Echoes: More Footage from PAX East + Analysis

Thanks to Rebekah Valentine from apptrigger.com, we have around 4 and a half minutes of new Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia footage from PAX East to sink our teeth into.

In case you missed it, Gamespot also played the game at PAX East and we spent a good deal of time analysing their screenshots.

Although 4 minutes isn’t a lot of time, there’s still a lot to uncover. We’ll start with the first dungeon video, which has Alm wandering around the Deliverance Hideout.

In typical RPG fashion, a partial map of the dungeon is displayed on the bottom screen; as you explore, the map automatically updates itself. The map also indicates where enemies and chests can be found.

What’s neat is that there’s occasional voiced dialogue (both in the form of dialogue boxes and as you explore) fleshing out the dungeon you’re in. In this case, we learn the hideout used to be a graveyard for Zofian nobility before being overrun by Terrors.

While inside dungeons, you can press the A button to attack. In in the second dungeon video, Alm can attack crumbling doors to reveal new rooms, as well as crates that may hide items inside.

One such item is a Hard Bread, which we imagine can be used as food in battle. If you’re quick, you can even attack enemies before they bump into you to reduce their HP before the battle begins.

The B button is used to dash, allowing you to traverse dungeons at a faster pace. From the looks of things, it can be combined with the A button for a cool-looking dash attack, which can break crates quicker than normal.

Upon touching an enemy, a mini battle plays out. At this point, the game will briefly show the victory condition, player and enemy numbers and ratings (a measure of the army’s overall strength). Presumably you can review this information via a menu.

Once in battle, the cursor starts on the protagonist, which is currently Alm. To further emphasise Alm’s importance, his sword glimmers on the map, which is a very nice touch. The same occurs for Celica, the game’s female protagonist.

Looking at Alm’s status screen, we can see he has two unknown attributes. Both have a sword symbol and based on our best knowledge, they’re probably unlearned attributes attached to Alm’s equipped Iron Sword. We’ll touch on these later.

Next, the player selects Lukas, a Knight from the Deliverance. Likewise, he has two unknown attributes, but they have a lance symbol (which corresponds with his Iron Lance). He also has an “Armored” attribute, which likely represents his class weakness.

As we mentioned a few times in the past, the Iron Sword and Iron Lance that Alm and Lukas wield did not exist in Gaiden. How it works is that characters without an equipped weapon use a generic 0 Might “Sword”, “Lance” etc to fight.

Back then, the generic weapons effectively functioned as Iron equivalents. However maybe the developers wanted to make the earlygame of Echoes slightly easier by adding in actual Iron weapons. These provide a +2 Attack boost, which is half of a Steel.

Sadly Lukas can’t reach any foes, so the player moves Faye the Cavalier instead. She appears to be a new character added to Echoes (known as “Effie” in the Japanese version), possibly to balance the uneven gender ratio in Alm’s party.

In any case, she’s equipped with an Orange and thus fights with a generic Lance. Aside from this, she has a “Mounted” attribute, again indicating her class weakness. However she has no weapon-based unknown attributes.

At this stage, we can reasonably conclude that having an equipped weapon entitles a character to possess those mysterious unknown attributes. Since Faye is equipped with food instead of a weapon and is missing those attributes.

Some fans already guessed this earlier, but like in Gaiden, the minimum damage dealt is 1. You can tell because the enemy Revenant has 5 Attack while Faye has 7 Defence, yet Faye takes 1 damage anyway, instead of 0.

In the second dungeon video, Lukas finally gets his opportunity to shine, scoring a critical hit on a foul Revenant. Like in Awakening and Fates before it, the game shows a snazzy cut-in of the character’s portrait for critical hits, which is bound to please fans.

Moving on, we switch to Celica’s party in the first of three videos that take place at the Mountainside Graveyard. This time, there are two enemy factions–the Terrors and Grieth’s motley crew. Combined, they number 17 versus Celica’s 8.

Luckily Celica’s party has plenty of tricks up its sleeve to get around the numerical disadvantage. For starters, Celica herself is an extremely versatile unit who can wield swords, Black Magic and White Magic (just like in Gaiden).

Right now, she has no weapon equipped, so is stuck with a generic Sword. Instead, she’s holding onto a Holey Cheese. “Holey” as in “holes” and “holy”; how puntastic! Besides this, she has access to Fire, Thunder and Seraphim (aka Angel) spells.

