Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia is massively changing the Fire Emblem formula

Nintendo has recently revealed further details about the latest 3DS Fire Emblem game, Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia. Fans who are looking to get more of what Fates gave them will be slightly disappointed – this will not be like any other Fire Emblem you have played before. Several of the game’s core systems have been gutted and replaced by something new and nearly unrecognizable to series veterans.

Looking Backward For A New Direction

Many of these systems are modern day interpretations of the experimental systems Nintendo toyed with in the original Fire Emblem Gaiden. One of the most notable is the new world map system. Instead of simply picking mission after mission from a menu, players will now wander around an overworld JRPG style. You’ll talk to people, visit towns, and even navigate dungeons in a full 3D environment, finding no shortage of loot and cash along your way.

You’ll also encounter enemies, and when you do you’ll be sent into what is essentially a micro-battle.  You and a small contingent of your troops will face the opponent and their troops in a smaller-than-usual map. These battles play out in standard Fire Emblem style – turn based, on a grid – but involve far fewer units than normal army battles, and can be completed in a much shorter time. You can also gain an advantage by attacking the enemy on the world map, effectively reducing the HP and stats of all troops in the encounter. But beware; the enemy can do the same to you.

Instead of following one protagonist, Fire Emblem Echoes will follow two, Celica and Alm, which should not be a surprise to anyone who played Fire Emblem Gaiden. However, this time around the player is in control of when the story switches between the two characters. You can swap back and forth often or you can play through each character’s story at a time. That being said, switching frequently will give you far more insight to the story and might even give you some bonuses in ways of equipment and items.

There are also some pretty hefty changes coming to the battle system itself. In a huge departure from Fire Emblems past, Archers can now counter-attack from a single tile away. This essentially makes them less fragile and more of a threat in close quarters. It was probably a change to allow them to be slightly more aggressive in micro battles.

Mages have also received an interesting change. In order to cast magic, they will now have to expend a portion of their health. Hopefully their defense or HP has been increased to compensate. This is also a holdover from the original Fire Emblem Gaiden, however, it is unclear whether or not the full magic system – including black magic, white magic, and the ability for non-Mage characters to use magic – will return. If it does, that means that magic will not be treated like an item or weapon, the way it is in most other Fire Emblems.

It appears as if weapon durability will not be making a return post Fates, which makes sense considering the original Gaiden also did not have weapon durability. In addition, it appears as if the “default” weapon system from the original Gaiden is making a return, which allows a character to attack without a weapon in their inventory.

What Else Can We Expect?

It’s still unclear if many of the other Gaiden systems are returning in Fire Emblem Echoes but, if they are, here is just a short list of what we may have to look forward to.

  • A group experience pool that applies to all units at the end of battle
  • The ability for mounted units to dismount and become infantry units
  • Lots of complex and interesting class changes including a third tier of class promotions
  • Shrines that can resurrect otherwise permanently dead units
  • JRPG style equipment
  • A turn system which will feature enemy armies chasing our main characters the longer they stay in town

Unfortunately, we also know certain systems will not be returning. For example, the support system will not be making an appearance, nor will unit breeding play any part in the game. Also, the weapon triangle will, incredibly, not be featured in Echoes at all.

These new changes are sure to rub some modern day fans of Fire Emblem the wrong way, but the quirkiness of Gaiden was a big part of its charm. It might be interesting to see these systems get another chance in a modern day Fire Emblem game.