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Deltre

Shadows of Valentia Has Damn Good Map Design

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8 hours ago, SatsumaFSoysoy said:

First off, not really your fault, but since I didn't play the English version, I actually have no idea what chapters you're talking about when you mention names like Dead Man's Mire. I'm just guessing based on memory.

I disagree that the swamp makes it more exciting, but I guess here we fundamentally disagree on what makes a good map. I consider having to move about a dozen units two tiles a turn while getting pelted by Slime, arrows and Gargoyles to be not fun and bad map design. In other words, "taking away the swamp makes the level less interesting" doesn't mean anything to me; that level should not have existed in the first place.

That's fair. The Mire is the first swamp map and Dolth Keep is the second with Dracozombie Cantor.

As for what I think makes a good map, you have to consider that Shadows of Valentia (particularly Celica's Route, Alm's is more about movement and I think we agree on that) is a lot more combat focused than other FE titles. Is that objectively good or bad? I can't say, and I don't think anyone can. But I can say that the mechanics of SoV are so good that the fact that it's so centered around combat is not a detriment to the quality of the game. If I had to ever play a level that restricted movement in a FE game, I would pick the ones in SoV every single time over the ones in other titles, because the game is so tightly designed around these aspects. If you think that maps that restrict movement are inherently bad (a statement I'd disagree with) then I can see your grievances. Even then, I still think the movement restrictions in this game are a lot less intrusive than in other FE titles. For example, Living Legend/Arcadia in FE7/FE6 are both much more punishing to your lower move characters. Any of the swamp maps in Radiant Dawn punish your lower movement characters more too.

The closest comparison I can make is Scorched Sands in FE8, because similar to in Shadows of Valentia, you can cross in 2-3 turns. You never really have to spend longer than that, and most of the time you're still doing something with your units as you move forward, and in the cases that you aren't, you certainly will be by the time you've crossed the terrain. The worst maps in FE usually leave me wondering "why?" but this hasn't been my experience with SoV. I understand clearly why each of the design decisions were made (for the most part, again there are some things like castle tiles I don't agree with keeping), and even in the case that I didn't like it, I'd never be bothered for more than 2 to 3 turns tops. Wolf's Fort is the only real exception to that I have found so far. That one sucked in Gaiden and sucks now too.

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On the level with Saizo (the random named Dread Fighter guy, I'm not sure what his English name is), the Gargoyles aren't even scary to begin with at that point in the game, since your stronger foot units should be able to deal with them no problem; I didn't need to use Expel at all. My Palla and Catria duo (with Est as support backpack) baited Saizo out for the rest of my army to deal with, but the rest of the map, including the Snipers and the Cantor, were basically all dealt with by Palla and Catria. By abusing forges and Arts at that point in the game, even the Snipers can be swiftly dealt with without taking damage. I gave Catria an Iron Lance (mostly because I didn't know Saunion existed at the time), and Palla a Steel one, and Catria would chip the Sniper first with Hit and Run while the Avoid boost gives her a good shot at taking no damage (even if she does, she won't die, so it's fine as long as Genny heals), then Tempest Lance from Palla would take the Sniper out for good.

Now I'm the one who's not sure which map this is off the top of my head. I'm assuming it's the first swamp map though. It's not that your foot units can't handle the gargoyles, because as you say they can. I didn't even have a Dread Fighter yet, but both Saber and Kamui could take them no problem. The issue is that they'll arrive at about the same time as the enemy Dread Fighter if you bait him south and into the swamp, meaning that unless you've dealt with them right away, your Mages can be attacked from multiple angles, and you really need that Dread Fighter dead as well since he is pretty scary all by himself. They can also chip down Saber/Kamui which is pretty bad if you've drawn the Dread Fighter to them, and even worse if you're starting to work on that first Sniper as well. I can't remember the layout of the map exactly, but I distinctly remember that Palla got annihilated if she even thought about going on the opposite side directly. Best case scenario you could use her to draw the Dread Fighter through the swamp, and the first Sniper to the south. By the time you've done this, your foot units near the front should have crossed/be able to reach land on their next move. The whole setup feels very deliberate, almost like a puzzle in a way. It's actually very similar to Conquest in that regard. I also have to say that I think that it's a testament to the overall design of the game that you're using the Arts to get an advantage in some situations. Echoes has the most combat options out of any Fire Emblem game that I've played, and I really do believe that for the most part it's put to good use with the way they've balanced the game.

I won't argue that Palla/Catria are top tier (and I think Est is Mid to High-Mid since flight is such a blessing in this game), but because of the mechanics of this game, really everyone is useful. Tiers feel a lot closer together in this game than they do in a lot of other Fire Emblem games, in my experience. I just got the Mage Ring for example, and now if I want, Mae/Celica/whoever can actually match any of the Whitewings in terms of overall attack range. Leon has been outranging them since basically their entire existence. Saber/Kamui/Deen/Jesse are all much better overall at taking damage than any of the Whitewings, since magic users are plentiful and only Est has good resistance. Ultimately, they only lose out on movement by 1 point as well, though obviously they don't fly. Palla doesn't really become a Juggernaut unless you dump the defense Lion Head and defense stat booster onto her (I did), but before that she's plenty mortal and you don't even get the option until very late chapter 4. Even then, Dark Mages and even Witches are a huge problem for her since she has only 5 Res, and enemies are strong. And even with all that said, I could argue that Genny is still overall a better unit than any of them. Really, the only characters that have it bad are Jesse and Atlas, and even then it's not that they're statistically bad units. They just come at a point when their counterparts are starting to come into their own. Everyone has a weakness, and there's really no One-Man-Army situations, at least on Celica's Hard Mode.

8 hours ago, RJWalker said:

I'm not convinced that Shadows of Valentia has good map design, although I haven't yet played it. I'm basing this on OG Gaiden which doesn't have good map design yet I think people who say Gaiden had the worst map design are also wrong. Gaiden had more than a couple of good maps and even the bad ones which are just open fields aren't really bad, just boring. This is because the enemies are not that high in number so the open field doesn't cause as much of a detriment as it could. It also helps that enemies aren't statistically strong. This is especially in contrast to the open fields of Awakening and Birthright which have huge numbers of enemies, all with high stats and good weapons, charging at you on an open field where you have no where to go.

The map design in Shadows of Valentia is decidedly better than Gaiden for a lot of subtle reasons that all accumulate into a better gameplay experience. Enemies are shifted around a bit to make the maps flow more smoothly at times, starting positions are reworked to remove "dead turns". I've noticed that on Alm's maps, battles that were originally very open with few enemies have now had entire groups of enemies added to make the fight play out more naturally, removing a lot of the waiting that Gaiden is known for. Enemies have overall higher stats (nothing crazy like Awakening, but enough to make them threatening) and now frequently have proper weaponry. It may not seem like much on paper, but in actuality these changes go a long way.

8 hours ago, Natalie said:

I've only being playing the game awhile, but I noticed that the maps themselves are either really spread out and it takes several turns to reach the enemy, or they're impossible to move across with units only moving one space on both sides. 

However, I do like the fact that although it can be rather tiresome, the game seems to be keeping true to older FE games with the map designs. It is a remake, after all. 

That tends to go away for the most part as the game progresses. I can't speak about Alm's Act 4, but Celica really only has to deal with that until people start to promote. Even then, it's bad for the enemy too, which is great for the player since the enemies are actually quite threatening now, especially in larger numbers.

6 hours ago, Tolvir said:

I dont find the maps as bad as everyone says they were, but I wouldnt exactly call them great. There are still a few stupid as hell map designs, like the Cavalier maps on Alm's side that has 10 Cavs half a mile away and takes 5 rounds before your archer can even hit one, and Celica's graveyard maps get pretty annoying after a while. I just got to Part 4, and the Swamps already look annoying as hell too. Damage from environment is not my thing, and its there. An entire sea of it on the first map.

On the other hand there have been some maps that have been a lot of fun too. I found the end map for Chapter 1 to be a lot of fun, and the challenge of trying to keep Desaix there added to that. (Dragon Shield is great.) Greith's map was also fun imo. I had to put a little thought before going and charging in. The second Desaix map was fun too along with the Sluice.

On average though, I find most of the maps just OK. Nothing too bad, nothing too great either. Temple of Mila for example was just the Saber and Kamui show. Since they were both Dread Fighters already all it took was one whitewing opening that door and it fell apart from there. they just slaughtered everything in it, which made the map a little boring too me. It was too small for reclaiming a huge temple, and was really underwhelming. Both times I have fought Berkut on Alm's side have been underwhelming as well. They are just huge forest maps, which make sense for it being in the middle of a battlefield, but I would of preferred it to be some kind of keep or structure. The rest have been just, ok. The boat maps werent annoying, but werent exactly great either. A lot of Alm's maps are the same outside of the important ones.

 

That's an interesting perspective on things to me. I'm still holding judgement on Alm's route until I beat the game, but I will say that I had some fun with the Cav maps. Not as thought provoking as some of the other battles had been, but it was still fun trying to clear them out as quickly as possible, and there was something novel about seeing Claire murder an entire squad of Cavs in one turn that I really enjoyed. In my experience, maps like these are over so quickly that I don't have time to find myself getting bored. Maps in this game really don't overstay their welcome, I find.

I'm very surprised at your opinion on Mila's Temple though. Neither my Kamui nor my Saber were Dread Fighters by that point, and I can tell you with no exaggeration that battle was incredibly difficult for me to beat. Easily the hardest map on Celica's route to that point and very climactic. 

Edited by Deltre

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I haven't played Echoes yet, but I did get through most of the original Gaiden.

I don't think Gaiden's map design is that bad, but it has a lot of problems too. Gaiden shows promise at times with interesting designs (the leather shield merc early on, the first time you meet an archer with a 5 range bow and how it introduces you to 5 range archers, Desaix's fortress, the witch in the mountains map) but has a lot of awful, boring maps too. If anything, I would say it is very hit and miss.

