Previews have started dropping with early impressions of Fire Emblem Engage, and I’ve been trying to parse the sort of game we’re in for, but none of them can seem to agree where Engage falls on the FE spectrum.
I only got into Fire Emblem with Awakening, so admittedly I have a limited spread of experience with the series. I played a lot of Awakening, went back and dabbled a bit with Radiant Dawn, played some of Fates (lost interest, though I don’t recall why), and then played a lot of Three Houses. But even within that small window of titles, I saw the balance of the games shift from mostly tactics-based, to super focused on the social/relationship side with Three Houses.
I know some fans discovered FE with Three Houses, and want more of that style of game, where other fans want the game to focus more on being a challenging strategy title. I’m not sure I have a preference, but I am curious what Engage is like, and based on the previews it looks like… neither?
It sounds like the relationship stuff is scaled back to some degree. The footage I’ve been able to find shows, at most, some quick conversations with companions, less concerned with getting intimate than with upping some stats for battle. There’s no evidence we’ll be sitting down with our compatriots in Engage, trying to figure out what brand of tea they like and what sort of gossip will please them the most.
At the same time, there does still appear to be a ton of busy work in-between battles in the different form of doing sit-ups and petting your adopted dogs or whatever. So it’s not all-battles, all-the-time, either.
A couple of the early impressions have also mentioned that the primary new mechanic, by which your can summon past Fire Emblem champions through obtained rings, actually makes the game too easy due to the powerful nature of their abilities. Difficulty is certainly a subjective point, though, and I don’t think any of these previews encompass content past the first ten hours. Maybe things get harder.
Overall, it sounds like Fire Emblem is still trying to find out where it’s most comfortable in terms of balancing its various features. Likely it will continue to tinker with this formula for every new release until one pushes something too far for comfort. Regardless of where it lands, pleasing older fans, or newer fans, or somewhere in the middle, Engage looks like it’s shaping up to be a pretty robust game that I can’t wait to play (even if I still think the main character’s hair is incredibly stupid).
Of particular note, I’m really excited that (finally) when you go into battle with a character, it actually takes place in the actual spot that character was standing, as opposed to just a generic space in the same tileset (FE fans will know what I mean). It’s such a benign detail in the grand scheme of things, but it has really stood out to me in gameplay video and makes a huge difference in flow and immersion.