My Reaction to the Fire Emblem Direct

Can you believe that just a few short years ago, Fire Emblem Awakening was gonna be the last hurrah for this series? It’s crazy to think about now. Fates was a huge title that sold very well on the 3DS. Fire Emblem Amiibo are not only popular, but hard to come by. And Smash Bros has what, 50% of its roster from Fire Emblem? Okay, that one’s a bit of an exaggeration. But seriously, the fact that Fire Emblem is this popular in the west when the whole series was about to end is a pretty wild prospect. And few things reflect that more than the fact that this past week’s Fire Emblem direct showed off not one, not even two, but FOUR upcoming titles! Today, I’m going to share my thoughts on each of those.

FIRE EMBLEM: HEROES
Fire Emblem Heroes.jpg
While this game perhaps had more information revealed than any of the others shown off during the Direct, it’s the one I’m least interested in so I’m gonna focus on it first. Fire Emblem Heroes is Nintendo’s next mobile game, a free-to-play title that allows you to take tactical strategy battles on the go. The game plays just like you’d expect an FE mobile game to play: you still move units around a grid-based map with terrain and obstacles; you still fight strategic battles of swords and sorcery; and you still have to pay attention to the relationship between different weapons.

What’s different here is character recruitment. Characters fall into different categories based on the weapons they wield, and you “purchase” characters by cashing in orbs to gain the ability to summon them. Each character has a few different levels of power you can recruit them at, so you may end up with two or three versions of the same character that perform rather differently. You gain characters at random, but the more orbs you spend in a row, the cheaper it is to keep recruiting characters of the same type. So your best shot at getting a particular character you want is to keep dropping orbs in one sitting.

This is where things get – I want to say sketchy, but I guess that’s a bit unfair. This is where microtransactions get involved. You can earn orbs strictly through gameplay, but orb-earning is slow going and it would take an intimidating amount of time to get enough to spend a bunch at once (therefore lowering the summoning cost and increasing your chances of getting the character you actually want). Conversely, you can pay some cash money for orbs instead. As someone who isn’t a mobile gamer by nature, microtransactions are a huge turn-off for me, but for those who are cool with dropping some extra money for orbs this feature will make it a lot easier to get strong characters.

Fire Emblem: Heroes is heading to mobile devices this February, so if this game seems like your kind of thing then be sure to check it out!

FIRE EMBLEM SWITCH
Fire Emblem Switch.jpg
While we learned practically nothing about Fire Emblem Switch, it’s a console game rather than a mobile game, so that automatically makes it 500% more exciting for me. My first FE experience was with Path of Radiance on the Gamecube, and it’s still one of my favorite ones, so I have a soft spot for console Fire Emblem titles.

The main reason I am excited for Fire Emblem Switch is because this is probably the next main series Fire Emblem game. Sure we have other FE games coming out during that time – Fire Emblem Warriors and Fire Emblem Echoes, both of which I’ll be discussing soon – but while both of those will likely be good games in their own right, they aren’t Fire Emblem 15. They aren’t “What’s Next(TM).” This game, on the other hand, likely represents the next step for the Fire Emblem series, and that piques my interest.

In particular, I’m interested to see how the new mechanics introduced in Fates are carried over to the series as a whole. Fire Emblem is typically a European-style setting; Fates changed that up by adding the Japan-inspired Hoshido. This added a number of new classes and weapons to the game, and ultimately a whole new strategy for the Fire Emblem series: attrition. Kaze has this wonderful line at the beginning of Fates where he says “your death need not come all at once,” and it perfectly represents the very viable new strategy introduced by hidden weapons and chip damage skills like Poison Strike. The attrition strategy adds a whole new layer of tactics to Fire Emblem, and I’m curious to see how that strategy is integrated into the series moving forward. Will we see these techniques becoming a part of the more traditional European class structure? Will thieves now function like the ninja in Fates? Will there still be as much weapon variety without the difference between Eastern and Western weaponry? Right now, this game could be anything, and that in itself is very exciting.

FIRE EMBLEM WARRIORS
Fire Emblem Warriors.png
Man, Koei Tecmo is sure riding the crossover wave, eh? First they had Hyrule Warriors and Hyrule Warriors: Legends, then Dragon Quest Heroes 1 and 2, and now Fire Emblem Warriors (not necessarily in this order, now that I think about it). But hey, I’m certainly not complaining. While I never got the opportunity to play Hyrule Warriors, I’ve been playing through Dragon Quest Heroes and the game is actually really solid. They do an excellent job of honoring the source material and bringing those characters to life in an epic, monster-horde-destroying sort of way.

If you’ve never played a Warriors game, basically your character is a god among insects, swatting aside innumerable members of a massive horde without breaking a sweat. It’s about standing alone against an endless tide and it feels pretty awesome to slay a few dozen enemies with a single stroke of your blade. This isn’t to say that things are all easy – you have to fight carefully to overcome the defenses of powerful enemy combatants, and each map has different objectives that test you on differing skills.

