story, it’s formulaic, riddled with clichés and feels like it goes by too fast. There’s really nothing interesting about Hoshido’s setting. It’s a beautiful and prosperous kingdom clearly inspired by medieval Japan, but the game barely does anything to develop this setting. It’s so… boring.
If there is any message to be interpreted from Hoshido’s subtext, it’s probably: NIPPON ISU NAMUBURU WAN! Seriously, Fates has a blatant tendency to describe Hoshido as this flawless, peerless kingdom and Nohr as this evil, dark kingdom of corruption and power!
Also be prepared to read “Nohrian scum!” a dozen times.
There’s really not much world-building either. There are multiple neutral kingdoms standing between Hoshido and Nohr, but most of them don’t stand out. Places like the Wind Tribe Village, Izumo, Mokushu, Nestra and Cheve don’t really have much more description beyond what you’re shown. It all just feels lifeless and empty.
Birthright’s individual story events consist of uninteresting subplots that end in one or two chapters. Though Corrin does develop into a leader and comes to care about his Hoshidan allies, we already know the real brains behind Hoshido is his elder brother Ryoma. Corrin just feels like an afterthought despite being the main character and he was just given credit constantly.
One highlight of both Birthright and Conquest is Azura performing at the city of Cyrkensia, where she sings an enchanted song with a dance number in an attempt to attack King Garon. It was actually one of the better done cutscenes of the game, where Azura shows off her dance choreography and water manipulation. But Garon’s reaction is…
Oh gods, all that water… I knew I should’ve stopped by the bathroom!
And the funny part about this is that… I don’t remember weird subtitles like these during previous cutscenes! It just feels so awkward that it actually makes the scene hilarious.
The twists and turns that occur in the story are outright predictable, as if they’re just following a formula. Heroic sacrifices? Got those. Betrayals? Got those. Conflict with the Nohrian siblings leading to misunderstandings? Of course we got those! Why wouldn’t we?!
The problem is that these small conflicts feel cheap and unearned. They just come and go at the plot’s convenience. It’s like Birthright’s story wasn’t told with any sort of passion on behalf of the writers. It feels like it’s just meeting guidelines based on what already sells.
- What the hell happened with Gunter?
- Well, we’re just going to assume he’s dead after Hans knocked him off that bridge.
- Why is a religious leader like Izana so casual and is pretty much a party boy?
- He’s just there for the lolz!
- How much background do we get from one of the villains, Kotaro of Mokushu, the man who murdered the father of Saizo and Kaze?
- ONE CHAPTER!
- Why does a dragon god disguise himself as a generic-looking old man calling himself the Rainbow Sage and wait on top of a mountain fort?
- Who cares! Let’s go play a gimmicky, boring map to acquire a plot device!
- Why was Prince Takumi possessed by a malevolent spirit in Mokushu?
- We’ll never explain it in Birthright! Go get Revelation!
- Why does Lilith have almost zero presence in the story?
- I dunno! Go buy our DLC if you want more of her! Otherwise, we decided to just kill her off in both Birthright and Conquest for a deus ex machina scene. LOL!
- When Flora committed suicide to “redeem” herself for betraying Corrin, how was she able to set herself on fire if she was from the ICE TRIBE?
- Fuck if I know. One character even called it “enchanted fire.” Certainly made her death scene less sad because of this contradiction.
- Why wasn’t Zola a playable character despite him temporarily allying with Hoshidans?
- Why, to set up an obvious plot twist for his betrayal! That’s actually a big missed opportunity: reforming an antagonist into a close ally. Fire Emblem did it before and it certainly could’ve done the same here.
- Why is there a fort literally built inside a dragon carcass that is still somehow alive, complete with active stomach acid pools?
- We’ll never explain!
- What the hell was that fever that Takumi caught in one chapter? Why can it only be cured with a specific rare plant without noticeable side effects that affect him for the rest of the story?
- We don’t need to explain ourselves! Did you feel bad for Takumi? If so, we got you! HA HA!
- Where did Leo get that one crystal that warps everyone to the Rainbow Sage’s domain?
- Plot convenience!
- Why didn’t Leo tell Camilla and Xander about what he learned so that they would stand down?
- LAWL I DUNNO!
But here is what pisses me off. Fates in general does involve some casualties, but these scripted deaths just seem to exist to feed into Corrin’s wangst more than anything. Birthright was TERRIBLE with Kaze’s sacrifice in Chapter 15. If he and Corrin don’t reach A-support before this chapter, Kaze dies for good. The shitty thing is that this death does not affect the rest of the story, making it feel entirely pointless. It’s also bad game design because there’s no way you could’ve known this event would occur unless you experience it for yourself. It’s just a beginner’s trap that forces you to start the chapter all over.
I actually did like Kaze as a character and I found him useful as a unit, so I was pissed that the game cheaply took away a character that I spent so much time leveling up. Fuck that shit.
Furthermore, the Nohrian siblings are morons in Birthright. They forgot that their father separated Corrin from them and forced him to live in a tower for most of his life. They don’t take into account that Garon’s enchanted sword he gifted to Corrin nearly claimed their brother’s life. And they don’t believe him when he said that King Garon is evil, despite Garon showing excessively cruel behavior thus far in the story. However, their motivations become confused when they try to justify the war.
The kingdom of Nohr is in a pitiful state and has seen better days. So the Nohrian siblings had to do whatever it takes to claim Hoshido, which has plenty of resources they can use to restore Nohr to its former glory. This is a fine motivation to justify their actions and those of the Nohrian army, and it can easily carry a whole story. What’s NOT fine is that it tangles up with the siblings’ desire to bring Corrin back with them and they follow the will of a corrupt king (even if that king is their father). And that corrupt king wants Corrin dead.
Eventually, Prince Leo was convinced that King Garon was evil after Azura shows him a crystal image depicting Garon’s true form. Where did she get this crystal exactly? Never explained! More plot convenience! So Leo does eventually defect from the Nohrian army to uproot its corrupt officers and to occasionally help Corrin.
The group later encounters the Rainbow Sage, who gifted Corrin the Seal of Flames to his Yato blade. If the Yato comes into contact with other legendary weapons, it would strengthen and eventually become the Fire Emblem. Only this power is strong enough for Corrin to smite whatever evil he’s prophesied to fight. Blah blah blah.
So after a series of events with some odd plot choices, Corrin’s army killed off two major Nohrian officers: Hans and Iago. Lilith dies… for no reason. Princess Elise sacrificed herself in a heartfelt plea to stop Corrin and Xander from fighting. Prince Xander dies in battle soon after.
So Corrin’s group confronts King Garon, and he is laughably EVIL as you would expect. He views his children as nothing more than pawns and doesn’t even care that Xander and Elise are dead.
So there was a brief skirmish and Garon suddenly turns into a dragon… just right the fuck out of nowhere! But it seems like we gotta force in a big, scary dragon as the final boss anyway, just like with every other Fire Emblem game. And we get one of the most ridiculously unfair setups for a final boss in the series.
Don’t you just love a big, empty field with promoted enemy troops scattered everywhere?
Through the power of bullshi—I mean friendship, Corrin receives power from Ryoma’s Raijinto and becomes the Super Friendship Sword of Prophecy or whatever the fuck it is now. The group kills Garon. Azura, having used some sort of forbidden song that drains her life, dies. The war ends. Ryoma becomes king of Hoshido. Leo becomes king of Nohr. Cue credits.
Wow. This is boring.
Well, okay. Birthright has its highs and lows (mostly lows) in the story, but it relies too much on plot convenience and filler to get anywhere. It’s a rather blasé and forgettable story. There are a lot of boring parts and the world-building is lackluster. Most of the Hoshidan siblings, aside from Takumi, don’t experience any character development outside of support conversations. Corrin may be at his most confident self in Birthright out of the three games, but it doesn’t excuse how his presence in the story undermines some of the potentially strong scenes this game could have fleshed out.
At the very least, the plot is a consistent tale of good vs. evil. I’d say the story is at least passable, if not predictable as hell. If this was the only game for Fates and it had more polish, I think it would have been at least a decent story. But as it sits now, Birthright is an inoffensively boring, safe and flawed Fire Emblem tale.
Fire Emblem Fates: Conquest is a game geared towards Fire Emblem veterans who had played older games in the series. Unlike Birthright, there is no level grinding system (unless you purchased the Boo Camp and Ghostly Gold DLC). In this timeline, Corrin decided to side with Nohr, therefore abandoning his “real” family. This time, the Hoshidan siblings lose their shit (especially Takumi, who really wants Corrin dead). And furthermore, Corrin has to go be a pawn to his prick father, King Garon.
Good job, asshole.
Unlike Birthright, Conquest is actually quite a tough game. Out of the three entries of Fire Emblem Fates, Conquest is the hardest game. Part of it was because you can’t level grind normally, meaning you have to read out the situation better in order to make sure your units survive and they get adequate experience points. So of course, you really need to read into the weapon triangle, statistic advantages, map placement and especially the Dragon Veins. Get ready for a rude awakening at Chapter 10, because that’s when the difficulty spike begins…
Conquest also makes the most creative usage of the Dragon Vein mechanic (mostly environmental changes), to the point where they’re pretty much required to clear chapters without casualties. In chapter 8, you can melt a frozen lake to stop enemies from moving across it. In chapter 12, you can break pots with magical effects to weaken enemies and lure them to your soldiers. In chapter 15, you can create replicas of your soldiers. In chapter 20, you can control air currents.
