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So Chris Wagar, a gaming blogger I follow, recently let his friend, an old-school FE fan, answer some questions they'd received about about the differences between Awakening's and Conquest's approach to map design and difficulty. I found the post very insightful and wanted to share it here:

https://critpoints.wordpress.com/2017/02/19/fire-emblem-everything/

Other topics in this particular blog from his friend include a critique on Fates' debuffs and guard stance, the usefulness of Leif vs. Roy vs. Lyn, and their favourite FE games. I'd also recommend Chris's other blog posts if you like game design analysis. 

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He concludes that Fates has great map design(Conquest specifically) and Awakening has awful map design, which I feel like most people realized before even finishing any of the Fates campaigns.

I'm glad that Fates came out pretty soon after Awakening, because it did reaffirm that yes, IS can still make great maps, yes, IS can still make varied objectives, yes, IS can weave these two together and still make maps that require strategy, and yes, it can still sell boatloads. I'd be a lot more pessimistic over the future of the franchise if I just had Awakening to digest for 4 years.

Also, he concludes the article by praising Thracia's design, so extra points for him.

Edited by Slumber

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The results were predictable (but relateable) but it was interesting to hear why he had those opinions.

Edited by Refa

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And to the surprise of absolutely no one, Fates has better map design than Awakening. 

It's still an interesting read, even if I have said a good amount of what he says here. 

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I'd be pretty surprised if anyone claimed Rev and or not chapter 23 birthright had map design better than awakening.

By pretty surprised I mean utterly nonchalant but secretly inspecting their face for that icepick lobotomy scar.

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I do appreciate that while he notes that Awakening lacks mission objectives, that this alone isn't really a reason to say a game has bad map design, since it's true of quite a few other FEs (Shadow Dragon and Binding Blade come to mind as even more egregious about it). I do wish he'd acknowledged that Awakening (and indeed all other recent FEs) are often more clever about enemy placements than many of the older games were (e.g. having groups of enemies who all "wake up" together), though obviously Conquest is the best at this.

The Roy > Lyn arguments are incredibly weak though.

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7 hours ago, joshcja said:

I'd be pretty surprised if anyone claimed Rev and or not chapter 23 birthright had map design better than awakening.

By pretty surprised I mean utterly nonchalant but secretly inspecting their face for that icepick lobotomy scar.

Birthright has better map design than Awakening by a mile, you're joking right?

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Awakening does not have a map that forcefully crashes a 3DS when played as intended and has a lot of very precise movement in high difficulty high man runs.

Low man the games are funtionaly identical. Ch23 included. You walk the self insert in a line and laugh. Awakening at least has some mechanic to remotely threaten this and encourage additional units. BR does not, instead it gives you free movement.

BR gets a pass from my open scorn only for the astounding yet unpolished gem that is Ch23.

Awakenings maps are far from the low point of the series. That singular dishonor belongs to the original gaiden.

Edited by joshcja

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8 minutes ago, joshcja said:

Awakening does not have a map that forcefully crashes a 3DS when played as intended and has a lot of very precise movement in high difficulty high man runs.

Low man the games are funtionaly identical. Ch23 included. You walk the self insert in a line and laugh. Awakening at least has some mechanic to remotely threaten this and encourage additional units. BR does not.

BR gets a pass from my open scorn only for the astounding yet unpolished gem that is Ch23.

I don't even know to which map you are referring lol

Also sure if you low man you can cheese almost any FE game. 

Awakening has ambush reinforcements (which are both bad for map and game design - it's less bullshit in other games but it's still a really stupid system which I'm glad they ditched), bizarre and downright stupid enemy placements (there are some exceptions but that's the general rule in Awakening). The need for precise movement is arguably a point in Awakening's favor but that only comes from seemingly random enemy placements - the design is as if IntSys just threw darts at a map and put enemies there. 

Every map in Birthright, spare a couple, has very well done, intuitive (note: this doesn't mean easy, it actually makes it a bit more challenging) enemy placement which complements the design of the map.

Awakening maps are either barren of terrain or the terrain isn't relevant enough to the completion of the map. The exception is the early game which is pretty good. (There are maps like this in Birthright but they are fewer than in Awakening).

From a game design standpoint, I could go on and on, too, but I'll stop because this thread isn't about why Awakening is bad so much as why Conquest is good lol, but you get my point. Perhaps we're thinking about different design elements and weighing them differently but imo Birthright is FAR better than Awakening (from a raw map design perspective). 

