Time to get a Divorce Fire Emblem
After playing the recently released Fire Emblem Fates games, I started to feel like the supports don’t really matter. At least not in the way I originally thought. These supports were not only about the bonds between characters, but gave insight into each character and the game. The supports reveal conversations at each tier and give a deeper look at the character personalities and the interactions with one another. The support ranking goes in order of: C, B, A, and S or A+. I find myself skipping over these conversations all together because what the characters say doesn’t really matter in the long run. I just needed to get to the ‘S’ rank to be able to recruit the child character. I’m beginning to do this more and more as I play through Fates.
The new support system that started in Awakening made it so nearly every character could access at least an ‘A’ ranking with any other character. And could achieve an ‘S’ ranking with the one they choose to marry. There are some special cases where characters are limited to who they can share these connections, but in most of those limited cases the main character is always an option. Supports are raised through Pairing-Up characters, being next to the character during the battles, healing the other character, using the Seed of Trust item, or speaking with the character outside of battles.
The older system was much more limited, but in a good way; each character could develop support with only 3 to 7 other characters. Even more interesting, only one support could be focused on at a time. This would allow the player to really get invested in these characters. Support would only rise if characters were next to, or rescuing, each other. It was only in the small biographies at the end of the credits that players would learn whether or not characters had married. And they would only figure that out if the players raised the support (or managed to keep both characters alive) until the very end.
The new supports now feel forced, making me miss the older system greatly. I end up finishing the supports now just because I want all the characters available. It has become less about the character interactions and more about just getting access to the characters in general. Some players take it to the extreme level of strategically pairing characters so their child has the chance to have certain abilities and stats. While the gameplay is routed in strategy, this component takes even more away from the characters. This is something I try to avoid as much as possible. I tend to pair the first few on instinct, and then leave the rest to pair up without a second thought.
I loved the old system because it had a strategy element all of its own. Depending on the pairing, support would rise in stats when the paired characters were near one another on the battlefield. It wasn’t just a stat raise with whoever was nearby. If you wanted to raise the support on the old system, you needed to be aware of both of the characters’ positions and movements. And not to mention having to keep an eye out on enemy positions.
Even more of a struggle was trying to raise supports with characters at different levels. I vividly remember struggling to get the ‘A’ rank support for Naesala and Leanna in Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn. He was a character that I used as a tank; able to be at the front lines and even separate from my main group of forces. Leanna could not be left alone or within range of enemy forces at all. Her lower health gauge was not made for close combat. As much as I struggled with raising that support, I remember the immense satisfaction I felt when I finally raised it. I was able to witness their story progress and see the ending they would both have together.
The old system was not perfect. It was definitely harder to raise supports when you could only focus on one pair at a time and were given fewer character options. The conversation dialogues in the older system were made more difficult by limiting the variety of responses. I don’t want to say the new system is devoid of character development, but the supports simply feel like they have become cheesy and more like fluff pieces than actually anything of value to the game.
If the makers of the series are dead set on continuing the marriage and children feature for future titles, then my biggest hope is that they limit it in some way. Make it so that a character can only choose between two or three other characters to marry. There are already some characters with support limits so expanding it to the rest of the cast should be possible. Limiting the game in this way would bring back the difficulty players have come to love and expect. Players on classic mode would have to actually plan and strategize the marriages, not just wing it. This would ensure that forces are not lost or missed, especially if they are important to the game and its characters. Less conversations would be made and it would allow for far more interesting interactions. Most games are looking to expand with more options and freedom for the players, but this is one area that I am willing to have limited.