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Fire Emblem Fates is an interesting game to review. In terms of the moment to moment gameplay it is an improvement over its predecessor, Awakening. But taken as a whole it is a step down from the game that saved the Fire Emblem franchise.
Fire Emblem Fates tweaks the strategy mechanics to be more balanced, and the level designs and objectives are more varied and diverse than Awakening's, even in the easier Birthright campaign. As a result, playing the individual stages is more enjoyable than ever.
But Fates suffers in its story and characters. What made Awakening such a memorable game was the way its story, characters, and mechanics meshed so well together. The story of Fates does not mesh with those same mechanics, like the child characters, who have no place in the story this time around. And new elements like the other-dimensional base just seem out of place.
Characterization is also weaker. This may be a result of having so many characters over 3 versions of the game, but outside of the 2 royal families, Fates does a poor job of introducing the side characters compared to Awakening. The support conversations help flesh them out, but the initial motivation to see the supports in the first place is missing.
I can't help but wonder if the problems in the story stem from the game being on a handheld with 6th gen level hardware. They tried to make the story more ambitious, and it backfired. With the announcement that an HD Fire Emblem game is in the works for the Switch we will see if the increase in file size and specs can help the develops tell a truly epic story that gives enough time for the side characters and works to enhance its gameplay mechanics rather than making them feel out of place.
While I've been largely negative in this review, I do think that Fire Emblem Fates is a great game. But it ultimately cannot reach the heights of its immediate predecessor.
Very nicely said, I totally agree
...You\'re blaming writing problems on the hardware?
I think what uncannybeetle is trying to refer to is the Tellius series, which had long stories of political betrayal, conflict, and character development. Most (but not all, Birth By Sleep and 358/2 days come to mind) portable games I\'ve encountered put more emphasis on making gameplay work and less on story writing. Developers make the stories shorter in comparison to consoles of the limits of the technological capacity. Not to mention console games tend to have larger budgets, meanings the writing teams are a bit more motivated to write something that doesn\'t simply fill the space between maps.
However, much of FE\'s games are portable so I can understand your confusion. I liked Blazing Blade and that was for the Gameboy Advanced. Admittedly, consoles won\'t prevent the next FE from having a bad story, it just increases the chance of having a more complex one.
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