Fire Emblem Awakening has been described by some as a perfect jumping-in point for the tactical strategy series; the best place to start if you’re unfamiliar with either the series or genre. I can confirm this, since I only started playing it recently and have been having a blast — despite being a complete Fire Emblem noob.
So if you’re like me and have always wanted to give the game a try but are concerned about what to expect, here’s some basic tips and hints that the game doesn’t necessarily inform you of and will help you prepare for the challenges ahead.
1. Party Members WILL Die
There’s no sugar-coating this. Regardless of what difficulty you play at on your first time through, your party members are going to get cut down. Now, fortunately, you can turn perma-death off (the feature that means characters stay dead if they fall in battle) but they’ll still be removed from the current battle. There’s no recovery items or anything.
If the idea of forever losing certain characters scares you, then don’t be afraid about choosing to play Newcomer mode. Otherwise, the only way you’re not going to lose anyone is if you know the game inside and out.
2. You Won’t Have Any Money
You may think, being an RPG of sorts, that acquiring money to spend on more weapons and such is as simple as just defeating enemies. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. The only way to make any money is to sell items. Some enemies may drop Bullion (gold) that can be sold for high prices but, otherwise, if you need cash, you’re going to have to sell your own weapons.
Fortunately, it’s also possible to acquire extra weapons on the battlefield (from defeated enemies and special, sparkling areas) and in the barracks (which is completely random). Just don’t think you can spend hours grinding for cash like in some other RPGs.
3. Focus on Weapons’ Weaknesses When Forging
Forging may be pretty expensive, but it can be worth it since it can make otherwise weak weapons much stronger for later battles and give already powerful weapons an extra edge. One way to go about this is to focus on what each weapon is lacking.
Weapons have three stats: Might, Hit and Critical, which determine how much damage the weapon does, how likely the weapon is to hit an enemy and the odds of the weapon getting a critical hit respectively. So for example, if a weapon is particularly lacking in Might but has good Hit, prioritize upgrading the former so it balances out.
Also, even if you somehow have lots of money to spend on forging, you can only upgrade a weapon eight times out of the possible fifteen. So use those wisely. A weapon may have a high hit rate, but if it doesn’t have strength behind it, it’s not particularly reliable.
4. Grind on Risen Battles
Sometimes, old maps that you’ve already cleared will be infested by the undead monsters known as Risen. These are perfect opportunities to gain experience for your party and are worth attempting the moment they show up.
The Risen’s level will depend on what map they appear on, so Risen on the Chapter 1 map will be much weaker than ones that appear on the Chapter 10 map. If you’re fighting particularly weak Risen, you can afford to not use your strongest weapons and save them for much trickier fights.
You can also buy an item called a Reeking Box which will summon Risen to whichever chapter you’re currently on on the world map. It’s not too expensive either, so it’s perfect if you feel like you need to grind up a little bit. Just remember what I wrote about the Risen’s level so you can decide which area you want to fight them on.
And one more thing: merchants will randomly appear on the map too. Should a merchant and Risen appear on the same area, go there immediately! If you play a different chapter, the merchant will be killed. It’s worth going there since, if you protect the merchant in battle and keep them alive, they’ll reward you after the fight.
5. Using Master Seals
This easier said than done, since Master Seals are really expensive to buy and are very rarely dropped by enemies. But if you ever find yourself able to get one, use it immediately as it allows a character who is at least level 10 to upgrade to an advanced class of your choice. While it resets their level to 1, they get a massive boost in stats and, sometimes, gain the ability to use a new weapon class. This is especially handy for healers like Lissa since they can gain a means of counter-attacking.
Just a heads-up, not every character can be upgraded via a Master Seal. Some party members that join you, like Frederick, start off as an advanced class and some can’t be upgraded at all. For those characters, it’s recommend that you use Second Seals which allow a character to completely change their class whilst still retaining any skills they previously had.
6. Complete Paralogues Immediately
Paralogues are essentially side-quests that become available once certain conditions are met. The reason they should be done as soon as they become available is because not only can you get more experience from them, but they usually contain more allies that you can recruit.
Just remember: they need to survive the battle if they’re going to join the party, even if perma-death is turned off. And some of them are rather powerful and can be a big help early on so make sure you save beforehand should you need to reload.
7. Turn SpotPass On
When you first boot up the game, it’ll ask if you want to turn SpotPass on. Even though the game’s no longer receiving support, it’s worth doing since you’ll almost immediately gain access to a whole bunch of optional maps, items and characters that Nintendo released during the game’s initial run.
Go into the options menu on the world map and select Wireless. Go into Bonus Box and you can pick and choose what you want to download. I’d at least recommend downloading Bonus Maps as they’re the ones that allow you to recruit even more characters. However, they won’t be available until the very tail-end of the game.
In the end, though, you’re going to figure out the basics yourself. Only you can decide what characters to focus on, who they should support and what role they should take, because the great thing about Fire Emblem Awakening is that there’s no wrong way to play.
You can decide who marries who and you can decide whether you just want to experience the game at its most basic or master it so you can conquer the far more challenging difficulties. Hopefully, though, these tips will keep you going through those early stages and help you ease into the adventure.