Fire Emblem Engage Preview: A loving tribute to a non-existent nostalgia

Fire Emblem Engage Preview: A loving tribute to a non-existent nostalgia

Fire Emblem Engage Preview: A loving tribute to a non-existent nostalgia

While I was playing Engage fire emblemit was great to return to the classic turn-based strategy combat that we haven’t seen since 2019 Three Houses. What immediately struck me was the visual upgrade in the overall presentation of the game – it looks super clean in 2022. Also, the more I immersed myself in the single chapter I was allowed to play, the more I realized how fun and innovative the gameplay was. it has become with each new entry in the franchise. However, what I’m wondering is if developer Intelligent Systems relies too heavily on a nostalgia that may not exist with many fans.

What was evident from my time playing a near-final build was that the game was pretty much finished, or rather, everything you’d expect from a finished Fire Emblem game is there and looks great, to say the least. . There is an attention to detail in the way the game is presented that feels new to the series. Something about the animation when your units prepare for battle is a nice touch over the stills from past games, and the action creeps even further into anime fighting territory every time I see it. I also liked how everything stats, skills, etc. of your units are visible at the bottom of the screen instead of having to navigate through multiple menus. This made it easier to plan the tactical aspect of combat by instantly knowing, for example, who would outrun whom.

The most touted additions to gameplay are the 12 Emblem Rings, which summon Lords of Fire Emblem’s past to aid in battles by providing stat boosts, weapon options, and much more. Basically, it resembled the “mating” mechanic introduced in Awakening, but this time as an equippable item. Each unit gets a design mashup when you “engage” with the Lord of Every Ring, and the ones I’ve seen have made me want to try every possible combination. This could also be good news for those who have strong opinions about the design of the main character. How Emblem Rings impacted my overall strategy felt familiar, but different enough to be a welcome change to the core of Fire Emblem combat.

How Emblem Rings impacted my overall strategy felt familiar, but different enough to be a welcome change to the core of Fire Emblem combat.


Since these Emblem Rings evoke several major characters from the Fire Emblem story, it begs the question: will people specifically play for this concept? A Fire Emblem game wasn’t brought to the West until the seventh, The Burning Blade, yet Intelligent Systems seems to expect players to rejoice in the return of older characters like Sigurd and Leif. Beyond those who play the mobile version, Heroes, and those who have rummaged through the bonus modes of the last two installments, these names are most likely unknown. As a fan of this series, I enjoyed the concept and use of the Emblem Rings, so perhaps this is the introduction to the vast history of Fire Emblem characters (who aren’t just sword wielders) needed for a wider audience.

I managed to beat the entirety of Chapter 5 in the time allotted for me to play. And my conclusion is that if the rest of the gameplay is like this demo, then Engage will be one of the best modern Fire Emblem games. The story, however, remains to be seen. I can at least say for sure that I can’t wait to get my hands on the rest when it releases on Nintendo Switch on January 20th.

Kalani Goda Newman is a half-Japanese producer/editor of IGN. Follow him on Twitter at @kalanikun to discuss why Smash Bros. is the secret Fire Emblem spin-off we didn’t ask for.

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