It did not take long for Fire Emblem Fates: Conquest to crush my ego. I started the game off fairly confident in my strategy and ability. I slid the difficulty up to Hard and chose to play in the standard Classic Mode, where your characters leave permanently upon their death. By the eighth chapter, however, the game told me that I was a little too optimistic in my abilities. After losing multiple fighters within a single battle, I decided that it might be best to play on the somewhat demeaningly named Casual Difficulty. In this mode, fighters are returned to you in the next battle, so death is no longer permanent. A few chapters later, however, I once again realized that I may still be in a little over my head. Even though I had played several Fire Emblem titles previously, I ended up lowering my difficulty from Hard to Normal.
Though the game is challenging and requires learning many of Fire Emblem’s deeper mechanics, I came away from every level thrilled and insatiated, eager to move onto the next chapter of the game. The characters, story, strategy, and maps within Fire Emblem Fates: Conquest makes the game one of the best to date.
As with its sister title, Fire Emblem Fates: Birthright, Conquest involves a story of a perpetual war between the Nohr and Hoshido kingdoms. Based off of the game that you buy, or the choice that you make in the beginning of the special edition, you will be assigned to one of these two kingdoms. In Conquest, players are assigned to the Nohr empire, the darker and more evil of the two.
Personally, I appreciated the very dark nature of the story. Usually, when playing through games with moral choices I usually choose the options that are “good.” However, the story is actually pretty hard to swallow in Conquest. The game has no problem killing off good characters, and on multiple occasions I was devastated to see the way that the story would play out.
Unfortunately, there are no in-game moral choices to make after the initial in-game split. This is quite disappointing. From a game that markets itself as a game of choice, the omission of any sort of plot decisions is somewhat strange.
Additionally, though the localization is excellently done, some of the conversations could drag on a little bit. I loved reading through the interactions between characters, but at a certain point the excessive text left me a little bit uninvolved.
On the battlefield, Fire Emblem Fates introduces several new elements, chiefly among them the ability to perform a “Dragon Vein.” At certain places on select maps, using this ability will trigger changes in the environment. This could mean a change in the weather, for example, or a change in the placement of a wall. This highlights a great feature of Fire Emblem Fates – its excellent map design.
In previous Fire Emblem games, I felt that a lot of maps lacked diversity. Oftentimes, map-to-map strategy would be very similar. In Fates, however, many maps have different environmental features to interact with and many maps are created in new, unorthodox shapes.
The weapon triangle, a staple of the Fire Emblem franchise, has been tweaked as well. This triangle is akin to the “rock-paper-scissors” system seen within games like Pokemon. Usually, this triangle involves just three weapons: lances, axes and swords. In Fire Emblem Fates, however, this triangle has been expanded to include magic, bows, and hidden weapons. This added layer of depth necessitates an increased knowledge of strategy when going into tough battles.
Another element to add in is the relationship mechanic between characters. As fighters battle together, their affinity for each other will increase. As the affinity increases, players unlock new dialogue sequences and fighting bonuses. This affinity mechanic, continued from Fire Emblem Awakening, is quite the impressive feature. It is particularly impressive that the writers crafted together lines and lines of dialogue for every possible relationship combination. I loved unlocking each new relationship level, and this mechanic definitely adds to the game’s replayability, as players can run through new playthroughs to match different characters together.
Outside of battle, there is a standard base, or hub world. Players can buy and sell items and engage in side activities. One special thing in particular is the fact that the game allows you to customize your base. Customizing your base allows you to increase its defensive capabilities. This comes in handy for some side missions, called Invasions, where you must defend your base from enemy soldiers.
Unfortunately, in Conquest these side missions are few and far between. Conquest would have been better had the developers included more side content to keep players engaged in between large story missions.
I did love Conquest‘s presentation, though. The music was absolutely gorgeous, and the cut-scenes were spectacularly created. I loved the look of the battlefield as well. With so many AAA games moving into the 3D realm, I am relieved that I can find 2D solace within Fire Emblem Fates.
In conclusion, Fire Emblem Fates: Conquest is an absolute must buy for all those that are previous fans of the franchise. The game builds upon everything that came before it, and presents an experience that is truly challenging. New players may struggle through Conquest, and they may find a better experience within Birthright. However, for all those players that have been craving a truly classic Fire Emblem title, Fire Emblem Fates: Conquest is the game for you!