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Fire Emblem Fates

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Fire Emblem Fates
Fire Emblem Fates special edition cover art.jpg
North American artwork for the special edition of Fates, featuring the complete main cast
Developer(s) Intelligent Systems
Nintendo SPD
Publisher(s) Nintendo
Director(s) Kouhei Maeda
Genki Yokota
Producer(s) Masahiro Higuchi
Hitoshi Yamagami
Artist(s) Toshiyuki Kusakihara
Yūsuke Kozaki
Writer(s) Shin Kibayashi
Yukinori Kitajima
Nami Komuro
Composer(s) Takeru Kanazaki
Hiroki Morishita
Rei Kondoh
Masato Kouda
Yasuhisa Baba
Series Fire Emblem
Platform(s) Nintendo 3DS
Release
Genre(s) Tactical role-playing
Mode(s) Single-player, multiplayer

Fire Emblem Fates[a] is a tactical role-playing video game for the Nintendo 3DS handheld video game console, developed by Intelligent Systems and Nintendo SPD and published by Nintendo. It was released in June 2015 in Japan, then released internationally in 2016. It is the fourteenth game in the Fire Emblem series,[b] and the second to be developed for Nintendo 3DS after Fire Emblem Awakening. Fates was released in three versions, each following a different storyline centered around the same characters: Birthright[c] and Conquest[d] as physical releases, and Revelation[e] as downloadable content.

The overarching story follows the protagonist, a customizable Avatar created by the player, as they are unwillingly drawn into a war between the Kingdoms of Hoshido (their birthplace) and Nohr (their adopted home), and must choose which side to support. In Revelation, the Avatar rallies both sides against the true mastermind behind the war. The gameplay, which revolves around tactical movement of units across a grid-based battlefield, shares many mechanics with previous Fire Emblem games, although some elements are unique to each scenario.

After the critical and commercial success of Awakening, development began on Fates, with the staff of Awakening returning to their previous roles. The team's main concern was adding new features and refinements to the original gameplay, and improving the story, which had received criticism from some fans. To this end, writer Shin Kibayashi was brought in. To show all sides of the story and provide players with different Fire Emblem experiences, the game was split up into multiple versions. Upon release, it met with highly positive reviews: Birthright was generally seen as a good starting place for new players, Conquest was praised for its challenge, while Revelation was noted as a good middle ground between the two releases.

Gameplay[edit]

In Fire Emblem Fates, the player begins by customizing the main character. Their gender, appearance, and name can be changed to the player's preference. At the game's beginning, there are three difficulties: Normal, Hard, and Lunatic. There are also modes that dictate the fate of characters in battle should they be defeated. In Classic Mode, a fallen unit is subject to permanent death, a recurring mode in the Fire Emblem series that removes fallen characters from the rest of the game. Casual Mode enables units to be revived at the end of a battle. The new Phoenix mode revives units on the following player turn.[6][7] Each version of Fates is focused around a different gameplay style. The gameplay of Birthright is similar to the prior installment Fire Emblem Awakening and features opportunities to gain extra gold and experience. In contrast, Conquest rewards players limited experience and currency per completed map. Also included are additional objectives in battle such as defending a base or suppressing enemy forces, and some levels have a limited number of turns.[8] Revelation uses a mixture of elements from Birthright and Conquest: while offering opportunities for gold and experience as with Birthright, it provides varied objectives and strategic elements similar to Conquest.[9]

A new feature introduced to the series is "My Castle", in which the player is able to create a base for their army, where they can establish shops, buy weapons and items, and interact with allied characters. Shops can be leveled up, which allows the player to choose from a wider range of items to buy. Players can run a farm in their base, allowing them to make food. At the restaurant in the base, they can serve food, which will grant characters who eat it positive effects; however, some foods can also have negative effects. The player's personal quarters are also located here; the player can use them to interact with detailed models of other characters and the Avatar's spouse (if applicable). Players are able to visit other players' bases using the StreetPass functionality of the Nintendo 3DS. During a visit, they can fight the other player's army, buy items, and recruit characters. As different items are available in the two versions of the game, this allows players access to items that normally would be unavailable.[10]

Battle system[edit]

Screenshot of a battle in Fire Emblem Fates, showing two characters about to fight one another. The basic mechanics of the battle system are all displayed.