In the third Graveyard video, we see Celica casting Seraphim. As in Gaiden, Seraphim is effective against Terrors, which is a boon for the many Terror-filled maps in the game. Compared to before, Seraphim has 1 less Might, while its other stats are identical.

Perhaps this change was made since the spell was so devastating to monsters in the original. After all, effective damage used to multiply the user’s Attack and weapon/spell Might by 3. Meanwhile, in recent games, it only multiplies Might.

In Echoes, effective damage seems to follow the recent formula: 12 Attack + [7 Might x 3] – 0 Res = 33 Damage. Meanwhile if this was Gaiden, Celica would be dealing [ (12 Attack + 8 Might) x 3] – 0 Res = 60 damage. Yikes.

Moving back a bit, near the end of the first Graveyard video, we can see that Celica has the “Provisions” command, in addition to Items and Convoy. This is likely the localised term for the “Food” command in the Fire Emblem Direct trailer.

Considering Celica can use the Items command to check/manage her current item and the Convoy command to replace her current item, the Provisions command must do something unique that the other two commands don’t.

Maybe it can be used to give Food to allies without touching their current equipped item slot? In any case, none of Celica’s other allies have this command and Alm also has it, so it’s probably accessible by Celica and Alm only.

After Celica, we briefly catch a glimpse of Boey, one of her starting party members. The boy Mage has access to Fire and Thunder like Celica. He too has a food item–Drinking Water–and no unknown attributes because he has no weapon equipped.

Afterwards, we see Kamui, one of Valbar’s buddies. Next to his name is a symbol shaped like a Mila statue. This probably means he’s able to class-change. Indeed, if he was in Gaiden, he could class-change as a Level 7 or higher Mercenary.

The peaceful-looking guy has a Steel Sword, which provides Attack +4 and Speed -1, perfectly consistent with Gaiden. Again, he has a pair of unknown attributes that correspond to his Steel Sword.

This time, there’s a slight difference though. The second attribute has less question marks compared to the first and previous ones (6 versus 8). Are the number of question marks directly proportional to the length of the attribute’s name?

We’ll skip ahead a bit to Genny, Celica’s Cleric friend, who may provide more evidence to support this theory.

Let’s get the obvious stuff out of the way. Genny is equipped with a Leather Shield for a +3 Defence boost. This essentially confirms that unique weapons and shields (and food) cannot be equipped together. So just like Gaiden.

The other interesting thing is that the Leather Shield has a gauge too, but no grey circles under its name. In our previous analysis, we theorised that characters could learn attributes by continuing to use their weapons. Which we still believe is true.

However it’s going to be interesting trying to level up a shield… Do you need to let your character keep taking hits? If so, it’s a good thing you apparently only need to build up your gauge once, unlike weapons with their multiple circles.

Otherwise, Genny has access to Nosferatu, Recover, Physic, Invoke and a mystery attribute most likely from her shield. This one has even less question marks (4), so it could be an attribute with a really short name.

When selected, Genny has a humongous staff-casting (green) range. It’s hard to tell with the terrain window in the way, but it seems to extend to at least 10 squares. In Gaiden, Physic reached the entire map, so that could be why.

In the third Graveyard video, the player gets a better chance to mess around with Genny. “Invoke” is predictably the localised name of the Illusion spell that summons up to 8 phantoms that fight for you.

Nosferatu, a fairly common spell nowadays, debuted in Gaiden and it was notorious for having 50 Hit rate, in a game where only the spell’s Hit Rate mattered. This is true for Echoes, but it now has 60 Hit rate, which is a slight but welcome improvement.

Between Boey and Genny, we have Valbar, who we first saw again in the Cipher Series 8 Livestream. The man out for vengeance has Dried Meat in his hands and the same attributes as Lukas. His foe is a follower of Grieth: an axe-wielding Brigand.

The fourth character in Celica’s gang is Saber, the one-eyed Mercenary. He has a Golden Dagger, a new weapon, equipped. Unlike Fates and Heroes, this dagger seems to count as a (weak Attack +1) sword with a range of 1.

Trying her best not to be forgotten, we have Mae, Boey’s rival-of-sorts. Right now, there’s not much to comment about. She has a Bread (a downgrade from Hard Bread–or maybe an upgrade depending on your perspective) and access to Fire and Thunder.

