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Fire Emblem Fates: Birthright – Nintendo 3DS

Fire Emblem Fates: Birthright – Nintendo 3DS

Birthright-ciPlatform: Nintendo 3DS

Developer: Intelligent Systems

Publisher: Nintendo

Release Date (NA): February 19, 2016

Genre: Tactical RPG

Nerd Rating: 7 out of 10

In the time between Fire Emblem Fates and Awakening, I was able to dive into the series and play a number of older titles, like Shadow Dragon and New Mystery of the Emblem on the DS, Radiant Dawn on the Wii, and The Sacred Stones for the GBA. The last month before I received my copy of Birthright in the mail, I spent my time re-playing Fire Emblem: Awakening to get back into the swing of things.

Introducing My Castle, Fire Emblem Fates‘ new customizable hub area.

I suppose this insight helped me since Fire Emblem Fates: Birthright was advertised as being similar to Awakening while Fire Emblem Fates: Conquest hearkens back to the older days for the series.  However, I would say Fire Emblem Fates is a beast of its own. Sitting and comparing it to any of its predecessors simply wouldn’t do these games justice, as Fates brings the series further into the modern gaming culture of involved storytelling blended with tried and true gameplay.

Fire Emblem Fates: Birthright was the first of the three versions of Fire Emblem Fates that I’ve played. While Birthright is a good game in its own right, I feel that it didn’t quite in the end measure up to Conquest and Revelations. I would, however, suggest playing Birthright first as it nicely sets up the intricacies in the plot while giving players a chance to break in the game’s new mechanics before hitting the harder Conquest.

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In Birthright enemies can now pair up to perform dual attacks and dual guards.

Now, on that note, Birthright is commonly referred to as the easier version, and that isn’t entirely false. Birthright, like Awakening, allows the player to level grind between in-game chapters using gold, which can give the player a level advantage down the line. However, it is nowhere as easy as Awakening, as players can’t use a class seal to reset a unit to level one and grind until their stats no longer rise. Now, reclassing a unit keeps them at the same level when changing between promoted classes, while classes that don’t lead to a promotion have a level cap of 40.

In terms of plot, Birthright is pretty cut and dry. Like the other two versions, Birthright starts with a six chapter prologue that starts with the game’s protagonist, the customizable Nohrian prince/ss Corrin who has been sheltered his/her entire life in a fortress. One day, Corrin is told by their older brother, the crown Prince Xander, that their father, King Garon, has decided to allow Corrin to join the family at the Nohrian capital. The player is given some insight into the cruel nature of King Garon before Corrin is sent off on a seemingly harmless mission to scout an abandoned fort at the border between Nohr and the rivaling nation, Hoshido.

Corrin’s mission doesn’t go as planned and he/she is knocked out and dragged off to Hoshido, to learn that they are actually a missing member of the Hoshidan royal family that had been kidnapped as a child. After getting a glance of Hoshidan life, an attack on the Hoshidan marketplace and the unexpected appearance of Corrin’s Nohrian siblings force the player to choose which side they believe is their true family.

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In Birthright, Corrin decides to stay in Hoshido with their blood siblings in order to help them fend off the invading Nohrian army. They end up slowly pushing back into Nohr, facing off against Corrin’s Nohrian family along the way, to end the war once and for all…and that’s it. While the plot may appear everything but dark, Birthright does take some pretty dark turns with a couple of characters committing suicide by the game’s conclusion

fef-bir-i06

Birthright includes new version-exclusive Hoshidan classes, chock full of Japanese historical references.

Fire Emblem Fates: Birthright takes some interesting diversions from the rest of the series in gameplay mechanics and presentation. For the first time in a Fire Emblem game that I can recall, there are some very obvious reference to Asian culture. Besides retaining the original Japanese names of Hoshidan characters, classes, weaponry, and even set pieces in the player’s hub center, My Castle, have an Asian theme. In fact, it’s actually a pretty interesting to see the contrast between Nohr and Hoshido’s range of classes, including the version exclusive class for Corrin, Hoshido Noble.

In addition to that, classes seem to be better balanced in Birthright, with flying mounted units no longer being the killing machines they were in Awakening, and melee combat units becoming more susceptible to magic attacks. However, now with the ability for players to purchase skills from other players by seizing their online hub castles, one can still create an army of completely broken units (just not all with both Lifetaker and Galeforce this time).

Combat stances are also reworked in Birthright to make using them more strategic by only allowing paired units to help block hits instead of assisting with attacks. Units that are adjacent to one another, but also paired with another one, can instead perform dual attacks, but not dual guards. This also goes for enemy units, which now have the ability to pair up and block help your attacks. When it gets down to it, many of the gameplay changes in Fire Emblem Fates were seemingly made to make the game not as exploitable and pathetically easy as Awakening. Even removing the limited use from all non-stave weapons, but in turn adding status effects that become worse by weapon grade, was seemingly done to bring back the challenge that was lost in the previous title.

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What’s left of Skinshipping in the form of random mini-games involving the player’s spouse.

Birthright also keeps Awakening‘s support system with a few new changes, such as added A+ rank that, with S-rank supports, can allow units to change into classes they normally would be bared from. Only Corrin however, can not reach A+ rank with anyone, but can reclass at A-rank support instead. The marriage system also returns, with child units receiving a skill from both parents as well as class sets. However, this time around I didn’t care much about the child units as much as I did Awakening‘s, because the whole “child placed in a special world that rapidly ages them” wasn’t as integral to the game as “children returning to the past to save the future.” That, and, the player receives enough units throughout the game to make the child units not as necessary.

In addition to having children units however, players now have actual interactions with Corrin’s spouse in the form of short mini-games using the touchscreen and microphone. Specifically, one which requires using the stylus to wake up said spouse and one where the player has to blow into the mic hole to cool off their spouse after a hot bath. The petting mini-game, Skinshipping, may not have been fully implemented into the North American release’s final cut, but the ability to bond with units is still available (you just can’t touch them).

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Overall, Fire Emblem Fates: Birthright is a fantastic new chapter in the Fire Emblem series. The new animations and graphics look great, it sounds great, and the storytelling is different enough from previous series installments to not bore out long-time fans. Perhaps being able to turn into an Arceus-looking dragon wasn’t as cool as it was advertised in the end, but it more than makes up for that by being interesting enough to be replayed three times over.

Written by Doc Croc

Doc Croc aka Kelly is Nerd Bacon’s Editor-in-Chief and resident narcoleptic. In the off-chance she isn’t already asleep, you can find her here at the Bacon!

 
 

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