Battles take place on a grid-based battlefield, with turns being given for players and enemies. During an attack, the view transitions from a top-down perspective to a third-person view. Environments and terrain vary between levels, ranging from mountainous regions to flatlands. A unique ability members of each kingdom's royal family have is the ability to use Dragon Veins, which are special map tiles that enable them to alter the environment in favor of their side.[11] Like previous games in the series, Fire Emblem Fates features a "weapon triangle" – a system where certain weapons have advantages over others. However, in Fates the triangle differs from previous installments, with swords and magic defeating axes and bows, axes and bows besting lances and hidden weapons, and lances and hidden weapons overpowering swords and magic. Weapons in Fates do not have a limited number of uses before they break; instead, stronger weapons will lower some of the user's abilities. For instance, while the Brave Sword allows its user to attack twice, it also lowers their defense and magic defense stats.[12]

Units are assigned a unique character class: in battle, each unit's usable weapon types and range of movement are pre-determined by their class.[11] Each character begins the game with a starting class: the main protagonist begins as a Nohr Prince/Princess, while Azura begins as a Songstress. The classes of each version of Fates are also distinct from each other, drawing from their respective nation's aesthetics.[13][14] Using special items known as "Seals", classes can be evolved or changed: effects of various Seals range from upgrading a character's class, changing class completely, raising their experience level, or altering their stats.[15] Character relationships are developed during and between battle, also known as Support, which can be viewed in conversations via the Support menu outside of battle. Battling with an adjacent or paired-up unit gives advantages, such as blocking an attack or attacking alongside the currently controlled unit. Outside battle, relationships between characters can be fostered to the point of marriage and children. These children's appearance and abilities are determined by their parents.[11][16] Using a particular Seal, child characters can also take on additional skills from parents.[15]

The game features online multiplayer. Having five maps as standard, matches can be carried out with select players, random players, or through local multiplayer. Random battles are played either with standard rules, or with special limitations. The Fog of War environmental effect is removed, and turns have limits of five minutes.[17] In addition, Fates features Amiibo support, with compatible figurines being characters from earlier Fire Emblem games: when scanned, the character represented by a figurine will appear within My Castle, and after talking with them three times they can be fought in battle. When defeated, they become allies that join the main campaign. Talking with them prior to the fight gives the Avatar themed items, such as the mask of Fire Emblem Awakening's Lucina. Amiibo functions are unlocked after the narrative splits and My Castle is unlocked.[18]

Synopsis[edit]

Setting and characters[edit]

Fates is primarily set in the territories of the kingdoms of Hoshido and Nohr. Their royalty share a similar line of descent from ancient dragons, but each kingdom worships different dragon deities, and so exist in a state of war. Little do they know that there is also another dragon deity; the dragon Anankos, ruler of the kingdom of Valla. This realm is located under the Bottomless Canyon which separates Hoshido and Nohr. Anankos has usurped the throne of Valla and is intentionally provoking war between the two kingdoms.[19] In the Hidden Truths DLC, it is revealed that Anankos was formerly a kind dragon who gave wisdom to humanity, but his growing power and inability to ascend to the spirit realm with the world's other dragons began corrupting him. After he killed Valla's king in an uncontrolled fit of bestial rage, he finally went mad: his remaining sanity and kindness took temporary shelter in a human form and fathered the Avatar before dying, while his dragon self began an insane crusade to destroy humanity.[19][20]

The central character is the Avatar (voiced by Cam Clarke, Yuri Lowenthal, Stephanie Lemelin, Marcella Lentz-Pope or Danielle Judovits[21]), whose name, gender, and appearance can be customized by the player. A member of the Hoshidan royal family, they were captured by Nohr at a young age. They have the unique ability of transforming into a dragon. The other central character is Azura (voiced by Rena Strober[21]), a member of the Nohrian royal family who was kidnapped by Hoshido as part of their efforts to rescue the Avatar. Holding power over water, she is one of the companions to join the Avatar in whichever story route they choose. The main characters among the Hoshidan royal family include the Avatar's siblings Ryoma (voiced by Matthew Mercer[21]), Takumi (voiced by Roger Rose[21]), Hinoka (voiced by Elizabeth Daily[21]), and Sakura (voiced by Brianna Knickerbocker[21]). Ryoma and Takumi wield the Legendary Weapons of Hoshido, the Raijinto katana and the Fujin Yumi. The main characters from the Nohrian kingdom include the Avatar's guardian, Gunter (voiced by D. C. Douglas[21]), and their adoptive siblings Xander (voiced by David Stanbra), Camilla (voiced by Paula Tiso), Leo (voiced by Max Mittelman[21]), and Elise (voiced by Natalie Lander). Xander and Leo respectively wield the Legendary Weapons of Nohr: the sword Siegfried and the tome Brynhildr.[13] Other characters include the Avatar's mother, Queen Mikoto of Hoshido (voiced by Marisha Ray[21]); King Garon of Nohr (voiced by Travis Willingham); Sumeragi (voiced by David Stanbra), the former king of Hoshido and husband of Mikoto; and Anankos (voiced by Travis Willingham in his dragon form and Cam Clarke in human form), the dragon ruler of Valla and blood father of the Avatar.[19]

