Q) What’s this game about?
Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia is a 3DS remake of the Japanese-exclusive Fire Emblem: Gaiden, which came out on the NES in 1992.
It follows the story of two childhood friends Alm and Celica as they work individually to save Valentia from the threat of war and the troubles caused by a missing goddess.
Q) Wait, does this mean I can (officially) experience Gaiden in a language I understand?
Sure, if you know English, French, Italian, German, Spanish or Dutch.
Note: Italian, German and Dutch are only available in the European version.
Q) Do I need to play previous Fire Emblems to understand the story?
Not at all! In general, each Fire Emblem takes place in its own established world, although in the past some games were released as pairs.
That said, beside a few clever references, there is no advantage to playing any of the aforementioned games (and the references work in both directions).
Q) Since it’s a remake, does that mean it’s a step down from Awakening/Fates?
Yes and no. From a gameplay standpoint, Echoes is indeed missing a couple of modern features, such as an Avatar, Pair Up, marriage and children.
But when considered alone, Echoes is an extremely well-made package with lots of unique gameplay features, including many not seen in the original Gaiden.
It also boasts incredible production values that may even surpass Awakening and Fates, such as full voice acting for all dialogue scenes.
Q) No Avatar or pairings? I’m outta here!
Hang on, you may still enjoy the game!
While the Avatar and ability to pair characters has proven extremely popular for some, they aren’t staple to the series. Moreover, if you enjoy the characters element of the series, there are still ways for characters to shine in Echoes.
Q) Can you tell me more about the new gameplay features?
The most obvious new addition is the 3D dungeons that you can freely explore. Inside dungeons, you control your character directly as the camera follows behind. Bumping into enemies triggers short battles, similar to some RPGs.
Secondly, we have the dual protagonist system, which is different compared to other games. Alm and Celica each have their own parties and story progression; upon reaching Act 3, you can switch between the two parties on the fly.
Plus there are lots of subtle additions like Combat Arts that you can learn by training weapons, sub-quests dotted around the continent to make you feel helpful, medals to track your achievements (and to show off), etc.
Q) Is Casual Mode still in the game? I’m afraid of losing units.
Yes, Casual Mode (where fallen allies return once the map ends) and Classic Mode (where fallen allies are gone forever) are both present.
Q) What’s with the “Echoes” sub-title? Does this mean we’re getting more remakes?
The name “Echoes” actually has a double meaning. Firstly, it acts as a replacement for “Gaiden”, since the word literally means “side-story” and–given the series’s progression–no longer makes sense as a title.
Secondly, it is indeed a possible sub-title for future remakes. However, at this current point in time, nothing is set in stone. If we want Nintendo to continue pursuing remakes, we need to hope Shadows of Valentia sells well enough.
Q) Why is there so much DLC and why is it so expensive?
We can’t really answer that question, but the previous two games (Awakening and Fates) also included a similar amount of DLC–perhaps even more–and at a comparable price. So this isn’t new to Echoes; what is new is they’re asking for a lot more money upfront.
In any case, just like previous games, the DLC is entirely optional and not required for full enjoyment of the game. The base game itself is packed full of content, including much that was not present in Gaiden.
Q) Is there a Multiplayer or StreetPass mode?
Sadly, there is no local or online multiplayer modes to enjoy. Likewise, although there is StreetPass functionality, it is extremely basic and consists of sharing Profile cards and occasionally receiving hints to find rare enemies and items.
Q) How does the calendar system work?
As you move across the map and enter locations, the day will advance by 1. Meanwhile the season only changes when you start a new Act.
However, none of this seems to serve any purpose except for looking cool. It’s possible to keep advancing the days until it reaches 999, whereby it will no longer increment.
Q) Are there any playable axe users?
Nope. You can obtain axes, but they’re only used for sub-quests or for exchanging.
Q) Wha– there’s Fatigue?
Yes, although it’s very generous and has zero impact outside of dungeons. As characters continue to battle, their Fatigue will grow; once it surpasses their maximum HP, their maximum HP will be reduced once the battle is over.