To quickly sum up my thoughts: Perhaps its better to approach Gaiden as an RPG with strategy elements than a strategy game with RPG elements. If you look at it from that perspective, a lot of the maps and design in general seem to make a lot more sense. It feels like Gaiden is more of a traditional RPG with spatial movement added to the combat, than a game that is focused on strategy and thinking.

I do have several main gripes about Gaiden's map design:

1) Wide open square maps with little to no terrain. There just isn't much thought or strategy or fun here. Heck, even every dungeon is the same little empty square.

2) Repeated maps - which tend to be the boring wide open ones.

3) Summoners - they just make battles take unnecessarily long, spawning hordes of rather weak units. They don't really add to the strategy or challenge, they just make maps take a long time to get through.

4) Overreliance on chokepoints - instead of wide open maps, some maps are simply designed around a single chokepoint. Throw a high defense unit or two there and that's all you have to do, watch enemies run into your wall and defeat themselves, maybe the occasional heal here and there.

It seems to go too far in either direction: some maps have absolutely no useful terrain and you just have to form up your units as best as you can in empty space, while other maps can be essentially reduced to a single narrow chokepoint you put your bulkiest unit into.

You mention some of the more interesting maps in your original post, @Deltre. But there's so many poor maps in the game too. We have to look at game as a whole: yes, there are a decent bit of interesting, good maps - but there's so many boring, uninteresting, poor ones too. And I think those poor maps really drag a lot of people's enjoyment of the game down. I don't mind too much. But it's a very mixed bag.

I'd love to engage in this discussion some more after I get more into Echoes.

Edited by Xaos Steel Wing

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I try the first swamp map and I don't feel so bad about it because of mass summonered creatures. Regardless how you feel about use expel or not, I think use it to clean them faster is good idea unless you have someone that can kill them within a turn without a crit. Otherwise they slow you down more thant the swamp. The most threatening things are the arcanists and dread fighter. They force me to reset the maps because I overextended with one weak unit and with swamp you have no chance to escape. I feel arcanists are way too bulky and hit hard as truck. I feel dreadfighter are way too powerful class because of that.

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after watching gwimpage stream most of this game, i can't see how any map in SoV has defensible quality.

this game encourages snowballing and lowmanning more than almost every other entry in the series. the player is punished for failing to hit stat benchmarks, and that's really all of the substance that there is to this game. most maps lack side objectives or even multiple simple goals.

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I'm on chapter 4 and I think these maps are worse than Awakening's. I didn't hate the maps in Awakening like a lot of people seem to have, but they were very meh at best. These are even more boring most of the time. And unfortunately a lot of the more interesting-looking maps end up having poor gameplay anyway, like they had a cool idea for a map, but in practice it just doesn't really pan out as well. Stuff like picking off every archer/mage in the desert fortress with Leon, or the ship maps where you just sit on the choke and watch the enemies pile into the meat grinder. It doesn't mean I'm not having fun, but these are just noticeably less interesting than any other FE's maps I've played it terms of making me have to think or actually use any strategy to beat them. Perhaps coming fresh off of another Conquest playthrough makes it even more apparent.

Edited by Alkaid

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People over exaggerate on how "bad" the map design is. At worst they're just simple and there's nothing wrong with simple, especially with all the cool and different mechanics. But there are some really good maps as well; Zofia Castle, Desaix's Fort, Grieth's Citadel, The Flood Gate, Fear Mountain, those two maps before Rigel Castle and Rigel Castle itself.

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28 minutes ago, Bowbow said:

Zofia Castle, Desaix's Fort, Grieth's Citadel, The Flood Gate, Fear Mountain, those two maps before Rigel Castle and Rigel Castle

I have to disagree with Zofia Castle, Desaix's Fort and the map right before Rigel Castle.

Zofia Castle is mostly okay except for that one goddamn corridor with archers bearing down. It's annoying to get through without some risk-taking, especially since people like Silque can get ORKOed.

Desaix's Fort is terrible. It's literally just one chokepoint to a castle, and once you finally break through the choke you get to deal with 20 Avoid forever because Castle tiles make sense. The best you can do is try and have Clair do some diversion to the sides, but she can't do much because of the stationed archers.

The map before Rigel Castle is another one of those "let's sprinkle 5-range bows and Mire everywhere", featuring more castle tiles. It's super tedious unless you feel like dashing through a long corridor, praying the same unit doesn't get hit four times in a row.

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1 hour ago, Xaos Steel Wing said:

1) Wide open square maps with little to no terrain. There just isn't much thought or strategy or fun here. Heck, even every dungeon is the same little empty square.

2) Repeated maps - which tend to be the boring wide open ones.

3) Summoners - they just make battles take unnecessarily long, spawning hordes of rather weak units. They don't really add to the strategy or challenge, they just make maps take a long time to get through.

4) Overreliance on chokepoints - instead of wide open maps, some maps are simply designed around a single chokepoint. Throw a high defense unit or two there and that's all you have to do, watch enemies run into your wall and defeat themselves, maybe the occasional heal here and there.

I read your entire post, and I particularly agree with the points about Gaiden/Echoes incorporating far more RPG elements than standard FE. It's a large reason why I feel that combat is so heavily emphasized in this game, perhaps more than any other Fire Emblem title. It's also a large part of the reason that many of these maps are over in a flash, which I honestly feel is a good thing given the overall design of the game. 

1) I disagree that there is no strategy to be had in some of the storyline battles that feature more open terrain, but I don't really have much to say in defense of grinding maps/dungeon maps. Part of the issue is that you're required to play through certain grinding maps at least once in order to progress. I wish the enemy formations were unique during the first encounter, but sadly they are not. I will say that technically you don't ever have to fight any enemies in dungeons though, other than one Dracozombie encounter. In terms of grinding for experience though, the maps being so simplistic is actually somewhat of a strength. It's essentially the games version of a random battle from more traditional RPGs. They're short, and over quickly similar to how most trash mobs in other games tend to be.

2) This is fair. Act 2 is by far the worst offender and I won't try to mask that. The 5 or so boat maps could have been consolidated to three (first one, Valbar mission, and the Cantor) and the game would have benefited hugely in terms of pacing, and keeping things fresh. It is worth mentioning that later on some of the maps that originally felt pretty samey in OG Gaiden now have some noticeable redesigns that keep it feeling new.

3) I disagree wholeheartedly on this point. I originally dreaded these guys in OG Gaiden, but with the cleaner interface of SoV I now understand their purpose. They make for high priority targets and encourage long-term thinking when approaching these situations, especially in terms of how to utilize Genny, your one and only long distance healer. You have to juggle your actions carefully in order to keep things moving, because especially early on, if you need to use Expel you need to make sure that your frontliners are going to survive long enough to get healed. Leon really messes with Cantors since he won't get countered, and does a fine job of leaving them injured enough that someone else can safely get the kill. The Whitewings can all get there relatively fast, but will likely need some help to make things safe. Mae can destroy them late game, with her effective 9 Attack Range, though you'll need to get within 8 tiles to really smack them. Dread Fighters take next to no damage from them, and with the Blessed Sword/High Powered Forge can cut through their monsters. And let's not forget, killing the Cantor immediately banishes ALL their summoned monsters. I think that given the tools you have, Cantors are fair.

4) I'm not going to say anything definite on this one until I clear the game, but I can confidently say that this hasn't been my experience thus far, and not one time have I done this on Celica's route. The closest thing I've done to what you're describing is the way I handled Deen's map.

I'm not and haven't been from the beginning arguing that the game is perfect; it's absolutely not. No game is truly perfect imo. I believe the maps in SoV to range from average at worst (with Wolf's Fort being outright bad admittedly) to great at their best, with the majority of the maps falling in the "good" category.  But to hear others tell it, you'd think the maps were all somehow, impossibly, worse than Revelation. It's that kind of thinking that I disagree with, and the reason I made this topic to begin with. From the beginning I've also conceded that I think Alm's maps are overall weaker, and the more I play of Celica's route, the less I think that I will change my opinion on that. And none of the "worst maps" this game has to offer are even half as intrusive as the worst maps in other FE titles. Take FE6 Chapter 8 for example. That Chapter by itself is designed more poorly than anything SoV has to offer, and it's arguably not even the worst chapter in that game. It doesn't have strong enemies, summoners, disadvantageous terrain, or anything, it's just flat out poorly designed.

1 hour ago, dondon151 said:

after watching gwimpage stream most of this game, i can't see how any map in SoV has defensible quality.

this game encourages snowballing and lowmanning more than almost every other entry in the series. the player is punished for failing to hit stat benchmarks, and that's really all of the substance that there is to this game. most maps lack side objectives or even multiple simple goals.

I find that a surprisingly large number of Celica's maps are pretty defensible, actually. The more I'm thinking about Alm's maps, the more I realize where this "encourages lowmanning" argument is coming from, in that Claire and Mathilda can basically run the game the second Warp becomes available. I'm going to withhold final judgement on that until I see how his lategame plays out, but Act 3 Alm is guilty of this to a degree. Even then, I'm still regularly finding use for Alm, Gray, Tobin, and Kliff along with the occasional Luthier and Clive. When you account for the fact that I'm using Faye and Silque (obviously), that brings us to 10/14 being useful more often than not. I'm at the start of Act 4, but it's possible that Delthea may be useful in some situations, so the number may in actuality be 11/14. No matter how you slice it, you'll still be using more of your units than a game such as Awakening if moving efficiently. I concede that Claire with some favoritism (it's even efficient to do so) can certainly trivialize some of Alm's maps, however.

