Echoes: Gamespot Preview with New Screenshots

On Friday, Gamespot checked out the English build of Shadows of Valentia at Nintendo’s PAX East 2017 booth. You can find their preview, which includes a couple of new English screenshots, over here.

Of note, the author commented about the lack of a weapon triangle, which some fans already guessed, due to the game sticking close to Gaiden‘s mechanics. That said, there will apparently be other ways to gain an advantage in battle.

There was also mention of “no support system during battles”, which has gotten some worried about the absence of support conversations. While we still have no information about this subject, this line was likely referring to Pair Up and Tag Team.

Otherwise, we got more confirmation about Archers being able to attack (or at least counter-attack) at melee range and spell-casters expending HP to cast spells. All things you could deduce from analysing recent screenshots.

If anything, it’s the screenshots included in the article that are the most interesting.

The first screenshot shows a purple-haired Archer (possibly Leon) attacking a Revenant. It’s slightly difficult to see, but the Archer has the full 1~5 attack range after moving with an Iron Bow equipped.

This means it should be possible to initiate an attack at 1 range with a bow, not just counter-attack. The other thing is that Iron Bows, like Iron Swords, did not exist in Gaiden. Their inclusion should make the leap to Steel weapons more natural.

On the bottom screen, we see the stats of the Revenant, which are exactly the same as their base stats in Gaiden (see “Zombie”). The name of the enemy is “Terrors”, which is likely the localised name for “Monster”.

Update: Forgot to mention the “Tec” stat in European/Japanese screenshots has been renamed to “Skill” in these screenshots. Although there’s a small possibility that the European version will retain “Tec”. We’ll just have to wait and see!

Along the right, we have the Revenant’s equipped weapon (Claws) and family type (Terrors). The latter is important since some weapons and spells (namely Angel) are effective against monsters.

In the bottom-right corner is a curious “clock” symbol with the number 3 next to it. Right now it’s greyed out, but it’s accessible when Tobin is selected later on. Could this be related to the calendar system on the world map?

The second screenshot shows Tobin (and not the purple-haired Archer) attacking a Revenant. By itself, it’s not particular notable, but if we focus on the bottom screen a little…

We missed this earlier, but Tobin’s Hit Rate and Critical bars have a small red portion towards the right, which implies a boost. In the Fire Emblem Direct, a similar boost can be observed when Alm goes to fight.

What’s important is that right before Alm attacked, a character’s portrait could be seen in the combat forecast. Putting two and two together, these boosts are likely the effect of a support system, like the ones found in earlier Fire Emblems.

Especially since Hit Rate and Critical are common boosts for such support systems. However, it’s unclear if these supports will have conversations attached–as the supports in Shadow Dragon did not, for example.

We’ll skip to the fourth screenshot, which shows Tobin’s status screen. Zoomed in…

Along the right we see three attributes: Unknown, Bowrange +1 and Anti-Fliers. This–along with the Steel Bow along the middle–tells us that the area on the right is reserved for attributes and not multiple equipment (barring generic weapons).

As for the attributes themselves, Bowrange +1 appeared in Famitsu and seems to be the Archer’s passive skill. Meanwhile Anti-Fliers is new and may arise from equipping a non-generic Bow, such as the Steel Bow.

The “unknown” attribute is the most intriguing, assuming it’s not a placeholder from a beta version. Our guess is that it could be a skill that’s in the process of being learned. If you look carefully at the Steel Bow equipped, you can find a gauge under the weapon icon.

Meanwhile to the right, underneath the “Steel Bow” text are 5 greyed out circles. Assuming the gauge isn’t the weapon durability, perhaps you can “level up” weapons by using them often and learn skills by filling a certain number of circles?

Since Gaiden played very similar to a traditional RPG, we could totally see this being a thing. Anyway, hopefully we find out more soon.

The other thing of interest is Tobin’s stats. Most likely, these are the stats of the Level 5 Tobin attacking in the 2nd screenshot. To begin with, it seems like his Steel Bow is giving him a +3 Attack and -3 Speed modifier.

The Steel Bow in Gaiden had 3 Might, which is consistent with the +3 Attack. Perhaps weapons now directly modify the Attack stat, similar to in Fire Emblem Heroes. The -3 Speed is new, but could function as the Steel Bow’s “weight”.

Originally, the Steel Bow had a Weight of 1, but perhaps it’s been re-balanced due to the inclusion of Iron Bows and Steel weapons generally weighing a ton in newer games.

Screenshot number 3 shows Alm at Zofia Castle, around the beginning of Chapter 3 of Gaiden. At this point in time, Alm has 11 units, which is the same as his party in Gaiden plus Effie, the mysterious female Villager.

