Fire Emblem Catch All

Stele wrote:

A couple weeks later and I finally started Ch 25. Not sure why this one is so tough to finish.

I think it's the between battle stuff getting tedious. The combat really is the best it's ever been and I love the actual fights.

This is where I am with the game. I actually just loathe the between battle stuff. And I really hate the fact that it matters to my party’s success whether I have a Silver Axe+1 or a Silver Axe+2.

Even if you don’t do most of the Somniel activities it’s hard to shake the notion that if you don’t go for those little buffs that it might be the difference between victory and defeat.

I’ve beaten the Binding Blade (the unreleased in the US GBA game) twice. A game which is roundly considered one of the harder entries in the series. I’ve beaten Blazing Blade (the first US GBA game) 7 or 8 times. I found those experiences far more enjoyable, because what you were managing was XP and weapons in the end.

I’m becoming very tempted to just turn the difficulty back to Normal and completely ignore the Somniel. I’m not sure I’ll get through this otherwise. Right now my attention is on Advance Wars Reboot Camp and I’m enjoying that a lot more.

I put the game on hold so I could wrap up Tales of Arise for the JRPG club, but like Stele, I have not had a huge urge to return to this game, even though I love this series. The downtime between battles just really messed with the pace and makes it feel like the tactical battles hinge not on my tactical decisions, but whether I upgraded correctly and made food or whatever.

I played straight through echos, but have had trouble keeping momentum on fates, three houses, and now engage.

I was trying to finish Ch 25 last night and it's just endless reinforcements coming behind me. I think I'm going to have to reload a save or rewind a few turns and just rush the final group. I was trying to cover the rear but my team is still too split up and I don't have enough firepower at the front.

I can either stop and fight the adds forever or try to beat the dumb thing, I think.

Malkroth wrote:

I put the game on hold so I could wrap up Tales of Arise for the JRPG club, but like Stele, I have not had a huge urge to return to this game, even though I love this series. The downtime between battles just really messed with the pace and makes it feel like the tactical battles hinge not on my tactical decisions, but whether I upgraded correctly and made food or whatever.

I played straight through echos, but have had trouble keeping momentum on fates, three houses, and now engage.

What difficulty level are you on? This is the same issue I've had and I'm considering just going down to Normal and finishing the game. Otherwise I don't think I'll ever finish it.

I am paying on hard, since Three Houses normal was a cakewalk. I think I need to turn off my optimization brain to play fire emblem now, which is disheartening.

Malkroth wrote:

I am paying on hard, since Three Houses normal was a cakewalk. I think I need to turn off my optimization brain to play fire emblem now, which is disheartening.

You most certainly do have to turn off that part of your brain now, IMO. With all of the GBA and DS games the resources you had to manage were limited XP and money (due to weapons breaking). Those were the main resources and it was easy to optimize, because the systems were limited.

The big issue with modern Fire Emblem, in my opinion, is that there are just too many systems. So many systems that they have to gear the difficulty lower and provide you multiple ways to optimize, less you get burned out by all of the systems. This has the effect of making the game feel simultaneously like it’s really important to optimize (because “why would those systems be there otherwise?”) and like there is actually no reason to optimize, so “why do any of this?”

In this conundrum I throw up my hands, google which systems really matter and ignore the rest. At least with Three Houses I got through 3 playthroughs before I couldn’t stomach the Monastery any longer.

Stele wrote:
Stele wrote:

Oh sh*t Ch 17. I may have to restart. Or let someone die.

2 hours later and still not done. I got out of the jam I was in then thought I had it, killed one of the multiple bosses and nope, I lost a unit.

Rewind, lost a different unit.

Rewind, didn't kill boss with counter and lost a different unit.

Gah. I might have to load my save from a few turns ago, but tomorrow.

This was the first time hard is really hard.

Just got here. I’m probably going to bump it down to Normal, to be honest.

And there's me at chapter 14 thinking to myself "man the rewind kind of breaks the permadeath mechanic, which makes the cavalcade of characters the game bestows upon you pointless."

Jonman wrote:

And there's me at chapter 14 thinking to myself "man the rewind kind of breaks the permadeath mechanic"

:)

You’re not wrong. That’s not mutually exclusive. I wish I had chosen Hard/Casual.

Hard/Casual is the way.

