And finally it has arrived. The long awaited successor to the critically adored Fire Emblem Awakening is here, and we're pleased to report that it's certainly living up to the hype thus far.
Say hello to Fire Emblem Fates, and prepare to surrender all your free time to this wonderfully addictive tactical RPG.
A large part of what makes the Fire Emblem series so challenging is the series trademark of finite death. Once a unit falls in battle, it's gone, sayonara sucker (unless it's a character key to the story that is). The problem with permanent death, or permadeath, is that depending on how you've levelled your characters you can end up being backed into an un-winnable situation, which is frustrating to say the least.
But in the case of both Fates and Awakening this is an optional feature. Character death can be disabled if you so wish, and if you're either a Fire Emblem newbie or opting for Conquest we suggest that you do so. (Look, Conquest is hard man, even for seasoned players.)
However, if you're taking the Classic route and gearing up on the permadeath path, here's some essential tips for beating the game, even when your soldiers start to fall.
1. Play Matchmaker
A staple of the Fire Emblem series ever since 1996's Genealogy of the Holy War is the ability to pair off units into married couples who then produce children. And by children we mean more battle fodder for your campaign - excellent!
So have lots of babies as soon as you can. Seriously, even though it takes a little extra work to build up to the top of the support ranking system it's well worth it as the kid units are more powerful than you'd expect (must be those prime genetics).
2. Watch Out For Archers
We all have our own play styles of course, but personally we love those Flying Units. Not only are they able to cover vast distances they're also usually pretty strong units.
If you're planning to go down the route of beefing up your Sky Knights or Wyvern Riders remember to keep an eye on the skies: archers are massively powerful against the invaluable Flying Units and can take them down with just a few arrows, no matter how high levelled your riders are.
3. Watch For Your Enemy's Field Of Movement
We got embarrassingly far through Awakening before realising that this was an option. Whilst planning your movements you can highlight an enemy unit and press A to view said unit's range of movement, and if you tap X you can view every unit's range at the same time.
It may seem like a small thing but it's incredibly useful when mapping out battle strategies, especially when it comes to working out weaker ranged unit reach (and those darn archers, as mentioned above).
4. Use Azura
Like Fire Emblem Awakening's Olivia your companion Azura is extremely useful, but also pretty weak. As a songstresses she can gift a nearby unit with an extra turn when she sings, which is very useful when prompting stronger units to take down a Boss unit before he can strike back.
But be sure to keep someone on her at all times because whilst she can fight she's not really that good at it, even when you really level her up, so she'll be targeted by enemy units as an easy win.
5. Unit Positioning & Healing
Another really useful trick is to make sure your units are in a tactically strong position before you begin battle. Before hitting "Start Battle" first select "View Map"; this option will allow you to move around the position of your individual units.
As a rule it's a good idea to put stronger units at the front of the battle lines to meet the first wave(s), keeping your healers and weaker units towards the back and/or paired up with the more powerful ones.
And remember to gift each unit with a Vulnerary or Concoction before the battle starts! Since healers tend to be weaker they're often singled out by the enemy first, and you don't want to end up up shit creek without a paddle if they get knocked off early.
6. Use Dragon Veins
A new addition to the Fire Emblem series is the use of Dragon Veins, and they can be used in darkest night to turn the tide of a battle if needed. See those glowing tiles on your map? Get Corrin or another Royal Family unit to activate them and shake things up.
Dragon Veins can change the battle terrain and create passages and can also be used to heal or damage units within the specific area of effect. But keep an eye on your enemies and make sure their Royal units don't get to the Dragon Veins first, and if they do make sure you're well prepared!
7. Grind, Grind, GRIND!
Like Awakening, Birthright allows you to grind by featuring re-playable arenas, side missions and challenges. Said side missions not only allow you to meet new characters who join you on your quest, but they're also invaluable for gaining precious XP for your units.
However Conquest doesn't have these features as the number of battles you can play is limited, so you need to scrape XP wherever you can. One good way of doing this is during battles with the "Defeat Commander" goal. Inside of sending your strong units straight towards the Boss consider working your way around the battlefield taking down as many enemies as you can.
Not only will this make the final battle easier without having a bunch of pesky enemy units surrounding you, it's an invaluable means by which to collect those precious XP points - if you're willing to take the risk that is.
8. Finally: Remember The Weapon Wheel!
Lastly always always remember the weapon strength wheel. It goes like this...
- Swords and Tomes > Axes and Bows.
- Axes and Bows > Lances and Hidden Weapons.
- Lances and Hidden Weapons > Swords and Tomes.
Oh hey, here's a handy flowchart via Serenesforest.net.