By the way, I’m convinced that Intelligent Systems loves to mess with the localisation team by reusing names that the localisation team invented. In this case, we have Effie, which is the same name as the Knight from Fates, who was originally “Elfie” in Japan.

This trend goes way back and includes hilarious situations like the Black Knight’s sword being “Ettard” in the Japanese version and “Alondite” in the English version, then Intelligent Systems added a new Alondite for Ike in Radiant Dawn.

Anyway… The next point of interest is the calendar system, which we still have no idea what it does. Here, it’s the 23rd of “Pegastym”, which is the localised version of “Pegasus Season”. Of course, since “Pegasus Season” wouldn’t fit in the text box.

There’s also a really cool profile of the current location on the bottom screen. Hopefully this extends to all locations, as it would really help to flesh out Valentia more.

At this point, we’ll jump straight to the final screenshot, since it makes more sense that way. Here we have Alm entering the “Deliverance Hideout”, the localised name of the “Liberation HQ” from Gaiden.

In the new trailer released on the same day, Celica suspects that Alm is leading the “Deliverance”, which we can now safely assume is the new name of the Zofian Liberation Army. Which is a nice change since “Liberation Army” is a very generic term nowadays.

The bottom screen (which we’ve taken from a different, but similar screenshot) is particular interesting since it shows more of Alm’s party.

At this point, he has his starting gang (which now includes Effie) plus the three members of the Deliverance and Silque the Cleric.

From appearances, it seems the player has made Gray a Mercenary, Tobin an Archer, Kliff a Mage and Effie a Cavalier (or swap Gray and Kliff around).

At the moment, Clair, Clive’s Pegasus Knight sister is missing. Obviously, it’s possible the player just dropped her since there’s only space for 10 out of 11 units right now. That or he/she missed her (if it’s even possible).

Finally, the last two remaining screenshots show Alm wandering around the Deliverance Hideout. While we don’t get to see the outcome, it seems to show Alm striking one of the destructible objects mentioned in the Gamespot preview.

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  • “What’s important is that right before Alm attacked, a character’s portrait could be seen in the combat forecast. Putting two and two together, these boosts are likely the effect of a support system, like the ones found in earlier Fire Emblems.”


    • Ember Hermin

      I greatly prefer the modern system, since it doesn’t restrict the number of support conversations you can unlock per playthrough. Plus it just makes more sense from a standpoint of gameplay and story integration.
      Why do you like this system better? I can’t understand why.

      • Because it was strategic. Removing the limit was like removing the limit of XP in awakening and Fates. Not to mention the benefits were honestly a lot greater. Not to mention the supports in FE13 and 14 weren’t even worth reading. I wouldn’t be against having something like “only the first 5 supports give stat boosts” or something like that so you are able to read more, but the scarcity of them made them feel more valuable and less like the throw-away dialogue that permeated Awakening’s and Fate’s supports. In the end, i just like the mechanics of the original a heck of a lot better.

        • Ember Hermin

          “It was strategic.” Um…? So is the newer system…? Because there’s a greater limit on the amount of characters one unit can be supported by at one time, that prevents it from being overpowered. Maybe it lost the strategic aspect of choosing who to support with who, but I honestly hated that–it kind of sucks when you support two characters and the support conversations suck, because you just wasted what could have been a good moment for character development and you’re not going to get that back (despite what a lot of people say, older games’ supports weren’t really any better about quality, despite their low quantity–more on that later); this was an issue I ran into while playing Sacred Stones, and it’s probably one of the reasons I still haven’t been able to convince myself to actually finish it for once. Awakening was weaker in the aspect of strategy, because the main support bonus was RNG-based (even on top of the fact that characters actually get direct stat boosts that are shown to you now… even though you claim the boosts from supports are lesser??), but Fates improved upon it greatly, and it was such a good system that removing it honestly doesn’t feel like anything but an awkward stumble backwards in order to appeal to a crowd that sees everything through nostalgia-filtered goggles and who hasn’t been as good at supporting them monetarily as the rest of their audience anyway.