Fatigue is gone completely when you return to the world map, so the only time you need to be worried is inside a dungeon. You can reduce Fatigue by consuming Provisions or wipe it completely by offering a Provision to a Mila Idol. Easy.
Q) When should I Class Change my characters?
Ideally as soon as possible or once the experience gain starts rapidly declining.
Unlike other Fire Emblems, the stat gains during Class Change are not fixed and simply bump you up to your new class’s stats. Furthermore the game is balanced around this fact.
That said, certain characters who Class Change late (such as Alm, Celica and Delthea) don’t really benefit from having better stats early. So you may want to hit Level 20 with those (or close to Level 20).
Q) What classes should my Villagers become?
There is no right or wrong choice, but we recommend striving for balance. So ideally you should have at least one Mercenary, Archer and Mage. Kliff is probably the best choice for Mage due to his better spell set.
Meanwhile Faye should be a Cleric unless you feel like you’re lacking offensive presence. This is because she eventually learns the exclusive Anew spell, which allows a unit to move again after taking their turn.
Q) Is there any disadvantage to using Mila’s Turnwheel?
Nope, it is entirely at your discretion if you want to use it or not. In fact, there’s a medal for actually using it.
By the way, there is no apparent limit to how far back in time you go. Just be mindful that you can’t go forward in time after rewinding.
Q) How the heck do I defeat the Mercenary with the Leather Shield!?
This guy can be surprisingly tricky, but he has one major weakness, which is a lack of Resistance.
If possible, try to lure him to the supplies in the north-east corner, then surround him and hit him from afar with a Mage. If you don’t have a Mage for some reason, you can try your luck with a Cleric’s Nosferatu.
Failing that, you can always select “Retreat” and go back to the Thieves’ Shrine to train.
Q) What do you do with rusted items?
From Act 3, you can find Blacksmiths in villages who will help you evolve rusted items for a price.
Note that the result of a rusted item is determined the moment you pick it up. So even if you save and reset to try again, you will keep getting the same item. (What’s actually going on is that there are multiple rusted items that look the same.)
Q) Do characters keep Combat Arts after learning them?
Yes, but they must have the corresponding weapon equipped to actually use the art. For instance, after learning the Iron Sword’s Windsweep, if the character equips a different weapon, they cannot use Windsweep.
But once they equip the Iron Sword again (or another weapon that grants Windsweep), they will automatically be able to use Windsweep.
By the way, learned Combat Arts are attached to characters not weapons. So if a character learns Windsweep and you trade the Iron Sword, the new character must learn Windsweep from scratch.
Q) What’s the point of the Ale and Wine items?
During development they were Provision items that could be consumed by characters over the age of 20. However, due to unknown reasons, it was changed so that nobody can consume them.
Instead, if you offer one of these items to a Mila Idol, it will restore all uses of Mila’s Turnwheel.
Note: To clarify, this change affected all versions of the game.
Q) Is it possible to defeat Desaix at Zofia Castle?
Yes, with a bit of grinding and/or smart thinking. Firstly, don’t forget that you need to avoid defeating Slayde or the battle will end. Therefore, you’ll want a fairly durable and mobile unit to lure Slayde away.
On Normal mode, Slayde is pretty dumb and won’t attack once there no units are in range. Unfortunately on Hard, Slayde will continue to pursue your units after he moves, so you need to deal with two threats at the same time.
Because Desaix is locked to 1 range, battering him with ranged units while hiding behind a decoy or two is the probably the best approach. Although due to his insane defences and the recovery from the Dracoshield, this can take a very long time.
You will also want a way to keep your decoys healthy, for example with two Clerics (so your Clerics don’t run out of HP). Finally, be sure to prevent Desaix running to a healing tile once he reaches low HP.
Q) Can sub-quests be missed? Is there any reward for completing all the sub-quests?
Some sub-quests can be missed, most notably the ones involving Alessio. Either way, there is no reward for completing all the sub-quests, so don’t worry if you missed some.
Q) Yikes, how do I defeat the Necrodragon in the Seabound Shrine?
