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Fire Emblem Fates Preview - Interview with Elieson from Serenes Forest (Part 2)

+ posted by Kaoz in Interviews on Feb 13, 2016 09:30
After being released in Japan on June 25th, 2015, Fire Emblem Fates is hitting the shelves in the United States one week from now, on February 19th. The Fire Emblem franchise received a big boost thanks to Fates' predecessor, Fire Emblem Awakening, and has become one of Nintendo's core franchises in the past years. To find out what the Western audience can expect from the newest installment in the series, we sat down with Serenes Forest News Editor Elieson.

NOTE that no major spoilers will be discussed. Due to length of the interview, we had to split it into 3 parts. This is part 2. Check out part 1 here, part 3 will be posted tomorrow.

Elieson To explain it best, Corrin is the above average offensive front liner with pretty good defensive capabilities, but his long term survival is the biggest problem to overcome. Long gone are the days of your main character camping with Sol and the Nosferatu tome to outheal the damage you receive. Corrin is the most muscle you get for a while.

Kaoz Well, I cannot say I will miss that particular strategy. Let's continue the gameplay discussion for a moment and talk about difficulty. Earlier you mentioned the permanent death mechanic which has been a staple feature of the series from the very beginning. Some veteran fans even think of it as one of Fire Emblem's defining elements.

Elieson Permanent Death, or as Nintendo refers to it, "Permadeath", is probably the single most defining trait of the entire Fire Emblem franchise. If you complete a battle with one of your characters, or even a character not yet on your team that could join later, dead, they stay dead. You can't get them back later, and you can't go back and try the chapter again later either. It applies a fun sense of pressure, and provides the player with that emotional investment I was talking about earlier.

Kaoz However, it also served as a daunting entrance barrier for newcomers to overcome. Because of this, a new setting called Casual Mode was added two installments ago. In Casual Mode, fallen units are resurrected after completing a chapter. Is this option present in Fates as well or was it abandoned or replaced?

Elieson Casual Mode was present in the two previous titles and the Fates trio also not only allows players to enjoy the game in its original, Classic, format, but does include the same Casual gameplay as well. Beyond this is the so-called "Phoenix Mode", in which characters are resurrected on the turn immediately after their demise.

Furthermore, you can switch your mode on the fly right within the options menu of an active save file. It's far from what I would consider "fair", but introduces a strange element of gameplay that I'm not used to having. I kind of like the idea of being able to turn on Phoenix mode and let my daughter have her fun while I'm busy doing other things, and then I can return to my game, re-activate Classic and play as I normally would. I myself will camp on Classic mode until the franchise doesn't allow me to do so.

Finally, each game offers three modes of difficulty (altering enemy stats, skills and items). These cannot be altered as you go. It provides a nice mix-up to the gameplay, mainly because from the start you can set the game up to be more friendly towards a newer or younger audience, or jump straight into your standard Fire Emblem experience.

Kaoz I assume the three difficulties are Normal, Hard and Lunatic just as in Awakening? Is there no hidden difficulty mode above Lunatic this time?

Elieson They are by name, but definitely not by trait. Fire Emblem Fates offers three games with the same difficulties, but Conquest's "Normal" is easily comparable to Birthright's "Hard", or even somewhere in between Birthright's Hard and Lunatic. Revelation is said to be balanced in between the two, but I have not yet laid my hands on that one to experience it for myself. I certainly welcome the challenge, but warn first timers to Conquest that "Hard" will definitely offer a long and steady challenge.

To my knowledge there aren't any hidden difficulty modes. In Fire Emblem Awakening, you unlocked Lunatic+ (Casual and Classic) by beating Lunatic of each respective mode. That mode wasn't exactly fair though, and I'm glad to hear that it's not returning.

Kaoz I am actually sad to hear that it is not, at least conceptually it is my favorite mode in the series. You are right that it had some problems though. Moving on, you mentioned Birthright, Conquest and Revelation – for the first time in Fire Emblem history, there are three versions of the same game. How exactly does this work, what are the differences?

Elieson The simplest way to explain the differences between the versions is to say that, at Chapter 6, you pick a route and stick with it. The recruitable characters, your available gear and even the ability to participate in side-battles for easy EXP and gold, vary from version to version. Birthright offers an easier mode of gameplay, with a plot centralized around "beat the bad guys from the outside". Conquest allows you to play in an environment with limited resources and to sort of "fix the bad guys from the inside". Revelation is a clever deviation from both, rather than a mix of the two. It's difficult to compare them, but to say the least, it's nothing like Pokémon Red/Blue/Yellow. After chapter 6, everything changes.

Which side will you choose?

Kaoz And you can only unlock Revelations after beating both Birthright and Conquest, right? How does this work when buying the game?

Elieson Not quite. You can go out and buy Birthright and Conquest on the 19th, or Revelations on March 10th. They're all different games that you can purchase, and within the game, at the Chapter 6 "decision", you can opt to play a different version, which prompts you to buy and download one of the other versions at a reduced price of 50% ($39.99 for 1 game, $19.99 for each subsequent version).

Kaoz Oh, so if you want to play all three versions, it is almost a three games for two kind of deal. Does the version split affect your save data in any way? For instance, is it possible to transfer data between versions?

Elieson There's three save files, per version that you own. Convenient, yes?

Kaoz So you can have up to nine files to play around with? That is convenient, indeed. Now, as we mentioned earlier, this is the first time there are multiple versions of the same game and it really is the norm for Fire Emblem games to bring something entirely new to the table in each installment. But does it end at the version split for Fates or are there any other innovative features?

Elieson There's the option to start the game right at the version split, which is exciting. This is a feature not really offered since the first Fire Emblem game released in the West.

There is also the Personal Skill, which every recruitable character has, in addition to their five Class Skills. This is a non-removable perk which is pretty neat, and helps define each character a bit more.

After that, there is the My Castle feature, which is basically a customizable Home Base complete with stores, statues and other neat elements of visual design and convenience. You can play online battles with up to four players at once. It's pretty intricate, and I can't wait to try this out!

Kaoz They have added an actual online multiplayer? That is unexpected. While this feature was absent for a while, the first Fire Emblem game released for Nintendo DS, Fire Emblem Shadow Dragon also had a similar mode, but it was rather barebones back then. How does this new one compare to that?

Elieson That's right. In Shadow Dragon, there was a two player, 5 v 5 battle scenario in pre-built maps. In Fates, there can be up to four people battling with armies of varying sizes, on a particular player's My Castle. Elements of the My Castle can help boost your team or harm others statistically, so it's much more in-depth.

Kaoz Sounds like a clear improvement then. Can you tell us some more about My Castle though?

Elieson It'd take me an hour to give the full list of features, but each version of the game comes with three "Layout styles". You can build all sorts of structures, armories and socialization locales like Hot Springs. When members of your army work at any store, you get a discount on their preferred supplies. You can scan in Fire Emblem amiibo and interact with them, and you can also visit other people's My Castles just to socialize, borrow their units and share resources for forging weaponry. Revelations combines the unique elements of the Conquest and Birthright My Castles, so you get six "Layout styles" there, etc. Lastly, it acts as the hub for you between battles, to build your supports, a staple in Fire Emblem.

Kaoz You can probably spend a lot of time in that mode.

Elieson You can. In Birthright, you could easily spend more time outside of the main game if you wanted to. It's crazy how much this has grown. It's a far cry from the Fire Emblem Radiant Dawn base that American fans are used to.

This is it for part 2, tomorrow we are going to talk about localization differences and how the game has been received so far in the final part. Stay tuned.

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