There is also a larger variety of chapter objectives aside from “rout the enemy” and “defeat the boss” that plagued Birthright. They can include defending specific map tiles from enemies, move under a time limit, have all of your soldiers escape a map filled with constantly respawning enemies, etc. But because of this experimental nature of Conquest, you’ll either love the new chapter gimmicks or get tired of them real quick. But in pretty much any chapter where a Hoshidan sibling is a boss and they’re close to Dragon Veins, prepare for chaos…
As a result, Conquest has the most gameplay depth in Fire Emblem Fates. While it does have some well thought out maps, the endgame is a challenge for masochists. High-leveled promoted soldiers, inconvenient terrain that places your army at a tactical disadvantage from the beginning, splitting up your army into separate groups, you name it. It ends up feeling unbalanced towards the end, making your enemies too powerful to effectively manage your time during gameplay. It’s almost like Intelligent Systems purposely made it that hard so you would buy the DLC maps for level grinding and money grinding.
But hey! At least these tough maps have my favorite map theme in all of Fire Emblem Fates, called “A Dark Fall.” Its intensity truly represents the tribulations and multiple heart attacks you will face in Conquest’s endgame.
And speaking of which, Conquest’s soundtrack is probably the best out of the three games. The map themes are generally more catchy like “Dusk Falls” and “Dark Wastes.” Oddly enough, “Dark Wastes” sounded more Japanese than European though…
While I wouldn’t say Conquest plays like a classic Fire Emblem game due to the many gameplay changes in Fates, it’s certainly challenging and can even be frustrating at times.
The Nohrian classes and weaponry closely resemble those of classic Fire Emblem games, though there are still some differences. The Outlaw class resembles the Thief class in past games, but they’re equipped with a bow instead of a sword—most likely because the Archer class is exclusive to Hoshido in Fates. While Hoshidans use pegasi and kinshi as mounts, Nohrians have horses and wyverns. If you had played Awakening, you’ll recognize most of these classes right away. The actual class names are pretty much the same, with the exception of Strategist (which is just a renamed Valkyrie class).
However, there are some new unique classes. The Butler and the Maid are the counterparts to the Hoshidan ninjas, being able to use shuriken, throwing knifes, and staves. While they don’t seem impressive, they’re specialized in killing mages and can heal your soldiers. Ironically, this is a class promotion for Troubadours, meaning Felicia, Jakob and Flora are all pre-promoted units with low base stats. Well, that bites…
The Wolfskin class is unique to Keaton and Velouria, serving as a counterpart to Hoshidan Kitsune. Like its counterpart, Wolfskin excels in killing mounted units and other beasts. The difference is that the Wolfskin command more physical bulk rather than having high Resistance.
And finally, the Malig Knight, a possible promotion for Wyvern Riders. This class uses both axes and tomes, making them a jack-of-trades of sorts. While they still excel in high Strength, they’re not as bulky as Wyvern Lords and their Magic stat isn’t especially impressive.
The Nohrian weapon selection is also quite familiar to past Fire Emblem games. Aside from the conventional weaponry, you also have the Javelin (throwing spear), Hand Axe (throwing axes), Levin Sword (ranged magic sword), Killer weapons (extra damage on critical hits) and counter weapons that specialize in killing beasts. I personally find these weapons more useful than Hoshidan weapons since Nohrian weapons cover more bases.
WHAT THE FUCK! OWAIN, WHAT ARE YOU DOING HERE!?
So… um… on the subject of Nohrian characters…
Overall, I liked the Nohrian cast better than the Hoshidan cast. As I mentioned, the Hoshidan characters had two common themes: they’re either stoic or just plain rude. However, the Nohrian characters have more colorful personalities to them, which is actually quite refreshing after playing through Birthright.
But yes, there’s even MORE Awakening pandering here. Goddamnit, Intelligent Systems. Can you stop using Awakening as your crutch for future Fire Emblem titles? And while you’re at it, stop using Fates as a crutch too!
Despite my complaints about that, it’s nice seeing Owain, Severa and Inigo again. And yes, it’s really them, not just carbon copies like with the Hoshidan children. But this time, they’re actually more involved in the story than being just optional characters in Awakening. Well… marginally more involved. They’re just retainers to the Nohrian siblings (ironically, Owain is an Ylissean prince serving another kingdom’s prince).
But for some reason… they’re a little different. For one thing, they took on different names: Odin, Selena and Laslow. And Odin is a Dark Mage instead of a Myrmidon. What the hell happened?
The stupid thing about their inclusion in Fates, though, is that it was never explained in the main story on WHY they’re at Nohr, which baffles me. Instead, their backstory on that is locked behind DLC, which is bullshit.
So…what happened is that the dragon god Anankos actually traveled across time and space to enter Ylisse. There, he recruited Owain, Severa and Inigo so that they may become retainers to his child, Corrin. However, Anankos never called Corrin by name so the three soldiers only know to go to Nohr. After a weird series of events at the kingdom of Valla, the three soldiers took on different appearances and names, then traveled to Nohr to become retainers to Nohrian royalty. Anankos did all this because he knew he would eventually lose his sanity and throw the world into chaos… leading to his role as the game’s final boss.
That’s fine and dandy and all, but… here’s my question. Why is the world of Fates separate from the world of Awakening? In a different DLC, Hoshido and Nohr are clarified to be fictional, mythical kingdoms according to Ylisse. Why can’t Hoshido and Nohr just be distant countries from Ylisse? Why do we need this time-space travel bullshit to add more plot holes to future Fire Emblem games?
There was no problem with Marth and Alm being alive around the same time period. Marth is from Archanea. Alm is from Valentia, which is across from Archanea. They each had their own wars to fight and they never interacted with each other. Furthermore, it was even implied that the continent of Tellius exists in the same world, which is why Priam (Ike’s descendant) was at Ylisse, the future version of Archanea. That’s fine.
So why can’t we have the same explanation with Ylisse, Hoshido and Nohr? Because it’s not cool enough? Or do the writers at Intelligent Systems really think it’s necessary to create multiple universes with all Fire Emblem titles and turn it into a giant clusterfuck of nonsense? You know, like with what happened with the Pokémon series.
OH WAIT! They did that already! It’s called Fire Emblem Heroes!
…Ugh, furthermore, the Hidden Truths DLC adds another plot hole to Fates. Why didn’t Odin, Selena and Inigo mention anything about Anankos and Valla in the main story of Fates? Was it because they knew about the “bubble curse” or did they just conveniently left it out to suit the plot of Fates? The fact that they never even acknowledged Anankos and Valla at any point in the main story only shows how incompetent the writing staff for this game is.
Oh, and also… because these characters barely have any presence in the story of Fates, their playable appearances here just feel like a waste. By the end of the day, it’s just more needless Awakening pandering.
Going further down the Nohrian cast, there are quite a few characters I liked. Arthur is an entertaining and affable character, despite being a clear stereotype of American ’50s comic book superheroes. You know, with corny lines like, “Stand down, villain! Justice is here!”
However, the difference here is that Arthur is cursed by horrendously bad luck, meaning he encounters disaster through almost every waking moment of his life. Despite that, Arthur remains an optimist, will do whatever it takes to make people happy and doesn’t let failure bring him down. This character flaw does a wonderful job in emphasizing his selfless personality, making him an icon of a true hero.
Fuck Corrin! Arthur is the true MVP of Nohr! For JUST-IIIIIICE!
I also liked Xander (when he’s not having his idiot moments), Leo, Elise, Niles, Nyx, and Benny. To me, they’re all distinct personalities with some fascinating backstories with some good arguments on their core beliefs. Xander himself could easily become one of the best written characters of Fates, had he been handled better by the writing staff. He’s the crown prince of a kingdom full of poverty and illness, but he cares deeply about his country and wants to restore it to its former glory. As a result, he has to face pressure in succeeding the throne and help rebuild Nohr. He’s also clearly a family man, putting the well-being of his siblings before himself.
When you read through Xander’s support conversations, he can actually be a pretty well-written character. His support with Nyx is so well done that you could’ve sworn you’re playing a different Fire Emblem game. Unfortunately, Conquest’s main story doesn’t treat him much better than Birthright did. The following video by YouTuber Ghast does a great job in explaining this weird anomaly.
Tch. Makes me wonder if “Story Xander” went on to become a minor character in Fire Emblem Heroes, where he served and sympathized with a warmongering, edgelord princess who is trying to destroy another kingdom for no real reason. Because THAT Xander was certainly a hypocritical lout too, in a different way.
While there are plenty of characters I liked from Nohr, there were also some blemishes for me. One of them being localized Effie.
Oh god, Effie… what had Treehouse done to you…?
Oh god… OH GOD!
Normally, I’m not one to complain about localization. I know that it’s necessary whenever a Japanese game will export to other parts of the world. But this change baffles me! This is an example of a decent character ruined by localization.