Several years prior to the start of the game, Hoshido's King Sumeragi is ambushed by Nohr's King Garon during a fake peace treaty talk between the nations and is killed. King Garon kidnaps Sumeragi's young child, the Avatar, and decides to raise them to serve his purposes. Meanwhile, back in Hoshido, without their king, Sumeragi's wife Mikoto becomes the new ruler of the kingdom.[19]

Plot[edit]

After coming of age, the Avatar is sent by Garon to inspect a Hoshidan fortress above the Bottomless Canyon. However, one of Garon's men, Hans, provokes a battle with the Hoshidans and throws the Avatar's mentor Gunter into the Canyon. The Avatar is found and captured by Hoshidan soldiers, who recognize them as a long-lost member of the Hoshidan royal family. The Avatar is brought to meet their blood relatives and Azura at the capital city. However, soldiers attack the city and a hooded assassin attempts to kill the Avatar. Mikoto shields them at the cost of her life. In the aftermath, the Avatar comes into possession of a legendary sword called Yato, said to belong to the one who will save the world. In the opening battle between the two kingdoms, the Avatar's two families meet, and the Avatar is forced to choose between siding with Hoshido and Nohr. In the Birthright and Conquest routes, the Avatar chooses either their biological or adopted family, respectively. This causes them to be denounced by the other side, and they are gradually forced to fight them.[19]

In the Birthright route, the Avatar helps their Hoshidan kin defend their country from invasion by Nohr. After confrontations with the Avatar, Camilla and Leo's lives are spared. With the help of Elise and Shura, the man who kidnapped Azura from Nohr, the Avatar and their company invade the Nohrian capital. Elise is killed when she attempts to stop the Avatar and Xander from fighting, and Xander falls into despair and forces the Avatar to kill him. The Avatar then faces Garon, killing him with the Yato after it is infused with added power from Ryoma and Takumi's Legendary Weapons. However, Azura dies after having overused her singing powers to weaken Garon. In the epilogue, Ryoma is crowned king of Hoshido and Leo is crowned king of Nohr, and peace is forged between the two kingdoms.[22]

In the Conquest route, the Avatar both fights in the war against Hoshido, and works with their adoptive family to change Nohr's brutal reputation from within. After Azura reveals that King Garon has been replaced by an impostor, the Avatar decides to have Garon sit upon the magical throne of Hoshido, which will remove the false Garon's disguise. During the invasion of Hoshido, the Nohrians spare Hinoka and capture Sakura, while Takumi, whose behavior has become increasingly erratic and violent throughout the war, apparently dies by jumping off of a rampart. Garon orders the Avatar to kill Ryoma. After their fight, Ryoma spares the Avatar the pain of killing their own brother by killing himself. Infusing the Yato with the power of Xander and Leo's Legendary Weapons, the Avatar confronts and kills the false Garon. However, a crazed Takumi suddenly appears and attacks them, and it is revealed he has been long dead and his body is possessed. The Avatar destroys Takumi's body to free his soul. Azura overuses her powers as in the Birthright route, but her death is not seen and she is instead marked as missing. In the epilogue, Hinoka is crowned queen of Hoshido and Xander is crowned king of Nohr, and a peaceful alliance between the two kingdoms is formed.[23]

In the Revelation route, the Avatar rejects both Hoshido and Nohr, and is denounced as a traitor by both. They flee with Azura and one of their retainers through the Bottomless Canyon to the kingdom of Valla. Azura explains that the king of Valla, the dragon Anankos, has plans for humanity's destruction; he is the one who killed and replaced Garon, and he is responsible for Takumi's descent into madness in the Conquest route. Azura also reveals her history as the daughter of the king Anankos usurped, and that a curse placed by Anankos will kill them if they reveal Valla's existence to anyone outside its borders. The two decide to kill Anankos. Fleeing Valla with Gunter, who survived his fall into the chasm, Azura reveals that they must unite the Avatar's twin families before a natural event which will seal the passage for decades. The Avatar travels through Hoshido and Nohr, gradually gaining the trust and allegiance of their hereditary and adopted families. They also learn that their sword Yato is the "Seal of Flames", which when combined with the other families' Legendary Weapons will become the Fire Emblem, capable of killing Ananakos. Once the group enter Valla, the party heads to confront Anankos. During their journey, they battle the resurrected bodies of Mikoto, Azura's mother Arete, and Sumeragi, the latter of whom is revealed to be Mikoto's assassin. During their battle with Mikoto, the Avatar learns that they and Azura are maternal cousins, making the Avatar heir to Valla's throne. The group is eventually betrayed by Gunter, who was possessed by Anankos since first coming to Valla, but the Avatar succeeds in freeing Gunter from Anankos' control. When they face Anankos, they are initially helpless, but Ryoma, Takumi, Xander, and Leo feed the power of their Legendary Weapons into Yato, transforming it into the Fire Emblem. Near death after being defeated, Anankos summons and eats the impostor Garon to regain his strength, but is finally destroyed with the Fire Emblem. In the aftermath, Valla is reestablished on the surface, Azura crowns the Avatar its new ruler, and an everlasting peace is established between the three kingdoms.[24]

