The next game in the Fire Emblem series was announced at the beginning of 2015, with launch date set for Summer 2015 in Japan and 2016 in the west. Fire Emblem If, as it is call in Japan, is turning out to be quite a great looking game. It looks to be running on an improved version of the Fire Emblem: Awakening engine, with loads of new classes, two different paths to take (with an unlockable third available later), and a deep and complicated storyline.

The main character of the game, Kamui in Japan, is a customizable Avatar character who acts as the primary Main Lord of the game and is a Hoshido noble who ended up being kidnapped and raised as a Nohr noble. Kamui holds the class of Dark Prince or Princess. Similarly, Aqua, a Songstress, originated as a Nohr princess but was raised in Hoshido. After learning of their similar origins, Kamui and Aqua join together to resolve the conflicts between the two kingdoms.

Kamui’s class allows Kamui to use Swords, like typical Lords, and also Dragonstones, interestingly enough. As for Aqua, her Songstress class apparently can use Lances; her starting weapon is a Bronze Naginata. She is also capable of singing to rejuvenate characters and allow them to act again, similar to Bards, Dancers, and Herons from past titles.

Two Paths, Two Games

Starting with Chapter 6 of the game it splits into two paths, Hoshido and Nohr. Hoshido is considered to be the “good” and “white” kingdom, while “Nohr” is considered to be the “evil”  and “black” kingdom. Hoshido will be an experience closer to Awakening where there’s a detailed world map to explore and is less linear than most Fire Emblem games, like in Awakening. This allows for full grinding like Sacred Stones and Awakening, traveling across the world map as you see fit. Story-wise, though, Hoshido is more of a traditional game, where you’re trying to defend the kingdom from an invading force.

In the Nohr path, its a more traditional experience in structure, where the path will have more detailed and complex maps, a linear storyline with limited capability to grind levels and buy equipment. In addition, there’s a much larger variety of mission types available to play is. The Nohr path is much more difficult and is more geared towards classic fans of the series. At the same time, the storyline is much more deep and complex, more about revolutionizing Nohr from the inside out.

According to both the April Nintendo Direct and statements made later, you get the same characters regardless of which path you take. Another statement was a bit more contradictory which stated that some characters will be path-exclusive and may not even be met if you don’t take the correct path. Regardless, this does set an interesting precedent for the 8 main characters depicted in the trailer, all of whom are related to Kamui (and maybe even Aqua) in some way.

Another important distinction Nintendo and Intelligent Systems has noted is that each path is distinctly its own separate game. In fact, in Japan Fire Emblem If will even be released as both Fire Emblem If: Nohr and Fire Emblem If: Hoshido, with the second path available for download. A potential third path has been talked about which will be available only for download as well that acts as an in-between of the two separate paths.

Differences Between Paths?

Alright, we know a decent amount of how each path will be differentiated. But how else is it going to work? We’ve had mixed statements on how each path will differ from one another. One statement indicated that some characters would only be available on certain paths, while the main one heard during the Direct and again later indicated that all characters are available on either path. So which is it?

Personally I think its going to be like Sacred Stones, where most all characters are available no matter which story line you choose, and you’ll just unlock them in different ways. However, there may very well be one or two characters who are exclusive, but for the most part this won’t be the case. I’d bet that any characters you recruited before the divide stick with you no matter what, and the youngest sisters, for example, would probably join you earlier than everyone else.

Then, though, there’s the older characters. All of them are sympathetic to the hero on both sides, but have conflicts with the members of the other side. Once you pick one side, the characters on the opposing side fight against you. I’m betting that the eldest siblings–Marx and Ryouma–join first as an Oifey type of character, an early crutch character. Then later on, you will have to fight against the ones who you turned against in Chapter 6, and ultimately can recruit them to your team by convincing them that you have the best interests in mind.

On the Hoshido side, you will likely have to convince Marx, Camille, and Leon that Garon does not have the best interests of Nohr at heart and is a cruel tyrant. Marx is already questionably loyal to Garon and even argues against his father in a scene we’ve learned about in the game. Meanwhile, on the Nohr side, you will have to convince the Hoshido that you do not wish to fight them, and instead, want to try and save Nohr and Hoshido.

The Black and White Morality is incredibly evident in the latest trailer, and I feel its obvious that this entire theme is filled with cracks and will break apart at its seams as you progress through the storyline. I think we’re going to find that Nohr is not really evil, and Hoshido is not fully good, either. Especially since, as we have more recently learned, at some point Aqua was also taken from her home in Nohr to Hoshido. Why is this the case? Plus, the characters tell a different story.

Expanded Character Depth and Classes

Although the main characters on either side clearly hate the ones from the opposing side, they are all sympathetic to the hero and are clearly distraught when Kamui must choose which one to join. None of them want to fight Kamui, and all love the hero regardless of by birth or by family bonds. Also, despite the fact that the four main characters on either side are intended to rival one another and have several similarities, they’re also distinctly different and have their own classes not related to the ones on the opposing side.