The original Effie in the Japanese script is a shy but a gentle and caring girl who is motivated to become physically stronger in order to protect her allies. Yes, she was still pretty damn strong but the original script draws more attention to her demure and loyal nature. The fact that she’s demure but manages to be a strong ally just comes to show how dedicated she is to her job, which is admirable.
Localized Effie is a flanderization of the physical strength trait. As a result, she’s a musclehead obsessed with bodybuilding, extreme workouts (even during missions, which make it more likely for her to get killed) and how much protein she eats (how the fuck does this fantasy world know about the sciences of nutrients anyway?) She also eats like a pig for “recovery” and is only obsessed with protecting her best friend and her liege Elise. She still shows a bit of shyness, but not to the same degree as her Japanese counterpart. It’s like whoever wrote this version of Effie has little understanding of how bodybuilding works, because eating a whole feast for a meal on a regular basis could kill a person. Not to mention the muscle soreness that follows from LITERALLY BENCH-PRESSING TREE TRUNKS!
This comic… explains it well…
From ge-b (@MightyKow on Twitter)
Why did Treehouse make this change? To get more cheap laughs and memes out of it? It doesn’t even make any sense for this kind of character! Sorry, but I’m going to be a little pervy here to prove a point. One time, I accidentally found out that you can strip characters down to their underwear at the Accessories Shop in My Castle. Because localized Effie talks so much about how STRONK she is and how BIG her muscles are, I’m going to see if that’s true.
Apparently, this is what a person who bench-presses tree trunks look like. A petite girl even smaller than Selena with no visible muscle mass.
I don’t mind Effie being a strong woman. The Fire Emblem series had a lot of strong women who showed more masculine traits than feminine, but they didn’t need to have an exaggerated masculine voice or brag about their muscles to prove how strong they are. It’s a little thing called subtlety. In fact, Awakening had a very strong woman who is quite in touch with her femininity. That would be wyvern rider Cherche, who was previously a cleric who managed to beat a dangerous baby wyvern into submission. And it became her closest partner. She enjoys some traditional housework, but she also had a fit body and has one mean axe swing. People knew better not to fuck with Cherche, because she knows how to chop them in half. And she would feed them to her wyvern.
As much as we’d like to believe that people of any size and shape can possess immense strength, the truth is that the world’s strongest people are going to be totally ripped. To say a petite and shapely person can be just as strong as a muscular giant is absurd. When you get physically stronger, you’re going to look stronger too. Seriously, look at some female bodybuilders in real life.
In other words… this localization change is inconsistent with the character and makes no sense. You can’t write someone obsessed with building a powerful body, but not even give her a powerful body. It doesn’t work that way.
Oh, and here’s another character. Peri. UGGGGGGGGH.
I hate this character. I hate her stupid multi-colored hair, her stupid childishness and her stupid murder fetish. This evil little imp known as Peri is one of Prince Xander’s retainers. In short, she’s a poor man’s version of Harley Quinn from the Batman franchise.
Aside from being a little, bratty bitch, Peri is notorious for being a serial killer who enjoys murdering people for the fun of it. And somehow, we’re supposed to like her. Why in hell’s name would Xander, a crown prince and a moral compass who looks after his own people’s well-being, hire this criminal psychopath as his retainer? This is the same man who doesn’t like both Hans and Iago for their criminal behaviors. It makes one of the best characters in the game look like an idiot! In fact, one of Xander’s worst supports is with Peri! They can even reach S-support together! This murderous fiend has the potential of becoming a goddamned queen!
Peri also attempted to murder Felicia in another set of support conversations, and Felicia didn’t really do anything wrong besides her clumsy tendencies. And for some odd reason, no one did anything to prevent this from happening. Felicia was just lucky that she’s an artful dodger.
Is this really supposed to be some sort of waifu material? Peri’s terrible! I don’t care if she has a tragic backstory. It means nothing if she learns nothing from her supports! In the majority of her supports, Peri learns very little about the consequences from her own actions and still continues to be this childish murderer throughout the whole game. Whenever someone called her out for her morally wrong actions, she either cries like a bratty bitch, blames the other party for upsetting her, makes more demands like a spoiled child, or a combination of all of them! She massacres her own servants, just for fun.
This evil woman-child has no place in the Nohrian cast. When compared to Camilla, even Camilla doesn’t show this level of mental illness. Beruka? Beruka is an assassin looking to make ends meet, but she’s not a bloodthirsty maniac. Niles? Sure, he’s shady as fuck and a sadist, but he is also an honorable thief. You can make the excuse that Peri is hanging out with a group of people with a skewed sense of morality, but that’s not exactly the case.
Quite a few of the Nohrian cast has morality and some restrictions on killing people. In fact, most of her Nohrian allies opposed her senseless killing habits and called her out for them. But due to a bunch of bullshit in Peri’s supports, these allies become more tolerant of Peri’s behavior and excuses her crimes against humanity. Peri never had to suffer any consequences for all her wrongdoings. She was never arrested or put on trial. She didn’t even get a slap on the wrist. Even in her standard ending, she was given an officer position in the Nohrian army, which is complete bullshit.
Peri should have been an antagonist, not a playable character we’re expected to sympathize with. If the supports had been harsher to her wrongdoings and if she actually feels remorse for the people she had slain, she would have been a much more compelling character. Otherwise, she doesn’t belong in this game.
And also, I’m quite indifferent to the Nohrian children. And… let’s say Fire Emblem Fates took a noticeably more “progressive” approach with some of its characters, particularly the Nohrian children.
As you may have noticed, Fire Emblem Fates introduced the first marriageable bisexual characters to the series. For Hoshido, that would be Rhajat. And for Nohr, Niles. Their character writing, though… is dubious at best.
Rhajat is a flanderized Tharja who is even more of a stalker and possesses less interesting traits. Though bisexual to some degree, she only shows interest in female Corrin. Moving on…
Niles deliberately tries to keep people away from him with his silver tongue and double entendre, and only opens up to people with a compassionate heart and those who experienced hardships. He also gets his thrills by toying with people and getting under their skin. Oh, and also even risk getting beaten just for the excitement of it. While I do like his character whenever he’s a foil, he’s definitely not a good person and probably not among the first people you’d consider romancing. Also, the only male option he’s interested in is Corrin.
And this takes us to the Nohrian children.
First up is Forrest, son of Leo. And yes, this pretty, dainty person is male. A trap. Forrest continues this trend of “long-haired blonde pretty boys” in the Fire Emblem series, such as the likes of Lucius and Libra. The most noticeable trait about Forrest is that he’s a transvestite. But in terms of his sexuality, he acknowledges that he’s a heterosexual male.
He dresses in feminine clothes because he loves feminine fashion. He’s also talented at sewing and is an artist at heart. He’s also perceptive, well-spoken, polite, kind and tolerant. And honestly, I actually like this character. Even if it’s a bit unorthodox, he pursues his passion regardless of what other people think of him. That’s a truly admirable quality. As far as progressive characters in Fire Emblem Fates go, he’s easily the most pleasant one. I can definitely see myself being friends with this guy in real life.
Next up is Nina, daughter of Niles. Uggggh. This girl is so obnoxious.
At first glance, she’s like a female Robin Hood who robs from the unethically rich to give to the poor. She’s also very shy around men, but otherwise outgoing. Standard stuff.
But then, it’s revealed that she’s a yaoi fangirl. And I’m not talking about writing yaoi fanfics or anything. She SHIPS real-life men in her head together like a total creeper—she literally says she’d rather manipulate real people in order to fulfill her fantasies. Oh my god…
Let me go over this again. Reading yaoi romance? Harmless.
Writing yaoi romance? Harmless.
Stalking two men and observing them for a long time, then trying to force them to be a romantic couple through underhanded means, just to fulfill her wet dream fantasies? I-I-I’m sorry, but that’s not charming at all. That’s creepy, perverted, unethical and manipulative. Shit like that wasn’t acceptable in real life, so why should I consider this “endearing” here?
And she never learns that this kind of behavior is unacceptable in her supports either. Everyone just humors her voyeur tendencies. I think it’s fine that she’s into yaoi… but she shouldn’t be manipulating people to get her fix.
“Oh, but she’s not HURTING anyone,” you might say. Oh, really? She’s harmless, huh?
But let me give an example. Hypothetical, of course. Imagine I’m a target for a yaoi fangirl at a school, along with some male stranger whom I never met before. I’m a heterosexual male and the stranger is a homosexual male. One day, the yaoi fangirl tells the stranger that I like him and that he should get with me. The stranger then approaches me and tells me that he likes me, but I don’t return his feelings (because I don’t know him and I’m not into guys). He feels hurt and says that some random girl told him that I like him.
I would be absolutely livid. Like, I would not let this girl off the hook because her actions were so unapologetic and awful. Not only that the yaoi fangirl pulled me into a situation that I wanted no part in, the other guy got his feelings hurt. And we both ended being part of some weird girl’s sexual fantasy. Furthermore, rumors would circulate around me and the other guy throughout the school and we’d be targets for bullying. I would definitely confront the yaoi fangirl and tell her to fuck off, because she has no right to manipulate people like that. Now both the other guy and I will be getting shit from other students! And that’s not fair.
