It's a big decision right? With Fire Emblem Fates officially being released in the US in the same two game format as in Japan gamers have to make their first in-game decision before they even purchase a copy.
Because Fates, which will be the fifteenth instalment in the Fire Emblem franchise and the second to be released for Nintendo's 3DS handheld system, is also the first to be released as a two parter. The differences between the two versions hinge on a choice you make between allegiances for two warring countries, the kingdoms of Hoshido and Nohr.
We've already done a run down of the main gameplay differences between the two if you're confused about which version you want to play, but for now we're going to take a look at the narrative differences between them.
Whilst narrative may not seem as central to strategy games like Fire Emblem it's still a very important feature for many players, and whether you purchase Conquest or Birthright will drastically change the narrative you play through and the characters you encounter.
The Warring Kingdoms
So you've got two kingdoms, Hoshido and Nohr, at war with each other over the oldest gripe in the book - a difference of religious ideology. Although in this case dragons are involved which makes everything exponentially cooler.
Both Royal Families of the respective kingdoms are descended from ancient dragons, and the tension comes from the different dragon gods that they worship. Yeah, there's multiple dragon gods kicking around in the Fire Emblem universe and they become important as you progress through the game...
The Player Character
You play as the Avatar and like Fates' predecessor Fire Emblem Awakening you chose your own name, gender and general appearance. You also have a pretty impressive and unique ability - you can turn into a dragon due to your bloodline. Woah there's dragons everywhere.
Now, the Avatar was originally born into the Hoshido Royal Family but were taken as a political prisoner by the Nohr Royal Family at a young age, eventually being adopted and raised by them as one of their own. Did somebody say Stockholm Syndrome?
The Narrative Split
So both versions of the game follow the same narrative up until Chapter Six, which unfolds as follows...
Once the Avatar character comes of age they're sent on missions by the Nohr King Garon to fight against the Hoshido armies alongside their companion, Gunter (who will continue as an allied unit should you follow the Nohr route). On one of these missions Gunter falls into a chasm and the Avatar ends up lost, captured by a soldier of the Hoshido army. They're recognised as the lost member of the Royal Family and taken to meet with their blood relatives at the Capital City of Hoshido.
At this time the Avatar also encounters a girl called Azura who basically functions as the antithesis of the player - she's a member of the Nohr Royal Family who was taken in by the Hoshido - and she holds power over water.
Regardless of which storyline you follow Azura will stick with you throughout, so she's pretty important.
Anyway, at the meeting with your Hoshido family the Capital City is attacked by the Nohr army and the Avatar is targeted by a mysterious assassin (don't worry, you get saved). Following these events you come to possess the legendary sword called Yato, destined to be wielded by the chosen one who will save the world. No pressure.
The big opening battle comes to a head between the two Royal Families, and it is at this point that the Avatar makes a choice dependant on which version of the game they're playing.
If you have Birthright you'll side with your blood family, Hoshido. If you're playing Conquest however you stick with your adoptive family, Nohr. Following this decision making you're denounced by the opposing side and forced to battle against them.
So if you choose Hoshido the rest of the story unfolds as you, Azura and the other battle unit characters defend the country against a gradual Nohr invasion.
The Nohr are invading under the orders of King Garon in order to take their food resources after Nohr's crops fail to yield sufficient crops, because apparently Garon is that playground bully who forgets his lunch and takes someone else's instead.
However if you choose to side with Nohr in Conquest the Avatar has two goals - to fight in the war against Hoshido whilst also attempting to take the Nohr throne from King Garon.
Garon has become a cruel tyrant in his old age, and the rest of the Royal Family believe he needs to be usurped. The truth of the matter turns out to be a little more complex than that but... spoilers.
So What's The Deal With King Garon?
Well regardless of which route you take Garon serves as the main antagonist. Once a kind and loving father and king he has become hard and cold with a lust for power and brutal means of gaining it.
It is revealed over the course of the game that he is the one pulling the strings behind the war, but not in the way that you might expect...
To expand further on this would go too far into spoiler territory, so I guess you'll just have to play the game yourself and find out the ultimate truth of the Avatar's fate when the new Fire Emblem game releases in North America on February 19th 2016.