Similarly with snowballing, if you're talking from the perspective of Alm's route, as I learned firsthand it's efficient to favor Claire early on because she makes the best use of early statboosters. For Act 1 this isn't offensive at all, because the rest of your army is still very much required to rout the enemy in a timely fashion. Claire more often than not is however able to break Act 3 with this level of favoritism and a forged Ridersbane. It's basically Caeda and her Wing Spear all over again, except Shadows of Valentia enemies (particularly Cavs) aren't nearly as difficult statistically as something you'd find on H5 Shadow Dragon. It's unfortunate, but with all the little things the designers did to tone down the Whitewings, they accidentally ended up breaking Claire somewhere along the way. Even with that said I think that Claire is still not the most abusive Top-Tier this series has seen by any stretch of the imagination.

Celica's Route on the whole however absolutely does not encourage lowmanning or snowballing. At worst, they encourage efficient EXP distribution which is in fact the mark of good game design, not the opposite. It is efficient to level Genny as much as possible on the earlygame enemies, because her lasting contributions more than make up for her initial shaky accuracy and relative frailty. It is efficient to train up Palla and Catria because they provide unique utility that no other unit can provide, similar to any other top-tier in any other FE title. In fact, I can't think of one FE title off the top of my head where the best move is to do anything but favor the characters who provide unique utility to some degree or another. Now, I'd agree that it's not good design to force the use of certain characters, but with 16 Units per route and 14 deployment slots for each route's lategame, they don't weigh against other characters as much as they might in other games since competition for deployment isn't as high. If you aren't literally one of the worst two characters on either respective route, you're getting deployed. Everyone, and I do mean everyone, is doing something on Celica's maps, with very little exception. I would say that 13/16 units on Celica's maps have been useful for the majority of their time on the team, and I would probably be bumping that to 14/16 had I made Atlas an Archer -> Sniper instead of another Mercenary.

Stat benchmarks are a bit trickier to nail down in this game compared to a traditional FE. On one hand, you have someone like Claire who probably wants a point or two of early strength to really kick her into overdrive in combination with the Lion Heads. On the other hand, Units who are not statistically likely to hit their class bases in key areas before promoting have a much better time than they would in a traditional title. Take Leon, for example, who is very unlikely to hit 16 Str by the time he becomes a Horseman. He benefits greatly from the system as is, in a way that isn't possible in other titles. In this way, getting screwed in a certain stat has less impact on the longterm, while still allowing characters to be blessed in other areas and leaving the short term implications of stat blessing/screwage at roughly the same level as any other title.

Did you have a specific example in mind for an unfair/brutally tough benchmark to hit?  I know that personal experience means nothing, but I've rarely come across any situations where I said to myself "I wish Unit X had one more point of Y stat so I can do Z strategy" and would be shocked to find a situation where the benchmarks are more strict, or even simply as strict as FE12 Lunatic. If a strategy relies on a unit being far ahead of their average at a given time with no statboosters in play, then it's not really fair to call that a reliable strategy. 

Lack of side objectives is a legitimate thing to dislike, but it is one that doesn't come without a bit of personal preference. Echoes is a much, much more combat-centric game than many if not all others in the series, and on that I think we could agree. It is true that for the most part, you won't be scrambling to save characters, recruit enemies, or grab treasures on the battlefield. It does happen occasionally, but not to the extent of standard FE for sure. If a map doesn't have as many side objectives as a standard FE, but does a good job of highlighting all the unique mechanics of Echoes in a way that encourages thought, places emphasis on things that make the combat good in this title, and doesn't overstay it's welcome, is it fair to call that a bad map though? I would argue that no, it is not. As the saying goes, you can't judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree. Echoes maps are certainly different than other maps in the series, but ultimately what it comes down to is how they work in Echoes, and not how they may stack up against other titles. 

 

 

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I have loved every damn fortress map in the game. These maps are designed to funnel your dudes through a choke point and beat the shit out of them. Got low defense units? The main force will destroy them. Try to fly over it? Archers. Thought your Soldier/Knight/Baron would be great for the chokepoint? Arcanist. It's great. And when you get to play the defender, you get to do that kind of thing right back, it's so satisfying.

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alm's route: gray, clair, mathilda favoritism feat. silque and faye grinding (later tatiana)

celica's route: saber, palla, catria favoritism feat. genny grinding; maybe add a second dread fighter (later conrad)

there's specific benchmarks that i remember such as mathilda ORKOing rudolf or palla/catria ORKOing mogalls, but the overall point is that the game becomes substantially easier if you hit those stat benchmarks. the difference between ORKOing and not ORKOing is massive. your combat becomes at least twice as efficient, you can progress through the map more quickly, plus if you fail to ORKO, stragglers have to be picked off due to ridiculously unnecessary retreat AI.

most of the gameplay issues that players have with this game can be resolved by having units who can ORKO everything. chokepoints that take forever to plow through are no longer a big deal. unending waves of terrors don't matter if they all die in one round. enemies can't retreat to a healing point if they're already dead. but if you have units who can ORKO everything, then it's obvious that there is no substance to this game.

1 hour ago, Deltre said:

If a map doesn't have as many side objectives as a standard FE, but does a good job of highlighting all the unique mechanics of Echoes in a way that encourages thought, places emphasis on things that make the combat good in this title, and doesn't overstay it's welcome, is it fair to call that a bad map though?

yeah, it's a bad map. let's call a spade a spade. SoV's mechanics don't prevent good map design from existing.

Edited by dondon151

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2 hours ago, Deltre said:

I read your entire post, and I particularly agree with the points about Gaiden/Echoes incorporating far more RPG elements than standard FE. It's a large reason why I feel that combat is so heavily emphasized in this game, perhaps more than any other Fire Emblem title. It's also a large part of the reason that many of these maps are over in a flash, which I honestly feel is a good thing given the overall design of the game. 

1) I disagree that there is no strategy to be had in some of the storyline battles that feature more open terrain, but I don't really have much to say in defense of grinding maps/dungeon maps. Part of the issue is that you're required to play through certain grinding maps at least once in order to progress. I wish the enemy formations were unique during the first encounter, but sadly they are not. I will say that technically you don't ever have to fight any enemies in dungeons though, other than one Dracozombie encounter. In terms of grinding for experience though, the maps being so simplistic is actually somewhat of a strength. It's essentially the games version of a random battle from more traditional RPGs. They're short, and over quickly similar to how most trash mobs in other games tend to be.

2) This is fair. Act 2 is by far the worst offender and I won't try to mask that. The 5 or so boat maps could have been consolidated to three (first one, Valbar mission, and the Cantor) and the game would have benefited hugely in terms of pacing, and keeping things fresh. It is worth mentioning that later on some of the maps that originally felt pretty samey in OG Gaiden now have some noticeable redesigns that keep it feeling new.

3) I disagree wholeheartedly on this point. I originally dreaded these guys in OG Gaiden, but with the cleaner interface of SoV I now understand their purpose. They make for high priority targets and encourage long-term thinking when approaching these situations, especially in terms of how to utilize Genny, your one and only long distance healer. You have to juggle your actions carefully in order to keep things moving, because especially early on, if you need to use Expel you need to make sure that your frontliners are going to survive long enough to get healed. Leon really messes with Cantors since he won't get countered, and does a fine job of leaving them injured enough that someone else can safely get the kill. The Whitewings can all get there relatively fast, but will likely need some help to make things safe. Mae can destroy them late game, with her effective 9 Attack Range, though you'll need to get within 8 tiles to really smack them. Dread Fighters take next to no damage from them, and with the Blessed Sword/High Powered Forge can cut through their monsters. And let's not forget, killing the Cantor immediately banishes ALL their summoned monsters. I think that given the tools you have, Cantors are fair.

4) I'm not going to say anything definite on this one until I clear the game, but I can confidently say that this hasn't been my experience thus far, and not one time have I done this on Celica's route. The closest thing I've done to what you're describing is the way I handled Deen's map.

I'm not and haven't been from the beginning arguing that the game is perfect; it's absolutely not. No game is truly perfect imo. I believe the maps in SoV to range from average at worst (with Wolf's Fort being outright bad admittedly) to great at their best, with the majority of the maps falling in the "good" category.  But to hear others tell it, you'd think the maps were all somehow, impossibly, worse than Revelation. It's that kind of thinking that I disagree with, and the reason I made this topic to begin with. From the beginning I've also conceded that I think Alm's maps are overall weaker, and the more I play of Celica's route, the less I think that I will change my opinion on that. And none of the "worst maps" this game has to offer are even half as intrusive as the worst maps in other FE titles. Take FE6 Chapter 8 for example. That Chapter by itself is designed more poorly than anything SoV has to offer, and it's arguably not even the worst chapter in that game. It doesn't have strong enemies, summoners, disadvantageous terrain, or anything, it's just flat out poorly designed.

 

Keep in mind that this is based on Gaiden; I've barely sunk my teeth into Echoes:

1) I don't think the wide open maps have no strategy, but that there's little strategy.

The wide open maps, to me, come down to one of two things:

a) Run your tanky melee units forward to intercept the enemies before they reach your more fragile units and suck them into combat with my most powerful units while my more fragile units just hang back till most of the enemies are cleared out

or

b) Arrange my units in a kind of arrow formation that exposes my more durable units while protecting the weaker ones.

There's not much choice as the enemies are rushing at you. I appreciated it the first one or two times, figuring out the best formation to deal with the oncoming charge, afterwards it just gets stale.

2) The boat maps are definitely a part of. Alm's route on the other hand re-uses 3 or so of the wide open maps a couple times.

As for redesigns... I'm only still in chapter 1 of Echoes so I'll see.

3) I found summoners to be annoying and frustrating, and that they bog things down too much. They're not necessarily difficult, just slow to deal with.

You do get methods to deal with them later on in the game. But until then, you've already faced a few without these methods that take a ridiculously long time (the boat one, Mila temple, Greise's fortress, Desaix's fortress, even the Dead Swamp - or at least for me, I didn't have Expel or promoted the whitewings until after that). Yes, the summons disappear when you defeat them, but rushing them isn't really possible until later on. Yes, you get Expel, Whitewings, Warp (though that often doesn't really work and can leave the unit you warp in to take out the summoner to die) so it gets easier.