Downloadable content[edit]

Paid additional content was released alongside the games, in the form of extra levels used to improve the units' strength or gather exclusive resources. A series of additional storylines were also released to expand on the main narrative. The first is Before Awakening, in which the Avatar is transported to Ylisse, the setting of Fire Emblem Awakening, and aids its heroes Chrom, Frederick, and Lissa in fighting off the forces of Valla. The second, Hidden Truths, centers around Awakening characters Owain, Inigo, and Severa as they are contacted by a mysterious figure who asks for their help in saving Valla. To this end, they are given new powers and names: Odin, Laslow, and Selena. The trio ultimately join with the kingdom of Nohr as retainers.

The Heirs of Fate saga, released after the rest of the DLC, focuses around the game's child units. Two separate versions of the Avatar's child Kana, one male and one female, each journey with members of each version's cast to discover why a group of mysterious soldiers attacked their homes. It is revealed that they were never truly in their homes, as Anankos had transported them to Valla and attempted to trick them into killing each other. However, Azura's son, Shigure, breaks the illusion and bands the two Kanas' armies together, only to leave them to face Anankos alone with the hidden verse of his mother's song. However, the army finds a way back, and helps to defeat Anankos one final time.

Development[edit]

The previous title in the series, Fire Emblem Awakening, was planned to be the last in the series due to decreasing sales. The game was a worldwide commercial success, prompting Nintendo to greenlight a new entry. Fates was co-developed by regular Fire Emblem developer Intelligent Systems and Nintendo SPD, with the main staff of Awakening returning to their respective roles for Fates: they were Intelligent Systems's Kouhei Maeda as director, Nintendo SPD director Genki Yokota, Nintendo producer Hitoshi Yamagami, art director Toshiyuki Kusakihara, and character designer Yūsuke Kozaki. Yokota's work on the game ran parallel with his work on Xenoblade Chronicles X. Masahiro Higuchi, Awakening's project manager, came on board as a producer. According to the original staff, the request for a sequel was a shock as they had all developed Awakening assuming it would be the last in the series.[3][25] During its early design stages, Fates was given the working title Fire Emblem 3DS II.[26] The game's cutscenes were animated by Studio Anima, while storyboarding was handled by Spooky Graphic.[27][28] To develop the multiple versions, one core team worked on the game's shared assets, while additional teams handled individual level design.[29]

The gameplay was refined and expanded from the version they used in Awakening. The My Castle feature was suggested by Maeda as an alternative activity for players, and to provide a means for getting to know the main characters outside battle. The amount of content included in the feature made some staff comment that it could be its own game. The social elements of My Castle were originally going to be exclusive to StreetPass, but it was suggested that players in areas with low StreetPass activity should be able to access the functions through a normal Internet connection. Some ideas thought up by Maeda for earlier titles, such as the Dragon Vein ability and the way skills were inherited by second generation characters, were also implemented. Due to the necessity for multiple versions, map designing became a larger task than anticipated, with very few maps being shared between versions.[3] The Phoenix Mode was included to bring new fans into the series, a philosophy that they had neglected up until Awakening and improved for Fates.[30] For the first time in the Fire Emblem series, the option for the main character to marry a character of the same sex was included: the potential male and female partners respectively appear in Conquest and Birthright, and both appear in Revelation. According to Nintendo, this move was done to reflect the diversity of their player base.[31]

