Fire Emblem Fates Melds Classic Series Combat with a Wider Dating Pool

It's like tinder, but with magic and stuff.

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Fire Emblem: Awakening was like a drug for me. I dove into every battle, including the optional ones. I paired everyone off and made sure they all had someone to love. I maxed out the stats of the best fighters. It was a cold and lonely January when the game came to me, and I lost myself in its world, my video game husband Chrom at my side.

I recently went hands-on with the English version of Fire Emblem Fates and while I didn't play too much, I'm already intrigued. It's gorgeously animated cutscenes, an intricate plot, a huge cast of characters that should offer at least one for you to empathize with or gush over. I'm the kind of person that gets excited over video game characters and assimilates them into her life as though they were real. See above mentioned video game husband--mostly because I made my player-created character marry him, but also because he's animated-hot.

The most intriguing thing about Fates, however, is the choice it presents you and the way it sets the stage for it. The story: you are part of the Nohr royal family, living with your loving siblings and despicably evil father. One day you are captured on the battlefield by the peace-loving Hoshido family, and they tell you that you are actually a member of their family and not a Nohr; you were kidnapped as a baby by the Nohr. You spend some time getting to know your biological brothers and sisters before you have to choose between the adopted family you've known your whole life or the flesh and blood you've only just met.

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When I first heard of Fates' premise, I thought: my adopted family, duh. They raised me, they know me, they love me. But as it turns out, that choice isn't so black and white. The Nohr ruler, King Garon, is an absolute tyrant who will stoop to petty tricks and brutality to win his war. He's also not that nice to you and your adopted siblings, so leaving Nohr means getting out from under his thumb. Staying with the peace-loving Hoshido family will leave you among strangers--some of your blood siblings don't trust you, since you've been away so long--but give you a chance to fight back against your tyrannical adopted dad. It's a tough decision; a decision that says a lot about the you, as a player, I think. War or peace? Comfort or risk? It's a big impact from a single choice.

Another thing that makes Fates' whole adopted-family plot interesting is the fact that you can romance your adopted siblings. I love that Fates is the first Fire Emblem game that lets you form romantic relationships with characters of the same gender, and also you can go after your adopted siblings. I know it sounds weird, but I think of it more as a Brady Bunch movie-situation than I do once-removed incest. It's also a realistic move: if you're not related to someone, of course there's a chance you'll be attracted to them if you spend long periods of time with them. The new romancing options make Fates' relationship system feel more akin to what you do in the real-world than a simple string of positive or negative choices you make in a video game.

In addition to all this new relationship goodness, Fates retains the classic Fire Emblem combat, with battlefields built on a similar foundation to that from Awakening. Fire Emblem Fates is essentially more Awakening, but with cooler, prettier cutscenes and seemingly more story depth and choice. Come cold, not-so-lonely-I-hope February, I'll be digging into Fates' fantasy world with gusto.

Alexa Ray Corriea on Google+

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