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 It was an interesting read. For the first 3DS FE game, map-wise Awakening at the time felt like a huge step backwards. It was fun enough for getting skills, and making broken units. No memorable maps though. 

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I'm sure there are arguments for BR but difficulty is not one of them. On the note of enemy placement....

Ch25 BR will force crash a 3DS. (there was more here but Doesnt knows more than I do about this bug)

On a flat featureless map.

This is not terribly noticeable if you just throw Ryoma into the Entrap chain to instantly end the map by killing the boss like every sane person does but it is a thing.

Ambush reinforcements are not necessarily bad FE12 has the ability to instantly TPK you with this, that said it also had mid battle save points and a completely manipulable AI. Still 12 move 2x action speed birds with strong 1-2 and vantage+ are not to be fuckered with especially when they spawn in packs and you're on a 3 tile wide bridge.

Edited by joshcja

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On the topic of enemy placement, I believe Conquest has its fair share of unfairness in that regard as well. Sometimes (read: pretty much all the time) you can't go one for one (this means that one of your units kills one enemy unit), because Conquests units - except a very, very few - aren't very good. In fact, most of them suck. They're either too slow to double, too weak offensively, too unskilled to hit reliably, forcing you to go online and get Certain Blow for them, or they can't take hits. Or all four of the above.

With these conditions in mind, is it really fair to have the enemy just swarm you like crazy in some maps? I mean, I get it when it comes to Chapter 21, for instance, where that's the gimmick and you have something to counteract it (the Dragon Veins), but especially the Hoshido chapters are practically impossible to complete without dealing with one of those swarm situations, and for Chapter 12, where you don't have many options in terms of skills 'n stuff to really strategize, to have Ninjas and Apothecaries just bum rushing and killing you in a flash because you can not react to it properly (again because Conquest's units are slow as hell and can't hit for the most part and those who can shouldn't be exposed to Ninjas in the first place (Odin, possibly Ophelia)), that is inexcusable in my mind. But the single worst offender of this is Chapter 19 with a bull**** gimmick added on top of it to add insult to injury. And whoever decided that it was a good idea that luring out one enemy of a group sometimes just doesn't work at all deserves to get rotten milk the next time they go shopping.

I would be fine with this if I could see that Conquest is a more player phase focused game, BUT looking at the nature of the units given to you, most of which are more suited to a defensive approach, I can't see it, as the maps themselves sometimes FORCE you to play defensively, too. And then the enemy just screws ya over.

Now, don't get me wrong. I love Conquest's gameplay and map design, but what I've stated above is a major annoyance to me that sometimes severely soured my playtime.

Edited by DragonFlames

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Um, Conquest has some Awakening level batshit insane EP blenders and literally vomits a laundry list of "the best classes in FE history". Also can we not imply that the game that gives you access to twenty something berserkers has limited damage output? Kthx.

Your personal experience is not universal.

19 is a difficult map not because of tactics but because I've been conditioned to love pretty pretty shiny and that chapter is just 30 seconds of black screen. Real problems man.

Edited by joshcja

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1 hour ago, joshcja said:

Um, Conquest has some Awakening level batshit insane EP blenders and literally vomits a laundry list of "the best classes in FE history". Also can we not imply that the game that gives you access to twenty something berserkers has limited damage output? Kthx.

Your personal experience is not universal.

19 is a difficult map not because of tactics but because I've been conditioned to love pretty pretty shiny and that chapter is just 30 seconds of black screen. Real problems man.

If those twenty something Berserkers could actually hit reliably, then no, I wouldn't complain. But as it stands, Berserkers might as well not even be there, since they don't hit anything anyways.

Of course my personal experience isn't universal. I never implied that it was. But that is what it eventually comes down to.

Edited by DragonFlames

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Axes quickly become the second most accurate weapon type in CQ. Tomes edge them out because reasons.

Edited by joshcja

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Leif still being considered bad is legitimately surprising. 

 

I mean if you consider bad lord as "everyone that isnt Marth 1, Marth 3, Corrin, Robin, Sigurd, Seliph" i could get it but hes easilly on the upper tier of FE lords in term of usefulness 

 

Also chapter 19 is EASILLY the easiest chapter in Conquest. 19 is the only chapter in the game where once you know what to do, theres no way at all to lose the map and its borderline impossible to mess up that map

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