The two kingdoms were based upon different cultures: Hoshido was themed after Japan, while Nohr used a Medieval European setting similar to earlier Fire Emblem games.[30] The kingdoms of Hoshido and Nohr were designed to contrast each other in a variety of ways, with the most obvious being its architecture: Hoshido was themed around light and air, while Nohr was themed around darkness and stone.[32][33] When development first started, the team unanimously decided to ask Kozaki to return as character designer, as he had been for Awakening. The sheer number of characters this approach entailed made the staff worry about whether Kozaki would be willing to return.[30] The Hoshido characters' clothing were influenced by Japanese culture and character designs drew inspiration from well-known people in Japan: a main instance was Ryoma, whose clothing was based on samurai, including historical figures such as Takeda Shingen, along with incorporating animal motifs such as lions. The colors used in their clothing were varied and mainly bright to emphasize the country's focus on light.[32] For Nohr, a "vampire-like taste" equivalent to dark fantasy was used to highlight it as a kingdom where the sun did not shine. Kozaki used black and purple as key colors in character designs to create a cold and unified image. The nobility of Nohr were given similar design elements to represent their familial connections.[33] The first character Kozaki designed was the Avatar. Kozaki did not put much thought into their general appearance, but took care about their clothing so that it was not overtly styled after either Hoshido or Nohr, keeping the neutrality of the player up to the main story decision point. They were given bare feet due to the animalistic impression Kozaki had after hearing of their strong ties to dragons, along with creating a "hook" for players equivalent to other characters in the game.[33] The main key artwork, showing the two families together, was described by Kozaki as "a pain to draw" due to their clashing designs, and was the point of much discussion by staff before it was finalized. Azura was not included in artwork for the two physical editions, but she was more prominently presented in artwork surrounding Revelation as she played a much larger role in the story.[34]

Scenario[edit]

During the initial planning stage, the team reviewed how fans and critics had responded to Awakening. While the gameplay and graphics were positively received, the story had been criticized for being too simple by some long-time fans, even though new players approved of it. To that end, they decided to write a story that would appeal to series veterans as well as newcomers. The concept of the story changing depending on which protagonists the main character sided with, originated from Yamagami's memories of the first Fire Emblem, which allowed for choosing different protagonists but did not change the story. Wanting to play from both sides of a conflict and show both sides as neither good nor evil, the team decided to create multiple versions of the game. Initially, the plan was just for a choice between one kingdom or the other, but Yamagami wanted a neutral path where neither side was chosen, so a third version of the game was planned. The game's Japanese title, "If", came from the sheer number of choices featured for players in the game. The English title "Fates" referred to the concept of the main character shaping and changing their fate by choosing a side.[3] After the creation of the three storylines, the team needed to make the decision to divide Birthright and Conquest into separate physical releases. This was because packaging them as a single release would have necessitated raising the game's price to the equivalent of a two-game bundle, which would not benefit people who wanted to play one single version. Another reason for this decision was how easy it had become to add the other versions on as cheaper downloadable content (DLC). This opened up the option for players to run through the game until the crucial decision point in Chapter 6, then buy the alternate routes as downloadable content so they had different choices. Each route was estimated to have the same amount of gameplay and story content as Awakening.[8]

As the plans for three different versions of the game appeared, the staff realized that it was impossible to write three storylines in-house. After searching through known video game writers, they decided to consider writers in other fields. The writer suggested by Maeda was Shin Kibayashi, who was famous in Japan for his work on multiple manga and television series. Kibayashi was initially approached by Kozaki through their shared editor, and was pitched the project by the staff in December 2012. Kibayashi was going to refuse the project as he had a tight work schedule, but after both he and his daughter played through a copy of Awakening provided by staff, Kibayashi decided to accept and wrote an initial draft story. Despite his initial minimal commitment of a ten-page summary for each storyline, he became fond of the characters and felt that 10 pages were not enough, and thus the full summary for Birthright extended to about 500 pages. After delivering his work, he then wrote summaries of equal length for Conquest and Revelation, driven by the need to create a high-quality story, partially to surpass his daughter's pressuring expectations, and ended up writing enough script to fill two books. While the Japanese titles for Birthright and Conquest were written in kanji, the third storyline's title was written in katakana to distinguish it from the other two.[3] A great deal of the character traits for the royals of Hoshido and Nohr were contributed by Kibayashi.[29] After he had done his work on the storylines, other writers took over much of the rest of the work.[35] The main scenario writer for the Revelation storyline was Yukinori Kitajima, a writer associated with the Senran Kagura series. He and other staff from his company Synthese also wrote the support conversations for Birthright and Conquest.[36] One of the principal writers for all three story routes was Nami Komuro, who had previously worked on Awakening.[25][26]

Music[edit]

The game's soundtrack was created by multiple composers. Intelligent System's Hiroki Morishita and T's Music's Rei Kondoh previously worked on Awakening, while WarioWare composers Takeru Kanazaki and Yasuhisa Baba of Intelligent Systems, and Monster Hunter composer Masato Kouda of Design Wave joined the team as newcomers. Longtime series composer Yuka Tsujiyoko acted as a supervisor.[37][38] Morishita and Kanazaki wrote the majority of the game's tracks. Arrangements were handled by Morishita, Kanazaki, Kondoh and Kouda. Many of Tsujiyoko's tracks for earlier Fire Emblem titles were remixed for use in Fates.[38]

