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OmegaX128

Making a difficult Fire Emblem game, but also retaining the feeling of units becoming stronger?

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I was thinking a lot about Fire Emblem's gameplay as a whole, and ultimately came to a few conclusions about the difficulty.
In most Fire Emblem games, the game is relatively difficult at the beginning, as all of your units are rather weak, and you're getting introduced into the game.


The game begins to lessen the hold on the player with the difficulty as it goes on, growing alongside all of your units.
However, eventually your units just straight up outpace the enemies in terms of pretty much everything, to the point where things taper off to a really easy difficulty at the end.


While this is great for feeling as though your units are becoming stronger, and more able to overcome obstacles, the game's difficulty suffers as a whole, being really easy near the end. I feel like the way Fire Emblem games should be designed near end game is through not just higher power enemies, but rather through smarter enemies.


You should be able to still have your units wipe the floor with generic Paladin #121827, but try to fuck with that Paladin, suddenly you're overwhelmed with a situation you really need to make a gamble with. Or something like that.
Point is, I think Fire Emblem games are kind of easy (with the exception of you, FE10) but can be like way better lol

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FE12 Lunatic kinda gives you that feeling of getting stronger to take on really strong challenges, best difficulty in the series right there imo.

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Yeah. Your units have high growth and get much exp, but because of the cap of the stats, you can't overwhelm the enemy units, who are quite high on numbers and have forged weapons.

Conquest is really strict about this because it forbids you to over-level. Doesn't solve all matters, but it is an effective and brute approach that works in some ways.

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Start a game off by making you use characters that arent even a normal class yet. Villagers, Acolyte ( priest in training), Apprentice (Mage in training), town guard, and even a soldier ( like the basic cannon fodder unit of the bad guys). That alone would be difficult as it would give you weak characters across the board, almost like a team full of Donnels and Mozus. No crutch characters, and the characters you start the game with, are the characters you end the game with. You do not get anyone else.

Make it difficult, yet rewarding. These characters would get really strong later, as they would go through 2 promotes by the end of it all, unlike the normal 1 a character gets. They all have aptitude, letting them raise their stats easier since they are starting off weaker.

Keep the weapon system of Fates, so no durability. Money is scarce, upgrades are rare, and you are practically scrounging around for good weapons to use for the first few chapters of the game. Base the game partially around having to build up your village. No more My Castle, how about My Village. You have to choose what crops to grow, and make sure you have the supplies to do it, otherwise people will begin to starve. You have to build up proper protections, walls, towers, way later on even hiring extra guards. You can run extra chapters much like Fates challenges, but you gain no xp, no gold, and they are for resource gathering only.

Over time your Village will grow into a town, your units will become more powerful, and you will have better weapons and a larger supply of money. I think this would make for a really fun Fire Emblem game, starting off extremely small, and watching as all the hard work you are putting into the game is actually taking effect.

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Do harder difficulties in the series have better weapons? Not forged ones, but say, a Iron Sword Swordmaster in Normal will have a Steel or Silver Sword, or even a Wyrm/Armor-slayer in Hard. If that isn't done, then that should be implemented in all hard modes to give people a nasty surprise.

Or even personal antimosity-based skills that gives enemies critical/hit/avoid/damage bonuses against units considered top-tier (say Narcian vs Milady/Perceval in FE6; Orson vs Seth in FE8; Enemy!Xander vs Player!Ryoma in Birthright), essentially making relying those otherwise top-tier units risky for in these important points, and punishing you for not diversifying.

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I think a good start would be to keep the stat caps and general stat scaling relatively low; FE1, 3, and 5 actually did this, I believe, or at least the stat caps half of it. The idea is to make each stat point count, and to make it mechanically impossible to get any character in your party to such a point that they become simply straight-up impervious against any and all opposition (something that was pitifully-easy to accomplish in Awakening).

Also, include a mixture of physical and magical enemies in each map, and don't be too stingy about giving various Slayer weapons to enemies, particularly ones in strategic positions. Set up enemy formations, map layouts, and secondary objectives such as to make it impractical at best and hellishly luck-based at worst to try to lowman or otherwise put too much into the hands of just one unit.

Don't clump a bunch of the same kind of enemy together; as much as that kinda makes sense from a real-life perspective as well as an aesthetic one, it's actually a lot easier to deal with than when groups of enemies are more diverse. You might not be so eager to have your Myrmidon take out those Fighters when you know that doing so will very likely put them on the wrong end of a Cavalier's lance. Your Knight may have those enemy Mercenaries in the bag, but not so much the Mage waiting in the wings to pounce on them if you send them after the Mercenaries. Etc. etc.

There's really a lot that goes into designing Fire Emblem games and their difficulty, so I'm sure there's more than what I listed, but these are just some basic ideas that I have.

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Putting the bullshit aside, I actually think Thracia had some good points when it came to scaling the game. The game gives you tools that allow you to kill pretty much any enemy early on but sets up situations where you can easily be flanked or overwhelmed as well as keeping powerful enemies frequent even in early game. It also does a good job of preventing low manning by having the stamina system and a minimum deployment limit. And something I have often praised, nearly every unit in the game is distinct and fully viable from recruitment. To add to that a very high number of chapters don't focus on simply overwhelming your opponent but accomplishing goals in a different way (commonly escaping but it has some noteworthy defense and rescue maps). People might find Thracia annoying but at least it's pretty consistent in it's difficulty (even the dreaded Manster section was only slightly more challenging in my experience).

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