So, Fire Emblem Fates finally released two weeks ago. At least it did in the EU. The American version’s been out for months. The Japanese version’s been around for close to a year. Anyway, I’ve managed to ply through both routes and I’ll play the third when that comes out in the 9th. Overall, I quite liked it. I like some of its new concepts, liked the story and it had some strong characters. That being said, there are some things I think could or should be done a bit better. So, here’s my list of those. As is my usual, they’re in no particular order, except with some points coming earlier because they’ll factor into later things I discuss.
1. An Improved A+ rank.
I actually really like the idea of assigning your characters “best friends” with the whole A+ thing. However, I also think it could be done better. For one thing, I’d like to see some support conversations to go with it, actually elevate it above the A rank in a more meaningful way. For another, I’d like to see some potential male/female A+ ranks. Not every possible permutation of a male/female pair has romantic chemistry but they always go S-rank with the possible options anyway, unless they’re related. So, why not forget about trying to force romantic chemistry and just have them be friends instead? There are certainly plenty of best friend pairs like that in real life, including ones where both people involved are straight.
2. On the Subject of support log unlocks…
In both Awakening & Fates, you have an avatar character who can be male or female. And, in both games, the support conversations for most of the characters are the same regardless, except regarding who you can reach S-rank with. It’s always been strange to me that 1. you have to unlock these support logs separately when the only differences are whether you can reach S-rank at the end and whether they use feminine or masculine terms to refer to you. 2. That there’s somehow potential romantic chemistry in one case but not the other. If Gaius, Tharja or anyone else has the exact same conversation with your avatar regardless, why does your avatar being the opposite gender suddenly give it romantic potential?
That brings me to what I’d like to see. First off, I’d like to see the support conversation unlock in the library’s viewer for both the male and female avatar in cases where it’s the same, regardless of which one you actually unlock it with. On the positive side, it would make things much easier for completionists. And, if one of these characters is romance-able, I’d like to see them be romance-able regardless because if one of these conversations illustrates potential chemistry, then they both do. As they are the same conversation.
3. Group Activities
One addition to Fates I actually really liked is that you can invite a character to your avatar’s “quarters” to interact with them and build your support conversation in a more relaxed environment, as opposed to having them just bond on the battlefield. However, I think this could be expanded on. I think the series could, in fact, really benefit from giving you the occasional option to invite two different characters to spend time with your avatar and have the support ranks go up all around. It would make it much more viable to try and unlock the supports for your other allies without necessarily having to join them at the hip during battles. It would be especially helpful for routes like the Nohr one where you don’t get random encounters and the amount of time you have to get those supports up is very limited.
4. No more child characters.
Here’s the thing about having your S-rank characters’ children join your party and fight alongside you. It worked just fine in Awakening when the story was about that. However, in the Fates routes it seems really contrived. Almost like it’s only there because it worked in Awakening. It’s not even necessary since you can beat the game without having a single S-rank couple, or while having your only S-rank couple be male Corrin & Zero/Niles. So, I’d like to see them not keep coming up with flimsy justifications for the children of your characters to show up.
That being said, the missions to unlock these characters are kind of a big part of the game. So, what do I suggest, besides just having more missions in the story? Well, I’d actually suggest having an apprenticeship system. Have certain characters who, once they reach a certain number of kills, or unlock a certain number of supports or whatever, take on an apprentice. You can have whoever that character is S-rank, or A+ rank if they don’t have an S-rank support, with help them out, hence resulting in a unit with both their skills. On the positive side, it would be a more compelling explanation for the shared skills than them somehow being inherited. Plus, it would provide more potential for interesting skill combination sets.
5. About the Avatar’s Romance Options…
There’s actually a good reason some people call the newer Fire Emblem titles “waifu simulators.” Your avatar character can marry anyone of the opposite sex and, in two cases for Fates, some characters of the same sex. Including your siblings in Fates because Nintendo & Intelligent designs are a bit fucked up like that. Yeah, that’s actually my biggest criticism of Fates.
Frankly, there are two possible ways I’d like to see this changed. The first is for them to just let your avatar character marry anyone they aren’t related to, regardless. Here’s the thing, if you’re going to just open it up for basically all the romance options, you might as well just open it up for all romance options. It doesn’t make sense to say “Oh, anyone of the opposite sex is fine but when it comes to same sex options, those have to make sense. Gotta have those strict standards.” Clearly, you have no standards as far as that’s concerned. Might as well embrace it and have all the yaoi/yuri/het your players could want. And if this was combined with the second point I made it wouldn’t even be harder for completionists. So, that’s good.
The second possible thing I’d like to see happen, and the one I’d honestly prefer, is to have a more limited number of romance options but have them all well developed and make sense. Have some characters your avatar can only be friends with and a limited number that they can marry. Preferably with some being same sex or het only and others being available regardless. Because, frankly, in some of the cases where the support conversation is different based on the avatar’s gender, it’s not the opposite sex one that has romantic chemistry.
So, that’s my list of things I’d like to see in upcoming Fire Emblem titles. On the off chance that someone from Nintendo or Intelligent Designs reads this, feel free to steal any and all of these ideas. If you have your own ideas for the franchise or berate me for my eccentricities, feel free to leave a comment. I’m going to get back to my second Nohr play through. I’m really close to getting Corrin and Peri up to S-rank.