          And… allowing unlimited grinding is a bad thing??? Huh?? What??? An RPG is a heavily RNG-dependent game. This goes doubly so for Fire Emblem, considering that every one of every unit’s level-ups is random, meaning that whether or not every unit is even usable, and, by extension, whether or not the game is even beatable, is random. It’s a glaring flaw for a game that’s supposed to be strategic, and although most seem to disagree with me, they would understand if their luck was bad enough; however, since reacting to good and bad level-ups is such a universal and iconic part of the Fire Emblem experience, I highly doubt that they’re going to change this, and as long as they don’t–as long as they allow the game to “break” itself for the player–they should allow the player to counter that by grinding freely. Sure, people will “abuse” this system (as if playing a video game in a way that’s most enjoyable to you can be considered an “abuse” of anything) to grind and become overpowered, but who cares? If you don’t want to do it, then just don’t do it. No one’s making you (a lot of people don’t seem to understand that, and it leads to dumb decisions being made, like making challenge battles impossible in Conquest without forking over even more money, just because they knew a lot of dicks would be too proud to play a game that *gasp* allowed optional grinding, therefore making the whole experience a lot more frustrating for anyone getting bad level-ups and locking people who weren’t as good out of that story experience–although that’s somewhat offset by the option of Phoenix Mode, but then, the people saying you shouldn’t be allowed to grind are generally the same ones saying Phoenix Mode shouldn’t be an option, sooo…). You know what? I hate reclassing. I hate changing my characters to a class that doesn’t match their portrait or their dialogue and dealing with the wonkiness of their stats just to get new skills. So you know what? I just don’t do it. I don’t say it shouldn’t be in the game, because it’s completely optional and I know a lot of people utilize and enjoy it. I just don’t do it and I enjoy myself and other people do it and they enjoy themselves and everyone’s happy just playing our video games the way we want to because we all live in first world countries and have that privilege.

          I’ll agree with you on Fates supports being largely throwaway, but Awakening? Did we play the same game here? Awakening was the first time in the series that every character actually had effort put into them. Go back and read Path of Radiance’s supports. There’s… maybe five characters that the writers took advantage of supports to flesh out. Despite the lower number of supports, a huge amount of it is still filler. Most of these characters they didn’t even bother coming up with a backstory for. Seriously, who the heck is Ilyana or Kieran besides just a gimmick? Awakening has gimmicks too, but at least gives explanations or reasons for them, or makes sure the character is more than just that, if not trying to deconstruct them altogether. There’s a sexy dancer who’s actually really shy? That’s funny! Until you see her actually seriously having problems because of her social anxiety so much so that she struggles to even talk to some people, and you realize she probably has this issue because it was her alluring dancing that led to an attempted rape against her in the past. Holy crap! And it’s little things like this that make Awakening’s characters so beloved, as the Heroes polls showed–they benefited from the new support system because they all actually were shown to be very lifelike, distinct and believable, with many facets to them. Having a large number of supports ensured that even if some of their supports were filler, there were opportunities for a more meaningful support with another character. Also notice how unpopular the characters with very few supports were, and how frustrated fans were with that. Hmm…

          In the end, there’s no accounting for taste–that is, subjectivity–but when it comes to objectivity, I can’t help but think that the newer support system is just plain better–not a distinctly different system, but an improvement upon the old one–even if there are some things about the old one that I like. Okay, one thing. Affinities. I really like affinities.

          Disclaimer: This is not a an angry rant. I am just trying to have a discussion and I like to put a lot of thought into what I have to say. I am not trying to be mean. Positivity all around! (ノ◕ヮ◕)ノ*:・゚✧

          • Ember Hermin

            Holy crap, I didn’t realize it was this long

          • Oh gosh. Wall of text. Uhhhh, I’ll try to respond but I’m bound to have missed something.
            Anyway, I rather liked that you COULDN’T just support everything. You had to think about the bonuses available, what characters would most likely be next to each other, and such. But my main point is this: The supports did something tangible besides stat boosts when paired up like Awakening, AND your characters didn’t have to be next to each other for the bonuses. They just had to be within 2 spaces which allows for a lot more flexibility. On to the doing stuff part: support conversations were limited not because the game hated you, but because it would break the game otherwise. Giving Ike 5 ranks of earth supports in PoR gave him around 95 avoid when he was within range of 2 other characters. Broken? Yes. But, unlike Awakening, I didn’t feel punished for not maxing supports before battles. On harder difficulties, the game fully expects you to max supports to even have a shot at the harder levels. As for support quality, I will admit a few of Awakening’s were well written. There were also mediocre ones like how Chrom marries Sumia because she bakes pies, or the copy+paste father/child support conversations. Yes, I know why they did it, but they made them as generic as possible so they fit everyone. I didn’t run into any supports in the GBA or PoR that I didn’t like, but we probably supported different people. Some standouts that I remember were Lucius and Raven’s A support along with Mia and Rhys’ A support.

            Idk if I said this, but I wouldn’t mind at all if they removed the cap but let you choose 5 supports (or just the first 5) for stat bonuses, but let you read the rest. And yeah, the affinities are what I really liked. It made the bonuses from each character distinct rather than generic.

            And the grinding: call me crazy, but I like XP as a limited resource. You only get so much, so you allways need to judge if it’s worth giving to your pre-promote, your est-type, or your main party. It also means you can’t train everyone, as there just isn’t enough XP to do it, so each run can be unique as you train a different party each time.