If that sounds familiar, it’s probably because Fire Emblem already kind of works that way. Sometimes you’re trying to capture certain points or wipe out all enemies, sometimes you’re defending a key location from attack, sometimes you’re escorting someone important through enemy hordes: all missions you might face in a Fire Emblem chapter as well. The need to utilize specific strategies to overcome powerful squad leaders and bosses fits well with the idea of the weapon triangle, as well as capitalizing on the weaknesses of specific classes.

fire-emblem-warriors-chrom
Go ahead. Mention my mousepad again.

I’m excited for Fire Emblem Warriors for quite a few reasons. I think the two series complement each other and there could be some really cool things done with the game. I also think this is a great opportunity to showcase characters from games besides Awakening and Fates. So many new fans aren’t familiar with the cast of older games, but just because they’re older doesn’t mean they don’t have anything worthwhile about them. It’d be awesome to see main characters like Lyn, Hector, and Ephraim alongside more well-known warriors like Chrom and Corrin, but even more than that to see other fan favorites like Seth, La’Arachel, Soren, and even more “obscure” characters than those. One thing I’ve really been loving about my time with Dragon Quest Heroes is getting to see all these characters I haven’t seen in a very long time in a new light, and to experiment with them and revisit my appreciation for them. It’d be really awesome to have the same opportunity in Fire Emblem Warriors. I want to dart around enemies as Volke, power through them as Gilliam, go undetected as Kellam, soar above them as Caeda, and bash them with potent magics as Ewan. THAT’s the game I’m excited to play, and while they obviously can’t include all 200+ characters from the series in this game, I am confident that the Warriors team will deliver a cast of characters that pleases longtime fans and introduces newcomers to the joy of classic Fire Emblem.

FIRE EMBLEM ECHOES: SHADOWS OF VALENTIA
Fire Emblem Echoes.jpg
This game began the presentation, but ultimately it’s the one I am the most excited for right now. Shadows of Valentia is a remake of Fire Emblem Gaiden, the second game in the entire series. It tells the story of twin protagonists Alm and Celica, who live in a land called Valentia. According to legend, the sibling gods Duma and Mila walked the land. Duma, the older of the two, believed in strict rule through strength of arms; Mila preferred a lifestyle of freedom in pursuit of pleasure. They clashed over their differing ideologies, and the bloody battle lasted for ages until they reached an accord. Rather than actually agree and compromise, they’d just separate the kingdom into northern and southern halves and promise to never cross over the line. You know, typical sibling stuff.

Mila founded the kingdom of Zofia, which at first was super happy because everyone could do whatever they wanted, but it wasn’t long before this hedonistic lifestyle came to bite them in the butt, because…well, they could do whatever they wanted. Meanwhile, Duma founded Rigel, a warlike kingdom which trained everyone to be incredible soldiers by drilling all the joy and kindness out of them. Naturally, neither of these extremes were healthy, and it wouldn’t be long before problems boiled to the surface.

fire-emblem-fates-choice
Hmm, do I choose the warlike kingdom or the peaceful one? Wait…

According to the information given in the Direct, Fire Emblem Gaiden differed from its predecessor by including more traditional JRPG elements like speaking to NPCs in towns, exploring an overworld with random encounters, and delving into dungeons. That’s not to say that the typical Fire Emblem goodness isn’t in there. Once you run into an enemy encounter, the game zooms in on a good ole grid map with your units and the enemy units all positioned and ready for a tactical battle. Presumably, these battles are short-but-sweet versions of the battles we’re used to in the series, still chock full of tactics but shortened down into more manageable bites.

Personally, I think this concept sounds pretty neat. The whole idea of incorporating traditional RPG elements alongside the tactical strategy of Fire Emblem is a great way to freshen things up. We need a break after the 100+ hours of Fates we just endured, and this is a good way to give players Fire Emblem without giving them FIRE EMBLEM so soon after finishing a main series game. I also love the idea of revisiting an old FE game that never hit the states. My one worry is that, much like Shadow Dragon a few years back, the years will not have been kind to Gaiden. Hopefully Intelligent Systems learned from their experience with that game and now know to put more effort into updating this game for modern players.

So why is this game the most exciting one on my list? Well, the main reason is that THIS SUCKER DROPS IN MAY. That’s right. In a matter of months we’ll be able to scoop this game up and delve into the world of Valentia! Whereas with Fire Emblem Warriors or Fire Emblem Switch, we’re looking at waiting nearly a year and longer, respectively. Add to that the fact that this title should feel like a breath of fresh air while still being a Fire Emblem game (whereas FE Warriors is still a Warriors game at the end of the day), and Echoes is absolutely on my most anticipated of 2017 list.

Overall, I thought this Direct had some great information and I was very excited to learn about these upcoming titles. Now I turn the conversation to you, adventurers. Did you watch the Direct? What did you think about it? Feel free to carry on the discussion in the comments below!


WEEKLY UPDATE
NEXT WEEK’S POST: Not sure yet, maybe something on crossover titles a la Koei Tecmo
UPCOMING EVENTS: Nothing big planned this week
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: The Fun Upcoming Nintendo Switch Titles You May Not Know About
The Fire Emblem Direct Presentation
                                                 Dragon Quest VIII released on Nintendo 3DS!

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