But before that... you don't really have means to rush them. And they tend to be on forts so they have a high dodge rate and healing. And they tend to do a lot of magic damage, and have high resistance, so your mages can barely scratch them and your physical units take a ton of damage. So it just takes a long time to take them out if your units keep missing and you can't one-turn them when you get close.

One of the safer ways I found to deal with them is to summon your own illusions to deal with their summons. But that takes forever...

And once you do get the tools to deal with them... they become trivial. They go from being this annoying enemy that takes forever to get to and makes the battles so unnecessarily long... to one that then becomes rather easy to take out. In the former case, they just take up a lot of time but are more tedious than difficult in the end, in the latter, they're just straight up easy to defeat.

4) There's plenty of chokepoint maps early on. The boat maps, a couple alm maps that have a river and 1 bridge, Castle Zofia, Desaix's fortress... And they tend to be rather simple ones too. Desaix's fortress is made more interesting by the hostage situation, the summoner, the 3 forts that Desaix and his knights can retreat to heal to, and the wizard in the corner, I actually liked that map and the ton of different features it has,... but it still ultimately comes down to a chokepoint hold.

If anything, Alm's route mainly seems to alternate between wide open squares and small chokepoints.

 

---

But let's take a step back to a perhaps more fundamental question:

How do we evaluate map design?

I'd look at the following things: Is the map fun to play? Does the map challenge me? Does the map make think?

The wide open maps tend to lack challenge and fun, even if does take a bit of thought to figure out a good formation to deal with the oncoming units.

The chokepoint maps tend to lack challenge.
The summoner maps just aren't fun, I find them frustrating and annoying more than anything.

And then the game re-uses maps that have these issues.

All that being said, I rather like Gaiden overall. But it definitely has some very noticeable map design issues.There's a lot of maps that either aren't fun, or provide little to no intellectual stimulation.

There are promising maps. There are interesting features. You go over some of these in your initial post.

It's just that a lot of people I think are really turned away by the lows, more so than they appreciate and enjoy the highs. I don't mind a lot of the weaknesses in Gaiden's maps too much. I probably like Gaiden and it's map design more than most.

But I can understand why a lot of people might not like it.

We can circle back to the RPG vs Strategy question. If the focus is more on the battles and fighting rather than strategy and thought and planning, perhaps this becomes more forgivable. These maps aren't puzzles to solve and stretch your strategic thinking like, say, Conquest Lunatic offers. They're just spatial expressions of RPG battles. Rather than fighting through just selecting options from menus like FF and DQ games of the era would have you do, you have the added dimension of movement and terrain. At which point it becomes more understandable.

Still, after Lunatic Conquest, which I played blind without trying the lower difficulties, it really pushed me and made me think and strategize and try things and observe and learn and make mistakes and improve my strategy until I had something that worked... it was very rewarding and satisfying and it really challenged my thinking. So playing Gaiden after I played Conquest, the maps and strategy feel a bit... hollow compared to that.

It's just that being accustomed the games released in North America, we're more used to it being a strategy game with RPG elements than an RPG with strategy elements. So the lens through which we look at the game can drastically change our view of how we analyze its design.

 

Edited by Xaos Steel Wing

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8 hours ago, Deltre said:

The map design in Shadows of Valentia is decidedly better than Gaiden for a lot of subtle reasons that all accumulate into a better gameplay experience. Enemies are shifted around a bit to make the maps flow more smoothly at times, starting positions are reworked to remove "dead turns". I've noticed that on Alm's maps, battles that were originally very open with few enemies have now had entire groups of enemies added to make the fight play out more naturally, removing a lot of the waiting that Gaiden is known for. Enemies have overall higher stats (nothing crazy like Awakening, but enough to make them threatening) and now frequently have proper weaponry. It may not seem like much on paper, but in actuality these changes go a long way.

That's actually pretty interesting. If I'm not mistaken, I think they did the exact same thing in both Fire Emblem Shadow Dragon and New Mystery of the emblem and from my expirience playing those games, it definetly made the good elements of the map design (multiple pathways, strong anti-turtling incentives, emphasis on unit positioning) stand out more than in the original games.

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Up til now, I didn't mind alot of the map design, even with the few occasions you could guard a choke and win... but...

I finally got to doing Act 4 on Celica's side.

Yeah... that's not a fun map at all. Not even difficult. It's just one of those maps you look at and say 'I don't want to deal with this today'.

-forced through a chokepoint

-the chokepoint is swamps that kill movement and drain HP

-two cantors summoning reinforcements every other turn

-an unholy amount of arcanists that hit with mire way more than half the time

Made worse by the fact you only have one possible saint with the AOE heal every turn, and possible expel on celica's side unless you get that villager item, and grind a bit.

Celica's first act 4 map is a cocktail of some of the worst, and most tedious mechanics and design the game had to offer so far. It's so bad, that aside from adding more enemies, and more damage, the only way I can think of this map being any worse is changing the ground to tiles on the other side to give arcanists free avoid they don't deserve.

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See my comments here (https://www.reddit.com/r/fireemblem/comments/6cthi6/tearring_saga_a_better_fe_gaiden_remake/dhxe5qs/?context=3) for some of my opinions on the few Shadows of Valentia maps you bring up, though this context has been mostly written in the context of some Tear Ring Saga's map designs and how it compares to Gaiden's.

I want to elaborate on two points, in particular, though.

1. I can see how there are design merits to some of the better maps in Gaiden/SoV. There are enough things going on maps like Grieth's Fort and Duma's Gate to merely dismiss it as Gaiden Design / 10, and I find your take on Deen's map quite refreshing. Even the more seemingly mundane maps sometimes show some design considerations. For example, Southern Zofia 1 with the soldiers on your top and the cavalier(s) approaching the top left corner encourage the player to be quick in taking out the soldiers to free up time and positioning to deal with the incoming cavaliers, and thus demonstrate a sort of a natural tempo to it. I maintain that things like these are of a very elementary kind of design considerations compared to the strategic standards one can expect of the rest of the FE franchise or the Kaga Sagas, but it's something that I think can be appreciated nonetheless.

But at the end of the day, I hesitate to call the ones you bring up good maps, and I'm going to point out the +20 Avoid Tiles and and Enemy Randomness (Witch AI, Upheaval, # of summons, etc.) in these maps. Now at this point you might shake your head around at this and ask, "Hang on, I've already conceded to these being an issue." But I think there's a bit more to this criticism, and in fact a rather serious point at that. You applauded the map design on Grieth's Fort and Duma's Gate for encouraging player agency and quick play and putting thought into noticing terrain considerations, and I can see your point. The problem, though, is that the flaws in these maps like the floor tiles or witch AI are self-defeating to the merits that these select Gaiden/SoV maps have to offer. It's not simply a pro/con situation, where it's merely just a, 'Hey it's good that there's design considerations in these, but it plays badly due to shaky hit rates.' The problem is that the pros and cons pulls the game apart in opposite directions: the map design intricacies encourages the player to be wary of positioning and play fast, while the game mechanics that boosts randomness make playing fast unreliable or at least inconsistent. It's this ongoing series of self-defeating incentives that prevent me from concluding that the end result is good design. (This is probably why I prefer Sluice Gate the most out of your examples: there's something to it without an overabundance of the the 'Gaiden hazards' that work against it)

I get that Support bonuses and Mila's Turnwheel help mitigate these RN-reliant issues a bit. But I'm don't think either are quite satisfactory resolutions. If you look into the new late-game dungeons there's a greater frequency of +20 floor tiles, which seem to be IntSys' way of saying, 'are your hit rates OK now after support bonuses and forges? Well, screw you, now we're just going to pull hit rates back low to make the game still sharp' and I can't really stomach this. Also, while Mila's Turnwheel is a neat mechanic, I can't help but notice that the way the Turnwheel is used in this game is often to patch up rather sketchy game design elements like low hit rates or higher crit chance in place of those flaws being directly addressed to begin with.

2. There's something that the remake subtly plays around with numbers from the original. From observation it seems like

  • Hard Mode features a few enemies with higher levels, and thus correspondingly higher stats
  • Enemies have higher growths in stats with levels overall
  • Growths for player units are higher overall

and I don't like what it does to the game.

In the first half of the game, Ch. 1 prior to the Lightning Sword and Ch. 2 prior to Sea Shrine plays extremely unsharply. Fire Emblem is most fun when you deal a lot of damage to the enemies while enemies are threatening to your units: it is due to this sharpness that each positioning/combat decision holds high strategic weight. However Gaiden wasn't really a sharp game to begin with, and the changes to SoV HM make early game even less sharp in a purely numerical standpoint. If you look at Alm/Lukas/Merc Gray Atk bases (9/10/9 Attack) and compare them soldier stats in Southern Fortress (6 or 7 Defense), the map right before the Lightning Sword, those soldiers are anywhere from like 2~8RKOed, depending on the 1-4 more points of Atk that one can expect due to stat gains from level-ups or the Iron Sword (I compiled HM SoV stats here: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/127Wg_koXrAD-l7XI-Dz81twj77Uoo_kCv-b-PKXEQDo/edit#gid=558146882): There is a point in the game, especially early on, where enemy defense values are very close to to player unit Attack values, so there's not much damage dealing going on, though admittedly things change very quickly with player units gaining one or two points making a HUGE difference (Defense is very non-linear stat!!). Conversely the enemies don't do much damage to your units either, and this lack of sharpness is noticeable to the point that it makes the maps slower for quite a while (and thus the point that map design isn't just map geometry and enemy layout, it's also the nitty gritty details of numbers as well). So the problem is that in Hard Mode enemy bases and growths unilaterally and rather evenly across all stats, instead of those focusing on offensive stats (Atk) compared to the base OG Gaiden, which wasn't very sharp to begin with, coupled with the fact that the game buffs enemy levels (and subsequently enemy base stats) on top of growths while it only buffs player unit growths makes the early game damage dealing to enemies quite slow slow. As a result the early sections of the game plays like a slog, even with the UI improvements with SoV, even with some of those maps being rather clever with positioning. This is also a thing in Ch. 3 Celica, especially in the desert maps where enemy stats are considerably high in speed and defense(Deen/Grieth), or given annoying equipment, particularly shields, for no apparent reason or positioning considerations (Wolf/Sonya). It is also along these lines that I think maps like say, Grieth's Fort, can be a slog to play for many players, despite some of its clever considerations with positioning and terrain.

