Fire Emblem Fates: Birthright is here and at last comes a game which makes newcomers to the series feel right at home, thanks to its accessible nature and the ability to take it easy when it comes to the turn based RPG combat.
For those not really up to date on the series, Fire Emblem Fates: Birthright follows up on the 2013 release of ‘Awakening,’ which released for 3DS in 2013 and was pretty much a critical and commercial success. So it makes sense then that we’re now looking at yet another game in this long running series, although Birthright is not the only Fire Emblem game in the market at this time, as Fire Emblems Conquest and the download-only Revelation are also available. So if you’re a fan of the franchise then these three games will likely keep you going for well over a hundred hours, as they each offer something than just a different name, mostly in terms of how difficult they are to get through, although we are sure there are other differences too. Thankfully, Birthright is the game for those new to the series, or like me, those who just like to take it easy without the stress of getting your party killed every time you face a battle.
"If you own a 3DS then you’ll be hard pushed to find a better JRPG than this."
When starting off the first thing you’ll do is customise your character, who can be either male or female. You’ll also choose how difficult the game should be, as well as which battle mode you’d like, which basically means that you can decide what happens to fallen NPC’s in battle - either they’ll suffer a permanent death, be removed from the rest of the game or be revived at the end of each battle. Thanks to the addition of the new Phoenix mode you can even revive NPC’s at the end of a turn, of course I was happy to test this mode out.
As far as the story goes, your character, who by default is known as Corrin, starts the game as a member of the Hoshido royal family, although kidnapped by Nohr at a young age he’s now become part of the furniture and therefore, is stuck in the middle of what is quite the predicament. You see, Corrin’s real father, King Garon of the Nohr, is determined to crush the Hoshido, so this leaves Corrin with a choice to make and no matter which path he chooses in either of the games, be that Birthright or Conquest, he’ll be fighting against either his own or adopted family.
Obviously whichever way Corrin decides to go he’ll hurt someone’s feelings, but that’s the sort of decisions you’ll need to make. These decisions will also help decide who accompanies Corrin into battle. What I will say about the story is that it’s very melodramatic and depending how you feel about JRPG’s, it will either resonate with you or not. On the bright side, the action is pretty darn addictive and will definitely grab your attention.
Combat is certainly the most interesting part of Fire Emblem Fates in my opinion, with the game allowing you to use individual character to fight against the enemy in a turn based fashion, or if you like, pair up your characters to make for a stronger unit. As you fight, characters level up and gain abilities, making them stronger. Corrin can even turn into a Dragon, which makes light work of any enemies in his path. As mentioned, the action is turn based, so you’ll head towards the enemy, choose your next move and then watch as the action unfolds. Any A.I partners will then take their turn, leaving the enemy to strike last.
Once you win a battle, the chapter will end and the story moves on. You will spend a lot of time watching the story act out, with characters building relationships and even able to eventually get married.
As well as playing through the main plot, you’ll also have to defend your home castle from invasion. This sees you building defences in order to stop the enemy from crumbling everything you have fought for. There’s also the ability to scout out a fight and of course, find plenty of gold, all of which makes for a game which could keep you busy for a long time to come.
On the presentation side it’s hard to complain about the design laid out before your eyes, with the game offering attractive top down visuals and cutscenes that are designed well enough to appeal to those who are fond of epic Japanese style games. It’d be interesting to see what the developers could do with a little more power than what the 3DS affords, but what’s on offer is pleasant enough.
Fire Emblem Fates: Birthright is both accessible to newcomers and veterans alike, offering a way for those new to the series to ease themselves in, while also offering enough challenge for those who are used to what the series has to offer. If you own a 3DS then you’ll be hard pushed to find a better JRPG than this.
Words by Joe Anderson
Twitter: @_wotta | PSN/XBLA: wotta
(Version Tested: 3DS)
+ Looks great
+ Accessible for newcomers
+ Addictive action
- Story/Action won’t be for everyone