Fire Emblem Engage - 14 Things I Wish I Knew Before Waking The Divine Dragon
Fire Emblem Engage is a deep and rewarding tactical RPG, and comes from a long legacy of strategy games that spent years pleasing fans in Japan before finally breaking big in America. Engage is the follow-up to Fire Emblem: Three Houses, a game known for its school setting and trio of distinct paths to follow, depending on which house you aligned yourself with. Engage is more straightforward, with a single story campaign.
However, Engage still has a steep learning curve. It carries over lots of tactical systems from previous games in the series, many of them with minor tweaks this time around. This game also uses a unique new Emblem system, pairing your warriors with the spectral forms of a dozen heroes from other worlds--aka other Fire Emblem games. To get the most out of Fire Emblem Engage, you'll need to master all of its systems, from the rock-paper-scissors of the weapon wheel to changing classes and managing your alliances in the Somniel. And of course, there's the entirely new system of the Emblem rings, which grants big benefits in battle if you know how to use them.
To get you off on the right foot, here are 14 things you should know before starting Fire Emblem Engage.
Strengths and Weaknesses
The weapon triangle is back, and it's important to know every weapon and unit's strengths and weaknesses on the battlefield. Swords beat axes, axes beat spears, and spears beat swords. Simple enough, especially for long-time fans, but that's only scratching the surface. Physical attack arts are strong against magic users, dagger throwers, and archers. Meanwhile archers are super effective against flying units. One well-placed arrow can easily ground a pegasus rider. Meanwhile, the best way to deal with an armored unit is to cook them, literally. Direct a fire-based spell tome at one of these units and they'll burn alive. Spells in general are good against armored units, but in my experience fire spells seem to be the best.
Taking advantage of the weapon triangle and physical attacks also inflicts something called break. This causes the defending unit to drop their weapon and leave them open to another attack. Of course, enemies can also break your units, so be careful. Keep in mind that you can only inflict a break on an enemy if you deal damage. Occasionally a damage calculation will do zero damage. Even if you do have the superior weapon, you will not break your enemy.
Terrain can play a big role in Fire Emblem Engage, and it's important to recognize what each tile does. First of all, you can see any terrain effects in the upper left corner when you’ve highlighted a unit. The most common terrain type are thickets that increase evasion and decrease movement. Most battlefields will have forests, or something similar, that will increase evasion, so it’s in your best interest to occupy those spaces and bait enemies out of them. Towers are rarer, but they can increase evasion and the occupying unit will recover 10HP at the beginning of each turn. Quicksand and shallow water will greatly hinder movement. Of course, flying units are unaffected by terrain entirely. They won't get the benefits or hindrances, but your enemies occupying those spaces will, so keep that in mind as you command your crew.
Baiting Your Enemies
Sometimes the best defense is a good defense. By pressing LR, you can see the exact range of your enemies. The purple tiles show you how far they can move and attack. As long as you stay outside that range, you should be safe. I highly recommend turning this on at the start of each battle and leaving it on for the entire skirmish.
If you're overwhelmed by the opposition, sometimes the best play is to fall back and let the enemies come to you. Find some decent terrain to bunker down in and go on the defensive. Some enemies won't rush you until you are in their range, though. I typically like to lead with a tank unit to bait the shy units out and then hammer them on my next turn.
Test Out Different Characters ASAP
Fire Emblem Engage introduces a lot of characters, especially in the early hours, and any of the characters you neglect will quickly become harder to use. Fortunately, when a new character is introduced you are forced to use them for a battle. I highly recommend running new characters through their paces to see if they fit within your core team of units, because if you forget about them it could take a ton of careful grinding to get them up to snuff. For example, I think Lapis is cool as hell. Unfortunately, I forgot about her and now she's way too under-leveled to participate in any combat scenarios. There are ways I could level her up, but they require a lot of patience. Sorry, Lapis. There's another universe where you're the star of my army.
Sorting through multiple inventories is a pain. Thankfully, Fire Emblem Engage lets you auto-equip units with the touch of a button. You can do this on an individual unit basis, or before a battle, you can auto-optimize your entire active team. Be warned, though: This will remove all items from your inactive units, so if you decide to bring them back into the fray, you'll need to re-equip them. The last thing you want is your healer to roll onto the battlefield without a staff to heal.
Fire Emblem Engage's class system is deeper than ever. If you meet the proper requirements, any character can rock any class. In order to pull up the class menu, press +, select Inventory, then select the unit whose class you want to change, and select Change Class. Here you can see the level requirements, required weapon proficiency, and the item cost. You'll need a Master Seal for Advanced classes and a Second Seal for base classes.
Once you hit max level with an Advanced Class, you can change into any Advanced Class so long as you have a Second Seal and the required weapon proficiency. You can even use a second seal to reset a unit's current class in order to level it up more. Your stats will stay the same if you reset your current class, and they may alter slightly if you change to a new class. It's in your best interest to change classes once you hit max level. The worst thing you can do is let a unit sit at level 20 for an extended period of time, so I highly recommend looking over all the different classes and seeing what skills come with them.