Hard/Casual is a good balance, though I ended up only using the dozen or so characters I actually put effort into levelling up.

I definitely think it is the way. In part because of IS’s design decisions. The Time Crystal combined with the difficulty of the game sends mixed signals about permadeath. So why not just disable it?

I know I’ve said this before, so apologies, but I believe Intelligent Systems has designed a game, in Engage, that isn’t very mechanically cohesive. Some of the systems are confusing, at cross purposes with each other. Others are less important than they seem or have been in previous entries.

For example skirmishes seem to function contrary to almost every entry since Sacred Stones. In previous entries skirmishes were a way to grind or catch up underleveled units or units that started one level under base. Almost every game since then has trained us to use skirmishes to grind or level these units. Meanwhile in an Engage skirmishes are scaled to your strongest unit, meaning most people can’t use them as expected. Paralogues even more so. In fact, I don’t quite understand the point of these types of levels, honestly. Outside of just providing extra content.

So in a game that’s far more difficult than Three Houses and doesn’t offer meaningful ways to level up the underpowered units, grinding is seemingly unavailable. Given that and that the only purpose of the Time Crystal seems to be to add a half step towards Casual, I don’t see a reason not to just go Casual. At least then you have a shot at using skirmishes. The game is too frustrating and mechanically incoherent to make this slight difference worth worrying about.

DSGamer wrote:

I know I’ve said this before, so apologies, but I believe Intelligent Systems has designed a game, in Engage, that isn’t very mechanically cohesive. Some of the systems are confusing, at cross purposes with each other. Others are less important than they seem or have been in previous entries.

You don't say.

Yeah, there are bits of the system that I adore, but also bits that don't really work with the other bits, as you've observed.

DSGamer wrote:

For example skirmishes seem to function contrary to almost every entry since Sacred Stones. In previous entries skirmishes were a way to grind or catch up underleveled units or units that started one level under base. Almost every game since then has trained us to use skirmishes to grind or level these units. Meanwhile in an Engage skirmishes are scaled to your strongest unit, meaning most people can’t use them as expected. Paralogues even more so. In fact, I don’t quite understand the point of these types of levels, honestly. Outside of just providing extra content.

The highest difficulty levels limit the number of skirmishes you can do. I'm not sure if that's better or worse.

Gremlin wrote:

The highest difficulty levels limit the number of skirmishes you can do. I'm not sure if that's better or worse.

I think overall in a more cohesive design it could be for the better. If they removed grinding then they could design each difficulty level for a set amount of available XP and clean up the confusing systems.

Well, I finished Path of Radiance for the first time a few days ago and it threw Engage into a whole new light for me.

I generally only play on the normal difficulty or bump the game up to hard if it's clearly too easy. I did this for the 3DS games, Three Houses and started Engage this way. I eventually bounced off of Engage (as discussed earlier) as I found the game to be much harder or didn't really enjoy engaging with the systems the way I did for previous games. I eventually turned it down to Normal, found it WAY too easy and just dropped it.

In my life with this series I've beaten Sacred Stones and FE7 numerous times. Binding Blade twice. Awakening 3 or 4 times. Echoes once. 2 paths of Fates and Shadow Dragon. So not a total casual, but I've missed quite a few entries and I don't really do lunatic runs or that sort of thing. I just don't have the time.

Anyway, I finally took the time to turn to Path of Radiance. I never played either that or Radiant Dawn, because I generally play these games on portables. I just blazed through Path of Radiance. Quicker than almost any entry in the series. I loved it. It easily shot into my top 3 games of the entire series. Not only was the story great, the characters excellent, but the gameplay was top notch. Because this was the earliest console entry, in terms of release date, that I've played, it also opened my eyes to some of Fire Emblem's lineage that I'd previously been unaware of and gave me some new perspective on Engage and why I struggled with that.

First off there's the base. The base in Path of Radiance is just about the amount of base I personally want. Stash the supports there, let me stock up on weapons and assign some skills and otherwise don't make me do too much else. In terms of games I've played this is the first game in terms of chronological release that has a base mechanic. To my mind this is just the right amount of things to do and doesn't overwhelm you with systems to engage with. I think I would have enjoyed Engage more if the base were more limited and what you needed out of the base were far more constrained.

