It's all a little confusing isn't it? Fire Emblem Fates, set to be the fifteenth instalment in the Fire Emblem franchise and the second for Nintendo's 3DS handheld system, will also be the first in the series to release as a two parter.
In case you haven't heard yet, Fire Emblem Fates was released in Japan earlier this year as two distinct versions, and it looks like they'll be releasing in the same manner when the game finally comes to America next year. Have you decided which version you're going to buy yet? Let us help you out with that...
So Fire Emblem Fates will release in two versions: Birthright and Conquest. Fire Emblem Fates is set in both the kingdoms of Hoshido and Nohr, two states at war with each other because they worship different deities.
Each version revolves around the same characters throughout and follows the same storyline until Chapter Six, at which point the narrative splits depending on which version you've purchased.
Avatar (that's you!): a member of the Hoshido royal family taken by the Nohr kingdom and raised by them from childhood. The Avatar has the unique ability to turn into a dragon, no Manakete dragonstone required.
Azura: A member of the Nohr royal family, she was taken in by the Hoshido so she's basically the mirror image of the Avatar. She can control water and becomes your companions regardless of which version you purchase.
Hoshido Royal Family: the Avatar's blood family, includes brothers Ryoma, who wields the Raijin Katana and Takumi, who wields the Fuujin Bow, and sisters Hinoka and Sakura.
Nohr Royal Family: the Avatar's adoptive family, includes brothers Xander, who wields the sword Siegfried and Leo, wielding the tome Brunhilde, and sisters Camilla and Elise.
Conquest has 26 characters only available in that version, and Birthright has 27. Some of these characters have unique job classes that don't exist in the other version, and there's an interesting marriage twist...
Fire Emblem Fates continues the theme of having your characters marry and have children, but this time around they've widened the sexuality spectrum. In Conquest there is a bisexual male who can marry a male Avatar, whilst Birthright features a bisexual female who can marry a female Avatar. So keep that in mind if you have a marriage preference for your Avatar.
When war breaks out you have to chose which side to take. If you're playing Birthright you're siding with Hoshido, for Conquest you pick Nohr.
After Chapter Six the game completely splits, with different supporting characters being introduced as well as different maps, narratives and obtainable items/weapons. For example, if you pick Conquest you can play with swords but for Birthright you have the katana instead. Both games also introduce new weapons such as the shuriken.
Each version has a distinct playing style too, which is perhaps the most important thing to know before you make your purchase.
Birthright is very similar to Fire Emblem: Awakening's gameplay, with a similar battle system. You earn XP from each fight and can replay and revisit previous battles and sites to train up your characters before the big narrative skirmishes.
With Conquest things are a little different, more like the earlier games in the series. Conquest limits you to 28 playable missions only, there's no free battles to bulk up your character's XP so you have to be more tactical in how you build up your ranks.
The way you complete missions differs too, with Birthright it's the usual victory by defeating all the enemy units, with Conquest the scope is wider with more mission objectives needing met before you can complete the battle, adding another tactical layer to the gameplay.
Narrative aside, the main differences between the two versions of Fire Emblem Fates are their playability. Whilst Birthright is seemingly more accessible for new players to the franchise (as Awakening was) Conquest is likely the more difficult of the two, so pick that one up if you're a Fire Emblem veteran or just fancy more of a challenge.