That yaoi fangirl is basically Nina in a nutshell. She’s a mishandled character in a game that desperately needs better writing behind it. 90% of her supports are like this and said very little about her work as a thief. If Intelligent Systems wanted a girl who’s into male-on-male romance, fine. But don’t exploit this trait just for cheap laughs. It doesn’t do any favors for real-life fangirls who like yaoi and are actually tame about it.
And finally, let’s talk about Soleil, daughter of Laslow (Inigo).I have mixed feelings about her. She can actually be really sweet and endearing, but at times jarring too. And at worst, aggravating.
Soleil is a female mercenary who is very similar in personality to her father. She’s a cheerful and sunny person (true to her name, meaning “sun”) who loves to make other people smile. Especially girls. Especially girls.
So, here’s the thing about Soleil. She’s a pseudo-lesbian who shares her father’s womanizing trait, only that she’s much more successful than him. She’s clearly not into men, but cute and pretty women. Also, a yuri fangirl who stalks cute women.
Really, Intelligent Systems? Both a yaoi fangirl and yuri fangirl (both stalkers) in one game? And you muck up both of their executions? What is your problem? And it doesn’t help that Nina and Soleil share a support together, and it’s incredibly painful to read.
Soleil also lacks modesty. If her clothes get dirty, she would strip down in public without embarrassment. So… she may very well be a cute lesbian who is willing to be a nudist too.
Gameplay wise, the problem with Soleil is that she can’t reach S-support with any of the female characters, not even female Corrin (who can be bisexual), despite the story portraying Soleil as a lesbian. One may rationalize this and say that none of the other females are bisexual, but we had a few exceptions. Furthermore, she can reach S-support with several male characters, but she won’t marry most of them. They can only go as far as platonic friends.
Her support with male Corrin was also infamous in the Japanese version of the game. In this support, Soleil wanted to be a better warrior but has a weakness for women, which she admits to fainting to. Male Corrin tries to help her overcome her problem and fails, but Soleil appreciates the attempt anyway. So far, it’s innocent. But then the S support conversation comes when male Corrin spiked Soleil’s drink to make her like men. So the localization changed it so that Soleil is bisexual, meaning she can like men if she knows them well enough. And of course, she’s only willing to marry male Corrin or Forrest (who looks like a cute girl). But for some reason, female Corrin is not an option…
I would actually like this localization change if Soleil was actually bisexual. Unfortunately, this doesn’t match up too well with her other supports, where she clearly only likes women.
However, her support with her father Laslow is one of the best parent-child heart-to-heart talks I’ve seen from this game. There’s some conflict. There’s some really touching moments. Laslow even referenced his dark past back in Ylisse. It’s so damn well-written that this next part I’m about to talk about pisses me off.
Soleil’s support with her mother doesn’t come close to this level of heartfelt. For most of the conversations, she just admires her mother’s feminine beauty to the point of harassing her own mother. That’s not funny. That’s annoying.
But one of the worst supports I read from the game is Soleil and Ophelia (daughter of Odin). Soleil constantly harasses poor Ophelia to go on a date with her, and Ophelia keeps telling her that she doesn’t want to. So Ophelia attempts to teach Soleil a lesson about respecting other people’s privacy, and it backfired horribly. Also add sexual harassment here. It’s to the point where Ophelia was driven to tears. Next conversation? Ophelia apologizes to Soleil and becomes friends with her! Seriously, what the fuck. It makes no sense and it portrayed Soleil as this insensitive person who wouldn’t take ‘no’ for an answer.
Soleil could easily be a wonderful character in Fire Emblem Fates and an actually well-written lesbian character at that, but sometimes her one main trait takes things too far. Again, writers, it’s called subtlety. Tone it down more. She doesn’t have to swoon over girls 90% of the time she’s on screen. She can still be a lesbian if it’s just 50% of the time, or even 30%. Hitting on her own mom… that’s just…
Personally, I prefer Soleil over Nina when we’re discussing characters with an obsession to a certain gender. But because they’re purely optional characters to recruit, they have no point in the story of Fire Emblem Fates. And furthermore, the general mishandling the marriage/children mechanic in Fire Emblem Fates. Nina was poorly handled the entire way, but… Soleil deserves to be in a better game.
So yeah… Conquest is a bit of a mixed bag as well, though I had more positive things to say about its gameplay and characters than Birthright. Unfortunately, it has the worst story from Fates. My vitriol is real. This fucking story is awful.
So Corrin chose to side with Nohr, his reasons being that he can’t abandon the family that raised him for most of his life. This makes Prince Ryoma absolutely livid, telling Corrin that he’s deserting his “real” family and that he’s siding with the people who murdered his mother. But Corrin swore to end the war his own way, by being partially responsible for the war effort from Nohr’s side and trying to make positive changes with the kingdom.
But of course, neither Ryoma nor Takumi is putting up with Corrin’s shit. Especially Takumi, because holy shit is he mad…
So, the marketing behind Conquest is that you (Corrin) will reform Nohr from the inside-out, making it a better kingdom. Well, fuck you because that is NOT what happens!
No, Conquest is about this stupid, naive prince playing along as a sniveling pawn for a corrupt, transparently evil king alongside the rest of his siblings! I don’t think there has been any Fire Emblem protagonist that infuriated me this much! Pardon my language, but Fire Emblem Fates: Conquest boils down to being a “Corrin Goes Full Retard” version!
In fact, Corrin had a flashback regarding to what happened to Hoshido’s King Sumeragi. King Garon lured the man into an ambush and murdered him in cold blood, then kidnapped Corrin to raise as one of his tools of war. Simply from just remembering that, Corrin logically should NOT be expecting this evil man (whom he just accepted as his father) to have good intentions. And yet, this little dumbass follows Garon’s orders anyway despite knowing the evil he committed.
But it isn’t just Corrin. The characterizations of the Nohrian siblings also suffered as a result of this poorly handled story. It’s so stupid… it’s so wretched… it throws logic out of the window… it insults your intelligence as a gamer…
And one major reason for that is just how poorly written the villain is.
King Garon is somehow more over-the-top than a Saturday morning cartoon villain. This evil-looking gray man with a goatee that can poke someone’s eye out talks about his evil plans out loud and goes into laughing fits when he’s alone. I… I just find it hilarious every time he goes into a stereotypical “MWA HA HA HA!” laugh. It’s like a sport to him. It’s like he’s the missing Looney Tune!
But seriously, here’s his evil plan. Garon makes Corrin into one of his military officers and gives him the most heart-wrenching assignments that he can think of, all just to make Corrin suffer. Why? Well… apparently, it’s to fill Corrin with more dark emotions and eventually sacrifice him to the dragon god Anankos for… more power, I guess? It’s not explained very well. But anyways, Garon wants to conquer Hoshido for himself.
And joining Garon on his quest to become the Evil King God is his tactician Iago. I did mention Iago in Birthright and his role here is pretty much the same as that game. However, Iago has more presence in this game and… BOY, is he also transparently evil.
Oh god, look at the way he’s dressed! It’s like Marilyn Manson and Tim Curry had a secret love-child together and this love-child decided to cosplay as a priest for a sacrificial altar. You can’t take this guy seriously! He’s… HEE-HEE HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!
…God. Y U DO DIS, INTELLIGENT SYSTEMS?
But yeah, the only reason Iago is in the story of Fates at all is to make Corrin suffer. That’s it. That’s all he gets out of it. He’s not really gaining any riches or favor from King Garon. He just torments Corrin just because he doesn’t like the Goodie Two Shoes.
I can’t think of a more shallow reason to be a villain aside from, “I don’t like you. So die.” That’s elementary school levels of villainy! Probably the same place where the writing staff for Conquest learned its storytelling techniques.
BULLSHIT! BULLSHIT I SAY!
So here’s a summary of the rest of the story. Garon sends out Corrin on multiple unreasonable missions that involve putting Corrin through ridiculously hellish trials (such as sending him to destroy a whole village, alone). Because Corrin is a little pussy and he doesn’t want take any lives, he asked everyone in his army to make sure they don’t kill anyone… even though they’re still fighting with blades and magic. Not only that, but this kind of practice would probably put Corrin’s troops into more danger because they didn’t finish off their enemies. So Corrin is just being a selfish asshole who’s not even looking after his own troops.
But because Garon, Iago and the other henchman Hans are dicks, they made sure to kill any enemy in their path. And despite all this shit happening, Corrin and the Nohrian siblings try to deny that King Garon is evil. But because Garon has this habit of mentioning his evil plans out loud, the Nohrian siblings would eventually plot to overthrow him. Xander even overheard his father preaching his plans in one scene. What did he do? Nothing!
And even though Corrin ends up being Garon’s most important servant in conquering Hoshido, Garon STILL tries to find ways to bring him down. Isn’t that… counterproductive to your plans? What happens if Corrin dies? Do you still continue the conquest? Do you still sacrifice one of your children to Anankos? What, Garon. WHAT.