The youngest sisters, Elise on Nohr and Sakura on Hoshido, are both staff wielders. Sakura is a Priestess, so she likely is the classic Priest/Cleric class. Elise is where it gets interesting, though; she has the class “Rod Knight.” This seems reminiscent of the Geneology specialized classes, but maybe even indicates that Rods and Staffs will be two separate weapon types. I’m wondering if this class will go back to the original Troubadour; a mounted unit capable of using both Swords and Staffs. Perhaps she’ll even promote into a Paladin like the original Troubadour class.

Another important distinction is how Sakura and Takumi, the youngest Hoshido siblings, both have a Tier 1 class; Priestess and Archer, respectively. Meanwhile, Leon has the class of Dark Knight, a Tier 2 class. Maybe this version of Dark Knight is not a prepromote class, but instead its a mounted Dark Mage? This could also tie into another theory I had, that the magic on Hoshido is three new anima magic, one of which includes Ice, and also Light Magic, while Nohr has the traditional Anima triangle of Wind, Fire, and Thunder, and Dark Magic as well.

The second eldest siblings Hinoka of Hoshido, and Camilla of Nohr, also have interesting classes, Revenant Knight; a wyvern class, and Pegasus Warrior, respectively. Camilla is known to wield an axe, so wyvern classes wielding axes are back again. But what’s this about “Pegasus Warrior”? Something others have noted is that all of the Nohr royalty have “Knight” classes, while Hinoka has a new Pegasus Warrior class, instead of the traditional Pegasus or Falcon Knight.

For Marx, his class is just the average every day Paladin class, which fits quite well and makes sense. What’s interesting, though, is that his rival Ryoma has the Trueblade class from Radiant Dawn. Does this mean we’ll get third tier promotions again? Its possible, but I doubt it. Rather, its probably an alternate promotion. I don’t think its an exclusive class, because none of the other main royalty members seem to have an exclusive class, either.

It does seem like there will be certain classes mostly exclusive to one kingdom. Knight classes, for example, seem to be such a case for Nohr. I’d also guess that Swordmasters are exclusively for Hoshido, and Mercenaries for Nohr. Pegasus classes are for Hoshido and Wyverns for Nohr. Since we don’t know of equivalent mounted units on the Hoshido side yet, I’m also thinking maybe we could get the Nomad classes back, and they’ll be able to use a larger variety of weapons. Or perhaps a similar class to the Nomad.

For my last note, in the original trailer at one point we see a mobile armored unit. Normally, armored unit’s armor is too heavy for them to be very active, but an armored unit is seen jumping around and attacking with a lance. I’m wondering if maybe this could be a Soldier; or perhaps even a Halberdier, which would explain why its more heavily armored than a Soldier. Plus, its also clearly a playable unit, too. This would be very interesting, because the last time we had a playable soldier was back in Radiant Dawn.

Conclusion

Additional information has been revealed in subsequent Famitsu articles such as the new Concealed Weapons type, Knives and Shurikens mostly. As well as the fact that Weapons no longer have durability, except Staffs. The addition of a new dismounted “Lancer” class on the Hoshido side shows that dismounted lance units are in fact playable again, which may hint to my theory that the character Elfie is either a Soldier with heavier armor or a Halberdier, bringing back the playable Soldier classes from Path of Radiance and Radiant Dawn. Oddly enough, it also appears that Thieves on the Nohr side now use Bows instead. Interesting.

We’ve additionally gotten our first looks at the new classes of Maid, Butler, and Ninja, all of which use Concealed Weapons. However, Maids can also use Staffs. There are two Maids at the beginning of the game, but since the second Maid has not been shown along with the first, Felicia, my bet is that she’s got a different class from Felicia. Famitsu has also confirmed there will be weekly information leading up to the game’s release in June. I will definitely provide another discussion on the topic of Fire Emblem If at a later date, but likely my theories will be proven or debunked very soon.

I hope you enjoyed my analysis of what we know of Fire Emblem If so far, and my thoughts on some of the ways the game could play out, both for the two paths, the different characters and the various classes and weapons available to use. Let me know what you thought of my discussion in the comments below, like it, share it with others, and if you want to see more like it, please subscribe and stay tuned for more Nintendo and gaming discussions and analyses. This is JaidynReiman, signing out.

References

Cast and Characters are the Same, Other Details:
http://serenesforest.net/fire-emblem-if/4gamer-interview/

Translated Famitsu Scans:
https://kantopia.wordpress.com/2015/05/20/fire-emblem-if-famitsu-scan-translations-all-52115/

Serenes Forest Known Classes:
http://serenesforest.net/fire-emblem-if/classes/

Serenes Forest Known Characters:
http://serenesforest.net/fire-emblem-if/characters/