Fire Emblem Fates: Birthright (Nintendo 3DS) Second Opinion Review

By Rudy Lavaux 19.05.2016

Review for Fire Emblem Fates: Birthright on Nintendo 3DS

After months of waiting since it saw release in North America, and even almost a full year after its Japanese debut, it is finally here. Fire Emblem Fates has arrived in Europe with great fanfare! In fact, after the immense success of Fire Emblem: Awakening a couple of years back, this latest release might well be the most anticipated and hyped release to date, and with good reason, too, considering pretty much anyone who was expecting it knows that it comes in the form of three separate versions: Birthright, Conquest and Revelation. It is set to break new ground for the series in many aspects and forms. As a result of this particular entry being so unconventional in its set-up, this calls for special measures, as Cubed3 brings its readers a set of three reviews, one for each title, all coming together to bring them the full details of everything that should be known about what is probably the biggest release on 3DS so far this year. What better way to start off than to examine Fire Emblem Fates: Birthright first?

The way things are designed, at least on the downloadable version of Fire Emblem Fates: Birthright, players are not expected to make the choice of what version they would like to play without having any information as to what the story is or anything. Hard copies of the game have the path advertised on the box, so the choice is already made upon purchase, unless the Special Edition that houses all three versions on one 3DS card is bought. For those using a downloaded copy from the eShop, however, the game will start off as simply Fire Emblem Fates and the basis of the story is introduced through the first six chapters.

The hero, Corrin, whose basic features, character traits and gender are chosen upon starting a new adventure, was raised locked away in a dungeon in some icy territory, trained to combat for the better part of their life in preparation for the future, whereas their other brothers and sisters of the Nohr royal family have been free to go wherever they please. For the sake of this review, it will be assumed that Corrin is a male character, although it cannot be stressed enough that, as in Fire Emblem: Awakening, the player-created character's gender can be chosen.

To set the scene: the Nohr Kingdom is opposed to the Hoshido Kingdom, and Nohr has captured two important characters belonging to the Hoshido Kingdom…

Screenshot for Fire Emblem Fates: Birthright on Nintendo 3DS

Just as Corrin has finished training, his father, King Garon, asks him to kill the two spies. When refusing to do so, the King takes it as a great insult and threatens to kill him, too. One of his Nohrian brothers then steps in and pretends to finish them off with his magic to spare Corrin a terrible fate. The two prisoners end up released in secret and their lives spared. However, Corrin insulted the King by refusing to finish them off, so in order to redeem himself, he is sent on a mission, through the course of which he finds himself captured by the Hoshido Kingdom. As it turns out, Corrin is revealed to actually be a prince of Hoshido by blood. He was captured as a baby and raised by the royal Nohr family, but now his true family is overjoyed by his unexpected return. He is, however, torn between his feelings towards the family that raised him and the newfound family that he truly belonged all along.

Soon enough, six chapters in, he will be faced with the important choice of selecting what army he will side with. This makes up the parting of the ways, referred to as "Branch of Fate," between Fire Emblem Fates: Birthright and Fire Emblem Fates: Conquest.

Screenshot for Fire Emblem Fates: Birthright on Nintendo 3DS

Upon first playing the digital version, simply titled Fire Emblem Fates, and making the choice of camp to side with, that copy becomes locked as being either of the two versions. It's interesting to note that it is impossible to select the path that tells the story of Fire Emblem Fates: Revelation to start with. One of the two other paths must be selected first because, as Nintendo itself recommends, Revelation has some major spoilers regarding events taking place in both Conquest and Birthright, and is, therefore, not recommended to be played first. That being said, though, having a save file locked onto any of the other two paths does unlock Revelation as downloadable, so the other stories don't absolutely have to be completed in order to play it… but Nintendo is right, as it's highly recommended to follow this route.

Progression through the story is very similar to previous entries, where the story is divided into chapters. It's interesting to note that, unlike in Awakening or The Sacred Stones before it, which both had a world map displaying each location where battles can take place, Fire Emblem Fates uses a menu, instead. This could be seen as a regression in terms of presentation, but it's got the speed factor going for it, at least.

Screenshot for Fire Emblem Fates: Birthright on Nintendo 3DS

Moreover, when enemies have invaded a certain location on the map, as happened in Awakening and The Sacred Stones, any other location on the map can still be accessed freely, since enemy armies do not act as road blocks anymore, now. Those missions appearing randomly on locations already visited previously are known as challenge battles in Birthright. They appear automatically at regular intervals, but can also be triggered to appear manually by paying money to scout previously unlocked locations to force enemy armies to appear there. In fact, in Revelation, those must be scouted and won't appear normally. In Conquest, challenge battles are simply absent.

Indeed, Birthright offers the most opportunities to level-up characters and explore as many of the available class configurations and character relationships. This, as expected, makes for an experience closer to that of Awakening, made to appeal to fans of that experience, whereas Conquest is more tailored to hardcore fans of strategy, as readers will find out in Cubed3's forthcoming second review, Fire Emblem Fates: Conquest, as well as uncovering more details about the core mechanics of the latest entry in this fantastic series of strategy RPGs.

Screenshot for Fire Emblem Fates: Birthright on Nintendo 3DS

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

Although compared to Fire Emblem Awakening, some tweaks were made to avoid the systems rendering the game so exploitable that it would be robbed of all sense of challenge... Fire Emblem Fates: Birthright is, as was expected, the easiest of the three scenarios to play through, and one that will appeal most to those who liked how accessible Awakening was. Assuming that, therefore, it must be a simple rehash of the latter would be a terrible mistake, though. Since it is the scenario that takes place as the hero sides with the Eastern Kingdom of Hoshido, designed after Japan itself, it brings with it new types of weapons (although they still fall into the sword-axe-spear trilogy) and characters classes that make for a delightful discovery. It makes Birthright feel fresh while still retaining all of its definite Fire Emblem personality. Fans cried out for an experience more in line with the old episodes in terms of difficulty, yet newcomers who discovered the series with Awakening and liked it for being more accessible may have been turned off by that same prospect. As a result, Birthright is there specifically to fill that role. The fact remains, however, that hardcore fans willing to experience all of Fire Emblem Fates will have to suffer this particular version being perhaps too easy in their eyes, although they are free to ignore the little bits of help and force themselves into not abusing the system to make it extra challenging.


Intelligent Systems







C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  10/10 (2 Votes)

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


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