Despite moaning about Nintendo’s money-grubbing decision to split Fire Emblem Fates into two titles I was unable to resist the temptation of buying both games. What can I say? Gamers love to complain about how publishers swindle customers with day one DLC and bug-ridden products, but our passion for the hobby compels us to throw money away all the same. One small consolation is that owning Birthright allowed me to download Conquest at a slightly reduced price. You win this round Nintendo… although let it be known that I refuse to dump any more cash into this addictive strategy RPG. Huh, what’s that? Fire Emblem Fates: Revelation is due out in Europe tomorrow? Where’s my credit card? I must buy that digital exclusive third instalment ASAP!
Whilst playing through Conquest I must admit to feeling a sense of déjà vu. Both games feature levels that are fought on the same maps, but the experience is distinct enough to justify a second purchase. The enemies you face are different for a start and Conquest’s mission objectives are more varied. Rather than simply routing the opposing army you’ll sometimes be expected to protect a base for a few turns or safely retreat to a certain location. The biggest difference between Birthright and Conquest however is that in this title prince/princess Corrin elects to fight for his/her adoptive nation of Nohr. Prince/princess? Is Corrin a hermaphrodite? No, don’t be silly. You pick the protagonist’s gender during the character creation process you silly goose.
Two new tactical features introduced by Fire Emblem Fates are 2v2 battles and the Dragon Vein system. The former happens whenever a unit standing adjacent to an ally attacks. When this occurs the nearby comrade bestows his buddy with some stat buffs in addition to whacking the foe you have targeted, in effect giving you two attacks for the price of one. Alternatively you can choose to pair up characters so they both occupy the same tile on the map. Paired up troops are immune to double attacks, as the duo’s active warrior goes on the offence whilst their chum plays the role of bodyguard (cue Whitney Houston song) who is tasked with blocking secondary assaults.
Dragon Vein on the other hand relates to effects that are triggered whenever the royal members of your army reach a specified spot on the map. Depending on the level in question you’ll be able to heal soldiers standing within a highlighted zone, activate destructive earthquakes or even freeze a lake to form a shortcut that your forces can travel across. Royalty has the power of a dragon? Sounds like conspiracy theorist David Icke was onto something when he accused the queen of being a humanoid lizard. Just to be safe I recommend that all of you wear a tin foil hats whilst playing on your 3DS.
My rating for Fire Emblem Fates: Conquest is five stars. I had a blast conquering the thirty-hour story’s twenty-eight levels and my inner architect also enjoyed the castle construction that you can dabble in between skirmishes. By spending the DVP earned through battles players can decorate their fort and build stores that sell handy items such as weapons. The reason I am giving Conquest a higher score than Birthright is because the cast of characters under your command are far more amusing. Instead of Birthright’s plain do-gooders, Conquest stars a bloodthirsty cavalier, an eternally young sorceress and an axe-wielding champion of justice. The wyvern riding big sister who is blessed with huge knockers also appealed to me because I like boobies… um I mean dragons.
If you are new to the franchise I would however recommend playing Birthright over Conquest, as it is more newbie friendly. Conquest is by far the toughest Fire Emblem game I have ever played and that’s saying a lot, as I have played all the series’ western releases (even the lacklustre Shadow Dragon.) Were it not for the option to disable perma-death my army may not have survived Conquest’s many trials. The latter stages are extremely challenging and unlike Birthright it isn’t possible to beef up your forces by grinding on random encounters. I especially loathed chapter twenty’s wind themed battle. Seeing critically injured characters get blown into a squad of enemies by an unexpected gust really “blows” (no pun intended.)