I guess I'll share my thoughts too, though I've finished neither Birthright nor Conquest. A part of me wants to restart Conquest on Normal difficulty to get a taste of the story tbh, because even though I'm enjoying the challenge immensely and the levels are all designed excellently, it is taking me a while to get through the game. :x I've already ended up sacrificing two party members (Jakob and Arthur) because I didn't really like them and I'd spent too much time on the level for my liking (like, a week each). I wasn't impressed with Birthright, in all honesty. The likeable, memorable characters are massively outnumbered by boring forgettable ones. The characters exclusive to Birthright I actually love are Kaden, Subaki, Sakura, Hana and Orochi. All of the others I could honestly care less about, though many characters who appear in more than one route (Kaze, Silas, Azura, Felicia and Shura) are also excellent, which is honestly Birthright's saving grace. There's just about enough characters there for a strong party, including the incredibly likeable children characters, many of whom I actually feel are better than their parents. I didn't focus on shipping characters going into Birthright so I only actually have Midori, Shigure, Selkie and Kana. I wish I'd picked up Asugi too, because he's damn fine, but I didn't know he was the kid of Saizo, and Saizo could be my least favourite character in the entire series. He takes boring and forgettable to a whole new level. Might as well spoiler the stuff about the story: Spoiler: Story Stuff \._./ Story-wise I'm up to probably the second or third last chapter, but I've totally run out of steam. Lack of actually effective and reliable grinding is the primary issue, because the chapter I'm stuck on (25) lacks any chokeholds, and as I'm a very defensive player this is a huge issue for me, especially as I have many defensive units. This means that I can't OHKO most of the enemies and my movement is poor. Anyway, the story has actually been pretty good. Better than Awakening without a doubt, though that's not saying much. From the start I felt kind of distanced from the story because if I were actually in Corrin's position I would undoubtedly choose to side with Nohr, so it took me a while to really get into it. However, after it's done introducing the bulk of the boring cast the story really comes into its own. Elise's part in the late game is the highlight of the story for me. I'd liked her in the pre-release but I didn't know that she actually did much in Birthright as well as Conquest, but when she appeared and made her adorable yet hugely impressive entrance my opinion of the game was immediately raised. Elise is my favourite character in the triad of games, though I'm yet to start Revelation and am only about a third of the way through Conquest. The other highlight of the story was Flora's suicide. Corrin's reaction to it was incredibly cringe-worthy and like, the sheer opposite of subtle, and it totally killed the moment. Still a highlight though, and so many emotions ran through my head during the scene. Especially because I find Felicia very relatable, so her emotional breakdown was more poignant for me. The comic relief is also done sparingly and effectively, which I appreciate. It's much more dark at times than what I expected, which means that comic relief characters like Kaden really stand out. On the topic of it being an actual game, the level design is... oftentimes questionable. Difficulty is fine, but tediousness... just isn't. When you have long chapters peak in difficulty right at the end, which happens several times in Birthright, it makes the game quite annoying to play. The worst chapter in the game so far is Chapter 21, which is about an hour's worth of playtime per run for me. It's easy but slow at the beginning, whereas at the end it's difficult... but also slow. I spent a couple of days getting very frustrated at the chapter, because I wasn't interested in letting any of my units die. Chapter 25 is similar because there are no chokeholds or defensive anything, really. You start the chapter under an onslaught from enemy units, and more units respawn right at the start a couple of times, wasting 10-15 minutes per attempt before you can actually progress, which is where it gets really tough with things like Fire Orbs and other annoying ranged attacks. It's just all in all a much more frustrating and time consuming game than it should be, because I haven't had the same problems with Conquest. Conquest does it right, where you overcome the toughest part of the level near the beginning and then become more fast and offensive later on. It's subtantially harder for sure, but it is genuinely more fun. Onto Conquest and I'm not very far through. Already it is substantially better than Birthright. Characters are all amazing and I love them. Jakob is still zzz and Arthur and Nyx have never really grown on me because they seem so shallow, but the other characters are all super individual and meaningful. I haven't got the part of the game with Xander yet, and he is one of the more boring royals for me alongside the Hoshidan royals, sans Sakura, but naturally there's still time for him to grow on me throughout the game. Odin and Niles are both absolute hot babes who I love juuuuust a little bit, which is surprising because pre-release neither of them were too notable for me. I played as the female character because I was male in Birthright, and I had a tough time choosing between them, though I eventually opted for Odin. Leo is more boring than I'd thought in the pre-release, but I also haven't gotten to him joining