The game's theme song, "Lost in Thoughts All Alone",[f][39] was written by Morishita, with lyrics by Maeda, and sung by Japanese pop singer Renka, who also provided Azura's in-game singing voice.[37][38] The developers were looking for a singer who could do justice to their vision for the character, and when they heard Renka's audition, they instantly decided that she was right for the role. According to music personnel, several among them cried when they first heard her performance.[37][40] Multiple versions were used throughout the soundtrack.[38] Azura's normal voice work is performed by Japanese voice actress Lynn. In the English version, Azura's speaking and singing voice were provided by Rena Strober.[41] The lyrics were adapted into English by Audrey Drake.[42]

An official soundtrack album, Fire Emblem if Official Soundtrack, released on April 27, 2016 through the Symphony No. 5 label of Tablier Communications. The album contains seven discs of music from all three versions of Fates, and a booklet featuring commentary from the composers. Also included is a special DVD containing remixes of tracks from both Fates and previous Fire Emblem games, high-definition versions of the three opening cinematics, and cutscenes from Birthright and Conquest featuring alternate versions of a dance sequence with Azura.[43] The soundtrack, having eight disks in total, is one of the largest single game official soundtracks ever released.[44] "Lost in Thoughts All Alone", Renka's debut single, was released as a regular CD edition and a special DVD edition featuring a music video on July 1, 2015.[37][40] It was also included as part of the main soundtrack release.[38]

Release[edit]

Fates was announced for all regions via a Nintendo Direct broadcast in January 2015. It was announced in Japan as Fire Emblem if.[45] Its English title was revealed during Electronic Entertainment Expo 2015.[46] Fates was released in multiple versions. Birthright and Conquest both received a physical release on June 25, 2015 in Japan, which was announced for a 2016 release in the west.[31][47] Players who purchase a physical copy of either version can download the other version as DLC for a smaller price.[47] Revelation was released exclusively as downloadable content on July 9, two weeks after the physical release of Fates.[48] In addition to the standard releases was a special edition giving access to Conquest, Birthright and Revelation.[47] The western release also follows the release pattern used in Japan. In North America, the physical versions were released first in February, with the third storyline coming later as DLC in March.[31][49] In Europe, the physical editions were released on May 20, with Revelation following as DLC on June 9.[50] A special edition, containing all three storylines and an art book, was made available in both regions alongside the initial physical releases.[50][51] In Australia, the physical versions launched on May 21, while Revelation launched on June 10.[52]

The Japanese release was promoted by a Fire Emblem themed trading card game and a Awakening themed manga.[53] Two "starter packs" for the trading cards come with codes that allow players access to the characters Marth and Lucina in the game in the form of DLC. Similarly, the "booster box" will come with a code for the character Minerva.[54] The game also supports Fire Emblem amiibo created for Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U, with the characters associated with the figures appearing in the game as combatants in My Castle. Defeating them enables them to be recruited as characters.[55] A special New Nintendo 3DS changeable cover based on Fates was released in Japan alongside the game's physical release.[56] After release, a manga based on the game was announced, beginning serialization in the September issue of Monthly Young Magazine. It is written by Kibayashi and illustrated by Kozaki.[57] To promote the game internationally, the Avatar of Fates, under the name Corrin, was added as a playable character via downloadable content to Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U in February 2016.[58] After release, multiple DLC maps were released between July and September 2015: these ranged from story-related maps to optional maps featuring characters from other Fire Emblem games.[59][60] This DLC was released between February and April 2016 in North America.[61] In Europe, the DLC launched between mid May and late July.[62][63]

The game's localization was done by Nintendo's localization branch Nintendo Treehouse.[64] The game underwent alterations for its western release: in the Japanese version, a support conversation between the male avatar and a character named Soleil was criticized for elements some deemed similar to gay conversion therapy. In the western release, these elements were removed from the characters' support conversations to avoid causing controversy.[49][65] Elements of a mini-game exclusive to the My Castle area, involving "petting" a chosen character's face on the lower touch screen to build up affection, was also removed from the western versions. While the 2D interactions and the support increases were present, the stylus-based touch screen element was removed.[66][67] The option for Japanese voiceovers, present in Awakening, was also removed from Fates.[68] According to an official statement by Nintendo, other unspecified changes were also made where it was deemed necessary.[49] These changes, among others pointed out through comparisons by fans between the English and Japanese versions, generated controversy over the Internet in the wake of the game's release, culminating in complaints being sent directly to Nintendo.[64][69] It also prompted a group dubbed "Team If" to start work on a more faithful fan translation, though it was ultimately cancelled shortly after the game's official release.[64]

Reception[edit]