Secondly, skirmishes or the lack thereof. Since this was my first time playing this game I didn't realize that skirmishes were absent. I assumed it picked up where Sacred Stones left off and included some form of grinding that carried on through the series. I found the lack of skirmishes refreshing and it reminded me again of something that's been bugging me ever since even Awakening. I think skirmishes and grinding in general throws the balance of the game off. Developers have to skew the difficulty in favor of engaging with grinding mechanics and maybe even DLC and as a result for us casuals there is implied grinding involved to make the game easier.

Finally, overall difficulty. It was really nice to play a game tuned exactly to the difficulty of the characters you are given, the resources you have and the maps as they exist. It reminded me, honestly, of the GBA games in that respect. It feels to me like ever since DLC and skirmishes became major parts of Fire Emblem mechanics, tuning the difficulty has become harder and harder to do. It feels like each successive game has been either game way too easy or, as with Engage, way more difficult. Especially if you don't maximize skirmishes and the base mechanic.

Just random thought after playing this classic. Maybe I'll find a guide online and revisit Engage down the road to understand the mechanics I bounced off of so hard. For now it's on to Radiant Dawn.

I recently picked Engage back up and am liking it a lot more now than I did back in February. I think a lot of the problems it has is how much the base system has grown in the series. I decided when I came back to ignore almost all the Somniel stuff, doing only the cooking, arena, pool/orchard/stables, and picking up the materials around the farmyard. This reduced the amount of time between battles considerably, and even on hard, I do not feel like I am missing out on anything. At where I am at, +2 str for Alear is not going to be missed, I have tons of bond fragments from achievements so don't need the fishing/Sommie nonsense, and the flea market/fortune teller have always been worthless.

The other thing that has helped is I just picked my core 12 and ignore everyone else in terms of exp and such. I am still increasing their bonds through the Somniel activities for that, but am not trying to keep them leveled at all. While older games had massive rosters as well, I think Engage suffers from its massive roster since characters are so interesting now. I've dabbled in Shadow Dragon a little recently, and almost all the characters are complete no-faces outside an introductory line. You pick who you want to use based purely on stats and their portrait, there's no personality or relationships to get invested in.

I just completed chapter 21 today, so I think I am closing in on the end, and have an interest in doing a replay at some point to try different characters and strategies. I recently heard about something called a "Fire Emblem Draft" where you get with other people and you draft which characters you can use in your play through. Sounded like a neat idea, but I would want to do it in a more casual environment than something like that would usually take place.

DSGamer wrote:

For now it's on to Radiant Dawn.

One thing I'll note on Radiant Dawn (and this is based on my memory from the time of launch so it's been a hot minute) was that the support system is a huge negative. I think the way it worked was that since they had a ton of characters in that game (and I mean a ton), and they tried to have everyone support with everyone, so all the dialogue was extremely plain and cut and paste between pairing to pairing. There might have been the odd custom one or something with depth to it, but most were painfully shallow. As one of the calling cards of the series, it's hard to imagine that they fumbled it as badly as they did. Maybe it wasn't as bad as I remember.

The game part I remember being very good.

Path of Radiance was already heading down that path. Path of Radiance has one of the better stories of the entire series. Maybe the best. It has some amazing characterizations, especially amongst the Laguz. It also has stuff like, “girl whose entire personality is she likes to eat a lot of food”.

That was one of the more fascinating things about playing Path of Radiance this late into the series. It’s easy to see some of the small mistakes they made that would snowball into catastrophic habits. So I’m not shocked some of those exist in Radiant Dawn as well.

I've really got to revisit Path of Radiance—I've started it a couple of times and really liked what I played, but managed to get distracted by other things both times regardless. From what I've seen (having a bit more experience than you, DSGamer, of some of the early entries but having not touched anything recent at all), PoR is possibly peak Fire Emblem minus the hard edges of the early stuff and the fat of the new stuff.

DSGamer wrote:

Path of Radiance was already heading down that path. Path of Radiance has one of the better stories of the entire series. Maybe the best. It has some amazing characterizations, especially amongst the Laguz. It also has stuff like, “girl whose entire personality is she likes to eat a lot of food”.

That was one of the more fascinating things about playing Path of Radiance this late into the series. It’s easy to see some of the small mistakes they made that would snowball into catastrophic habits. So I’m not shocked some of those exist in Radiant Dawn as well.

