I’ve been a fan of Fire Emblem for years. I didn’t start with Awakening, I started with Sacred Stones. I’ve been following the games since the early 2000s, and up until now, they’ve been among my favorite games. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to seem pretentious in saying this.
I love Fire Emblem: Awakening. I consider it objectively speaking to be the best game in the series (yes, including Fates) and it created a hub the likes of which I’ve never seen. I played it on both casual and classic modes, experiencing it in many ways with many avatars. That game in my opinion was the true pinnacle of what Fire Emblem is capable of being. Even the child system was awesome.
The way it weaved into the story so seamlessly was brilliant. There was an idea where pairing people off felt like it enhanced battles overall. Combining that element with permanent death made for one of the most emotionally gripping and invested Fire Emblem games ever made.
It’s no wonder that this was such a success, appealing to fans who had never even so much as tried the game before. But was this a good thing?
Several years later, enter Fire Emblem: Fates. I want to start by saying that from a gameplay perspective, I truly enjoy this game. I would however say, the game tries way too hard to replicate the same wow factor that really caught the eyes of players with Awakening at the cost of inconsistency, and at some points outright pandering.
I was all for the addition of a casual mode. Permanent Death is a feature, but it can sometimes ruin the experience. I can imagine why someone might want a more casual approach to experience the world and still have some level of challenge. Enter Phoenix Mode, and now there’s an actual mode of the game dedicated entirely to ignoring every aspect of the game that was balanced to be challenging in the first place.
This easy mode doesn’t remove permadeath. It removes death entirely! At that point you’re not even playing a game anymore. This is doing the Nintendo thing of trying to appeal to a larger audience with a product that has a relatively narrow demographic to start.
What direction is Fire Emblem headed in? Only time may tell. But hopefully the developers put the emphasis back where it belongs. Stop making marriage the center focus of the game, and bring it all back to its roots. You have a big army, and everyone has a truly amazing personality. The writers never fell short when creating characters. It’s all about letting them shine.
Also, at the end of the day, it’s a strategy game. You can make it easier, but keep it fun. Keep the weight of situations. Keep the reality of a vicious unforgiving world at war. That is the nature of Fire Emblem.