Reception
Aggregate score
AggregatorScore
Metacritic86/100 (Birthright)[70]
88/100 (Conquest)[71]
89/100 (Revelation)[72]
88/100 (All versions)[73]
Review scores
PublicationScore
Destructoid8.5/10 (Birthright)[74]
9.5/10 (Conquest)[74]
9/10 (Revelation)[75]
EGM8/10[76]
EurogamerRecommended[77]
Famitsu36/40 (Birthright/Conquest)[78]
Game Informer9.25/10 (Birthright/Conquest)[82][83]
8/10 (Revelation)[84]
GameSpot8/10 (Birthright)[79]
7/10 (Conquest)[80]
9/10 (Revelation)[81]
GamesRadar+4/5 stars[85]
IGN9.4/10 (Birthright)[86]
9.5/10 (Conquest/Revelation)[9][87]
Nintendo World Report9.5/10[88]
Polygon8.5/10[15]

The different versions of Fates received high scores on aggregate site Metacritic. Birthright scored 86/100 based on sixteen critic reviews.[70] Conquest received a slightly higher score of 88/100, again based on sixteen reviews.[71] Revelation scored 89/100 based on five reviews.[72] Reviews for all versions of Fates generated a score of 88/100 based on seventeen reviews.[73] Famitsu, which reviewed both physical versions in tandem, praised them for their drama and characters, despite noting that the inter-character relations of the two versions were complicated, and only playing one side of the story might leave players unsatisfied. They praised the various battle functions, relationship mechanics and easy-to-use interface. The "My Castle" feature, while starting out as feeling incomplete, was a satisfying experience.[78] Martin Robinson of Eurogamer praised the game as a sound continuation of the mechanical improvements of Awakening: he positively noted the grey morality of the characters and story, and singled out Conquest as the "cooler" of the two physical versions due to its challenge and cast. His main criticism was its multi-part release, which he called "needlessly convoluted" and stated might alienate fans attracted to the series by Awakening. He also faulted Nintendo's translation work as less "characterful" than the localization of Awakening by 8-4, along with the "clumsy" removal of the Japanese original's petting mechanic.[77]

Chris Carter of Destructoid called Birthright's story "relatively open and shut" despite keeping complex character relationships intact, while generally citing it as the best starting place for series newcomers.[74] Javy Gwaltney of Game Informer called the story of Birthright "a surprisingly dark tale", praised the improvements made to the gameplay over Awakening, and was overall positive despite some criticism of its poor tutorial systems. He also liked the game's music and graphics, although he critiqued the latter a little due to low-res battle models.[82] Meghan Sullivan of IGN called the story, music and visuals "great", and greatly enjoyed the gameplay systems despite mission repetition and a slow online interface.[86] Alexa Ray Corriea of GameSpot greatly enjoyed the changes to gameplay and its strategy despite little variation in playable maps, and enjoyed the character interactions while noting that the dialogue became overly melodramatic in places.[79] Kimberley Keller of Nintendo World Report, reviewing all versions of the game, generally praised the game as a whole while calling Birthright the "perfect way to start [Fates]" due to its traditional Fire Emblem elements.[88] Griffin McElroy and Allegra Frank of Polygon, reviewing all versions of the game, were generally positive about the gameplay and the interplay between versions, while criticizing the overly complicated character class system. They referred to Birthright as a "straightforward march for vengeance, where victory almost always entails defeating an entire platoon or its leader".[15] Both Connor Sheridan of GamesRadar and Ray Carsillo of Electronic Gaming Monthly shared many points of praise with other reviewers about the general gameplay: Sheriden called Birthright a familiar experience when compared to the other titles, while Carsillo recommended it as a good starting point.[76][85]

Carter found Conquest a much tougher experience from a gameplay perspective, being geared towards dedicated tactical battles within pre-set limits, while finding its story more intriguing than that of Birthright.[74] Gwaltney called Conquest a "dark fantasy epic" that asked difficult moral questions, and generally cited the gameplay as harder and consequently more rewarding than that of its counterparts despite sharing tutorial deficiencies with Birthright. He also shared his opinions on the music and graphics with Birthright.[83] Jose Otero, writing for IGN, frequently noted the game's challenge, while generally sharing his praises with Sullivan's review of Birthright, including slow online elements. A point of praise not shared with Birthright was its mission variety.[87] Peter Brown, reviewing the game for GameSpot, praised the gameplay variety and the characters' development and meaningful use in battle, while critiquing the plot for being "fairly middle of the road" and did not like the lack of optional side missions.[80] Keller noted the harder gameplay structure of Conquest, while noting that its story had a far more comedic tone with its characters.[88] McElroy and Frank referred to Conquest as the more challenging of the two physical releases, an opinion shared by Carsillo and Sheridan: the latter added that the game would not make players feel like a hero.[15][76][85] Robinson called Conquest the "cooler" of the two physical releases, noting its steeper challenge and more engaging cast.[77]