Path of Radiance was my entry into Fire Emblem, so it's great to see your take as someone coming to it after a bunch of other FE games! It holds a special place in my heart.

If you're able to find a copy of Radiant Dawn, and it's not prohibitively expensive, I'd definitely recommend trying it. It's both a great game and a hot mess, and ultimately I think a worthy conclusion to Path of Radiance's story. The game also lets you port over save data from Path of Radiance with some minor buffs: if you got a character to level 20, and maxed out one of their stats, it gives you something like +2 to the stat. It's a small thing, but can lead to some crazy characters when you factor in how Bonus EXP works in Radiant Dawn.

I’ve already started it.

Wrapped up Engage today and overall I have positive feelings about it. The Somniel definitely has too much going on that is a distraction and kind of bogs the entire game down if you try to engage with everything (unless you love the minigames). I gave up on doing everything but the arena, cooking, Sommie, Ancient Well, the free support sites, and collecting items around the Somniel. I talked to people if they had blue bubbles, but otherwise just kept the pace going forward. You could probably drop the cooking and item collecting as long as you still collect the items at your "farm" full of only dogs, since dogs give weapon upgrade mats.

On the combat front, I feel like on hard it feels like older Fire Emblem games where you have to think about your moves, which characters attack which enemies, and making good use of your resources. I probably did not use engages enough as I always saved them like elixirs for the bosses of the stages. I think the emblems work as a better combat wrinkle than the Gambits from Three Houses did. Something new and different, but feels like it fits into the overall design. Although, Engage weapons become fairly weak by late-mid game, since it is impossible to forge them without doing a massive amount of Relays or digging into the Timeless Trials content, which is all side-content for the gameplay voracious. I wish they had included some way in the main game to get those orbs for upgrading the engage weapons so that you could actually experiment with that system and get some late-game use out of a couple of them.

I really do not like the way skirmishes were implemented here. Since they auto-level with your average party level, you can't really try out other characters in them as they would just die instantly. I think it was Awakening where the level of the skirmish was based on the node it was located on, that felt like a better implementation.

As for the story I can see why people are put off by the story. It starts out fairly okay, but the tail end goes into hardcore Saturday morning cartoon territory. Lots of standing around talking while "things happen" instead of taking action, characters slowly dying when there is healing magic in the world, and complete camp towards the end. However I enjoyed the characters, felt like they were all endearing (except you Alcryst, go find some confidence), and wanted to see them interacting with each other.

If you like Fire Emblem for the tactics, I can recommend Engage as one of the better modern implementations, just fast-forward through the story content if you are not into Saturday morning cartoon drama though. If you like Fire Emblem for an engaging plot, this is definitely not the place to be.

Malkroth wrote:

If you like Fire Emblem for the tactics, I can recommend Engage as one of the better modern implementations, just fast-forward through the story content if you are not into Saturday morning cartoon drama though. If you like Fire Emblem for an engaging plot, this is definitely not the place to be.

I grabbed it on sale since it was like half off a bit ago, and I'll get to it eventually since I really do enjoy the series. I remember my review of Fates: Conquest, and it was basically "the maps are amazing, and if the story had just been mediocre it would have been a very good game, but the story was actively bad which ultimately brought it down." I kind of feel like "great gameplay and mediocre story" is exactly what Engage is, which will probably good enough.

Well, I'm finally getting around to playing Engage now, and I’m trying to see if I can finish it before the GOTY cutoff. I’m up to Chapter 6 right now, playing on Hard/Classic.

The battles seem good so far, with a lot of little wrinkles thrown in. I think I like the break system plus the weapons triangle returning, and I also like that weapons don’t have durability anymore. The production values (art, music, especially voice acting) is down a peg or two from Three Houses and even Echoes. Seriously, can’t they just use the Echoes team for stuff like this?

I’m also wondering how useful the Somniel is going to be. It’s smaller than the Academy in Three Houses, but also seems kind of thin so far, but still big enough that running around might be annoying. But at least we seem to get those spirit fragment things at the end of each battle if we talk to everyone or not.

Anyway, got the first Paralogue to do, then on with Ch.6.

Huh yeah I forgot to put it on my list... not final yet, but wow that really was just January?

Well, I've had second thoughts on Engage.

