Over a year after I had finished Birthright, I finally returned to Fire Emblem: Fates to finish Conquest.
Initially, I had started Conquest pretty much immediately after finishing Birthright, but stopped because I kept losing units, because I was stubbornly attempting Hard/Classic. I don’t quite remember why I stopped, but part of the reason was so I could finish XCOM 2 (which had released the week before) and Skyrim (which I had started earlier in that academic year but had never finished).
In the time since then, I’ve heard people saying how Conquest is the best of the three Fates branches, both in difficulty and in story. With two out of three now under my belt, I can say that to be true so far. Corrin’s sacrificing of his soul and being for the betterment of both Hoshido and Nohr was a far more engaging story than the fairly simple frontal war experienced in Birthright. That being said, this game was damn hard. This time, swallowing my pride and really just wanting to get the story over with, I played on Hard/Casual, and even then found it challenging. As a matter of fact, I never even finished the final Invasion mission, failing at it several times before giving up to start the last chapters. The game’s difficulty made me prefer the Guard Stance, and as a result I ended up having some “commander” units that were maxed out; I even bought Effie an Eternal Seal to boost her level cap to 25. She ended up being pretty much a literal tank, with 48 Def that more or less ensured nobody could inflict any physical damage on her. My other “commander” units were Corrin, Xander, Leo, and Henry.
I only wish I could have connected my DS to the Internet. With no side missions to boost my
ships supports, I ended the game with only three children: Kana, Midori, and Siegbert. Digressing a bit, I ended up marrying Kaze and Effie; their S-support log made me laugh out loud:
As an aside, my three S-supports were Corrin/Nyx, Xander/Selena, and Kaze/Effie. I was planning on Mozu/Henry and Leo/Beruka, but the game ended before I could see those through.
At any rate, the lack of non-story battles made planning for my army a real pain. I was wary of buying any equipment that wasn’t discounted for fear of funds later down the road. This fear ended up being quite founded, as for the first time in any Fire Emblem game I’ve known I actually found myself having to sell some of my equipment to maintain my troops. Moreover, my requirement of survival made a severe and quite extreme level imbalance; my practice of keeping units in Guard Stance rarely allowed the supporting unit to gain any experience, and consequently many of my units went unused for pretty much the entire game. I know for a fact that I never even deployed Izana, and since I was unable to do any castle battles and thoroughly upgrade my fort I never had Flora join my team.
Then again, I reasoned to myself that I was really just going through the story. If I really wanted the supports, I can read them online once Revelations is complete (just to avoid any accidental spoilers). Conquest is quite a dark game, I must say. Perhaps not in content, but you can almost feel the oppressive Nohrian army on yourself as you play; parts of it were almost painful to go through. This being a Fire Emblem game, though, there were still some enjoyable and funny moments. The last CG scene has the Avatar bouncing off of Camilla’s chest (seriously, what’s with the implied incest-ness in Fates?), and the support logs are still amusing as all hell. I vaguely recall hearing people complain about the lack of story depth when compared to Awakening, but, hell, it’s still a fun game nonetheless.
Next up is Revelations, and then I’m finally finished with Fates. I’ve put in about two hours into the game; I had forgotten how Conquest tints the menus with a purple, and the ability to have side battles is such an underappreciated godsend. After this? Who knows – I’ve been writing a symphony and maybe I’ll actually put some good, uninterrupted time into that.