The townsfolk give you a few clues: you need to learn the Seraphim spell, which is effective against Terrors. Celica learns it as Level 5.
That said, even with Seraphim, the Necrodragon is pretty strong. You can have Celica hide in the forests and use Valbar as a decoy, for instance.
Q) What’s this about recruiting Kliff and Faye with Celica?
At the start of the game, you don’t need to recruit Kliff or Faye with Alm. Towards the very end of Act 2, once Celica reaches Zofia Castle, you can actually head south all the way back to Ram Village.
There, you’ll find Kliff and Faye if you left them behind–and they will be totally bored and offer to join Celica’s party.
Note: You cannot recruit any other character this way, although there is different dialogue if you speak to Silque, Forsyth or Python with Celica.
Q) What happens if you skip the Thieves’ Shrine and thus miss Alm’s turnwheel?
Alm will automatically receive Mila’s Turnwheel as soon as Act 3 begins.
Q) Do the reinforcements on the map ever stop coming?
Only after you seize the area where they spawn from. As such, it’s usually a good idea to head to those locations as early as possible.
Q) When can Alm and Celica Class Change?
Celica automatically changes class upon reaching the final story event in Act 3. Meanwhile, Alm has to wait until Celica visits Halcyon during Act 4, after which he will be able to Class Change at a Mila Idol.
Q) How do I complete Act 3?
First you need to find Irma in Grieth’s Citadel, then meet her in the Temple of Mila in Celica’s path. After Celica promotes to Princess, you can return to the Temple of Mila Control Room to open the first Sluice Gate.
Once the first Sluice Gate has been opened, Alm can opens his.
Q) How do I defeat Jedah? He keeps sealing my attacks!
There was a poor man in the Sage’s Hamlet who gave you a clue: 4, 8, 12.
What you need to do is send in your strongest attacker during every 4th round of combat with Jedah. Your first, second and third attackers will all fail, but your fourth attacker will be able to attack unimpeded.
Q) Does Celica’s party still take passive damage as you explore the final dungeon?
Nope, so you can relax.
Q) What’s the point of the Keepsake Ring?
It gives some OK stat boosts. Or you can exchange it for 3 Gold Marks…
Q) How do the I defeat the final boss? I suddenly can’t attack anymore!
After the final boss reaches low HP, it will switch to Oculus, which negates all attacks except for those with the Falchion, Exalted Falchion, Binding Blade or… Nosferatu. Therefore you will need Alm or a summoned Marth/Roy or a powerful Cleric/Saint to land the final blow.
Q) I beat the final boss. What next?
If you load your cleared save data, you can begin Act 6, which is a brief post-game. Alm and Celica’s parties will merge and a couple of new areas will unlock.
Although it’s not immediately obvious, you can also go back to the final dungeon and fight the final boss again if you desire.
Q) I have the Gradivus, but where are the other Regalia?
Outside of DLC, you must evolve a Blessed Sword/Lance/Bow into the corresponding Regalia.
With DLC, you can obtain them from the pots in the Inner Sanctum if you’re extremely lucky.
Q) Where else can I get Gold Marks?
Unfortunately, without the Wealth Before Health DLC, there aren’t any quick and reliable ways to obtain more Gold Marks beyond the ones given to you during the story.
The easiest way is to run to Floor B9 of the Thabes Labyrinth, then cut down the grass in the Sacred Springs. There’s a 1/6 chance of finding a Gold Mark and you get 3 chances the first time, then 2 and 1 on your second and third visits respectively.
So during one trip, you can get 6 chances, allowing for fairly decent odds of getting at least one Gold Mark.
Q) Geez, the Thabes Labyrinth got hard fast. How do I get stronger?
The easiest way is to abuse the Dread Fighter loop; that is, any Dread Fighter who reaches Level 10 can Class Change to Villager and start their career from scratch, while retaining all of their stats (except Movement).
So if you have any Villagers, Mercenaries, Myrmidons or Dread Fighters, send them through the loop a few times to max their stats. That should make the final half of the labyrinth a breeze.