I've finally finished my first playthrough of Fire Emblem Fates, here's my though on it, if you're interested in it.
I've decided to play all the 3 paths, So I started with Hoshido. My hearth was actually with Nohr but because Hoshido was said to be the easiest path I choose to start with this. Because of that, my choice to go with Hoshido was quite heart breaking, but it had its charm. In that sense The introduction to the game is really well done.
Let's start with the goods:
• The gameplay and mecanics are soooo good. Way better than Awakening. The new pairing system is much more balanced. Without going too deep, basically, before you would pair 2 unit together and form an ubber unit stronger in everyways, which made using unpaired unit a bit pointless. Now how it goes is that you pair 2 unit together to favor defense, and you make unit fight side by side to favor offense. It's a much better balance. On top of that ennemy units can now pair up too, which you have to take into consideration.
• Class system and skills is also better handled it’s a bit confusing at first but it makes sense. Individual skills seems a bit more balanced, you can more easily switch to different class to grab some new skills and better keep track of the overall level of the unit, which now has a cap you can unlock with money.
• Weapon system is also muuuuch better. First the weapon triangle is now better balanced, with bows, magic and throw weapon taken into account. Second the weapon durability is no more, now weapon are balanced so that stronger weapon have some downside. It makes choosing which weapon to use more of a strategic choice instead of “I should keep this one for stronger ennemies” and never use it until you can buy infinite amount of the same item at the shop. Now you use your money and duplicate weapon to upgrade them, What it also does is allowing for legendary items like Falchion more often, and more diverse effect on weapon. It’s simply great.
• Level design, I heard Birthright map are pretty simple, but even then they seems better designed than awakening. Now reinforcement happens at the end of the ennemy turn, givin you a fighting chance (no more ennemy flyer spawning in your backlines and murdering your squishy units without a fair warning). With enemy pair ups you got some ennemy “miniboss” along the way that make for nice encounter. And there is thoses dragon vein that allow you to interact with the level.
• Presentation is as good as ever Beautifull design, feets, lots of gorgeous CG cutscene, soundtrack is nice ( not quite awakening for what I’ve heard in this first run but good nonetheless ) the production value is awesome for a 3DS game. I can't wait for the NX.
So all in all, it’s a great game, especially at a gameplay level… but overall it’s far from perfect, here’s the bad:
• Story and narration starts strong but fall flat on it’s face pretty quick Before you make the big choice, you got introduced to a lot of stuff, things are kept interesting and surprising but once you pledge your allegience to Hoshido, it gets pretty straight forward until the very end. A lot of questions remains unanswered and the story pretty much only revolved around introducing characters. A lot of things happening are pretty ridiculous too and are not convincing at all. We’re very far from the Emmeryn death in Awakening, which overall did a much much better jobs at narrating its fairly simple story.
I feel like the underlying story might be interesting but by only playing Birthright you won’t get much of it.
• Character design is a bit unoriginal, Not all of them of course, but a good portion of them really look like Awakening remasters, And overall the game took a lot from Awakening on the narration level.
• The main character is boriiiiiiiiiiiing…and not very credible Robin in Awakening was great, he was a bookworm and great strategist, He had a certain charisma and was who you were supposed to be, you as the player was the strategist leading your army on the battlefield. But outside of it, Chrom was the real hero. He was the leader, he was someone you wanted to follow around, learning how to become a ruler through trial and errors, they both made for a great duo with their strenghts and weaknesses. In Fates: Birthright Corrin/Kamui is pretty much a brat… Knowing nothing of the outside world, you’re the little brother of everyone and yet you are given the highest responsability of leading the whole kingdom to war. You don’t grow much along the way and stay the same bland character that everyone love so much without any reasons until the end.
• The english dub is … not awesome to makes thing worse for the characters, the overall english voice over is not that great...the ones that sound good stands up and make for much more likeable characters, some really do sound bad, and says stupid things.
• And finally the pacing sucks It’s one of the worse issu I have with the game right now. The pacing is baaaaaad. And that’s why It took me so long to finish the first path. Outside of children mission you don’t get secondary missions and by the time I got to the ending I only got one children. So in order to get more I had to grind some bland skirmish and then do side mission after side mission before doing the final chapter. This plus the fact the story is not very interesting makes for a really bad pacing. In Awakening you got to childrens side missions during the second / third arc of the game and you could alternate between story mission and secondary mission, while still having interesting new maps. I hope other path are better at this. At least I’m warned and I’ll try to get children as soon as possible…
So here it is. How I feel about Fire Emblem Fates: Birthright It’s a bit worse than what I expected, especially on the story and character side, but it’s also better on the gameplay side. I reserve my final judgement for the whole Conquest / Revelation story which should be more interesting but If you were planning on playing only one path don’t play Birthright, you won’t like the story.
Right now it’s a great game, but it’s no Awakening