Fire Emblem Fates broke new ground for the SRPG series when its three titles were released in 2015. Fates is usually referred to as one title in the series, but is made up of three ‘paths’– Birthright, Conquest, and Revelation– which all released simultaneously, with each of the three offering a different story and gameplay experience in the same world.
However, for many fans, two out of the three titles are considered to be amongst the series’ lowest points: Birthright and Revelation are criticised often for unbalanced gameplay, particularly in the case of Revelation, and an awful story, again, especially in the case of Revelation. On the other hand, Conquest was very different, being a return to a different kind of Fire Emblem: difficulty created through good map-design rather than a ridiculous number of enemies with huge stats, and a (mostly) balanced experience, although criticisms of the game’s story were also rampant.
Despite the high difficulty of Conquest, at no point is it ever unfair. You always have the tools to take on every challenge, and the game plans for you to have those tools, rather than throwing hordes of enemies your way and expecting you to cut your way through them.
Chapter 10: Unhappy Reunion is considered by many players to be one of the most difficult in the game, and for good reason: it forces you to use every member of your army to their fullest extent, defending multiple areas and constantly having to switch between offensive and defensive strategies.
Basically, there are a few chokepoints on the map that you can defend from, preventing enemies from getting through and causing them to build up. At first this might seem difficult but manageable, but on turn seven– you have to defend the area at the top of the map for eleven turns– the enemy commander, Takumi, drains all the water from around the nearby area, removing the natural chokepoints present on the maps and allowing the enemy army to overwhelm you. This, coupled with flying Pegasus knights constantly rushing for the area you’re defending, makes the map an incredibly tense experience, especially on the later turns.
However, despite the high difficulty of this chapter, you are given what you need to beat it. On turn three, Camilla and her two retainers arrive. Camilla is easily the best unit in the entire game, possessing incredibly high base stats surpassing every member of your army at that point, an amazing class, and even good growth as well, so she’ll get even better over time. Her two retainers aren’t much to write home about but are also useful.
Everyone else is also useful on this map, with this point being exemplified by it allowing you to deploy your entire army (unless you captured any enemies or recruited Mozu early on) and make use of them. Even relatively bad units like Odin can make use of the fire orb to chip down enemies, and the likes of Effie, a heavily armoured knight, can be absolutely dominant in choking a point. Every turn you have to respond to something as well: more reinforcements, a wall being broken down, or one of the enemy commanders moving into attack. To top it all off, there are side objectives here that are most easily accessed on the earlier turns, meaning you must make some risky moves early on. Ironically, this defensive map rewards aggressive strategies.
Other maps in Conquest are similarly difficult, but none reach the level of balance that Chapter 10 does. They get close, though, which is why I’d recommend a playthrough of the entire game if you can! For a beginner to the series, though, I’d recommend playing through Birthright first, just to get to grips with the mechanics.