Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia is the newest installment in the popular tactics game series. Whether you’re a fresh faced rookie or a war weary strategist, there’s a few things you should know if you want to conquer the battlefield.
You can pick one of two difficulty levels as well as play with or without permadeath. I recommend hard mode, which ups the stakes a little bit. Fire Emblem Echoes is already a tricky game but the added difficulty makes for far more interesting battles.
One of Fire Emblem’s big hooks is that allies that die on the battlefield stay dead. This is my preferred way to play and I highly recommend it. If that seems a bit daunting though, it’s perfectly fine to play in Casual Mode, where your units simply retreat. Choose what’s most fun for you and your personal tastes. The important thing is to enjoy yourself.
No matter what mode and difficulty you are playing on, you will have access to Mila’s Turnwheel. This magical item allows you to rewind your actions if you make a mistake. It has a limit amount of charges but you can upgrade that by finding cogs in the world.
It can be very tempting to rush things in Fire Emblem but a shrewd strategist knows the value of patience. Charging ahead could get people killed so try to take time to position troops exactly where you want. You can even wait to have the enemy come to you. Fight on your own terms.
Positioning units in forests or ruins provides some bonuses to defense and evasion that can mean the difference between life and death. You’ll see terrain effect indicators in the upper left corner of the screen. Areas with supplies will heal your unit at the start of each turn. Snag these valuable positions before your enemy can to reap benefits and turn the tide of battle in your favor.
While terrain is important, you can bypass its effects using magic. If you enemy is hunkered down in the forest, attack with a mage to ignore those benefits and easily dispose of your enemies.
If you’re use to modern series titles like Awakening and Fates, you might be surprised how far archers can shoot. In those games, archers had a range of two squares and couldn’t shoot enemies directly adjacent to them. In Echoes, the range is one to three square and can increase further with special bows equipped. Keep this in mind as you progress into enemy territory
Pressing the X button while on the map will reveal all squares where you’re open to enemy attack. If you’re going on the offensive, use this to shift units into positions where the enemy can’t hit you. Enter the danger zone when you’re ready to strike.
Some Fire Emblem games have a system where certain weapons trump others in a Rock, Paper, Scissor fashion. For instance, in Awakening, swords had advantages against axes but were weak against lances and spears. Echoes doesn’t have this. All combat is based on character stats. When attacking, it’s important to compare unit statistics to get a sense of how things will play out no matter who is fighting.
Cantors are dangerous enemies who can summon a ton of minions. The good news is that if you kill the cantor, all of his summoned helpers die too. If you see a cantor, take him out quickly to avoid getting rushed.
Alm and Celica both have the ability to use amiibo to summon spectral warriors for a single turn. For certain amiibo like Lucina, it will summon that hero, but for everything else, it will spawn some random warriors. It can be tempting to use this to brute for through battles but I don’t advise it. You’ll deprive your troops of valuable experience and it robs a lot of the challenge.
A key part of Echoes is visiting villages for supplies. In villages, you can look around the landscape to pick up items and talk to various NPCs. Make sure to pick up everything you find and talk to whoever you can. You might find a new sword, receive a quest, or make a new ally.
You units can hold one item at a time, be it a consumable healing item or a brand new sword. Make sure you equip what you find. Having extra healing is nice and certain classes, like the Mercenary, benefit greatly from new weapons. Items like swords and shields will also unlock skills for your units to learn such as new attacks or different ways to navigate the map.
Plus, unlike some other games in the series, there’s no item durability so feel use them as much as you want.
When you do learn a new skill from an item, you should be aware that your unit doesn’t keep that skill forever. Instead, they will have it as long as they have that item equipped.
You control both Alm and Celica’s parties throughout the game. Sometimes, you might find an item with one party that’s perfect for someone in another. If you want to send items to your other army, look in towns for peddlers who will deliver a single item to the other group.
You don’t always have to press on to the next mission. Returning to old locations can reveal new quests or even characters to recruit. It’s worth doubling back from time to time to see what you might find.
Echoes incorporates a throwback to the series’ older support system. While it doesn’t let you pair units, they can still gain affinity on the battlefield and engage in conversations. These provide a lot of insight into the world of Valentia, the day to day lives of your units, and each of them has clear, engaging narrative arc. Don’t skip out on them. You can also re-read any of the ones you’ve unlocked by accessing Mila’s turnwheel while on the overworld screen.
Dungeons are a new real-time action addition to the series and exploring them is crucial. It’s not just about finding treasure chests either. Smash every crate you find and search dead ends for breakable walls to find even more loot and get the most out of your dungeon delving.
If you want to push someone that little bit extra towards a new class or even just help characters gain affinity so you can see support scenes, you can always head back into dungeons for a few battles. You can’t quite power level to massive heights but it can still help you unlock a few things here and there.
Tactics games can get intense. It can be frustrating to fall into an enemy’s trap. Take a breath and relax. You’re going to do great. Get out there, kick butt, and enjoy your journey through Valentia.