(Review Contributed by Misya Danielle)
Fire Emblem Fates: Birthright is one of two versions available for the latest addition to the Fire Emblem series which is developed and published by Nintendo. The game was originally set for release in January 2016 but was delayed to February 2016 to remove some content which was considered inappropriate for western audiences. Fire Emblem Fates consists of two separate 3DS games which each focus on a different side to the same story and different aspects of the gameplay. There will also be a third path available via DLC which allows you to become neutral in the battle between the kingdoms of Nohr and Hoshido. By choosing your favorite side you can determine which characters fight by your side in battle and ultimately how the game comes to its conclusion. After playing through your favorite side you can have fun playing through the other paths and learning more about the characters who were previously your enemies. In this fun and new Fire Emblem title be prepared to choose between your birth family and the family which you were raised with and have fond memories playing.
The story begins with your customized hero who was kidnapped from their birth family during the earlier years of conflict and raised as Nohr royalty. After being kept in a fortress and trained for battle as a royal of Nohr the hero is finally allowed to leave the fortress and join their siblings in battle. The hero soon becomes immersed in the war between Nohr and Hoshido after being sent to a supposedly abandoned enemy fort. As soon as you arrive you quickly realize that the fort is far from abandoned. After nearly failing to escape certain death your character is rescued by a dragon they once saved and taken to another world where they are safe. However, when the dragon sends the hero back to their own world they are captured and brought to Hoshido. When the hero meets the queen they are told about their heritage as a royal of Hoshido. When the hero’s sibling from Nohr come to take them back you must decide if you will return to Nohr with those the hero was raised with or take the side of the Hero’s birth family in Hoshido. If you choose the character’s birth family, you uncover the terrible truth about the Nohr kingdom’s newest weapon and learn about your own heritage and the destiny which follows.
Fire Emblem Fates: Birthright and Fire Emblem Fates: Conquest both feature a tactical battle system which is noticeably upgraded since the last game in the series. Fire Emblem Fates: Birthright is far more relaxed than Conquest in that there are more opportunities to level up your characters and let them bond. You can send scouts to areas you have already cleared in the main chapters of the game in order to find new battles. By freely battling enemies and leveling up you can more easily focus on the development of relationships and recruiting new allies. One of the most important aspects of the battle system is the tactical use of the dragon veins which can have different effects on the battlefield. The effects can range from simply drying up motes which helps you traverse the terrain to setting traps on the field to help with defeating your foes. The terrain and obstacles on the field must be kept in mind to determine if the use of dragon veins is necessary to complete the battle with ease. Another important thing to keep in mind during battles is that there are characters which can fly and move further on the battle field by riding on a Pegasus. The battle system is very extensive and it takes a while to learn everything you can if you wish to fully utilize every aspect to your advantage.
Both games allow you to partner up characters in battle allowing them to bond further outside of battle. Each pairing can earn up to four partner ranks which give you more bonuses in battle between those pairings. More importantly once you reach the S rank the two characters marry and have two children which are sent to other realms. In those other realms the aging process speeds up significantly and allows you to recruit the children immediately by completing the battles. The more marriages you trigger in the game the more characters you can recruit which further allows you to customize your party for battles. You can also recruit more characters by going into another player’s castle and challenging them to a fight. If you win a battle against another player’s forces, you can recruit one of their characters or gain one of their matching character’s skills. There is also a third way to recruit new characters by bribing prisoners into joining your cause. The side you choose determines the characters which you can gain through the main chapters of the story.
The castle in which your characters live is a customizable safe haven in which you can buy equipment, form bonds, explore other castles, or gain items. You can build new structures for your castle and place them wherever you like on the grounds. Some of the structures are used for creating items that can be sold, fed to the dragon, or used to buy accessories later in the game. Other structures such as statues and automatons are used in battles against other players when either player challenges the other to a match in the castle. The overall layout of the grounds can be changed between a few different available presets which can be changed at any time by speaking to your assistant. You can also change the assistant, castle name, placement of structures, and music for your castle at any time. Building your castle is one of the most fun and important aspects of the game.
Fire Emblem Fates has far more replay value than any other game and there are so many ways to play through the game. For those looking forward to forming bonds between the characters and customizing the game more Birthright might be better to start with than Conquest. On the contrary for long-time fans of tactical RPGs who are looking for a challenge I would recommend Conquest over Birthright. Both games are unique in their own ways and it would be worth it to play through both to see different sides of the same story in this massive RPG. I highly recommend this game to beginners of the Fire Emblem series as well as devoted Fire Emblem fans.
Pros: Character Pairing, Castle Customization, Extensive Gameplay
Cons: Minimal Soundtrack
SCORE – 95%
This review is based on a purchased copy of Fire Emblem Fates: Birthright on the Nintendo 3DS.