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Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia (3DS) Preview

by Donald Theriault - March 15, 2017, 11:20 am PDT
Total comments: 3

It’s still familiar, but there’s a lot of twists and turns.

“Wait a minute, did that Sniper just fire an arrow across four squares?”

When given the opportunity to see Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia for the first time, it didn’t sink in just how different this entry would be from its 3DS predecessors. The core Fire Emblem gameplay is there, but this enhanced version of 1992’s Fire Emblem Gaiden is going to throw a lot of newer fans of the series some wicked curveballs.

There were demos given for both a standard skirmish on the map and one of the dungeon maps at PAX East 2017. The skirmish was a short one, which served to emphasize our Sniper unit’s extended abilities – a “Bowrange +2” which let him hit from four squares away was joined by the ability to counter-attack from a one square range without a specific weapon. Some of the skills will be lethal in the hands of the AI, but we did confirm that Casual mode will at least be returning again along with the standard, Hard, and Lunatic difficulties. (As of press time, the status of Fates’ controversial “Phoenix” next-turn revive option is still unknown.) A Sage character also had “White Magic” and “Black Magic” listed instead of their standard Tome and Staff option, which points to the game adopting more than just the dungeons of a standard 3DS RPG. Even the classic Fire Emblem level-up tone has been changed for this version.

The dungeons themselves have a familiar feel that draws from titles such as the Shin Megami Tensei IV games in their 3D perspective. Encounters are visible on the map, and running into a monster triggers a short battle. The dungeon battle we witnessed had the AI party outnumbered 2:1, so if that holds as a rule they’ll be short encounters, at least in the early part of the game. In the dungeon, the battle map did not feature any obstacles, which doesn’t rule out the possibility of terrain, more troops, or reinforcements in later dungeons. Following the battle, the party will receive gold and other rewards, but no indication was given about the dungeons being repeatable for super-simple level grinding.

There weren’t a lot of details given about the story, but we do know that the royal siblings, Alm and Celica, will both be controllable. Both characters are trying to save their kingdom in their own way, with Celica focused on peaceful solutions by way of divine intervention and Alm not afraid to spill a few gallons of blood along the way. Each character will have focused stories, but the plots will have to intersect at a point – think 3DS Ambassador title Sacred Stones, rather than the split games of Fates. The characters were fully voiced in English, and we did inquire as to whether the localization would be handled by the Treehouse or by an outside firm such as 8-4 Ltd (Fire Emblem: Awakening) but have not received a response.

We had but a short time with Fire Emblem Echoes, and there are still a lot of items up in the air with only a couple of months before regions outside Japan will be able to jump in. What we saw in Boston has only inflamed my appetite for the game, however, and if played properly this may serve as a bridge between the recent converts from the 3DS and the beloved older entries in the series.


ClexYoshiMarch 15, 2017

This game sounds like it's a more direct remake than ever. no weapon triangle, Snipers from 4 panels away, the whole Magic draining HP system with spells being learned at certain level benchmarks... yup, yup, yup!

You better PRAY that they don't bring back the level of terrain bonus that was in the original Gaiden. seriously, the 60 Avo. on a tombstone is bullshit.

StratosMarch 16, 2017

Screenshots have already confirmed that crazy terrain bonuses are back.

ClexYoshiMarch 19, 2017

oh, good. because I enjoy missing all the time. :P

in all seriousness, I found some gameplay footage and I have a few random thoughts.

The new version of With Mila's Divine Protection is kinda lackluster in comparison to the Super Smash Bros. Version of the song.
I saw support hearts during some gameplay, so they may have retrofitted support and actual writing for the characters into this game, which... actually, is a lot more exciting of a prospect to retrofit into the game than trying to force in Weapon Triangle into a game that wasn't designed for it.
I'm surprised at the sheer volume of voice acting here. it's a pleasant surprise
it does seem like they really did flesh out the dungeon crawling into actual maps worth exploring around rather than just being mazes that you enter a room and then it deoploys your units and then you move on. Here's hoping that they keep to the dungeon encounters in open spaces so we're not in a real and constant struggle with constant missing from OP terrain bonus.
For those who play this and then think of maybe playing a fan translation of the Famicom game, keep in mind that Fire Emblem Gaiden was a game that didn't show the number of squares you or your opponent's units can move, their range, or show the modern sort of battle forecast. Fire Emblem games used to just show the attacker and defender's actual stats and you'd have to do the math on how much damage each hit will do. I really do think they've chosen the correct things so far to bring from the modern games.

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Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia Box Art

Genre RPG / Strategy
Developer Intelligent Systems

Worldwide Releases

na: Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia
Release May 19, 2017
jpn: Fire Emblem Echoes: Mō Hitori no Eiyūō
Release Apr 20, 2017
eu: Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia
Release May 19, 2017
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