(image credit: Fire Emblem)

“Fire Emblem: Fates” was one of the most anticipated games of the year, and now that it’s finally been released for the Nintendo 3DS, you may be wondering whether or not it’s for you.

If you’re new and look­ing to jump into the series, “Fates” is a great way to start. Though with so many different ways to play, it’s a bit overwhelming as well. To start, “Fates” comes in two different games, “Birthright” and “Conquest”.

Fire Emblem wasn’t al­ways a series for an American audience. In fact, it wasn’t until the seventh installment in the series that the games even started to be localized for North American (NA) re­lease.

Ever since the games be­gan to be released in NA, ma­jor changes have been made. The strategy game series is most well-known for its truly unforgiving nature. Between permanent death for units and the lack of freely attain­able experience points, “Fire Emblem” is a game where ev­ery move you make counts.

That has never been more true than it is with the new “Fire Emblem Fates.” Deci­sions no longer just change gameplay, but the entire sto­ryline is impacted as well. Who stays and who goes is entirely up to you.

“Fates” does however, afford you the opportunity to play the “Casual Mode” which allows you to forgo the permadeath component in exchange for overall smarter artificial intelligence and a lower stakes gaming experi­ence. Despite being a long­time fan, I myself tend to do a casual play-through first, just so I can soak in the story details and experience the characters without the added pressure.

The most important thing for a new “Fire Emblem” player to understand while playing “Fates” is that each path you take has major me­chanical differences. While the path of “Fire Emblem Fates: Birthright” might be slightly simplified, it is not necessarily a representa­tion of the “Fire Emblem” that longtime fans are used to. There is quite a bit put in place to help the player. “Fire Emblem Fates: Con­quest” is far closer to classic “Fire Emblem.” It has very finite resources throughout the game, and the classes are much closer to the original games.

Which should you play?

If you consider yourself a fan of strategy games, but not necessarily an expert at them, “Birthright” may be the choice for you. It’s a good way to get comfortable with “Fire Emblem” without diving in completely. You can still play with the perma­nent death option, but there are more resources in place to prevent units from dying.

If you’re looking to chal­lenge yourself, play “Con­quest.” it will offer a very traditional “Fire Emblem” experience, with the classes longtime fans are used to.

All in all, “Fire Emblem Fates” is an experience that will welcome players with open arms, but includes a highly customizable experi­ence to make the transition far less jarring. So if you own a 3DS and are looking to join in on the “Fire Emblem” craze, pick it up, take it for a spin. You’ll find that there’s a lot more fun in strategy than meets the eye.

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