I am not a long-time fan of the Fire Emblem series. Awakening was the first of the games that I played, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. But I didn’t buy any of the DLCs, did not max out my stats, recruit the bonus characters or even try to play in Classic mode. So, just a casual fan, not a dedicated hardcore fan. Fates was on my radar from the moment it was announced, of course. Because any sequel to a great game I enjoyed is a potential future purchase!
But by now, I’ve become a little bit grumpy about Fates, and have decided not to buy it after all. It has to do with the distribution model, but it’s not so much that I think both – or all three – story paths should be available for the price of one game. It’s possible that the different story paths are extensive enough that you’re still getting your money’s worth, so, whatever.
What I don’t like is that the game essentially requires me to choose as side before I even get to play the game. That is, before I know either side. I have to make my decision based on all sorts of secondary or superficial criteria that I’ve learned outside the game. The paths have different difficulties and gameplay styles and different same-sex dating options (which is a criteria for some, though not for me personally). You’re encouraged to make your decision based on this kind of stuff and buy the version of Fates that best suits you. You’re discouraged from just experiencing the story with an open mind and from making your decision based on your actual feelings at that point in the story. This kills my enthusiasm. I like approaching a story unspoilt, without informing myself extensively about the characters or plot developments in order to determine which one I’d prefer. Fates’s distribution model kind of relies on players researching these things beforehand, spoiling themselves. It’s asking them to make a story decision based on non-story criteria, before they really know the story. I don’t want to do that, this is not how I want to engage with videogame storylines.
In other words, I just disagree with Intelligent Systems and Fire Emblem Fates about the role and value of a videogame’s story. But their approach is still interesting, and it appars to be working for many of their fans, so I can’t just dismiss it as bullshit because I’m sulking! ;) It’s just not working for me, so I will skip this game. Perhaps the next Fire Emblem will win me over again.