As you progress throughout the game you get to Ch. 3, and then you get to villages where you can forge your weapons, fairly strongly as well after an initial foodstuff / alcohol selling spree. Also steadily higher growths start to kick in, and especially after final promo the game turns into that of meeting ORKO stat-benchmarks from the momentum of growths and forging. Alm route mostly features open maps and homogeneous enemy composition: for instance the dominance of cavs make it prone to curvestomping with Clair/Mathilda/1st Villager->Cav with the Ridersbane, or in maps with Arcanists, with Steel/Silver Lance forges. This gives them room to get stats, reach promo, and become even better with growths with positive feedback to the point where they start becoming self-sufficient on the battlefield. On Celica route, DF and Falconknight promotion turns Ch. 4 Celica route into one of Palla/Catria dominating the air with a Blessed Lance or Silver Lance forge with Terrors suiciding onto them while the Dread Fighters are the only units that get anywhere across the swamp, with Genny using Physic from across most of the time. In the slightly better maps in Ch. 4 maybe there will also be Leon with bow chip or Celica/Mae with Magic Ring but overall the method of approach remains the same. By Ch. 4 in both routes high mobility combat units dominating after reaching ORKO benchmarks become very real. To an extent these kind of balancing issues exist in most FE titles, but the combat-focused nature of SoV only highlights it more. The few bits of uses other units get come from those with varied enemy composition with different attack ranges per class and distinct stat builds, but while this does encourage using more units and player phase agency, it also makes the prolongs the game by a long margin: a bit like what you get when a hack adds too many enemies with javelins. I guess the one good thing to come out of this balancing is probably the intricacies that have to do with optimal coin distribution for forging, coupled with Alm<->Celica route convoy trade adding an element of resource management in this game... but it doesn't do much to the gameplay experience in the actual maps themselves, except for maybe things being a bit faster when your units one-round with the forges you craft with those considerations. 

[TL:DR] The few better Gaiden maps do have a low-key natural tempo and design to them that encourage player agency and quick play, but they are either very elementary (the appreciation of which are more or less personal preference to its simplicity), or marred by 'Gaiden Hazards' such as shaky hit rates and high randomness/inconsistent game mechanics (witches, upheaval, etc.) which make quick play as encouraged by some of those clever moments of map design unreliable. Turnwheel is relief, but it creates a dynamic where randomness is either to be endured head-on (which is frustrating) or trivialised by the turnwheel (which is cheesy) because the fundamental flaws have not been directly addressed but rather attempted to be covered-up by additional features. Also, with low damage output on both player's and enemy's end early on and stomping with mostly units that ORKO later on with growths and forges, the gameplay becomes either a slog or a curvestomp due to the numerical changes affecting balance, and so even the ones with clever positioning / pace considerations don't really stand out as being good in the end.

 

Edited by Aggro Incarnate

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On 5/22/2017 at 10:12 PM, dondon151 said:

alm's route: gray, clair, mathilda favoritism feat. silque and faye grinding (later tatiana)

celica's route: saber, palla, catria favoritism feat. genny grinding; maybe add a second dread fighter (later conrad)

there's specific benchmarks that i remember such as mathilda ORKOing rudolf or palla/catria ORKOing mogalls, but the overall point is that the game becomes substantially easier if you hit those stat benchmarks. the difference between ORKOing and not ORKOing is massive. your combat becomes at least twice as efficient, you can progress through the map more quickly, plus if you fail to ORKO, stragglers have to be picked off due to ridiculously unnecessary retreat AI.

most of the gameplay issues that players have with this game can be resolved by having units who can ORKO everything. chokepoints that take forever to plow through are no longer a big deal. unending waves of terrors don't matter if they all die in one round. enemies can't retreat to a healing point if they're already dead. but if you have units who can ORKO everything, then it's obvious that there is no substance to this game.

yeah, it's a bad map. let's call a spade a spade. SoV's mechanics don't prevent good map design from existing.

Here's the issue I have with that though. Boiling down the gameplay to nothing but the most powerful characters is disingenuous. It would be like if I took FE1/3/5 and said that they come down to Rena/Safy warpskip, with some favoritism to [bosskiller of choice probs Asvel] and called it a day. We both know that there's so much more going on there than that. To say anything else kills the possibility of examining the merits that Shadows of Valentia actually brings, and how the changes from Gaiden make it more than just a new paintjob. It's also worth mentioning that the top-tiers in this game are very tame, but fulfill an important role all the same. All the top tiers in this game can do one thing very well: Map Control. Unlike in other games where top-tiers trivialize entire levels at their leisure, the top tiers in this game never really do more than help you get your foot in the door. It's almost, dare I say, kind of balanced.

Lowmanning in this game is actually a direct detriment to you more so than in any other Fire Emblem title. The class system is rigid with each classes filling a roll that the game expects you to have an answer for. Even in an efficient run, it's actually a much better idea to feed Tobin/Python/Leon/Archer!Atlas a bone every once in a while than it would be to not do so. In fact, making Atlas in Archer is itself a nice bit of strategy actually. It's a long term investment, and he'd be really nice to have around since he's strong as hell and doubles Mire Mages forever, not to mention he makes the Cantors that summon Gargoyles a lot more reliable simply by existing. The game favors the long term a lot more, and punishes poor team composition pretty severely. For example, those retreating enemies that people hate? Snipers have an effective area of influence that covers 10 tiles in multiple directions. That is a greater range than any enemy, bar a Witch can move in a single turn. Being able to easily pick these enemies off as needed allows your front-liners to keep moving, and prevents you from being forced to play clean up with more valuable units. Because their range is so huge, they can easily catch up to your fastest units immediately in most situations, and will never be out of range of slower moving characters. 

The bonus EXP system makes this very easy to do so as well, and encourages you to use more player units than you are suggesting due to its very design. I admit that long term planning isn't something that everyone enjoys, but this game actually has a surprising amount of things to consider at any given time. How quickly do I want X character to promote? Who should have which item and when? If I need to get an item to a certain character on a certain turn for a specific task, how can I make that happen without losing an action? How should I use the traders? Which weapons are most valuable to forge (without grinding)? How can I get X character to Y location by turn Z despite unfavorable terrain and/or enemy match-up reliably? Even Deen vs Sonia is a long term choice. Many of these elements are present in other FE titles as well, of course, but in SoV they're all heavily emphasized and far more punishing than in other games within the series. What makes this okay in my opinion is that the very mechanics of the game encourage you to think about these things constantly, and if you properly utilize the BEXP system, you can have at least one unit for any given role at all times thanks to the very well defined classes. It's on the player themselves to make sure this role is filled, while still maximizing EXP for other units.

The game is designed around its mechanics, but lowmanning screws you hard to the point that it feels luck based. Because yeah, at that point it is. You're expected to use a wide variety of units, and unless you do nothing will seem reliable. With the exception of Jesse (who is entirely redundant) and Valbar, who the late game is very unkind to, everyone finds use on Celica's team. The same can be said for Alm. My Berkut 2 strategy requires Delthea/Luthier/Kliff to do a lot of the heavy lifting for example. Hell, it involves using an untrained Forsyth for something only he can do. My level 6 archer Python gets crucial combat use (unless I get lucky crits) while still being able to execute some important trade shenanigans that let Alm and Luthier survive turn 3 so the map can end in 4 Turns. As an aside, itemplay can be pretty fun in this game, thanks to the unique nature of their properties. Boey may yet make it to Sage by the time I beat the game, despite rarely never favoring him with kills unless mandatory. This leads me to another point against lowmanning: Units in this game are rarely, if ever, actively harmful to deploy. They are on the field for essentially free. Have them do something. If you aren't, for the most part it's usually not bad design to blame. It's poor planning.

I looked at some of the benchmarks you'd be likely to want on some of your units relevant to where I'm at in the story. Keep in mind, I'm at the start of Alm Act 4.

In order to OHKO Berkut's Cavaliers for a 4 turn, Claire needs a Strength of 16 and a Max Forge Ridersbane. On average, with the 3 Lions Heads she will hit that at 12/3, with plenty of time to get there. She's probably more like 12/4 or 12/5 by this point as well, given the amount of things she does in Act 3. It's kind of irrelevant before this point since she's either carried by the Ridersbane's +9 or needs a crit for a fast clear anyways (Act 3 Fin comes to mind). Another one more relevant to all the Cantors/Terrors that Celica has to face. The Gargoyles summoned on the Duma's Gate chapter have 15 AS. On Average, Palla never doubles and Catria will have enough by 12/2 to ORKO with a forged Iron Lance. Again, 12/2 doesn't seem like an unreasonable benchmark, but let's say that for whatever reason, she's not there. Mine was at that mark (17 speed in fact), but I foolishly chose not to do anything with the Iron Lance, so effectively she couldn't double with any weapon. What actually happens in this case, and do you lose time because of it? 

