Fire Emblem: Fates v.s. Echoes


Claire Lattimore

Fire Emblem is a game series that dates back to the 1990s, some games being masterpieces and others being major disappointments. As a fan of the series myself, I wanted to specifically talk about Fire Emblem: Fates and Fire Emblem: Echoes. One being a brilliant, underrated gem, and the other being absolute garbage. My objective is to point out the pros and cons of each game. By doing so, I hope to give Echoes the recognition it deserves, while simultaneously warning new Fire Emblem fans, that Fates isn’t a good starting option. Now, at this point in time I would like to clarify that while I’m talking about Fates as a whole, most of my points will pertain to Fates: Conquest because that was the game I played. Fates is split into two parts, “Conquest” and “Birthright” both follow similar storylines but with completely different experiences and obtainable characters. I will specify when I am talking about just “Conquest” or Fates as a whole.


I have many hours of experience playing both games, with 207 hours on “Conquest” and 243 hours on Echoes, I feel like I have plenty of experience to speak on both sides. Let’s start off with the pros of Fire Emblem Fates. As far as upsides go, Fates has the option to visit the worlds of other players where you can challenge them to battles and obtain items you can’t get in your own world. After making a good amount of progress, you get your own kingdom to customize and hang out in if you want some downtime between story chapters. The kingdom provides many things to do such as refining weapons, cooking food to provide temporary buffs, and the ability to date, marry, and have a child with a character of the opposite sex. As far as same-sex options go, there is only one gay character option in the “Conquest” route and one lesbian character option in the “Birthright” route. While that isn’t much, it’s at least something. The final pro about fates is the amount of items a unit can hold. A character in battle can hold up to 5 items at a time, allowing the character to hold different weapons, buffing items and healing items. 


Moving on, let’s discuss the cons, starting with the cons of Fates as a whole. One issue occurs during the end of the prologue, that I didn’t realize until a recent playthrough. At the end of the prologue, (in both routes) you are given a decision that should alter your gaming experience entirely. But what if I told you that decision actually didn’t matter at all? Your choice is already pre-determined by which game you got (ex: If you bought “Conquest” you can choose option “A” but not “B”, and if you bought “Birthright” You can choose option “B” but not “A.”) The only way to obtain the other option is to pay an additional $20 in the Eshop. However, as of March 27, 2023, the Eshop will officially go offline for the 3DS, meaning, if you wanted to experience the other route, you would have to pay $40 to get the physical copy of the other game. It would be a lot easier if they just put both games together into one instead of splitting them into two separate parts. Another notable aspect of Fates overall is that if you choose to date a character in the game, you have the option to date your siblings. People try to justify it by saying they are “not blood related siblings,” but even then, depending on the route, you either get “non-biological siblings that you grew up with since you were an infant” or, “only half-blood related.” Not to mention they still refer to each other as “brother” and “sister” as well. No matter how you look at it, it’s still bad.


This is the part where I talk about the negative parts of specifically Fates: “Conquest.” These points will only relate to the “Conquest” route, they are not meant to be compared or contrasted with it’s “Birthright” counterpart, for they provide very different gaming experiences. First off, there are very few opportunities to level up your characters outside of the main story. This can cause characters to become underleveled and unsuitable for battle, making them an easy target for enemies. Leveling up your characters is crucial if you’re playing on a harder difficulty, because if they die in battle, they don’t come back, and there is no option to try again. The lack of opportunities to level up characters has discouraged me from playing harder difficulties, because even on the easiest difficulty, I still experienced many of my characters die throughout my experience with the game. I was able to interview another fan of the Fire Emblem series, Kaia Rogers. Kaia has played Fates: “Conquest” as well, but unlike me, she tried the slightly harder difficulty. Just over an hour of gameplay, and she was already stuck in an unwinnable battle. “My characters were too low leveled, and no matter what strategies I tried, there was no way for me to beat it.” she says, “But I couldn’t leave to build up my characters and come back either, I was permanently stuck on that level.” With that, she lost all motivation to replay the game, and she hasn’t picked it up since. Additionally, the game relies a little too much on dialogue to be good. I don’t mind having a lot of dialogue in games myself, but I found myself skipping a lot of it after my first playthrough. When I played it the first time I didn’t notice it due to the fact that it was new and I was eager to find out more. However, while playing it again with the element of surprise taken away, I realized how bland and tedious a lot of the dialogue is. Another issue is the lack of post game content. In the context of this game, the only thing you can do is visit other players’ worlds online, or catch up on side quests you might have missed. You can also retry the final boss, and while that sounds like it could be fun, it’s not really trying as it is “re-doing.” This is because there is no “save” after the final boss, so all the levels your characters gained from that long, hard fought battle, disappear entirely. So after you finish the final battle, you’re basically in an endless loop.