Fire Emblem fans, welcome to the Idiot Ball, where characters become stupid assholes for the sake of the plot! From out-of-character actions to ridiculous misunderstandings blown out of proportion, we got to make sure that all those Nohrian scum! look stupid next to Hoshidans. Intelligent Systems might as well just put on a title screen for Conquest, saying:
What, you won’t side with Glorious and Wonderful Nippon?
U DUN FUCKED UP LOL
Seriously though, the Hoshido shilling is real. In Conquest, Corrin makes a point that he doesn’t want to hurt Hoshidan troops—even though he didn’t act this way in Birthright towards Nohrians, who were probably in even worse conditions and were getting paid shit by a failing kingdom. It’s hard to take this theme of “things aren’t at black and white as you think” seriously because the way the story constantly portrays Hoshido in a positive light and Nohr in a negative light. Conquest just feels like one giant bad ending for Corrin and it posts constant reminders that you made a bad choice.
But honestly, Corrin deserved what was coming to him. He’s such a spineless coward in Conquest. He whines and bitches like the sniveling little cunt he is. He cries out for justice and respect for life, forgetting that he serves an evil man who ordered him to perform those evil tasks. He had demonstrated himself to be naive, indecisive, incompetent and lacking in foresight. But for some reason, his allies kept telling him he made the right decision, even though that is clearly not the case. Even Azura pushes him into making these stupid choices. This confirmation bias blatantly ignores just how dumb Corrin is and only serves to confirm that he can do no wrong.
Every Fire Emblem lord had to come into terms with the consequences of war. It is what it is. Marth, Sigurd, Seliph, Eliwood, Roy, Ike, even Eirika… they had to accept that they may kill innocent soldiers who have families to attend to. And as much as they don’t want to, they have to in order to protect their livelihoods and their own lives. But Corrin here is trying to deny this and enact his own unrealistic ideals. You can’t just say, “No, I DUN WANNA!” and trivialize war and death. Corrin is, without a doubt, one of the worst protagonists in Fire Emblem history. And that is saying something.
The Nohrian siblings are either dumb, cowardly, or both. They know their father’s actions were wrong, but they’re too afraid to do anything about it. Whether it’s fear of their father or fear of failing their country, it doesn’t change the fact that their father is the same evil man who let the kingdom fall apart. They should’ve built a force of loyal followers and seized the throne, if that’s what it takes to make Nohr better.
The Hoshidan siblings are understandably pissed off. Someone they knew and loved is now leading an invasion force to kill more people and conquer Hoshido. So of course, no matter what Corrin says to them, they won’t believe him. And somehow, Corrin is shocked by this.
And it seems like no one suffered more than Takumi here. Takumi is absolutely desperate to kill Corrin, no matter the cost. But no matter what he throws at the Mary Sue prince, he fails. I swear, every time I see Corrin and Takumi interact in Conquest, Takumi looks like he’s on the brink of having a heart attack despite just being a teenager. The way the guy loses his shit is just so unpleasant to watch.
So what else happens in Conquest? Well…
It repeats some of the subplots that Birthright had while barely putting any new spins to them. Remember the illusionist Zola? Let’s kill him off in one chapter with no mercy unlike before. Remember Kotaro of Mokushu? Again, kill him in one chapter after learning he’s Saizo the Fourth’s murderer. Remember the Rainbow Sage? Yeah, we’re doing that Seal of Flames bullshit again. Oh, and Garon asked Corrin to go kill him for no particular reason. Remember when Takumi got that rare fever for one chapter in Birthright? Well, let’s give it to Elise this time! Again, we know nothing about this fever and what the hell it is. It only lasted one chapter.
Again, there’s no real cohesion to these subplots. They serve little to no purpose to the story as a whole. WHY ARE THEY HERE?!
Also, there’s a chapter in Conquest that pretty much defeats the purpose of Fates as a whole. Corrin and Azura ended up at a land in the skies that is crawling with phantom soldiers, where they found Gunter alive and well. But for some reason, no one is allowed to talk about this place outside of this world. Remember this for Revelation, because the truth will piss you off.
Also, Azura reveals another truth: the real King Garon is dead. And in his place…
Oh yeah. That’s right. All this time, King Garon… is a water/slime monster disguised as the king. Not a dragon this time, but a slime monster. That’s why Nohr declared war against Hoshido. The whole war was caused by a motherfucking Muk.
*sighs* I need some Tylenol…
So, okay. Now we know we have an impostor king. So what do Corrin and Azura do? Well, THEY CAME UP WITH THE STUPIDEST PLAN EVER! Instead of telling the Nohrian siblings about their discovery and staging a rebellion, they’re going to conquer Hoshido for Garon. WHY YOU ASK?! To get Garon to sit on this magical plot device known as the Hoshidan throne, which can magically reveal the truth of whoever sits on it. And this would prove to the Nohrian siblings that he’s an impostor. THEN they overthrow him!
…You know, Azura, there is a BETTER way to do this. Why didn’t you assemble everyone together with your bullshit magical crystal ball and show it right there? And if you’re so concerned if there will be Nohrian spies among you, why not just Prince Xander? Yeah, he may be loyal to his father, but he also questions his father’s true plans and he’s also dedicated to his kingdom. He just needs a push in the right direction to switch over sides. In fact, show it to all of the Nohrian siblings. The actions of King Garon would make a LOT MORE SENSE to them if they knew what he is exactly.
But nope. Azura says to go conquer Hoshido. We just gotta do what she says. Cuz we gotta fill up the endgame somehow.
Oh yeah, and get this. Remember Zola? He managed to capture ALL of the Hoshidan siblings. But because Zola used dishonorable tactics and he was going to execute them, Corrin and the Nohrian army free the Hoshidan siblings. Oh, and gave their weapons back to them. “Cuz it’s not the Nohrian way.”
WHY?! YOU JUST SET YOUR BIGGEST ENEMIES FREE! YOU COULD HAVE EASILY SEIZED THE HOSHIDAN THRONE WITHOUT KILLING THEM! JUST TELL THEM TO HIDE, YOU TAKE DOWN THE ONLY TACTICIAN IN HOSHIDO AND SEIZE IT! WHY ARE YOU MAKING THIS HARDER FOR YOURSELVES!? WHY!?!?!?!?!
They could’ve just taken the Raijinto and the Fujin Yumi away, and the Hoshidans would be a far less threat to the Nohrians. But instead, the Nohrian army gave them time to set up their defenses back in their kingdom. And furthermore, lead to more deaths. Honor be damned. That’s a small price to pay compared to what’s at stake here!
There was even an awkward dinner scene between the Nohrian siblings and the Hoshidan siblings at Izumo, a neutral kingdom. Everyone calls each other petty names. Ryoma and Xander even argued about whose hairstyle is better. But it wasn’t done for comedic intentions. It’s played seriously, like we’re supposed to think this is a tense scene. Ryoma and Xander were both so out-of-character here that it makes them look stupid in front of their own siblings and enemies. And Takumi continues his “Nohrian scum!” rants.
So yeah, the last scenes of Conquest pretty much mirror those of Birthright. Lilith dies for no reason. Xander keeps telling Corrin to grow some balls after he finishes bitching and crying. Both Ryoma and Takumi die, Sakura became a prisoner and Hinoka was set free. After seizing the Hoshidan throne, Corrin manages to tell his subordinates to go kill Iago and Hans. THEN FINALLY, Corrin tells the Nohrian siblings that Garon is a literal monster.
Then this conversation happens:
Xander: That’s impossible! You must be joking! (comment: really, Xander? Did you forget about eavesdropping on your dad one time and overhearing that he’s planning to put Corrin through hell and beyond?)
Corrin: I had a hard time believing it myself, but I swear it’s the truth. (comment: are you that delusional, Corrin? This man NEVER treated you as his own son at any point in your life. You had no reason to believe that he is anything but a horrible monster.)
Leo: Why didn’t you tell us earlier? Why keep it a secret? And why are you two the only ones who know this alleged truth? (comment: hey, Leo is pointing out the plot holes here!)
Corrin: That’s… hard to explain… (comment: fuck you, no it isn’t)
Azura: There are answers to your questions, Leo, but we are unable to disclose them. All we can say is that the two of us were able to see through King Garon’s disguise. (comment: yeah, except you could’ve just shown EVERYONE the crystal ball before it broke into pieces)
Camilla: We had to come all the way here just to learn the truth? Really, darling? (comment: yarly. I know, it sucks.)
And even after they saw slime monster Garon in the flesh for themselves, the Nohrian siblings are STILL in denial. I think this bears repeating…
WHY ARE THE NOHRIAN SIBLINGS SUCH IDIOTS?! WHY CAN’T THEY KILL THE SLIME MONSTER THAT IS NOT EVEN THEIR FATHER?! WHY ARE THEY SO INSISTENT IN PROTECTING THIS EVIL BEING WHEN ITS VERY EXISTENCE GOES AGAINST EVERY ONE OF THEIR BELIEFS ON MORALITY AND JUSTICE?! WHY ARE THEY HESITANT IN KILLING IT?! WHY?!?!?!?!?!?!??!?!?!?!
So after a stupidly tedious series of events, the group finally slays the Muk King in a surprisingly disappointing boss fight. So everything’s over, right?