I posted on reddit a couple of months ago after playing Path of Radiance for the first time. Especially about my frustration with Engage vs a more streamlined game like PoR. I got some pushback about how I maybe just didn't understand the systems as well.

After that post I decided to restart Engage and... engage... with some of the mechanics I apparently didn't understand so well the first time through. Especially skills. Playing Path of Radiance finally gave me an understanding of skills and how they came to be in the franchise, as well as how important they are. Notably during my first playthrough I didn't realize that any character could inherit any skill from any Emblem (as long as you had access to that Emblem ring).

So on this playthrough I worked to spend my SP on inherited skills like Canter (and others) from the initial rings before I lost those rings. Quelle surprise, but this playthrough is entirely different. I see now that the real problem is how hard some of these systems are to comprehend if you're playing the game like you played previous entries.

At the point in my new game I'm caught up with my first playthrough (chapter 17) in half the time. Some of this is undoubtedly due to the fact that I haven't tried so hard to defeat the divine paralogues so early, but a lot of this is because the game has just been easier this time around. The skills I inherited have made a decisive difference in addition to earlier crafting.

I still prefer SRPGs with more clear systems, including games like FFT/FFTA/Tactics Ogre: LUCT. And I still prefer the Fire Emblem games from the GBA era as well as Path of Radiance. I feel like they had the right mix of systems and I enjoyed managing weapons more than I enjoy managing and focusing on the buffs you get from skills. I'm actually starting to enjoy Engage now, however. We'll see if I finish this time.

I Finished 3 houses... only one path.. good game but not interested (or rather than more inclined to play other games) to see the other 2 paths

I'm also plugging away in Engage. I'm up to Ch.12 at this point, although I've been doing a bit of grinding on the open world as well. The missions haven't been too hard at this point even on Hard - I think I've rewound more because of really bad level ups than I did because of deaths.

The thing I'm noticing (and the internet has confirmed) is that it seems like the characters you get the further you get into the game are just better than the ones earlier on, and so it feels sort of like the ones you use earlier on are just sort of wasted. Why not just funnel more experience to a handful of small units and not bother with most of the units you pick up? It just seems like they could have balanced it a bit better. I feel like in FE7, most characters early on were pretty good, and then later ones served as comparable or slightly worse replacements in case you lost them in battle. But that's not the case here. And some characters (like Amber) are just not suited to their starting class, so you quickly have to burn Master/Second Seals to get them to reach a high level of potential. Just seems like weird character balance overall.

Sundown wrote:

The thing I'm noticing (and the internet has confirmed) is that it seems like the characters you get the further you get into the game are just better than the ones earlier on, and so it feels sort of like the ones you use earlier on are just sort of wasted.

This is true and obnoxious, frankly.

If you hang out on Fire Emblem Reddit or listen to podcasts this is actually the conventional wisdom for most entries in the series amongst people who play these games over and over. Instead of abandoning your Jagens or Seths, folks recommend just sticking with really good characters and using the new really good characters when you get them and not fussing as much over stat growth.

That said, it's never been more true than it is with Engage.

Why not just funnel more experience to a handful of small units and not bother with most of the units you pick up? It just seems like they could have balanced it a bit better.

Definitely. Part of why this happens, I believe, is because of the permadeath design. Intelligent Systems intends for characters to die and for you to move on and use their replacements that come along later in the story. Games that are tuned with higher difficulty (like Engage) are setup for you to live with a Framme dying and use the character that replaces her (class-wise) later in the game.

That most fans of the series either restart levels or just disable permadeath makes it a little strange when you get to these later characters and get frustrated by the fact that they're better than these other characters you've poured so much into. What's most maddening about Engage IMO is that the Emblem Ring / Skill inheritance mechanic means that some of those early characters (if you did it right) will have OP skills like Canter. It's really not fun to walk away from characters with such awesome, non-transferrable skills later in the game.

so you quickly have to burn Master/Second Seals to get them to reach a high level of potential. Just seems like weird character balance overall.

This is another aspect that's basically broken. In a lot of cases there isn't much difference between the Base and the Advanced classes. Reclassing in general is more open than some entries in the franchise, but not so open that it encourages much experimentation. So the right answer is almost always just to use Master Seals as soon as you have access to them, which is kind of a drag.