Fire Emblem Fates: Revelation is the neutral path in which Corrin decides to not side with either Nohr (Conquest) or Hoshido (Birthright) and wants to, against all odds, unite the two rivaling kingdoms, despite their differences. Gameplay and difficulty wise, it’s more difficult than Birthright, but not as unforgiving as Conquest. What helps make Revelation different is its great, original story, and it’s my favorite among the three.
Birthright and Conquest are both memorable in their own right, but their stories suffer because it’s a one-sided affair. Corrin and their Hoshidan allies are in a war against King Garon and the people of Nohr in Birthright, and vice versa in Conquest. In Revelation, Corrin isn’t fighting either family, but a third and significantly more dangerous evil. Here, the narrative is more emotional because Corrin is able to bring together two proud nations with a strong hatred for one another. It’s heartwarming to see the two sides trusting in Corrin because of her history with both families. I enjoyed Princes Xander and Ryoma working together, and they soon come to realize that they’re quite similar, despite coming from two very different backgrounds. It’s especially enjoyable if you’ve played either Birthright or Conquest beforehand, which I recommend doing before starting Revelation.
The story has interesting twists and difficult moments towards the end, which pit Corrin against unexpected foes they weren’t ready for nor want to fight. Unfortunately, the main villain isn’t as compelling as I hoped. You’ll have the familiarity and context with them if you played either of the two games but the villain doesn’t do a whole lot to stand out. In a game with plenty of emotional moments, I wasn’t impressed with the big bad. Still though, the story is memorable enough already.
Azura, a once enigmatic character, is more fleshed out in Revelation and I appreciate seeing her transition from what felt like a minor character in Birthright and Conquest to a person that’s now integral to the story. She was always a private person and you didn’t know much of her past but it’s addressed here. We learn of her troubled past with her parents and her relationship with Corrin. Revelation made me care for Azura much more and I recommend playing this story if you want to know more about this mysterious character. She’s more than just a character who will give you a second turn in battle.
Where Birthright was more straightforward with its missions and Conquest severed your ability to improve character’s’ stats and relationships, Revelation is a mix of the two: It manages to be challenging, but not unfair, and if you do feel challenged, you’re able to scout areas for enemies to level your characters. It’s a rewarding balance and I found myself grinding a few characters quickly enough that they would hold their own in the more difficult story missions. Permadeath is a pain sometimes, but it’s not the end of the world in Revelation because there’s plenty of opportunities to level a character. I’m very interested in playing it a second time on Lunatic as opposed to hard, and the need for more thorough grinding that will accompany the increased difficulty.
The missions are more nuanced than I expected instead of a simple “Rout the enemy” accompanied by a mundane map. I remember a mission in which I had to break sheets of ice covering a town and enemies were underneath certain patches of ice, ready to ambush. I had to hold myself back from venturing too far in one turn because I would risk an important unit fighting off three or more enemies at one time. Another mission split my team into three smaller groups on boats, each with their own set of enemies to fight and I had to maneuver one team to a Dragon Vein to create a path of ice so the entire army could regroup and take out the boss. The missions never felt dull and they often left me wondering if I should play defensive and ambush the enemies or just attack head on. When you reach a certain location in the story, the missions become quite creative and you must rely on your wits to get around the literal moving parts of the map.
Fire Emblem Fates: Revelation feels the most satisfying among the three games in the Fates series. It has the strongest story, the characters are well developed and it nails that right amount of difficulty. Barring you’re playing on Hard, it’s never unfairly difficult and it never feels like a breeze. Complement that with excellent map designs and you have a memorable 30 plus hour game that anyone who played Birthright or Conquest, perhaps both, will enjoy.
+Azura is in the limelight
+Difficulty and map design
This is my favorite among the three games and it’s the one I see myself most likely playing again someday.
Brett Woodmansee is an editor for The Game Bolt and he loves RPGs, Chipotle and his beard. For tweets about video games, sports and more, follow him on Twitter.