NOOOO! Of course not! That wasn’t even the final boss. No, the final boss is… believe it or not…
Yeah, remember Pineapple Prince? The one who keeps calling you, “Nohrian scum!” He’s the final boss of Conquest.
Oh, but this isn’t just ANY Takumi, no. The real Takumi is dead and his spirit in the afterlife had actually forgiven Corrin for all the stressful shit he was put through. This Takumi standing before them is an empty shell of anger and regret given life by some evil force that won’t be explained until you play Revelation.
To be fair though, this final map is better thought out than the one in Birthright. Just as expected of Conquest, it has good map designs. Too bad this plot twist is all sorts of dumb. Well… at least the final boss isn’t a motherfucking dragon…?
So both slime monster Garon and the possessed Takumi were put to rest. The war ends. Hinoka becomes the new queen of Hoshido and Xander becomes the new king of Nohr. Azura vanished somewhere without a word. And we’ll never know what force took Garon and Takumi. Cue credits.
Wow, this is stupid.
Conquest seemed to have the best of all worlds in Fates. But that story is just unforgivably atrocious, even by Fire Emblem standards. While suffering some of same pacing and filler problems as Birthright, Conquest went out of its way to sabotage its own characters and plot to fill up a whole game. Corrin is just awful here. All of his plans failed because the story portrays him as this naive idiot who refuses to face reality. This makes the story’s drama feel forced and unnecessarily brutal. He constantly walked right into the villains’ traps, knowing full well about what’s happening. But instead of avoiding them, he just faces them head-on in hopes that he pulls through somehow. It’s like this kid has no self-preservation instinct whatsoever and he just looks like a fucking idiot each time.
Even if you’re one of those people who believe Fire Emblem doesn’t really have good plots, Conquest is exceptionally awful compared to everything we go so far. Intelligent Systems promised a better story with this game, better than what we’ve seen from the series before. But instead, it’s worse. Just like with Hoshido, the game never really bothers to explore any depth into Nohr and it just feels generic all across. And considering the amount of criticisms I had for this one fucking story… please… if you want to play this, go with low expectations and just laugh your ass off at the absurdity of it all.
Fire Emblem Fates: Revelation is the third and final story path of the game. Intelligent Systems highly suggested that you play this route after you finish both Birthright and Conquest. And just like Birthright, it has a level grinding system and it’s probably only slightly harder than Birhtright. Um, what the hell?
In this timeline, Corrin decided to side with neither kingdom. And how do Ryoma and Xander react? “Corrin is a crazy little bitch! He’s the true enemy! Kill him!”
Wait wait wait wait WHAT?!
Well… good fucking job, asshole! No, really. Good job. Now you got two world powers against you. And no allies. Prepare for the Ass Fuck of the Century. I hope you’re proud of yourself, Corrin.
So… you might be wondering to yourself… is there any hope for Revelation? Will it make up for Birthright’s mediocrity and Conquest’s utter incompetence at storytelling?
HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!
No. Naga has abandoned us. Believe it or not, but this is the worst game of the bunch. Don’t believe me? Look at this.
Tell me. What do you see? If your answer is, “one of the laziest map designs in the series ever,” DING DING DING! YOU HIT THE MOTHERFUCKING JACKPOT!
Revelation has multiple map designs like these. They operate on gimmicks that are not fun or interesting. In the example you’re looking at, the entire map is covered in snow and you have to repeatedly attack snow tiles to form a path to the map’s boss. This wouldn’t be so bad if that’s the only case, but no. Every single enemy on this map is carrying a useful item, so you owe it to yourself to destroy every single snow tile on the map and defeat all of the enemies anyway to get the damn items. There is no challenge at all. It’s just tedious as fuck.
THAT. IS LAZY DESIGN.
There was even one chapter being a STEALTH MISSION, and it plays like shit. Imagine a crappier Metal Gear Solid.
Furthermore, the game balance of Revelation is all over the damn place. You constantly gain new soldiers in your army due to “circumstances” and their levels are too low against the enemy soldiers to be of any use! You’d have to level grind them after you recruit them. And the enemy forces throw promoted soldiers at you surprisingly early. It just really shows how little thought is put into these maps.
So yeah, Revelation plays even worse than Birthright. The map designs are horseshit. The Dragon Vein mechanic wasn’t used in a way that’s fun or interesting. And furthermore, most the soldiers you gain throughout the game won’t be used anyway. In all likelihood, you’ll rely heavily on both the Hoshidan and Nohrian siblings to carry the entire playthrough.
So, yeah. Only use Corrin, Azura, Ryoma, Xander, Hinoka, Camilla, Takumi, Leo, Sakura, Elise and three of your favorite non-royal soldiers. That’s all you need to beat Revelation.
There aren’t many new things introduced in Revelation. You have access to all of the Hoshidan and Nohrian weapons/classes. And you pretty much have seen all of the characters before, so I won’t go too much depth in that. I also find the soundtrack rather dull here, so I won’t talk about that. The only cool thing here is that your Hoshidan and Nohrian characters can now build supports with each other, and quite a few of the conversations are actually well written. Stay away from the Takumi-Leo support, though. That one sucks. Oh, and Ryoma-Camilla. That was all Corrin shilling.
We’re just going to jump right in the story and end this long, miserable review.
So after Corrin told Ryoma and Xander, “Fuck y’all. I’m Team Corrin!”, Azura leads Corrin into the Bottomless Canyon for some odd reason. They both jumped off and somehow ended up at a different land. This land is the kingdom of Valla, an invisible kingdom that resembles a series of sky islands. And from there on, Azura dumps a lot of exposition on you at once and basically destroyed the premise of Fire Emblem Fates.
She told Corrin that the true enemy of the whole war is actually the kingdom of Valla, which is under the rule of a corrupt dragon god called Anankos and served by invisible zombie soldiers. Anankos wants to destroy both kingdoms because… fuck y’all, I guess. And she’s also a princess of Valla, whose mother is Queen Arete who would later marry King Garon before her death. And Arete’s sister is none other than Queen Mikoto, Corrin’s mother, making Corrin a Vallite prince. But because of some bullshit curse that will never get an explanation here, they can’t speak anything about Valla outside of Valla itself. And if they try to, they will literally turn into bubbles and die.
Have you heard of the “bubble curse” from the Fire Emblem fandom? Well, this is what they were referring to. This is a plot device that conveniently makes sure that Azura can’t spill the beans about the “true enemy” or else she will die.
But hold on. There’s something really wrong here. Did you remember that Corrin, Azura and Gunter were at Valla in Conquest? And how Azura NEVER mentioned any of this in that game? The question is… why. Why the fuck didn’t Azura say this shit at the time? Why did she push Corrin into conquering Hoshido instead if she had known who the true enemy was? WHAT THE HELL WAS EVEN THE POINT OF BIRTHRIGHT AND CONQUEST THEN? WHY DIDN’T SHE JUST BRING EVERYONE TOGETHER AT THE BOTTOMLESS CANYON AND TELL THEM THE TRUTH AFTER THEY GOT TO VALLA?! ALL OF THESE POINTLESS DEATHS AND TRAGEDIES COULD HAVE BEEN AVOIDED IF AZURA HAD ACTUALLY DONE ANYTHING!
I can’t believe this. This “revelation” broke the story. And we just got started with it. Azura just assumed that no one would believe her and didn’t say shit. Whoever wrote this shit completely fucked up one of the game’s biggest plot twists. Th-there’s no point for Revelation to exist. It’s an empty cash grab advertised to be the “golden ending.” That’s all it is.
So, by this point, you might be wondering why I barely said a thing about Azura at all. After all, she’s the deuteragonist next to Corrin. Well, the thing is… there’s not much to say about her at all.
I loved her gorgeous character design. She’s got a beautiful singing voice in both the English and Japanese dubs. Sadly, she sings “Lost in Thoughts All Alone” way too many fucking times in this game. So much that it’s practically a meme. I can already hear the lyrics…
You are the ocean’s gray waves, destined to seek
Life beyond the shore just out of reach
Yet the waters ever change, flowing like time
The path is yours to climb
And even though Fire Emblem Fates highlights Azura as an important character, the story does her a disservice just like with so many Fates characters. She was a boring and stilted character whose main role in the story is the exposition bot. She just sits mostly in the background, encouraging Corrin to reach his goals no matter what they are. The fact that she was the one who pushed Corrin to go conquer Hoshido in Conquest also speaks of her morally ambiguous nature. It’s like she purely exists just to be a plot device for Corrin to know shit.
You won’t get much out of Azura unless you explore her support conversations. And even then… most of her conversations are painfully average for a major character. Her support with Keaton even pokes fun at how she rarely expresses herself. And pretty much any backstory on her just points at her bad time at Nohr when she was a child. And she’s quite biased against Nohr for this reason, leading to more Hoshido shilling. Though, I will admit, her support conversations with Arthur were very touching in that regard.
You could argue that she was just being mysterious for the sake of later plot twists in the story. But even after discovering that she’s a Vallite princess in Revelation… it doesn’t really change anything about her. While it does explain why she has mysterious powers, her role in the story remains the same. And while Azura did get something of a character arc in Revelation, it’s utterly pathetic and not worth the time writing into the story. She just remains a static character no matter which game you play, which is awfully disappointing considering her role in the story. All that buildup for jackshit.