No, you actually don't unless you get screwed HARD by the RNG (I.E The Cantor gets 8 summons and you whiff every one with Expel Terrors). Realistically what happens is that the Terrors closest to you weaken themselves on EP. You'll probably throw out an Expel at this point since it's relatively risk free, and Genny doesn't need to heal this turn. Leon, Est, and Saber have nothing to do this turn besides re-position. Catria is likely injured from drawing the Knight Terror to the wall so that Mae can blow him up, so she's available to play some keep away with the Javelin as well. Since flight is so great in this title you don't lose out on a lot of positioning ever really, and nothing is lost in this case. You'd probably want her to hang back a bit anyways, since Nomah has caught up around now to throw out heals on the back line. Anyways, that's 4 Gargoyles right there, keeping in mind the intent to keep things moving. If there's a fifth, Kamui/Deen (potentially room to handle a 6th if you used both Deen and Kamui) can get another kill too, and there's room to make up the time later with some improvisation. In hyper efficient play, let's say you can deal with 4 Gargoyles since Est isn't FK yet (mine barely made it, and I'm playing a bit more casually) and you probably won't use 3 Dread Fighters. If you can't deal with that many enemies in a single turn, that's not bad design. That's bad luck. Or poor planning. But this scenario is so heavily stacked in favor of the player. There's no more luck to this whole situation than there is to an enemy phase where a player needs to dodge 1-2 of several 50% attacks, or something similar. It's simple risk/reward really, as is present in every Fire Emblem. You're risking the fact that your units should be able to clear through Terrors in such a way that won't slow you down, and the reward is a fast clear. Also similar to other FE's is the fact that this Risk/Reward system is usually skewed heavily in favor of the player.

Perhaps the benchmarks become unreasonable late-game (can't really say) but for now, they really aren't unreasonable at all. Even more so if you're just playing casually, so it's great for people who want to do that as well. Certainly much better than something like FE12 Lunatic, where missing out on benchmarks may well be the end of your run (even on a "casual" Lunatic run).

And no, not having often times frivolous side objectives does not automatically make a map worse. In fact, many side objectives are often skipped over in efficient play (many treasures for example), or outright detrimental to the design of a map in the case of recruiting Machis in FE12, or being forced to move Marth and only Marth to certain far off villages in FE11/12. In other cases, they are so trivial to complete that they may as well not be in the game at all in terms of a strategy standpoint (click X Staff, use X Staff). Some are thought provoking, granted (such as keeping Douglas alive in FE6, and really everything to do with Xavier in FE5), but many truly aren't and to pretend that they are is false and disingenuous. The combat in this game is engaging enough that it doesn't need to draw focus away from that as often as other FE titles do, and when it does it works well (in the cases of Delthea and Valbar's maps). Determining how to take a tough enemy formation can be just as thoughtful as many of these side objectives are in reality, thanks to the mechanics of this particular game.

11 hours ago, Aggro Incarnate said:

 

I haven't read through that entire thread at this point, but that post and this write-up are some pretty interesting perspectives. Needless to say, I disagree with Mogall Hell being better than Cantors in SoV for the simple fact that Cantors are far less intrusive. It is true that they serve as obstacles and not as the goal of the map, but the fact is that the terrain is so punishing that by the time you actually reach the Arch Mogall, there's dozens of Mogalls in the immediate area. Not to mention, the randomness involved in which those newly created mogalls may decide to divide again and create even more mogalls. Strangely, it's actually good when they do divide though, because TRS requires stats as well. Since the mogalls lower their own HP to divide, it does help a bit in the sense that most of your units won't double, but all the same, if you aren't ORKOing them, the map drags on quite a bit. Their speed is enough that few characters can 100% reliably land a hit, and Holmes has better things to do since he's one of 3 potential characters that can actually open a chest. The map is a Holmes/Vega/Shigen/Xeno/Raquel stomp, with other characters struggling to find combat purpose. Xeno may not even be good enough to fulfill his purpose, since he's quite dependent on his first few levels, and very guilty of potentially snowballing himself. Vega, Shigen, Lionel, and of course Narron are all incredibly guilty as well, off the top of my head. Throw in Juni (and Maerchen in hyper efficient play) strictly to grab chests and that's really it. Note that I didn't get Lionel, so I imagine you would swap Xeno for him if you were to try and optimize this. That's not even to mention the fact that, at the end of the day, I could solo/near solo the final map of TRS with dozens of different characters if I wanted to because the balance is so out of whack, Final Boss not withstanding of course. Statistically, you could kill him too if the game would let you. And this is coming from the perspective of someone who loves TRS.

It is true that the design of indoor maps in TRS and other games with dismount curb the ability for a mount stomp, but I could just as well argue that SoV does it's own things to prevent that from happening. For example, the mounts in SoV are actually well balanced. Mathilda has no defense and middling speed, Palla has middling speed and no resistance, Catria is frail, Est is forever playing catch-up. Conrad is statistically a bit better off, but the actual map design keeps him in check for the most part. The only really suspect one is Clair, but even she is mortal and there's only one of her and on the route where there's only one other particularly useful combat mount. It also drains almost all of your Lion Heads and other resources to get her there. Any unit in the game would be good if favored as heavily as Claire needs to be, in fact. She just happens to give you the most bang for your buck. And Clive, while nothing special without some luck, can still fulfill the purpose of a high movement unit in this game (map control) in a satisfactory way. There are no Narrons, Titanias, Seths or Marcias to be found in this game. 

For the first point on your post over here, I do openly admit that castle tiles were a poor thing to keep, but I maintain that it's only particularly obnoxious in the early game. Forges and Arts help you secure kills even when facing such terrain. Supports build naturally in a way that allows the gameplay to keep moving forward, though not every support builds hit%, and they won't always be in play. Celica's team is mostly comprised of Mages and accurate swordsmen in the early game, so the tiles largely benefit your own units as much as the enemy. Additionally, she never faces them until Act 3, when forges and such are available. You only have to deal with them once on Alm's route before forges, but I admit the map is weaker for it.

Witch AI can be manipulated to either A) always do the same thing or B) warp in such a way that it doesn't matter if you knew exactly where they would go because you had a pretty good idea and multiple options that don't affect the long term approach to a battle. First and foremost, they will almost always attack someone in range before trying to warp. I was able to take advantage of this on Duma's Gate by giving them a target in Est, while Sonia moved in to start 1v1ing the group in the forest by Turn 2. But let's say they do warp. They have a strong tendency to attack your back lines, more than anything else I've noticed. It didn't really matter who was there either. On Grieth's map, the Witches always teleported to attack Atlas and Jesse who were bringing up the rear, and will never gang up on a unit that doesn't fall within their natural attack range. Similarly on Duma's Gate, the only Witch that did teleport still only attacked the back lines, this time brought up by Nomah. While the exact tile they attack from can't always be guaranteed, the impact on strategy is overall minimal and will never affect the long term. It can be manipulated for reliability, we can't assume that SoV functions the same as Gaiden in this regard because in many ways it does not. It's really not any more intrusive than it is in TRS (I'd say even less so because these Witches are in fact quite predictable) and it's certainly not as bad as dealing with Renee. I've already mentioned why Cantors aren't actually as bad as they are on paper above, but I concede that Upheaval is sort of BS simply for the fact that sometimes the boss can use it a turn early which messes things up pretty badly. There's nothing inherently wrong with that for normal play, but it sucks for efficiency.

As for the early game issues you're describing, I'm unsure as to why you aren't factoring in a Mage somewhere into this equation. Most people naturally tend towards Kliff as an early game mage, but after having this discussion I'm thinking that secretly Tobin is the better mage. With his Base 6 speed, unlike Kliff he won't be getting doubled by enemies right off the bat. With one additional point, he can actually start to double the early game enemies that have only 3 SPD, and if given a point or two of the early game Speed Lions, he'd be quite valuable long term on paper. I found that there wasn't as much competition for the Speed Lion as you would think, so it's worth considering IMO. He also gets early Excalibur, to really boost his PP offense. His shaky skill then becomes irrelevant because magic and Excalibur is a very accurate attack. He does lose out on Thunder compared to Kliff, but his significantly better early game and potential for late game physic makes up for that, I should imagine. Regardless of how you feel about investing in him for the long term, the game does expect you to consider party composition. And not having a mage when there are at least 2 viable early game options is not strong party composition. In the short term, bringing one along allows you to move much more quickly without having to wait for your growth units to start to shine. I think Kliff may have a calling as a Cavalier, but if you didn't want to invest in him long term, why not make him a mage as well? Suddenly those enemies aren't all that bulky, and better yet, Kliff + Tobin do such a good job of weakening enemies that almost anyone could pick up the kill. They'd also both be relatively free of RNG BS. I think that before we decide a game is good or bad, we should take a good hard look at the options the game gives to us, and their effects on both the short and long term.

I won't say that I don't wish Act 1 enemies had a bit more bite to them, but at least in terms of designing a game I can't say that it's inherently bad design. Not everyone has played Gaiden, and there are many new elements to acclimate yourself to. In terms of game design, I think it's a good choice that enemies aren't immediately overbearing, even if it does leave a more experienced player wanting for a little bit more. The early game is more a matter of "how quickly can I do this" rather than a matter of survival. Even then you do get glimpses of actual danger in the form of enemies like the Mercenary with the shield, Desaix 1, etc.

Now I can't really speak much on Sonia's map (I killed Deen rip me), but I can at least say that the thought behind her having a shield is so that you don't gimp her. Now I actually quite like the fact that enemies are properly outfitted as compared to Gaiden, and I even more so like the fact that for once in a Fire Emblem game I'm actually in danger of being doubled. This increases the value of classes that are typically irredeemable in most FE games, such as Knights, since your other front liners will get picked to pieces very, very quickly. Shields are an option of course, but this compromises offense greatly. I also find Deen to be a fun boss, from a statistical standpoint, even if you don't agree with the map on which he appears. I actually think that Grieth's Fort is received more positively than you're giving it credit for too.