Along with classes come skills. There are five different types of skills in Fire Emblem Engage: Inherited, which are skills learned from Emblem Rings; Personal, which are skills unique to that character; Class, which are skills unique to that Advanced Class; Sync, which are skills tied to the equipped Emblem Ring; And Engage skills, which are skills that can only be utilized while engaged. This may sound overwhelming, but in actuality, the only skills you can really mix and match are the Inherited skills you get from Emblems. Still, inherited skills don't automatically equip, so make sure you are equipping your skills in the Inventory menu.
The Somniel - Weapons
There is a lot to do in your home above the clouds, but which activities should you prioritize? These next few segments will tell you exactly that, starting with weapons and items. Weapons don't break this time around, but you can upgrade them with money and crafting materials. Technically, you can upgrade just about every single weapon in the game. Don't let this overwhelm you though. Basic weapons you acquire at the beginning of the game usually aren't worth the time or resources. Instead, I recommend only upgrading the unique and legendary weapons that you will likely use throughout the game. Iron weapons will be replaced with steel and steel with silver.
As for items, always make sure you're stocked up on Vulneraries (and later, Elixirs) and staves, which, unlike the weapons, will break after a certain amount of uses. A bit later in the game you can also purchase Master Seals and Second Seals, items that are incredibly important as you progress through the story. Money can be tight in the later half of the game so make sure you are saving some in case you need to make a last minute supply run.
The Somniel - Emblem and Bond Rings
There are two types of rings in Fire Emblem Engage: Emblem Rings and Bond Rings. Emblem Rings house the spirit of a past Fire Emblem hero to fight alongside you. These rings are unmissable and obtained as you make your way through the story. Bond Rings can be purchased with Bond Fragments and give units small stat boosts. Both types of rings can be managed in the Ring Chamber located next to the Cafe Terrace. Here, units can inherit skills from Emblem Rings, you can craft and combine new Bond Rings, and you can polish your Emblem Rings.
Especially early on, it's important to inherit Emblem Rings skills from Marth, Micaiah, and Celica. There are a lot of important skills that you'll want to learn like Micaiah's Healing Wind. This will allow a healer to regain some of their own health whenever they heal another unit. Bond Rings on the other hand are useful early on when you only have a few Emblem Rings. You can equip these on your Emblem Ring-less unit for nice stat buffs. However, the further you get, the less useful these rings are, since you'll eventually have more than enough Emblem rings to equip on your entire active party. And, you will probably want to save your Bond Fragments for the Arena.
The Somniel - The Arena
After each battle you can return to the Somniel's arena and participate in three battles. For these battles, you pick one unit and that unit is pitted against another unit randomly. After each battle, the unit you selected will get some experience whether they win or lose and the bond between those two units will increase. Even if you are eager to get to the next battle, I highly recommend stopping in at the Arena after each skirmish just to get this free XP. It's worth noting that The Arena can't make a low-level unit viable, at least not in a reasonable amount of time. If Jean is still level one, he's probably going to stay level one unless you bring him into battle.
Additionally, you can also battle Emblems in the Arena. However, this works a little differently. By using Bond Fragments you can increase the bond between a specific unit and an Emblem as much as you like. It can cost a lot of Bond Fragments, but it may be worth it, as maxing out your bond with an Emblem can take a long time otherwise.
The Somniel - Resources
Resources in Fire Emblem Engage are important. Particularly, metals used to upgrade your weapons. The best way to get a consistent flow of resources is by tending to your livestock. Up to five animals you've adopted can graze in the pen. The animals left out will produce resources after each battle. In my experience, dogs provide metals, while cats provide fish. There are a bunch of different animals that can potentially provide a bunch of different resources so pay close attention to what items you find next to your animals. I almost exclusively only keep dogs in my animal pen because I found metals to be more important than cooking ingredients.
There's also a bunch of other stuff you can collect at The Somniel between battles. It's usually in your best interest to pick everything up in between each battle, but this gets old fast so I'd prioritize your animal pen and the spring near Sommie. Here you can find extra bond fragments.
The Somniel - Gift Giving
If you want to fast-track your character's relationship with another character, just give them a ton of gifts. All at once. Like 30 Pretty Pebbles that they'll have absolutely no use for. There is no limit to the number of gifts you can give to a unit, so if there's a character you like a lot, just shower them with obnoxious gifts. Just make sure they respond positively to your gift, otherwise you'll need to find or buy them something else. Keep in mind, your character is the only character who can give gifts. This means that if you want to increase Framme and Clanne's bond, they will need to fight alongside each other.
The Somniel - Alear's Desk
In the Cafe Terrace you'll find Alear's desk. Here you can donate to one of the four different countries and claim achievements for easy Bond Fragments. You don't need to return here after each battle, but it's a good idea to stop by after a big payday or after a ton of achievements have popped. Donating to countries will give you some resources and increase the rewards when completing a skirmish in that country. I wouldn't blow all your money on donations (like I did) because gold is tougher to come by in the second half, but it's still important.
Support and Bond Conversations
Along with Support conversations, Fire Emblem Engage introduces Bond conversations. These are basically the same, but show characters interacting with Emblem heroes. They are far less interesting than Support conversations, but just as important as they will increase the effectiveness between a unit and an emblem. In order to access both types of conversations press +, go to References, and here you'll find Support and Bond conversations. It's important to note that both types of bonds can't progress until these conversations have been completed. Make sure you check out this menu between each battle.