Also, if you married Corrin to Azura in any playthrough…
HA HA! ACCIDENTAL INCEST! YOU JUST BANGED YOUR COUSIN!
*sighs* I’m growing weary of this. Can’t you tell?
So just like in Conquest, Gunter survived his fall in the Bottomless Canyon and he actually becomes more involved in the story of Revelation. We also learn some actual backstory from him: in the past, King Garon offered dragon blood to Gunter, symbolizing absolute loyalty to the king. But because Gunter refused his offer, Garon had Gunter’s wife and child executed. And all these years, Gunter still serves King Garon, though he’s much more bitter about it.
You might be wondering to yourself why we’re getting this backstory. Ho! You’ll see…
Also, this seems to contradict what we learned of King Garon throughout Birthright and Conquest. He was first married to Queen Katerina, whom he had one child with: Xander. Garon loved her dearly but she passed away sometime when Xander was young. Later on, Garon banged three of his concubines, each conceiving a child which led to Camilla, Leo and Elise. These concubines wanted the throne for themselves, but then Garon married Queen Arete of Valla, who already had a daughter: Azura. Garon also loved Arete, but she would later pass away too. Then Garon would later fall into a deep depression and die himself, being replaced by Anankos’s puppet.
And with further support conversations from the Nohrian siblings, it was heavily implied that King Garon was once a kinder man in his younger years. It’s unknown when the real Garon died and when the cruel tyrant took over Nohr. Unfortunately, the game doesn’t shed any more light on this, so… yeah…
Anyways, the first half of Revelation focuses on recycled subplots from the previous two games. Fucking seriously now, I’m sick of this shit. So, we repeat shit again: Corrin gets his Yato to unlock the Seal of Flames from the Rainbow Sage. The group kills Zola, again. They go off to kill Kotaro of Mokushu, again. It’s the same bullshit over and over.
But out of sheer plot convenience and a ton of implausibility, Corrin managed to recruit soldiers from both Hoshido and Nohr. He even managed to recruit Takumi early on, who hated his guts throughout Conquest! Or fuck, Saizo, one of the most cautious characters in the entire Fates cast. And Corrin managed to do this by being so vague about a “third enemy that he can’t speak of for good reason.”
Later on, Ryoma and Xander would later clash again on the battlefield and Corrin would tell them to meet him at the Bottomless Canyon during a specific event that happens once in a millennium or some sort of bullshit. I DON’T KNOW! THIS IS STUPID! Both leaders questioned it for a while but would later join Corrin anyway.
Oh, and remember the Nohrian villains that tormented Corrin throughout the previous two games? Hans? Dies in one chapter. Iago? Dies in one chapter. Garon? He stupidly orders Xander and Leo to destroy both Hoshido and Nohr, which leads them to defect to Corrin’s cause! And he doesn’t show up again until the end!
So everyone jumped into the Bottomless Canyon and we suddenly get a new subplot. Scarlet, a playable character in Birthright and antagonist in Conquest, was killed by a mysterious assailant. So now, everyone thinks that there’s a traitor in the army. Furthermore, some invisible Vallite soldiers attack them and were led by a mysterious mage.
Azura would later spill the beans on Valla and Anankos to everyone. FINALLY! FUCK! Oh, and apparently, Anankos can revive the dead and have them become his servants.
So after going through a subplot regarding a villager named Anthony, which is not worth elaborating, we learned that Anankos revived some familiar people. He revived Queen Arete (Azura’s mother), Queen Mikoto (Corrin’s mother), and King Sumeragi (the previous king of Hoshido and father to the Hoshidan siblings). And you get to kill them again, one by one.
Oh, and also, King Sumeragi was that shadow at the beginning of the game who murdered Mikoto. Not that it matters much anyway because neither character felt important to the plot.
And honestly… these scenes should’ve hit harder. Remember when I said Azura had a character arc? Well, this is it. Putting her mother to rest. And the conclusion of it was executed so poorly that I felt empty from Arete telling Azura she loves her. Same goes with Mikoto and Sumeragi. It just became redundant when you had to kill three people for the same kind of “tragic death” scene.
So after all this tediousness, we get our resolution to the Scarlet murder subplot. Who’s the culprit?
Yeah, it was Gunter all along. He’s the traitor of the group. Why? Well, remember Gunter’s random backstory from earlier? His hatred of King Garon runs deep, so he plotted to one day kill him. And he received the help of Anankos to do so. Also, he doesn’t like Corrin because he’s such a Goodie Goodie. Again, we’re back to elementary school reasons of villainy.
Corrin defeats Gunter but spares him because of their close relationship from before. Gunter accepts his defeat and pretty much… vanishes from the rest of the story after. He left without a word. Mm… okay…?
This guy would get along with King Zephiel in The Binding Blade.
So everyone finally goes to kick Anankos’s ass. And if you think Anankos would at least be a halfway decent villain, heh… think again, dumbass. Just like with King Garon, he’s transparently evil and torments humanity… cuz I can, lol. So, pretty much:
MWA HA HA! PATHETIC MORTALS! I AM DRAGON GOD! I’M THE FINAL BOSS ALL ALONG! HOW DO YOU LIKE MY GIFTS TO HUMANITY? WATCHU GONNA DO ABOUT IT, HMMMMMMMM? NEE-NER-NEE-NER-NEE-NEEEEERRRRR!
By the way, Corrin’s Yato receives power from the four other legendary weapons, which Ryoma, Takumi, Xander and Leo carry. And it becomes the Omega Super Duper Saiyan God Super Saiyan Buster Yato +1, the most broken sword in the game. And of course, only Corrin the Mary Sue can wield it. Go figure.
Then Garon shows up at the last minute, getting sacrificed to Anankos. Then Anankos enters his final form… which is just another big dragon, just like with Grima in Awakening. Or fuck, nearly all of the dragon final bosses in the series. SEEN IT.
And honestly, this final boss is actually kinda tough compared to Garon and Takumi in the last two games. Anankos had like… four phases you needed to defeat. Even if you maxed the levels of your soldiers, they will take heavy damage. Not to mention there’s quite a lot of respawning enemies to deal with. So yeah, good luck. You’ll need it.
So Anankos finally drops dead and everything is fine. None of the major characters die this time, even Azura. Ryoma becomes king of Hoshido, Xander becomes king of Nohr, and… believe it or not, Corrin becomes king of Valla because he’s actually the son of Anankos…
Yeah.. Corrin becomes king of a ruined, cursed kingdom filled with invisible zombies. I don’t know how that will fucking work… but… fuck it… I’m done… I’m just done…
So everyone lives happily after. Except Izana, who died pointlessly. Or Scarlet, who died pointlessly. Or Gunter, who vanished from the story. Or… well, at least Lilith survived! You know, Lilith? The beta fish dragon thing? Oh wait, she has no importance to the story whatsoever. Eh…
*breathes a sigh of relief*
Wow. This… makes me angry…
As you may have guessed, Revelation is shit. It has the worst of both worlds: boring gameplay, bland soundtrack, and a badly written story. Just like with Hoshido and Nohr, the game doesn’t bother much in developing its main setting, which is Valla in this case. Why is Valla hidden beyond a lake or a canyon? No idea. Why is it a floating kingdom in the sky? No idea. Why does the “bubble curse” exist? NOTHING! IT’S JUST FUCKING THERE! We don’t even know if the curse was broken after Anankos died!
Revelation’s only real strength as a Fire Emblem title is its sheer number of support conversations. But even that isn’t enough to justify its existence. It’s a clearly rushed and lazily made product designed to make you drop $20 more into a “golden ending” that renders the other games pointless.
Storywise, Revelation just seems to exist to make Corrin look good. Aside from those other Mary Sue traits I mentioned before, he gains an overpowered weapon that is much better than that of his brothers’, becomes king of a lost country, just so happens to be part of a unique and dead race, is undoubtedly the Chosen One to defeat Anankos, and is the son of a dragon god (which is why he could turn into a dragon). And when his ideals were challenged… well, love and friendship prevails just because I say so! Oh, and he’s the sole reason why a whole war stopped AND got the two kingdoms to become friends with one another. There was even one scene that pisses me off; Ryoma outright admits that he’s jealous of Corrin’s natural leadership ability, even though he barely knows who the older Corrin is and says that Corrin is a better leader than he is. I’M DONE. I’M DONE WITH THIS OTAKU PANDERING BULLSHIT.
Wow. If you managed to reach this far into the review, then allow me to congratulate you and thank you for taking your time in reading my brain dump. I think it’d be interesting to know that you read around 20,000 words of me bitching about a fantasy video game that disappointed me on so many levels. And this one review was sitting in my bin for almost exactly two years, maybe longer if you considered when this game was released. This one article was like a long-term project. And it’s finally done. I can now die in peace…
Well, okay, not really. I’m still young and capable, so I won’t be going anywhere anytime soon. So… you might be wondering what I saw in the Fire Emblem series for me to present such a passionate argument about this one game.
