There are two types of Fire Emblem players: Those who gravitate towards the social mechanics and those who prefer the tactical turn-based combat. After a guided demo, Fire Emblem Engage seems like it may cater more towards the latter. While the social sim aspects are still intact, there seem to be far fewer extraneous activities in the hub area compared to Three Houses. A lot of your time at the hub is spent outfitting your party members, unlocking new combat skills, and preparing for the next battle. In this way, Fire Emblem Engage feels like a more focused take on the long-running tactical JRPG series.
Fire Emblem Engage follows a similar structure to other modern Fire Emblem games. Your time is split between the tactical tile-based combat and a hub area where you can interact with other characters. On the battlefield, Fire Emblem Engage brings back the traditional weapon triangle that the series is known for. Swords beat axes, axes beat spears, and spears beat swords. Taking advantage of the weapon triangle inflicts break, which prevents the defending unit from countering in that skirmish. Weapons outside of the triangle such as bows, daggers, and spell tomes are weak to physical attacks. As much as I enjoyed Three Houses (I played nearly 200 hours of it), I did miss the traditional weapon triangle. In past games, it gave specific weapons distinct strengths and weaknesses that forced me to carefully consider my party. The reintroduction of the weapon triangle could lead to a more balanced experience, especially for those who might have felt Three Houses was a bit too easy.
At the center of Engage’s combat is the Engage mechanic. As you progress through the story, you unlock Emblem Rings that can be equipped on any party member. Each Emblem Ring houses the spirit of a character from a previous Fire Emblem game, and when given to a party member, they can combine for improved stats and some powerful abilities. You can mix Emblem Rings with any character in your party for varying effects and strategies. Some combinations can lead to incredibly mobile party members, while others could significantly buff a character’s strength stat. Some combinations may work better than others, but every party member can forge bonds with every classic character housed in an Emblem Ring. Like bonds formed between units, bonds between party members and Emblem Rings increase the effectiveness of that pair.
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Author: Jake Dekker