Fire Emblem Fates comes in 3 parts – Conquest, Birthright and Revelations. The first 6 chapters are shared, and then you need to pick: will you return to the family that kidnapped you and raised you, or the family of your birth?

I started with Conquest, which was described as the hard one. I’ve just finished Birthright and Revelations. I played all games on hard and I can say, Birthright and Revelations on hard are walk in the park compared to Conquest on hard.

For anyone not familiar with Fire Emblem, it’s a turn-based strategy game. You have an army of people, which you move over a grid-based map to attack the enemy. You have various classes, such as mage, cavalier, archer and so on. In Classic mode, your people stay dead if they die in battle. Supports are also included in this game, as is the option of having children. The supports range from bland to creepy to funny.

There are quite a lot of differences between Birthright and Conquest. In both, you get a castle you can upgrade with various shops. You’ll get different items in the shops and different resources though. Most of the characters you recruit will be different, though a handful are shared. The classes are also a bit different between each path, and there are some new classes, such as the Diviner and Ninja for Hoshido. In Birthright and Revelations, you can fight extra battles for money and experience, while in Conquest, you can’t. Even ignoring that part which lets you level up as much as you want on Birthright and Revelations, the maps on Conquest are much harder. A big change to the series is that weapons now have unlimited uses. I’m ambivalent about this change, as managing your money and weapons was an important part previously. Even in Conquest, I never had any money difficulties.

The goals for each level on Conquest are generally different from ‘rout the enemy’. A few you need to survive for a certain number of turns or escape the map. A new feature, ‘dragon vein’ lets the royal characters (the main character and the siblings) alter an aspect of the map. The dragon veins are at specific locations on each map, and only do one thing for each map, so you can’t choose what they do. These seem much more prevalent and interesting in Conquest than in the other two games. In Conquest, they’re used to freeze water so you can travel over it, call a gust of wind that moves your people and the enemies around, damage everyone in an area, call up barricades or lower them, and so on. In Birthright and Revelations they’re mainly used for healing allies or damaging enemies.

The maps in Conquest are really interesting and challenging, and they were definitely difficult. I probably wouldn’t recommend Conquest for anyone new to the series. Playing Birthright after Conquest is like taking a break. My game says I played ~ 25 hours on Conquest. It’s probably more like double that given I reset the game whenever anyone dies. Perhaps I’m also just not very good at the game!

In terms of plot, I was disappointed. The plot for Conquest is mainly the main character (MC) goes back to Nohr to try and change the kingdom from the inside. It pretty much goes King Garon does something evil, tries to kill the MC, MC insists on convincing Garon to change his views. Repeat for ten chapters, and add in some random killing of innocent villagers. The Nohrian siblings who knew the MC was kidnapped also never discuss it, or why they didn’t reveal it. I didn’t max out supports with all of them, so maybe they do later, but I feel like that was something they ought to have mentioned.When the plot finally starts moving and MC gets a better plan, the plan mainly seems to revolve around sparing the feelings of the Nohrian siblings, because telling them their evil father (who also threatens to kill them on multiple occasions) is evil, might hurt their feelings.

In Birthright, the Nohrian siblings come off even worse, as they decide the MC is a traitor and try to kill them (despite the fact that MC was kidnapped and locked in a tower by King Garon, never mind any of the other stuff he did!). In any case, I prefer the MC in Birthright as opposed to Conquest, as they don’t seem so hopelessly naive. Revelations answers a lot of questions from Conquest and Birthright, but there are still a lot of loose ends at the end of it.

Overall, I’ve really enjoyed the game so far. Gameplay wise, I enjoyed Conquest the most. Plot-wise, I was quite disappointed, and disliked Conquest the most. But the maps and the battles are interesting and challenging, and I think Conquest would engage anyone who enjoys Fire Emblem. Birthright is much better for new players, and the maps, even on hard, aren’t really that challenging.