            And finally, before you say anything about nostalgia, here’s the order I played the games in:
            8, 1/2 of 11, 13, 7, 9, 13 (again), 1/3 of 12, 6, 4/5 of 4, 2/3 of 14 (couldn’t make myself finish it) and RD when I get around to it.
            So yeah, not really nostalgia speaking

          • Oops. I made a wall of text too. Yay twins?

          • Ember Hermin

            My wall of text could beat up your wall of text, but it wouldn’t, because it’s a nice guy

          • Ember Hermin

            Ahh okay I see what you mean about supporting from a distance in that it is useful, but it just doesn’t make any sense to me how a character could be helping another in battle when they’re that far away from each other.

            As for support limits: there are both good and bad supports in newer and older games. The difference is that when there is a limit, once you unlock a bad support, you just wasted a resource that you had no way of knowing it was going to be bad. In theory you could look up the supports online, but that kind of dulls the excitement of unlocking and viewing one. Your idea of “unlock a bunch of supports but only get bonuses for a few of them” sounds nice, but there would be no need to limit them like that if a character could only be aided by the characters right next to them (makes sense) as opposed to getting bonuses from a bit of a distance (makes less sense)

            I could maybe get behind you over experience being a limited resource if it weren’t for the fact that it can be so easily wasted through no fault of the player. What if you put everything you have into some characters but they just don’t pull through with their stat gains? There’d be no way of knowing if that would happen until it does, and when that happens, you’re screwed–you might even have to start over.

            Between support limits and and experience limits, you push for a game that would need to be replayed multiple times to get the full experience. I don’t like that! Considering older games force you to bench a lot of characters or suffer the low levels of evenly distributed experience, that’s a lot of characters whose supports you’re not even going to unlock at all–plus the the fact that of those characters you do actually use, you’re only going to get five of your supports… I’m going to have to play the game many times over and over to even figure out which characters I even like. And if I don’t really like the characters after all is said and done? That’s a huge waste of time on something I paid money for to have an enjoyable experience. That’s a portion of my life I’m never going to get back, and it’s a much greater portion than if the game was designed for me to get a full experience on only one playthrough. Replays should be more optional than that.

            And some of the stuff you said about Awakening is just plain silly. “It punishes you for not having enough supports”… huh? “on higher difficulties”… oh. Dude, if the harder modes are too hard, just don’t play them. That’s what the easier modes are for. And I’d much rather be “punished” for not having a lot of supports (my own decision–I mean, you kind of have to go out of your way not to unlock a lot of supports in Awakening) than for putting experience points into characters and not having it pay off (the game’s fault, not mine).

            And… Chrom marries Sumia over pies?? Oh for crying out loud… it’s like people just see the word “pie” and forget that any other word was spoken in their supports! Pie was involved, but they were also talking to each other and building a relationship as they went. There weren’t even any pies in the C support! He doesn’t marry her just because she made him pies–although the gesture of willing making food for someone else just because you can is important to note–he marries her because she was going out of her way to support him and he was realizing how much he cared about her along the way. In the S support he even says, and I *quote*, “this is not about pies”. Yeah they do make some silly comments like “In between the fifth and sixth pie I thought to myself” and “I’ve felt this way since before the very first pie”, but even then, the pies themselves clearly aren’t the cause of the love, and I kind of thought those were intended to be… jokes. Not even jokes on the part of the writers or localizers, but jokes on the part of the characters–because love can be pretty silly, especially that giddy feeling that is so much like laughter, and I mean, it’s a marriage proposal: there should be smiles around anyway, so it’s not exactly an inappropriate time for jokes. Whether or not you find it funny is a different story, but saying “Chrom married Sumia over pies” is just a false statement, and that oversimplification of events is the kind of criticism that Awakening’s supports are unfairly subjected to a lot.

            And I don’t think the “generic” supports with the characters’ fathers really made either character suffer that much, because each father still had his own dialogue written in his voice. Actually, I find looking through the same supports with different fathers a nice way to see smaller distinctions in their personalities. The only issue is that sometimes there are sometimes inconsistencies, like Ricken telling Brady he’s never had a teatime in his life or Severa telling Gregor she’s about his age.

            But hey, affinities! We agree on that at least! I like it more from a meta standpoint–the implication (that is all but confirmed in the Path of Radiance Anthology) that mages are using spirits of the dead for their power, and what kind of spirit each character would be when they die–and also that each affinity has a sort of personality type that each character of that affinity exhibits traits of… aah!

          • Oops forgot to respond. Idk if you get my point sort of, but I get yours. Don’t really want to leave you hanging or just back out, but I don’t currently have the time to write a proper response, and I’ll forget if I don’t do something now. So yeah, we’ll agree to disagree. Idk if that response satisfies you, but I fully respect your opinion. This is the most lengthy civil discussion I’ve had with a fan of the newer stuff, and you get bonus respect for that. Nice talking with you.