Alright, I recently got Echoes and I’ve been playing it a lot the past couple days. Currently 15 hours in, with some thoughts about the game:
Obviously coming off the heels of the more recent Fire Emblem titles (being Awakening and…Fates), it’s pretty refreshing to not be dealing with the whole pairing/shipping aspect of the game. The characters are much better, and while not especially deep by any means, they’re still mostly likeable enough given how many there are. Particularly nice is not having a bland self insert protagonist, which I always find tiresome since I never really appreciated character customization enough for it to offset the negatives of the main character having all the personality of a bag of rocks. The villains (with the exception of the Duma cult dudes, who are just your average freaky dark wizard fantasy cult) are much more interesting, although I’d have to again reiterate that I don’t think they’re especially deep by any means.
With THAT out of the way, holy crap is it obvious that Fire Emblem has come so far in its gameplay since Gaiden. I’m still having fun with Echoes but some of the mechanics and map design are so whack that I sometimes just feel an overbearing urge to put the game down after completing one or two chapters. The bosses that just spawn endless waves of enemies make for particularly tedious maps, so I pretty much audibly groan every time I see a boss unit with “conjure” in their ability list.
I’ve also personally found that mages and archers are just ridiculously powerful and the only real reason to use units that aren’t protagonists + ranged units is just because there’s not enough of them to clear maps with. The range archers have is particularly absurd, and half the difficult maps that don’t involve mook spam are only so because there’s a bunch of archers and mages to contend with. Amusingly enough, generally the units that will see you through these situations are…your own archers and mages.
Making matters worse are the witches, who will just randomly teleport anywhere on the map they please, and whether they kill a unit or not is an RNG crapshoot. Their AI is dumb and rarely teleports to and targets weak to magic or low hp units, but when they do that unit is basically guaranteed to be dead. You pretty much have no control over these outcomes, which makes witches probably the number one enemy outside of bosses that necessitate usage of Mila’s Turnwheel.
I’ll be honest. I’m glad Echoes has the Turnwheel. I think it’s entirely dumb for a game like Fire Emblem to have it, but I think Echoes in particular needs to have this sort of mechanic. So many of the maps force you into situations where you just have to keep rerolling RNG until the stars align (Desaix’s fort probably being the first prominent example…), and fortunately Mila’s Turnwheel is there to let you do just that. Unfortunately, this often creates maps where you’re just brute forcing RNG solutions rather than carefully strategizing your way through, but it is what it is.
I have a LOT of other complaints about the gameplay in particular, but this post is already too long winded. Suffice it to say that I’m quite enjoying Echoes, and as far as everything but gameplay is concerned it is vastly superior to Fates. However, the gameplay of Conquest is…obviously years ahead of Echoes, and goddamn does it show.
PS: Why the hell is Delthea so OP. Holy crap ever since I’ve gotten her it feels like she, Alm, and Python are basically carrying me through all of Alms chapters.