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Review of Fire Emblem Fates: Conquest

A back to roots for Fire Emblem

April 19, 2012 marked the release date for Fire Emblem Awakening. Intelligent Systems had to create a game that would be considered no less than a masterpiece. Failing in this task would mean permanent death for the Fire Emblem franchise. Thankfully, Awakening turned out to be not only a masterpiece, but a phenomenon by selling over one million copies worldwide. Four years later on February 19, 2016, Intelligent Systems needed to jump the bar they had raised from Awakening. They decided to do this by splitting their new Fire Emblem title into two (soon to be three) versions. One of these versions was Fire Emblem Fates: Conquest that hit said bar, but failed to surpass its predecessor entirely.

Conquest and its twin version, Birthright, are two separate games that contain decisions based on the question of who you will side with between the war of Nohr and Hoshido. This conflict does not remain without its personal ties as the kingdom of Nohr is your bond family (Conquest) and the kingdom of Hoshido is your blood family (Birthright). The first six chapters of Fates remain the same no matter what version you choose in order to have the player grow bonds with each kingdom and then feel like your hearts ripped out as you must betray one of the kingdoms you have grown to love.

Being the center of a war, its important that your avatar (aka Corrin) is a person your willing to continue on playing for. Thankfully this is the case with Fate's protagonist. At first Corrin seemed to be one dimensional while drawing blatant inspiration from Chrom, the protagonist of Awakening. However, it will soon be discovered that Corrin differentiates from Chrom in the sense that they have different internal conflicts. Chrom faced his own conscience as he struggled to have confidence in his actions where he brought peace by killing the root of the world's evils. Corrin faces a similar continual conflict, but also must constantly face the repercussions with siding by one kingdom instead of the other.

One thing Corrin also does correctly is the ability to have more character customization options than the avatar from Awakening. Not only does Fates go even more in depth on previous customization options such as with more hairstyles, voice types, and body types, but also has fantastic additions that range from small to big customizable options. Most notably is the ability to change your character's class from a swordsman to anything from a class revolving around Dragonstones.

While Corrin is a fantastic character, the same cannot be said for the rest of the game's black and white cast. Beginning in Awakening, characters (aka units) were allowed to pair up with each other during battles. This feature also came with a new addition that allowed units to have support conversations that increased relationships between each other. The only reason this worked in Awakening was because the units were all interesting which in turn enticed players to keep increasing these relationships. The units in Conquest are either carbon copies of those from Awakening, or are a fraction of what makes an actual personality. Only a minute amount of units manage to be original and interesting.

While characters may be bland and unoriginal, My Castle mode is the complete opposite of that. My Castle mode is a complete advancement of the barracks from Awakening. In barracks players would witness randomized events that occurred between units which included building up relationships further and units discovering different items. My Castle mode not only allows these events to happen, but is a freeroam mode where your able to fully customize your castle albeit with decorations, buildings, and other exciting features.

Better take use of these decorative abilities as visitors are soon to
come to your castle. Thanks to a new local/online feature, players are able to have both Conquest and Birthright owners travel to their fortress. While there, players can collect resources, buy an item from a shop, or battle a team of your units. If a visitor defeats your team, they can either transfer a unit to their game (without removing them from yours) or inherit a unit's skill.

This is not the only new addition Fates has added to its roster of modes. Aside from visiting castles, players can also create a team of up to five units which they can then take online to battle other people's teams. A battle consists of alternating turns where players have five minutes to make a move. This is a neat addition as it leaves players with something to delve into after the expansive campaign. However, this mode does not remain without its flaws. If a team is created on a file with classic mode (the mode with permanent death) then units that die cannot be added to a team. But, if a unit is added to a team before their demise, then they are able to remain there. In order to make a more balanced multiplayer mode, the online mode should remain separate from the events of the campaign.

While the multiplayer is good, the same cannot be said for the campaign. Conquest manages to tell a narrative with jaw-dropping, spine-chilling and emotional moments. Yet, it still manages to have an overall plot that drags along. Even worse are the villains of the game that craft deviously intricate plans to simply make Corrin suffer. Not kill him, but suffer by making him face the choice he has made to fight for Nohr. It makes the antagonists feel like 80s villains that are not meant to be taken seriously.

One thing Conquest does do correctly is expand upon the combat system from Awakening. Where as Awakening's combat was unbalanced and based upon luck, Fates makes sure that combat purely relies upon the strategic ability of the player. Examples of this are increasements to the weapon triangle (which is a rock, paper, scissors, format where a trio of weapons have a strength and weakness against one another), and splitting up a support units ability of attacking and defending for the units they are partnered up with.

Strategy not only lies in Conquest's basic gameplay, but in the three different modes a player can select from. These three modes are classic, casual, and pheonix mode. Classic mode is where the well-known permanent death mechanic the Fire Emblem series is known for is present. Casual mode is where units killed during combat return after the end of a chapter. Lastly, pheonix mode is where units killed in combat return after each turn. While classic and casual mode are justifiable as they open to more demographics while matching the hard nature of Conquest, pheonix mode should be exclusive to Birthright as Conquest's difficult nature does not pair up well with pheonix as losing in this mode is impossible.

Another factor that remains impossible are for the soundtrack and graphics of Conquest to be considered no less than perfect. Not only is the soundtrack phenomenal, but Conquest's graphics are by far more detailed than those of Awakening and give characters the god-given gift of feet!

Fire Emblem Fates Conquest is a good Fire Emblem game. It improves upon the few flaws of Awakening, but in turn provides new issues of its own. Despite its overweighing negatives, it brings new features to the table that future Fire Emblem games can learn from. Conquest is going to be enjoyable for newcomers and veterans of the Fire Emblem franchise but more so for those well-known with the strategy RPG series.

Edited on by Individual

Individual

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