Fire Emblem Fates: Birthright

Several roleplaying game series such as Pokémon and Mega Man Battle Network have experimented with selling multiple versions of the same game, with one of the latest to accomplish this being Fire Emblem Fates, which had two incarnations for sale, Conquest and Fire Emblem Fates: Birthright. Whereas Conquest aimed to provide a classic experience with limited opportunities for grinding (although playing on Phoenix Mode, where dead characters revive on the battlefield the next round, can nullify this need), Birthright instead provides a more casual experience, given greater opportunities to grind on the side, and does a general good job at that.

Aside from the aforementioned opportunities, the core tactical gameplay remains the same, with the first few chapters lacking side content, although after the storyline branch, the player accesses their base where they can build and/or upgrade several facilities such as shops, and engage in support conversations with allies. Units are promotable when they reach level ten, although doing so is only recommended at level twenty to ensure max stats. Aside from the common incompetence of the auto-battle mode, such as characters sometimes attacking enemies to a disadvantage in the franchise’s storied weapon triangle, the gameplay is definitely a boon to Birthright.

Control is generally solid all around, with the only real blemish being the tedium of outfitting characters when the party grows large.

Whereas Conquest follows the path of the player choosing to side with Nohr, Birthright follows the plotline if the player chooses to defend Hoshido, with the story being enjoyable, the fates of all surviving characters settled during the ending credits. The translation is great as well, aside from the lazy use of OK, and rare unnatural dialogue, but otherwise, the narrative is a draw to the game, and provides ample reason to play all three versions of Fates.

The soundtrack is good, as always, with sporadic voice acting during conversations that don’t detract, and a vocal track provides the central theme. There are occasional silent parts, but the audio definitely helps the game.

The graphics do, as well, being an amalgamation of two and three-dimensional elements, with common cel-shaded cutscenes and believable character models and well-proportioned sprites during combat. There is occasional blurry texturing and some jaggies, but otherwise, the game is easy on the eyes.

Finally, one can blaze through the game in around seven hours (on the nose for this reviewer), although playing without animations trimmed can significantly boost playtime.

Overall, Fire Emblem Fates: Birthright is a game with definite appeal to both masochists preferring classical-style gameplay and newcomers / casual gamers that merely want to experience the plotline. It definitely executes the idea of multiple versions of the same game better than other franchises such as Pokémon, and provides plentiful initiative for gamers new and old to experience all three branches of the Fates plotline.

The Good:
+Solid tactical gameplay.
+Great control.
+Enjoyable storyline.
+Nice audio.
+Polished visuals.
+Plenty lasting appeal.

The Bad:
-Auto-battle doesn’t always do things right.

The Bottom Line:

Score Breakdown:
Platform: Nintendo 3DS
Game Mechanics: 9/10
Controls: 9/10
Story: 10/10
Localization: 9/10
Music/Sound: 9/10
Graphics: 9/10
Lasting Appeal: 10/10
Difficulty: Adjustable
Playing Time: < 12 Hours

Overall: 9.5/10

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