Fire Emblem Fates: Conquest (Nintendo 3DS) Review

By Rudy Lavaux 20.05.2016 3

Review for Fire Emblem Fates: Conquest on Nintendo 3DS

Coming off the heels of reviewing Fire Emblem Fates: Birthright, it is now time to move on to its immediate and direct opposite brethren, Fire Emblem Fates: Conquest. Birthright turned out to be undoubtedly the entry designed to appeal most to those who only started being fans of the series with Awakening. The latter already pulled out all the stops in terms of accessibility for those who could not properly enjoy the excellent stories and casts of characters due to the difficulty. Birthright continued in this trend, but long time fans fear not, as Nintendo has also considered their pleas, bringing forth Fire Emblem Fates: Conquest as the one particular side of the story made to satisfy their cravings for an adventure that leaves little space for grinding and puts all the emphasis on strategy instead. It is then time to dive in and find out how it differs, but as was previously stated in the Birthright review, it is strongly recommend that readers who have not yet read about the latter go back and read the first part of this three-part review of the complete Fire Emblem Fates experience.

Fire Emblem Fates is a whole package split into three separate games but, overall, they all play essentially the same, with the exact same mechanics. Indeed, each separate scenario is like its very own Fire Emblem entry: although each shares the same gameplay, the same options, and is essentially the exact same game at core, each offers the amount of content to be expected from any regular iteration. They all share the same cast of characters, playable in that specific version or not, although Birthright and Conquest both have 17 exclusive characters to recruit not found in the opposite version. Therefore, in essence, beyond the initial purchase of a version of the player's choosing, there is the chance to purchase an extra Fire Emblem experience at pretty much half the price of a full game, as DLC. This turns out to be both a gift and a curse, however.

For the most eager players, additional scenarios will simply be seen as more, optional content for half the price of a full game, which is indeed true. Some others, however, will feel, not wrongly so, that the full content might just as well have been included directly as a whole, cohesive package, even if sold slightly more expensive than a regular 3DS title, as is actually the case with the Special Edition physical release. After all, the whole Branch of Fate thing was done before in the series to some extent, so it is not an entirely new thing. It could be argued that Fire Emblem on Game Boy Advance, the first title released outside of Japan, used to let people play as Hector instead of Eliwood.

Screenshot for Fire Emblem Fates: Conquest on Nintendo 3DS

In the latter part of that game, after clearing it once, the Hector scenario offered a different insight on the story and some character-exclusive chapters and characters to recruit. Likewise, Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones also offered a parting of ways, playing as brother or sister through a different set of chapters for at least part of the outing, expanding the story and offering more content, all on one cartridge. In fact, the Special Edition bundles them all on one cartridge indeed, so it was not an issue about size. Admittedly, the amount of playable content here, bringing all three scenarios together, is colossal by comparison and it should not be forgotten that each scenario is designed to appeal to a different crowd.

Indeed, Fire Emblem as a franchise has come a long way since the aforementioned Game Boy Advance releases. Fire Emblem Awakening sold worldwide like no other title in the series before it and brought along, thanks to its more accessible formula, a whole new audience who like the accessibility offered by the previous 3DS title, while on the other hand, accessibility was regarded by fans as a curse that took away from what made Fire Emblem great to them all this time when it wasn't quite as mainstream yet: hardcore strategy. The whole concept of having three separate scenarios, as their own separate game to purchase is, therefore, a double edged-sword with its advantages and drawbacks. It is certainly not a wholly bad idea, but it will definitely have its detractors, for altogether valid reasons.

Screenshot for Fire Emblem Fates: Conquest on Nintendo 3DS

Conquest is, as mentioned in the Birthright review, the hardest of the three, offering very little opportunity to build up characters. This is in fact exactly the way in which things were done in every title before Awakening, except for The Sacred Stones, due to the linear nature of those older releases giving a predetermined amount of chapters for players to work through in a single order. This is not exactly the case here, but it aims to bring back some of that feeling that not all characters will be able to reach their maximum level and, thus, some will have to sit on the bench if wanting to keep up with the increasing level of difficulty and feed the limited amount of experience points available to those units that are truly useful.

That's not to say that Conquest players have only a limited amount of opportunities to level up - no - but they are far more limited. For one thing, there is room for some mild grinding in the form of DLC map packs in all versions. Coming out at the same time as the game, the free "Before Awakening" pack will allow for grinding experience points and also to build relationships between players. Other map packs also allow experience grinding, such as the rather expensive initial pack of 11 downloadable maps made available at the same time as the game itself. In addition to those battles, the hero's base of operations (more on that in the Revelation review) can be invaded and attacked by enemy units who come to destroy buildings and kill the player's army.

Screenshot for Fire Emblem Fates: Conquest on Nintendo 3DS

These invasion battles on the base happen seemingly at random, but can be fought at any time of the gamer's choosing, simply waiting to be completed on the main world menu. Those are another good opportunity to level-up characters, in addition to the 27 regular chapters that move the story forward. In fact, in Fire Emblem Fates: Conquest, besides DLC map packs and Paralogues that are still present and also sit on the menu waiting to be completed, Invasion Battles are the only way for grinding a little bit of experience, since challenge battles found in Birthright simply do not exist in that version.

Conquest is indeed one tough title, well in line with the oldest in the franchise in terms of difficulty. It is, however, worth noting that it's possible to lower the difficulty at any time if realising that the setting chosen upon starting a new game was perhaps a bit too ambitious, yet it is not possible to increase it beyond the latter, so if players new to the franchise look to risk themselves to experience that part of the story at any level above the normal one, they can always revert back to the easier setting after reconsidering, without having to start over from the Branch of Fates. On the whole, though, it is definitely hard to recommend for newcomers, despite the story in itself being very gripping indeed. There is, however, a third path - Revelation - that strikes the balance between the two previous paths, so it is strongly advised to stick around as the Cubed3 tour of Fire Emblem Fates comes to a close.

Screenshot for Fire Emblem Fates: Conquest on Nintendo 3DS

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

Fire Emblem Fates: Conquest brings the series back to its roots in terms of difficulty, while still retaining much of what made Awakening so great. All of the increases in depth in terms of character relationships and crazy skills that had not be seen before the precious 3DS instalment is still very much here while still offering a decent challenge, which will be for the delight of the most hardcore fans of the series. What it all means, however, is that people who loved Awakening so much for being more accessible, and who after choosing Birthright as their first version may want to experience the other side of the story will have no choice whatsoever but to cope with the higher difficulty, which is the flip side of the medal, since there is no optional way to alleviate a bit of the difficulty. Clever strategy and careful character progression, the old way, will be the only way one can hope to see the ending. It will, therefore, be the version of choice to perhaps be played last of all after those players have brought themselves up to scratch with the more hardcore crowd who have been fans of the franchise for much longer and know what it is to play with limited resources and limited opportunities for earning experience points, but it is certainly the most rewarding experience of the three, offering the most varied mission objectives.

Developer

Intelligent Systems

Publisher

Nintendo

Genre

Strategy

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10 (1 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

Is permadeath avoidable in Conquest? I personally don't like the idea of permadeath and I'm currently enjoying Awakening (my first FE game) already got the limited edition of Fates. Just wondering.

Our member of the week

Permadeath is indeed optional like it was in Awakening, no matter which version you're playing.

Cubed3 Limited Staff :: Review and Feature Writer

RudyC3 said:
Permadeath is indeed optional like it was in Awakening, no matter which version you're playing.

Well, that's good to know. When I'm done with Awakening, I might have a break before starting Birthright!

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