the roster yet. Elise is still amazing, and I feel like Beruka and Effie can only grow on me over time. Peri and Laslow have a good first scene but I haven't got any further than that. Either way, the lineup of characters in Conquest is amazing and it's definitely the superior game to Birthright. Story in spoiler: Spoiler: Story Stuff \._./ I'm only at Chapter 12 so don't expect anything amazing from me, but I think the Conquest story is overall better than Awakening and Birthright. I'm not sure whether I prefer it to the GBA game I've beaten (Sacred Stones), but I'd be lying if I said I'm not enjoying it. I'm very close to starting up a normal difficulty file for Conquest just so I can finish up the story quickly and then go back to my harder file for the challenge, because I'm really enjoying the dramatic irony of the entire situation with Garon and the revelation of the Hoshidans that they're actually huge jerks too, which was basically all I was thinking of during Birthright and their shameful chauvinism as a whole. The level design in Conquest is much better. I've enjoyed all of them so far, and as mentioned during Birthright, in Conquest the levels actually peak in difficulty at the start, so even though they are also long levels, it's much more enjoyable and it's not tedious. This is different to my second favourite game in the series (Sacred Stones) where the levels are much shorter and snappier, and I'm unsure which I prefer, but I love both of them. Longer levels are very satisfying to complete. Onto the reinvented mechanics for Fates as a whole: I love the new weaponry system. There is actually good reason to keep multiple weapons on a character and switch them around besides that the Iron Sword only has 2 uses left so you've got another one in the character's bad which means they lose out on another item for the rest of the fight, and this makes organising inventory space much more meaningful. The reversed weapon triangle weapons are in particular very interesting strategy-wise as it forces a lot of item cycling and equipping throughout the flow of the battle, and it makes the player feel like they have more control than basic movement. The other main mechanic which does this is the new stance system. Even though I'm a defensive player, in Birthright I find myself sticking to attack stances quite a lot, because I have several defensive characters who can adequately take hits and OHKO their aggressors with the support of another unit. Defense stances are useful in many other situations and different characters benefit from different stances in different situations, which makes the entire mechanic excellently balanced and actually forces the player to think and optimise their strategies on several different levels. It's just all in all a really good change from Awakening, almost combining the OP pairing mechanic in that game with the useful "shelter" actions found in earlier instalments like the GameCube games. I'd be interested in seeing Biorhythm return from those games at some point because I always found it very interesting, but that's probably just me. My Castle is actually a really nice distraction IMO. It's almost an Animal Crossing lite with more likeable characters, and visiting other castles is very fun. More customisation would possibly be appreciated, as well as, IMO, DVP being a fairly pointless and tedious limitation, but it's a feature I hope returns from here on out. The prison is very unique for strategy because it actually gives you some disposable kamikaze units, which in the early game of Conquest I found myself using quite frequently. On higher difficulties the units have unique skills not usually given to the class, allowing for even deeper strategy. An example would be the archers with counter found quite early in Conquest, which I can just throw at a strong melee unit to weaken a bit while dying in the process, guilt-free. Discounts on certain items based on the shopekeeper is also a very useful and polished feature, and I actually like the Private Quarters. Maybe not so much the bonding with your married unit, but making the other characters more relatable by interacting with them in a more personal, one-on-one environment is a fun distraction, even if it pretty much ends up with everyone just inviting their waifus or husbandos there. :x Even useless buildings like the Hot Spring (aside from recruiting Izana I guess) I always make sure to visit each day and when I complete a chapter, even if it means absolutely nothing in terms of story or battling as a whole. It just adds even more depth to many of the characters, which is never a bad thing. DLC has been handled quite boringly for me. The staggered releases of chapters after it's all been released in other regions is annoying and tedious. The grinding chapter is ruined because the enemies fight back, which defeats the entire purpose, and I've still never actually beaten it. The other DLC chapters are also needlessly difficult, though I've never tried to take them on with a very optimised party. When the pay 2 win chapters require a lot of time and effort to actually get a result from, it defeats the purpose of pay 2 win. On the other hand, I do massively enjoy all of the reclassing items you get from DLC, and that side of things is handled adequately. This post is um, long. Given the late release of the games in Europe I never really got the opportunity to talk about it with people since they'd all beaten it a couple times by the time I first got to play it, so... there you go, my thoughts! >~> Thena's post was a fun read so everyone else should post about their thoughts too.