The combat focus does highlight a lot of what being a good front line unit is all about. Things like mobility, the ability to take a hit or two, and an offensive presence at the front of the battlefield are all traits needed by a front line unit, and at least 2 out of 3 are needed to not immediately become terrible. Take Clive for example: his offense is pretty lacking, but he can take a hit and get there fast. Therefore, he's at least average. In every single Fire Emblem game since the first, it's the units who combine all three of these attributes into one who are the best combat units, with no exception. To name a few off the top of my head, Seth, FE7!Marcus, FE9!Titania and Marcia, Miledy, and Percival. The difference between these high mobility combat units and the ones you get in this game, is that all of the above mentioned units can bench press their respective games, and they can do it from the word "go." No one in SoV is soloing, ever. 

Keep in mind I've only beaten Celica Act 4 and started to work on Alm, but I don't find myself hurting for ORKOs in order to keep the pace going. I hate to go back to this map again, but I guess it left an impact on me for highlighting a lot of the things that I like about this game, despite the unfortunate Upheaval mechanics.

On Duma's Gate, there's almost no emphasis placed on ORKOs at all. In fact, being able to do so outside of the Witches is statistically quite unlikely for the most part. Palla may be able to ORKO the Dark Mages (I honestly don't remember their stats off the top of my head), but they all appear in formations such that if she tries to do so with no foresight she will immediately get put down by the Knight Terrors and Fortify Dark Mages. The Lightning Sword Dread Fighter in the middle restricts her movement a bit as well, since he will double and play on her low resistance stat. Despite being a great unit, she's really doesn't ever want to take more than two hits, and sometimes she won't be able to take even that depending on the actions you take. Genny can't strictly be dedicated to healing Palla after all, since there's lots of things she would rather be doing on a given turn. Catria and Est have their own problems here as well, such as lack of power and durability. The Dread Fighters will double either of them easily, so that's a no go for both. Incidentally, Conrad isn't amazing on this map either, due to the terrain. He can still zip between lines quickly (as a high mobility unit should IMO), but the restricted corridors inside mean that you don't want him taking up valuable space as you move into the fort. 

I don't think that being able to ORKO the Gargoyles is a bad thing, and I pointed out above that they don't actively harm your strategy without significant amount of bad luck even should you fail to reach average benchmarks. Benchmarks which may I add, are quite forgiving to this point in the game. I think the fact that there are easily attainable countermeasures to Terrors is in fact good design. The game assures that there's never a shortage of ways to take them on, and much like the Mogals you sited in TRS 16, they are meant to be obstacles rather than the direct goal of the map. If that were not the case, then killing the Cantor would not expel all of his Terrors immediately.

I think that one thing that turns many off from Gaiden is the fact that it places more emphasis on tactics than other games in the series. A lot of the times in Fire Emblem, once you get a group of enemies into your range, that's it for them. The threat level of these enemies varies from game to game, but very rarely do you have to consider the possibility of enough of them surviving the turn to still pose an issue as you press onward. Contrast that with SoV where simply drawing a group of enemies does not automatically mean their defeat. Berkut 2 is a great example of this kind of gameplay in my opinion. You can aggro the armors on either side on Turn 1, but unless you've grinded like mad you can bet that they'll be around for a while. I'm just barely able to kill them along with the rest of the enemies by Turn 4, and it was not an easy process planning it out. The strategy on paper, without talking about the execution, is admittedly pretty simple: Claire gets warped to the north to handle the ponies on that side, Lukas/Kliff/Gray/Clive take the left, Alm/Faye/Silque/Python/Luthier/Mathilda/Forsyth, Delthea is immediately warped to the center to distract the mages, and Tobin works the middle picking off units and chipping the mages further still. It sounds simple enough, but then you have to actually execute this.

And damn if it's not hard. Damn if it doesn't take some brainpower to actually make this work in 4 Turns. Maybe I'm terrible at Fire Emblem and didn't realize, but to me, a map like this plays on all of the strengths of SoV very well. And there's a fair bit of strategy to be had as well, once you quit looking at the basics/theorycrafting, and actually get down to the execution. Very specific items have to be placed on specific characters, characters must be at specific locations at specific times to execute shield trade chains, benchmarks barring Claire (who is very likely to meet the needed 16 STR) don't matter much if at all since everything can be accomplished by characters that are at or close to base level for their class, so there's next to no luck involved. Your long term decisions of what classes you've chosen for your villagers comes back in a big way here, and doubly so depending on how much you actually bothered to train them up. Taking certain items from Celica can ease pressure, but that's only if you decided to do her route first. Even then, you're limited to just 3 (4 throughout the course of the game) and if you take an item that she needs then you'll have to give it back using up even more of your precious few trades. Similarly, your forges are actually quite limited in the long term if you aren't stopping to grind. Choosing when and where to forge these items, and deciding when/if you should trade in old gear to potentially tune up new gear is also worth consideration, since unlike other FE games you can't just buy another Iron Lance or whatever. These are all long term decisions that go into the strategy of a single map. And of course, deciding who is actually suited for the job is part of the strategy too.

SoV places more emphasis on the long term than other games, I find. For example, favoring Claire with as much exp as possible does wonders for her in the short term, and ensures that she'll be great in the long term. Conversely, if you favor Claire too much, you probably won't notice in the short term, but it will bite you in the ass in the long term when she's the only one that can get anything done. To make a comparison to chess, Claire and Palla are sort of like the Queen, Mathilda/Conrad are like Rooks, and so on. They dictate the flow of battle due to the versatility of their roles, yes, but it's really what you do with the other pieces that can make or break a game. All those other units that haven't been brought up for whatever reason have vital roles to fill as well. To ignore their part is to ignore a huge portion of the game entirely. Contrast that with almost every other Fire Emblem, where roles are frequently compressed into one single unit so tightly that even by midgame many units quickly fall into irrelevancy, or if used are only coming along for their mobility options. The combat units in these games are like Queens, but every time the enemy tries to take your Queen with anything other than another Queen, you just take their piece instead. 

I truly believe there to be a lot of untapped potential for strategies surrounding this game, even if it may not be precisely 1:1 with some of the stronger traditional FE titles. Where the difference lies, in my opinion, is 100% in execution. While it make take a lot of thought to plan out when and where exactly to use the Warp Staff to save the maximum number of turns, the reality is that executing that strategy is incredibly boring. There's no tactics involved whatsoever. Warpskips don't make for exciting and fun gameplay at all. In fact, half the time they seem to be aimed at mitigating some BS design or another that shouldn't have been that way to begin with. Gimping a boss on a Defeat Boss map is sometimes amusing, but depending on the map I wouldn't exactly call that groundbreaking either. Contrast that with my above example on Berkut 2, that while simple on paper is quite complex in it's execution. Every move counts, and even misplaying by one tile screws everything up.

 

 

TL;DR Traditional Fire Emblem is a SRPG with a tactical element to it. It was hard to tell with Gaiden, but SoV makes it clear that this is a Tactical RPG with (in my opinion many) SRPG elements to it. Judging SoV based solely on one element makes little sense when you consider that it's not like any other Fire Emblem game in the series. It would be like judging the rest of the series based on their merits of tactical gameplay (there is very little). You still get some silly things like Ridersbane being absolutely broken in Act 3, but overall for what this game sets out to do I think it succeeds surprisingly well, and does in fact make for good gameplay. 

 

 

 

 

Edited by Deltre

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40 minutes ago, Deltre said:

Here's the issue I have with that though. Boiling down the gameplay to nothing but the most powerful characters is disingenuous. It would be like if I took FE1/3/5 and said that they come down to Rena/Safy warpskip, with some favoritism to [bosskiller of choice probs Asvel] and called it a day. We both know that there's so much more going on there than that.

that's true for FE1/3/5. that's not true for SoV. if all you have to do 98% of the time is to beat every enemy on the map, then of course the game can be summarized as i just did.

i'm not going to waste my time addressing every error in that abomination of a post. i never once claimed that stat benchmarks were unreasonable, but you seem to agree with me that the barebones strategy in SoV primarily involves hitting stat benchmarks with specific weaponry. you can't cherrypick specific examples of bad side objectives and generalize all side objectives as being bad.

the mental gymnastics required to defend any supposed merit of SoV as a strategy game are boggling. you're looking into a kiddie pool thinking that it's 20 feet deep. when gwimpage (a pretty good player) finishes maps with the kill distribution skewed heavily to 3-4 units at best, that means it's just the same damn thing over and over again.

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4 hours ago, dondon151 said:

that's true for FE1/3/5. that's not true for SoV. if all you have to do 98% of the time is to beat every enemy on the map, then of course the game can be summarized as i just did.

i'm not going to waste my time addressing every error in that abomination of a post. i never once claimed that stat benchmarks were unreasonable, but you seem to agree with me that the barebones strategy in SoV primarily involves hitting stat benchmarks with specific weaponry. you can't cherrypick specific examples of bad side objectives and generalize all side objectives as being bad.

the mental gymnastics required to defend any supposed merit of SoV as a strategy game are boggling. you're looking into a kiddie pool thinking that it's 20 feet deep. when gwimpage (a pretty good player) finishes maps with the kill distribution skewed heavily to 3-4 units at best, that means it's just the same damn thing over and over again.

I never once said that. I said that benchmarks exist, as they do in every FE title. You're stating facts that exist in every Fire Emblem since the first. Every single one requires certain stats to kill certain enemies with certain weapons, bar none. I did not cherrypick points, doing so would suggest that I had no intention of addressing good side objectives, as I did. You're clearly only choosing to see the points that you would like to see. Have a discussion, or don't.

I haven't watched gwimpage's gameplay, so I can't really discuss that. I assume that he probably is good, but this game is too new and different to assume that it has been fully explored when not released even a week. Nor is it intended to be exactly the same as every other FE title. Provide examples or agree to disagree, but don't come in here acting like this when there's really no need. In fact, how can we even begin to truly discuss anything resembling efficient play when there's no metric? Are we talking no encounters? No dungeon items? Only chest items? Let alone accounting for Forges. Each of these things have direct impact on how the game is played. Even taking one extra battle skews the experience curve in significant ways.