Finally we have Leon who is indeed the purple-haired Archer in one of the Gamespot screenshots. What’s surprising is that Leon is a Sniper, a promoted Archer. Curiously, his Iron Bow provides Attack +2 and Speed -2, rather than just Attack +2.

In the Gamespot article, we discovered that Steel Bows provide Attack +3 and Speed -3. It seems bows may have an additional Speed -2 possibly to make them balanced. Especially since they can potentially attack from a whopping 1~5 range.

Speaking of, Leon has Bowrange +2, an upgrade from the Archer’s Bowrange +1. Counting the attack tiles, it seems the Iron Bow has 1~3 Range by default. Non-generic bows in Gaiden had 1~5 Range, so it’s unclear how their Range will be affected.

In the second Graveyard video, we have concrete evidence of weapon gauges increasing with usage. Assuming this video takes place after the first, which is likely since Leon’s experience has increased from 25 to 38, if we compare his gauge before and after…

Pretty convincing, right? Throughout the videos, if you have the eyes of a hawk, you can see a tiny amount of the gauge filled for other characters too, such as Alm and Lukas in the Deliverance Hideout.

Even if the gauge isn’t relating to learning attributes, we at least know it’s not a durability gauge, since it should be decreasing with time.

 

The next piece of juicy information rears its head after Mae lovingly takes down a Brigand. As in recent games, enemies may have items that you can receive after defeating them–in this case, a Silver Purse.

According to the in-game help message, the Silver Purse contains Silver Coins that can be used for forging weapons, another feature recently introduced into the series (since Path of Radiance).

Furthermore, when obtaining the Silver Purse, we can see there are Gold Coins too. Could these be used for forging as well or do they serve another purpose? (By the way, Coins were used to add a forging bonus in Radiant Dawn.)

Before this, we see Mae gaining a level. Although the stat gains look mediocre, Mae herself seems relatively (or very) pleased. Later Genny scores a Level Up with a single stat gain and only looks slightly baffled, not displeased.

Although the above two cases hardly constitute a proper sample size, most likely Gaiden’s low growth rates are here to stay. Fans used to the inflated growth rates in modern Fire Emblems may be in for a rude surprise!

For spell-casters, another benefit of leveling up is that you can learn new spells after gaining a certain amount of Levels. In Mae’s case, she learns the potent Aura spell at Level 9 in both Gaiden and Echoes.

Now for the potential game-changer. Right after Mae’s battle is concluded, a glowing aura surrounds Mae and the nearby Celica. The same thing happens later on after Celica ends a battle with Mae nearby.

We don’t want to jump to conclusions, but from appearances and the musical jingle, this looks a lot like gaining supports in Awakening and Fates. The difference is that there are no (visible) heart symbols and the phenomenon isn’t restricted to adjacent allies.

Another thing: Mae and Celica’s portraits don’t appear in the combat forecast prior to these two battles. However this can easily be explained by the characters not having an established support relationship yet.

At long last, the player goes to end their turn, at which point we get our first look at the system menu. Most of the options are self-explanatory, but there’s one near the very top that’s intriguing: Turnwheel.

Could this be related to the clock shaped icon in the bottom-right corner of everyone’s status screen? Actually, at the time of writing, details from this week’s Famitsu article are starting to leak and this looks to be the case. More about that in a future article…

Nearing the end now. This is relatively minor, but it seems the generic Bow may have a Range of 1~2. First, we’re assuming all Archers have the Bowrange +1 attribute and 4 Movement (like Tobin in the Gamespot preview).

Counting the maximum attack range and observing the enemy Archer who’s attacking poor helpless Mae, we can see that their effective attack range is up to 3 tiles. Subtract 1 for Bowrange +1 and you get up to 2 tiles for the Bow.

Finally, one of Grieth’s men is an Arcanist, a class unique to Gaiden. It looks to be what we called the Sorcerer, a enemy-only spell-caster. Here, it’s casting Miasma, which could be a renamed (and slightly nerfed; 5 less Hit rate) Dora spell.

Well, that’s everything we found in those 4 minutes and a half. Hopefully we’ll be back very soon with all of the information from this week’s Famitsu!

About the Author: VincentASM
Fire Emblem fan since 2002 and webmaster of Serenes Forest. Occasionally an online content editor or brand ambassador. Is a sucker for mage girls and has an unhealthy stash of Sylveon plushies.
Author Website: http://serenesforest.net