You heard right: Fire Emblem Fates is getting the Pokemon Red and Blue treatment. Not that it will be full of magical beasts battling for profit and glory (though…), but it will see a multi-part release, with Fire Emblem Fates: Birthright and Fire Emblem Fates: Conquest each telling a different story from opposite side of the same war. There will also be a third release, Fire Emblem Fates: Revelation (call it Fates’ Pokemon Yellow) where you refuse to take sides in the conflict and see things from yet another perspective.
In Fates, you play as Corrin, a member of the Kingdom of Nohr’s royal family who discovers that s/he is related by blood to the Nohr’s greatest enemy, the Hoshido clan. While the first five chapters of Birthright, Conquest, and presumably Revelation are identical until that moment (and you’ll thankfully only have to play them once, as Nintendo has confirmed you will be able to skip them when you play subsequent games in the set), you’re then forced to choose which family you’re going to support. That dramatically changes how the story unfolds, and how people on either side interact with you.
Though in truth, your choice was made the moment you put money down for the game. Although Fates presents you with both options in dramatic fashion, you actually can’t choose a given option if you don’t own the game associated with it. So if you bought Birthright, which tells the Hoshido side of the story, but decide in chapter six that you want to side with Nohr, you’ll have to buy Conquest before you can proceed (and will be directed to the eShop to do so). While this won’t be a problem for players who buy all three versions, it could mean buyer’s remorse for those who can only buy one and end up sympathizing with a different family than they expected.
If you don’t want to decide which game to buy based on families you haven’t even met yet, a look at the gameplay might make your decision easier. While Birthright plays like a standard Fire Emblem game – where you control a group of fighters on a grid-based field and try to rout any enemy force – in Conquest you have a smaller army than your opponent and must protect a specific point on the map for a certain number of turns. Essentially, Birthright focuses on battle strategy and Conquest on resource management – you’ll even have fewer opportunities to level characters between story chapters in Conquest, giving the whole thing a more restrictive strategic feel.
Revelation, meanwhile, remains comparatively mysterious. Nintendo has released little official information about the title, outside the fact that it acts as an in-between story where you don’t side with either family. Footage of the Japanese version suggests that the gameplay will have an ‘in-between’ quality as well, where you take an offensive approach in battles but must meet specific conditions (like Defeat the Commander or Defeat two generals within five turns) though it’s uncertain if this will be the case in the English version. All we know for sure is that unlike Birthright and Conquest, Revelation will be a download-only release half the price of the other two, making it look almost like DLC. However, Revelation contains as many chapters as Birthright and Conquest, and will feature just as much content with new story elements and allies.
Perhaps most important of all, we also have a solid idea of how Fates’ amiibo support will work. Thank Heavens. Early reports from last summer claimed you can tap your Ike, Marth, Lucina, or Robin amiibo into the My Castle section of Fates (a home base similar to the barracks from Fire Emblem Awakening), where you can engage them in battle. That is still the case, but they will also provide you with items the first two times you speak to them, so you’ll have to keep pestering until they agree to a fight. Beat them, and they’ll join your army as a new, formidable, slightly out-of-place (but still welcome) warrior.
At the moment, there’s been no word if the upcoming Roy or Corrin amiibo will be playable when they’re finally released – though including Corrin would admittedly be weird, as your main character would then be having discussions with and recruiting themselves into their own army. But then, that isn’t the weirdest thing to happen in a Fire Emblem game, so I’m guessing Nintendo will figure something out.
Fire Emblem Fates: Birthright and Conquest are set to launch on February 19th this year in North America (sorry Europe, no word on when you’ll get it yet), with Revelation being held back until an undisclosed future date. That’s a bummer for anyone who wants to take the neutral path immediately, but get a look at Birthright and Conquest first and Revelation may have an easier time living up to its name.