Finally, there is one very important con to bring up regarding Fates: Conquest. I was made aware only a few months ago, there was a controversial scene that was cut and re-written for western localization. Why? Because it contained borderline gay conversion therapy. For context, there is a character in the game named Soleil, she is a lesbian. If the player decides they want to date her while playing as the male protagonist, this scene ensues: Soleil has a difficult time talking to women because she’s so attracted to them, so the male protagonist decides to “help” her by spiking her drink with a “magic powder” that makes her see men as women, and women as men. Once it eventually wears off, Soleil is then attracted to the male protagonist, saying that she “fell in love with the female version of him, but now loves him as a male.” 


That concludes my discussion on Fates. Time to move on to the second half of the article where I list the pros and cons of Fire Emblem: Echoes. Just like with the Fates discussion, let’s start with the pros. One big thing Echoes has over Fates is that it includes a whole other gameplay style. While it is mainly a turn-based rpg, Echoes has a third person exploration element. With this, the player can control the main character and explore caves, shrines, and castles. In these areas the player can find currency, food, side-quest items, and plenty of monsters to fight and level up their characters to become stronger. The variations of styles allows the player to get more immersed and engaged. Echoes is also almost fully voice-acted. So when there is dialogue to read, more often than not, it is being voiced over by the character that is currently speaking. The original soundtrack for the game is also absolutely incredible, I was never that impressed with the music in Fates, but Echoes has a very unique and beautiful soundtrack. And I can’t talk about Echoes without mentioning the art, the style is gorgeous and really contributes to the game’s aesthetic, while Fates’ art style was painfully standard. Not to mention the multiple convenient battle options provided, such as the “retreat” option which allows the player to (as the name suggests) retreat from the current battle if they’re low on health/want to level up their characters more before continuing. There’s also the “bookmark” option which is a quicksave tactic that can be used during battle, the player can (quite literally) put the battle on hold, and when they’re ready to play again, go right back into the battle. The final battle option is the “turnwheel.” ”The player can use this item to fix a possible mistake such as a wrong move, or a character getting killed. Another thing Echoes has over Fates is the sheer amount of post main-story gameplay that is provided once the player beats it. The player is given the opportunity to go back and complete side quests. As well as a whole other area is unlocked with a multi-layered dungeon to explore. To finish off the positive aspects, I’d like to say the overall story of Echoes is much more entertaining than fates, the plot is more clear, interesting, and they remain focused on the task at hand. Even with my 200+ hours of gameplay on Fate’s: Conquest, I still don’t entirely remember the full plot. Additionally, Echoes has a small amount of “choices matter” thrown into a few of its battles. Time-to-time you can run into “ally” characters on the battlefield, if you fight alongside them, and none of them die, you have the option to recruit them onto your team. However, if even one of the allies dies in battle, the other allies fighting that same battle, will become unobtainable. Some Ally characters are also found in villages, upon accepting/completing their side quest, they can become permanent additions to your playable characters. This makes the player able to focus on strategizing and planning their battles.


Now let’s discuss the negative parts of Echoes. Echoes doesn’t have any controversial issues as cons, but they definitely have a couple gameplay downsides. Firstly, when in battle, if the main character dies at all, no matter the difficulty, the whole battle is lost. This has proved to be a rather troublesome aspect in my multiple playthroughs of the game, I would make incredible amounts of progress only to start all over again just because my protagonist character died. An additional downside is that characters are only able to hold 1 item when in battle (ex: a shield or weapon or buffing item) While this doesn’t affect the overall gaming experience too much, it’s still a downside compared to Fates’ 5 item limit. The final con can be linked to this next one, If a character wishes to heal without the help of a healer character, they will have to stand directly next to the protagonist to obtain a healing item. This can become an issue when a character is low on health and is far away from the protagonist.


When it comes to rating games you have to consider the pros and cons of both, and while both Fates and Echoes have their pros, one definitely outweighs the other in cons. Nevertheless, I hope this proves useful to new and old Fire Emblem fans alike. Whether it helps with choosing the next game to play, (or stay away from) or to just share some similar or opposing opinions on both games. While not all games in a series have to be absolute brilliant works of art, it’s always good to know what you’re getting into when starting a new game.