Carter considered Revelation to be a good middle ground between Birthright and Conquest, and praised its story after moving beyond the conceit of its premise.[75] Corriae was highly positive about the game: while finding the initial premise rather contrived, she greatly enjoyed the resultant drama and found the story better than that of Birthright and Conquest. She also praised the game for its gameplay and variety.[81] Keller said the story of Revelation "keeps players on their toes", while praised the gameplay for finding a middle ground between the two physical releases. She called it "a fulfilling conclusion" to Fates.[88] While generally positive about the game as a whole, Sheridan was rather critical of the fact that players needed to buy Revelation as DLC to get the whole story.[85] Gwaltney was less favorable than he was about Birthright and Conquest: while he enjoyed the early tension of a limited party, the ability to expand and strengthen the party sapped away the tension, while he found the story "rather ho-hum and generic" after the more impactful stories of the first two versions.[84] Sullivan of IGN greatly enjoyed the combination of characters and gameplay from Birthright and Conquest, but shared her opinion of the central plot device with Corriae.[9] Carsillo found Revelation the most satisfying due to the obscuring of key plot points in the other versions despite Birthright and Conquest offering greater character insight, along with positively noting its gameplay balance between the two physical releases.[76]

Sales[edit]

Shortly after pre-orders for the special edition were announced, it sold out within a day. Following complaints from fans, Nintendo created a second run for the edition.[89] In its week of release, Fates topped sales charts, with initial sales of both versions totaling 260,675 copies. The game's special edition sold a further 42,991 copies, bringing total sales to 303,666 copies.[90] Birthright was the better-selling of the physical versions, with Conquest coming in second place.[91] It remained at the top of the charts the following week, selling a further 54,896 copies.[92] Birthright remained at the top, while Conquest dropped to fourth place.[93] By the third week, both versions of Fates had dropped to fourth place, selling a further 29,682 copies and bringing total sales to 345,253 copies.[94] Famitsu's sales estimates were slightly higher, with their sales figures for the game totaling 353,201 copies, and going on to sell 71,550 and 41,400 copies over the next two weeks, bringing total recorded sales to 456,274 copies.[95] In July, Kibayashi reported via Twitter that Fates was the current best-selling video game on Amazon Japan.[35] By the end of 2015, according to Famitsu, both physical versions had sold a combined total of 538,669 units, coming in at No. 10 of the year's top-selling video games.[96]

Prior to its western release, pre-orders for the Special Edition holding all three versions were high, resulting in it selling out by December 2015. After this, a glitch in GameStop's ordering system meant that copies of the Special Edition were reserved after stocks were empty, and they gave orders the option of cancelling or transferring their order to a different Special Edition offer.[97] On release in North America, the game became the fastest-selling game in the series' history, selling over 300,000 units during its opening weekend: this was estimated as being five times the debut sales of Awakening during a similar period. Birthright was the better-selling of the two versions, with Conquest said to be "close behind".[98] According to the February NPD Group report, Fates sold nearly 400,000 copies across physical and digital versions, with both versions reaching places in the top ten gaming chart. In addition, combined sales of all versions including the Special Edition placed the game third overall in software sales, tripling the equivalent first-month sales of Awakening.[99] When the physical versions released in the UK, Birthright was the better-selling edition, coming in at No. 5 in the all-format charts behind multi-platform releases Doom, Homefront: The Revolution and Uncharted 4: A Thief's End. Conquest came in at No. 11 in the all-format charts. In platform-specific charts, Birthright and Conquest reached No. 6 and No. 8 respectively.[100] In a financial briefing at the end of the 2015–2016 fiscal year, the physical versions were said to have sold a combined total of 1.84 million copies.[101] The title's DLC sales were also strong, coming in fifth in the top-five best-selling DLC content for Nintendo products.[102] As of March 2017, the game's total physical and download sales across all regions have come to 1.6 million copies: sales of 500,000 units were recorded for Japan, while the remaining 1.1 million were recorded overseas.[103]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Known in Japan as Fire Emblem If (ファイアーエムブレム if, Faiā Emuburemu Ifu)
  2. ^ Sources disagree on the exact numbering: it is variously called the 12th,[1] 14th including remakes,[2] and 15th including all video game titles to that date.[3]
  3. ^ White Night Kingdom[4] (白夜王国, Byakuya Ōkoku)
  4. ^ Dark Night Kingdom[4] (暗夜王国, Anya Ōkoku)
  5. ^ Invisible Kingdom[5] (インビジブルキングダム, Inbijiburu Kingudamu)
  6. ^ If~Hitori Omou (if~ひとり思う, lit. "If~ One's Thoughts"[39])

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