At its best, the Fire Emblem series can give some fascinating sociopolitical commentary. What it means to be a leader of a nation, what it means to establish relations with other nations, and how the nations and their citizens are affected by current events. And if those weren’t included, you can at least have an entertaining hero’s journey type of story. The series may not always tell a good story, but it’s capable of entertaining. I have a strong amount of faith that video games can be a good medium to tell a good story.
If you want to know what I think would improve the story of Fates, then go ahead and read the spoiler.
So, okay. One of the biggest issues with Fates is the protagonist himself. Corrin, the author avatar, doesn’t make for a good lead. The point of an avatar character is to insert yourself into their shoes so that you will be part of the main story. But this comes with tradeoffs. The lead will come with a more bland personality and the story will center on you to make you feel special. In a series like Persona, you shape the avatar lead’s personality by picking certain dialogue choices.
Fire Emblem Fates was less about the war between Hoshido and Nohr, and more about how it affects Corrin himself. As a result, there is minimal worldbuilding. This robs the game of its vast potential in exploring the two opposing kingdoms and how it affects the neutral territories. The war would become worse, regardless of what choice Corrin makes. So, the story becomes character-centric. Rather than how the war affects the kingdoms, it only became about how it affects Corrin. And that’s not interesting.
Fire Emblem Fates seemed to be advertised as a game where your choices matter, but it ultimately doesn’t. It’s just to pick which game you want to play. Conquest is the only entry that has another choice in it, but it’s minor and doesn’t really affect the rest of the game. So if we’re not going with this kind of gameplay, then Corrin shouldn’t be a part of Fates at all. Either that or reduce his role to a minor one.
Instead, the story should focus on either Ryoma and Xander, the two crown princes who already shoulder the burdens of the countries they would one day rule. Their circumstances were already interesting enough to form a whole plot, so they could easily set up for good character development.
In this setting, Hoshido will still be a rich and beautiful nation while Nohr will still be a poor and dying nation. Queen Mikoto would still be a kind ruler, but the government would actually be a limited monarchy. Mikoto would sympathize with Nohr’s troubles, but is unable to do so because a parliament restrains her from aiding them.
Meanwhile, Nohr would operate under an absolute monarchy and King Garon would still be a stern and coldhearted monarch. But instead of being this ridiculously stupid bad guy and monster, he would actually be an old man at his wit’s end and worry deeply about his kingdom’s future. And he’s slowly going mad. Because the surrounding kingdoms refuse to trade with Nohr, the people are starving and the economy is failing. Desperate to restore his kingdom, Garon launched an invasion against Hoshido and the other kingdoms using his military might.
Hoshido would respond with their own military as well, and thus the war rages on. However, it was not Queen Mikoto’s choice to declare war on Nohr. It was the corrupt Hoshidan parliament and that even refused to take more diplomatic measures with Nohr. The parliament was full of corrupt politicians and profiteers intending to use the war to bring more wealth into Hoshido, regardless in who they sacrifice. This would actually make a seemingly pure country more cutthroat than it appears…
King Garon, on the other hand, is not a bad guy. He had to perform a terrible deed because he simply had no choice. Otherwise, his people will die and his country will fall into ruin. And furthermore, the future of his children will be at stake. And he’s willing to do anything to save the country… even hire corrupt military officers and mercenaries to do his bidding. Or hell, even summon demons (Faceless).
And so, Ryoma and Xander (joined by their siblings) would fight battles against one another while uncovering political scandals on all sides. And eventually, they would come to realize that the war was pointless and it was being manipulated by greedy, power-hungry politicians and military leaders profiting off of the war.
The personalities of the Hoshidan and Nohrian siblings would remain the same, though their relationships with others can differ. For example, the Nohrian siblings would actually have the courage to challenge their father’s decisions, only to be reminded that the war was necessary to save their kingdom. It wouldn’t be a relationship based on fear and obedience, but rather a complex relationship based on necessity and anxiety. Prince Xander would be furious with his father’s decisions, but he would come to understand later on why his father took such heavy risks.
And of course, tragedies will strike. Both Queen Mikoto and King Garon would die for the welfare of their kingdoms, and so it’s up to the crown princes to pick up where they left off and search for a better way to settle things. The two might even reach an agreement and reconsider who the real enemy is, then proceed to combine their forces and save their kingdoms.
If any of the other siblings die, the story would actually change a bit to reflect this, making you feel even worse about the casualties. Imagine if you accidentally let Elise die and some of the scenes feel devoid of joy because of her passing, as her other siblings reflect on her absence. That would legitimately be heartbreaking to watch and make them seem more human.
Or hell, if Takumi dies and the Hoshidan siblings would actually miss getting into petty fights with him in the past. And despite their differences, they still deeply loved him and valued him as a team player in their family. Takumi showed a lot of spunk and confidence in his abilities, so to see them come to an end would be really tragic. And now that he’s gone, there’s a void that they were unable to fill.
The point here is to make all these characters seem more like their own characters rather than just being satellites to a Mary Sue avatar protagonist. They all have their strengths and flaws, but they all try to do what they think is right to save their kingdoms. Instead of following the mistakes of their parents, they will learn from them and set up an even brighter future for both kingdoms. Ryoma and Xander may even become blood brothers, to show that their alliance is going strong and that different cultures can really bond together.
There’s no over-the-top evil king. No over-the-top evil sorcerer who just dicks around to make people miserable. No stupid dragon god. Just drama, political intrigue, a bit of comedy and some well-done character interactions. This is what I believe what Fire Emblem Fates should’ve been about.
I was gaming since the late NES days. And stories through video games had come a long way since then, so it’s certainly possible that they can tell good stories on par with those of movies and novels.
In the case of the Fire Emblem series, it had told more captivating tales before. So what the hell happened with Fire Emblem Fates? Why was its story a total joke? Why did it become a Pandora’s Box of Internet memes?
Well, if I had to guess, it collapsed from the weight of its own ambition. A project like this was probably the biggest thing that Intelligent Systems ever worked on, but they weren’t fully prepared for it. They took a risk with assembling the writing staff and it backfired completely. But because they already dropped a lot of budget money into this staff (including hiring a famous mangaka/screenplay writer), there’s no turning back. They had to work with what they got as a final product.
They were hoping that the popularity of Fire Emblem Awakening would yield more sales. And of course, it did. And to this day, the developer is still exploiting the popularity of Awakening and Fates for games like Fire Emblem Heroes and Fire Emblem Warriors. Hopefully, this is a phase that will stop around the time when the new Fire Emblem title for the Nintendo Switch comes out this year… maybe. So I certainly hope that the series doesn’t decay from poor decisions and only focus on what makes the most money, but to come up with truly memorable experiences.
Anyways! Enough about that.
To summarize, Fire Emblem Fates is only good as a “game,” but not as a story. The game almost had it all. It had good visuals, good soundtrack, good gameplay, good character writing, etc. But no matter which version of Fates you play, the story will never come close to that level of quality. And that is why Fire Emblem Fates frustrates and depresses me. It was SO CLOSE to being the best Fire Emblem title of all time. I’d be a little more forgiving if the story was just mediocre, but no. The story makes some of the stupidest plot choices I’ve seen from the series yet.
And don’t get me wrong. I actually had a blast picking apart the story’s flaws because of how entertainingly stupid they can be. But at the same time, this is not the kind of game that I wanted to see fail at all. I wanted it to succeed. Sure, it succeeded in sales but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s good. It only means it sold well, in spite of the product’s actual quality. And sadly, it just fell short of being great to me.
You can totally discount the story and just analyze Fire Emblem Fates as a game rather than a story. After all, a great story is not necessary for a great game. But for me personally, a good story for a RPG can go a long way and make the whole experience much more worth remembering. It’s the icing on the cake. And despite this game being a big disappointment, it still has some really good things in it. I will still continue to dig into the Fire Emblem series and even play the future titles. I certainly won’t stop here, but this is my hope after seeing a project of this magnitude flop.
More game and anime reviews coming your way. This is Orion from Breaking Canon, and I sincerely thank you for reading my 100th video game review.
Fire Emblem Fates$39.99
- The many updates and additions to the gameplay (Weapon Triangle, weapon selection, classes, Dragon Veins) and the improved map designs (mainly, Conquest) makes it more engaging than Awakening's gameplay. Conquest, especially, makes the best use of these.
- The 'My Castle' feature was interesting
- Some good visuals with noticeable improvements to character models and artwork since Awakening.
- The soundtrack has a few excellent tracks.
- Despite the badly written stories, many character support conversations were written well and were actually quite engaging to read.
- Memes. Seriously. It's a joy to poke fun at this game's flaws at every opportunity.
- The children mechanic felt tacked on and unnecessary. Its story reason does a terrible job in justifying its existence.
- The mere existence of Phoenix Mode.
- Shameless pandering to Fire Emblem Awakening fans.
- No matter which game you play, the story is always going to be the weakest point. In the case of both Conquest and Revelation, both were told in an awful, incomptent fashion. The story puts too much focus on your avatar character, squabbling its vast potential.
- Another downfall to the story is how the antagonists were written, namely Garon, Iago, Hans and Anankos. All of them were portrayed as transparently evil with absolutely no subtlety in their actions whatsoever.
- The English version of the game falls prey to some bad localization choices, such as rewriting character personalities.