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Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Maybe I Shouldn't Dismiss Fire Emblem Engage So Fast!

By LUDWIG VON KOOPA - Well, the gameplay looks interesting as usual.

The very first thing that Nintendo showcased in their September 2022 Nintendo Direct was Fire Emblem Engage. My live reaction to that was that it features “a weirdo with weird blue and red hair.” (Still true.) But also the (non-compliment) “This looks like something from Xenoblade than Fire Emblem.” I even questioned the game's legitimacy as a mainline Fire Emblem game, asking, “ this a mainline FE or some kind of FE Heroes-esque get-together gimmick?” By the very end of the log, I was asking myself, “I still think the weirdest thing is that Fire Emblem Engage. I might have to go back to being an anti-Fire Emblem person?” And then I haven't made any public statements about Fire Emblem Engage ever since.

That was two months ago. Fire Emblem Engage releases two months from now. There have been several tidbits of information slowly being revealed on Nintendo's social media accounts that I don't care to go into, mainly since I haven't really followed it. I have, however, watched these two recent trailers. The first is based on story, and the second is gameplay:

Alear still looks weird, and I'm still not a fan of the art style and character design overall. A “dark presence” is threatening the land, and Alear (protagonist with funny red and blue hair) and his/her friends need to work with other kingdoms in the land to deal with this evil, including an obligatory evil kingdom that enjoys dark presences. There are also twelve Emblem rings to collect, representing heroes from previous Fire Emblem games... and some of them are in the hands (or fingers) of Alear's enemies. So while Emblem Marth (with blue hair) may be Alear's pal, there's also a red-haired Marth in the story trailer that clearly isn't a friend. According to a YouTube comment, those heroes are Marth, Celica, Sigurd, Leif, Roy, Lyn, Eirika, Ike, Micaiah, Lucina, Corrin, and Byleth. All of Marth's games (there's two, and they were each remade once) are consolidated to just Marth, while other continents with sequels/midquels/prequels get more than one hero there, which I'm glad about. Since Marth's hair turns red when under dark powers, it's unclear what'll happen to Roy's or Celica's hair.

Fire Emblem Engage red unit Alear evil hair eyes
Alear looks WAY better with all-red hair. ...And eyes.

I'm not very impressed with the story (or dialogue) as presented, but maybe that's premature. So let's look at the gameplay trailer on how to use Emblem Rings. It's still a turn-based RPG, but your characters (and all of them, not just Alear the main character) can equip Emblem Rings to “sync” with the legendary hero contained within. This will provide stat bonuses and new combat abilities, and may also assist in battle by performing unprompted follow-up attacks. You can also fuse with the Emblem hero and use a special Engage skill, though you can only fuse with them for a limited number of turns, dictated by a metre.

For example, Sigurd from the fourth Fire Emblem game's special attributes include his very high movement stat, which fits Fire Emblem: Geneology of the Holy War being all about horse units crossing sizable distances on roads on extremely large maps. Meanwhile, Lyn from the seventh Fire Emblem game can use bows from very far distances, and Corrin from Fire Emblem Fates can use her Dragon Vein skill to change the terrain. These are somewhat similar in nature to the Battalions from Fire Emblem: Three Houses, which also allow you to have a stat boost and a special attack (Gambits), but I admit Emblem Heroes are way more interesting than the “Church of Seiros Soldiers”. Apparently, like your own units, Emblems can equip different weapons, though the mechanism for that isn't clear.

Fire Emblem Engage Ike Ragnell cutscene
Here's Ike with Ragnell fighting a generic enemy in a cutscene,
alongside a colourful new character whom I don't know the name of.
Ike is using his Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn design, and Micaiah will have to, as well.

The best-designed characters so far still seem to be the old Emblem Heroes and not the new characters, but maybe I'm biased and just really want to see Micaiah. I see all of the Emblem Heroes are depicted with purple eyes in that trailer's artwork. I think Micaiah will look weird with purple eyes. And if she's the Silver-Haired Maiden but her hair ends up changing colour too... Well, I'll have some issues with that, probably. But besides that, the game doesn't seem to be a total disaster, and if gameplay-wise the gimmick just ends up being a shinier version of Battalions, then that is very alright. So I'll follow Fire Emblem Engage's announcements and not already declare that I most definitely will never get it. I do really like the series, you know...

Ludwig thought Fire Emblem Engage's premise was a console version of Fire Emblem Heroes, being a cash-grab riding on nostalgia and already-established stories instead of doing something new and interesting. Fortunately, they seem to be going beyond that, so he'll give the game the benefit of the doubt. For now. But what do you think? If you don't already know, the Tellius games are his favourites.

By the time Fire Emblem Engage launched, a common consensus is that the game has good gameplay and graphics but bad story and characters.


  1. Every time you put out a Fire Emblem related article, I have this urge to sigh wistfully...Fire Emblem is currently my #1 series that I WISH I actually played but I don't.


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