Edited by Deltre

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TC, you make me want to play through on a new file so I can take a closer look at these maps from your perspective. I beat Echoes this morning and thoroughly enjoyed it, but found the map design to be by far the weakest aspect. Story, characters, mechanics, music, all of that is fantastic, but the map design really was grinding my gears. Now I'm looking forward to giving it a second, more deliberate look. I love seeing your perspective on this, lots of things I never thought about (I literally never used Invoke - mainly because I didn't like Summoners in Sacred Stones, but also because I was conscious about exp gains for my characters and wanting them to fight directly; and I never used Warp until like Act 4 because I was too obsessed with healing my units even from chip damage). So I can't really comment on the maps specifically until I take a second look at it all, but thanks for posting this. I saw the title and thought I was going to be in for a laugh at how dumb the topic was, but came away impressed at your thoughtfulness and tactical eye, and wanting to up my own game and ability to analyze these maps and situations. 

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@Deltre: The point I think @dondon151 is trying to make is that the game does not give you much incentive to use much strategy. There are multiple ways to play the game, but at the end of the day its entirely possible to solo the game with very few units. There is not much incentive to use fewer or more characters to complete mission goals.

Most all missions are rout the enemy and most do not contain secondary objectives you find in other games such as recruit units, prevent NPCs from dying to get promotion items, focusing on killing enemies to get particular drops when you might avoid them, required to reach chests or open doors before enemies, etc.

Some elements are there, but most all maps do not contain any strategic elements other than simply survive and rout the enemy. Which when you have that criteria for most maps the only incentives become to finish the map quickly and without much risk in consistent manners.

Dondon151's point is that finishing quickly and without risk is often best accomplished with few units. When you have many rout maps and nothing except route for most maps you really have no incentive to want to play slowly. Many units means you lack the combat power to reach KO potential for many enemies which slows down the game compared to simply picking a few units and just plowing through on enemy phase as everything dies to you.

In a way, this reminds me greatly of what one can do on Awakening after you reach chapter 12 and later. You gain access to Avatar and child which can both have access to buyable Nosferatu and you can attempt to just solo the game with 1-2 units. Lunatic I think did the same was well. 

Overall, the main question is if one can call FE15 maps good design? Well, due to the prior explanation I provided based off dondon151's responses it seems to me as if FE15 lacks diversity. I have to agree after playing through Act 5 that most all maps I ever played required very little thought. A few here or there had me doing things a bit differently, but overall it would be more enjoyable with more strategic variety. However, as people have said this is a FE2 remake which means its meant to preserve much of the original game.

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2 hours ago, Vorena said:

but at the end of the day its entirely possible to solo the game with very few units. There is not much incentive to use fewer or more characters to complete mission goals.

This is pretty much every FE.

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It was my opinion in Gaiden that the maps were either very bad or absolute genius, and it still holds true in Echoes. One of my favorite maps in the series is the Celica boat map with the single Cantor. It hypes the class up as this big threat in future maps, and damn does it do it's job well. I also agree with the sentiment that the maps feel very natural due to their lack of symmetry and their odd and seemingly random placement of terrain. The only thing really holding these maps back is their enemy placement, to be honest. Consider the infamous Alm route map with the 5 or 6 Cavaliers on this huge map. Now imagine the same map with your weak early-game party starting split up on either side and with a few more Cavaliers placed closer to your units. That would suddenly become a pretty well-designed, challenging map because there isn't really much to defend as it is so open and the enemies can move so far around your small groups.

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So I played entirely through Acts 1, 2, and 3, and about halfway through act 4 on normal mode and I do agree that the map design has improved substantially from Gaiden. Its not so much the maps themselves, but rather little nuances with the mechanics of the game that makes these maps more enjoyable. For Celica's route, in maps like Mila's temple and Grieth's foretress, units have been repositioned to start closer to the enemies, allowing the player to get into the action immediately rather than spending the first 3 turns moving units. Support bonuses makes unit positioning a lot more important for both Alm and celica's parties since characters like Faye get ridiculous bonuses from supports. The addition of several new weapons, forging, weapons skills and the aforementioned support bonuses makes combat with enemies less tedious since the player is able to defeat the enemy much more quickly. 

The changes to the dungeon maps are a mixed bag. Early dungeon maps are significantly better than their gaiden counterparts since they incorporate terrain and natural barriers like walls to make them more enjoyable. I like the changes that were made to the maps in fear mountain as well. However, from what I have seen, a lot of the unique maps present in chapter 5 are gone, which is a shame since I felt these maps were some of the games most creative. 

Some of the other changes this game introduced are a mixed bag as well. Warp and Expel no longer having infinite range do give these spells more strategy in determining where your clerics should be positioned, but still leads to some maps being more tedious. The changes to physique hardly makes a difference since the range of it is still huge. The changes made to Falcoknight's banish skill also doesn't makes a difference in their ability to slay monsters since they are still able to ORKO them due to their high speed stats. The archer's new anti flier skill would ideally help the game by preventing the falcoknights from soloing the castle maps, but unfortunately, most enemies in normal mode don't even have access to the skill.

All that being said, I would still say the changes made in this game improved the gaiden's map design greatly and does increase the strategy required by the player by a noticeable amount. 

Edited by FoxyGrandpa

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On 5/24/2017 at 8:13 PM, TadpoleSuperHero said:

 

I'm glad you feel that way! I won't, and never have said that the game doesn't have some dumb moments:

(Some early Act 3 Cav Map, for context)

Spoiler

M0rP5Kb.jpg

I do however think that there is significantly more thought put into many of these maps than people give credit for at a first glance.

On 5/24/2017 at 10:55 PM, Vorena said:

 

My problem with that reasoning is that, well, it's false. I'd be more than happy to admit that I'm wrong about this in the presence of actual, hard proof (be it numbers, or whatever), but all I have to go on from the arguments presented are theorycrafting and anecdotal evidence based on one playthrough, however good the player may be. I have a lot of respect for Dondon's gameplay and that hasn't changed, but the reality is that there hasn't been one single piece of hard evidence to suggest that lowmanning is 100% the way to go in this game, that the benchmarks for ORKO's are more strict than recent titles (FE12 especially), that forging/item passing is so simple they're all essentially "non-choices", etc. 

While some maps can definitely be trivialized by a select few (see above), many maps end with kill distributions similar to this (totals vary with enemy count, obviously): 

Spoiler

Fear Mountain:

rCQssdQ.jpg

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No strategy? No tactics? That's not even to mention the fact that Kill Distribution lists are already shaky evidence since they don't account for non-lethal action.  Again, I'm not grinding, the only optional battles fought have been dungeon encounters, no more than once, and at this point I'm avoiding them entirely. If anything, because of me taking some randoms, the units that can "solo" should be even more capable of doing so in my own run, and yet, that's simply not the case despite receiving the amount of favoritism you would expect. Shoot, I favored the big three (Claire, Mathilda, Palla) in randoms too. I'm at Duma's Tower with Celica, and have progressed as far as possible with Alm, so unless the endgame becomes one giant solo, I can't agree with this point at all. Even then, if the 75% of the game I have played managed to avoid that pitfall, then surely Echoes is at least on par with if not better than many FE titles in regards to soloing with OP units. The only way that strict lowmanning yields comparable results is to hinge a lot of your gameplay on unreliable dodges and crits, which admittedly are more impactful in this title thanks largely to the Rout heavy gameplay and enemy power relative to the player.

The incentive to use multiple characters is clear: reliability. If you're actively using everyone for something, be it chip, finishing a dangerous enemy, or part of a defensive formation to wall out other enemies, then the game becomes not only easier, but more reliable as well. I think there has been some kind of misconception to what I'm suggesting here. Do I think that the best strategy is to evenly level every team member? Absolutely not. But I do think that given all the incentives to use multiple characters (notably generous deployment, and BEXP) the other characters should be contributing something whenever possible. Because unlike most if not all other FE titles, the threshold to fulfill a useful role in this game is very, very low, and getting multiple characters to reach this threshold without compromising offense is very, very easy. Class bases alone can carry a unit far, and if they have good personal bases on top of that (like Mage!Tobin and Delthea), then hey, good on you. Even a character such as Boey, who is generally seen as pretty bad, can contribute almost instantly (Level 3, easy to hit from BEXP and Fire chip alone) with valuable 3-range chip.

In the interest of keeping this one more concise, I'll just say that I find the premise of the entire argument to be untrue, and in the absence of more concrete evidence, I'm going to continue thinking that way. I find the fact that Mage Ring pass hasn't been brought up yet particularly shocking, given how powerful it is despite requiring the use of several units who have yet to be mentioned. The Awakening comparison is incredibly untrue. Say what you want about the maps, but as a game Echoes isn't half as broken as Awakening. I think a much more reasonable comparison would be to FE12, where Kris certainly can stomp in combat, but we all know s/he's not doing it alone. Wanting more varied map objectives is certainly a valid line of thinking, but making a blanket statement that all the maps are objectively bad for their absence just doesn't wash for me when many maps highlight the strengths of Echoes' unique mechanics so well. 

On 5/25/2017 at 7:14 AM, Wayward Alchemist said:

 

I view the maps in a similar way, except that I really don't think that the bad maps are "bad" per se, more like boring. I do agree that some small changes like the one you suggest could increase the flow of some of the more boring maps. To Echoes' credit, it actually does do this in a lot of cases, and it really shows.

2 hours ago, FoxyGrandpa said:

 

Couldn't have said it better myself. I do think that some of the map changes were much needed as well. Dracozombie Cantor map in Celica Act 4 now has a much more reasonable bog/landmass ratio for example. Jedah starting closer to the player makes dealing with his Mogalls far more reasonable as well, regardless of stats.

I personally view the changes to Warp/Expel/Physic as generally positive. It has yet to come back to bite me, and as you say, these elements make positioning a much more important factor when moving your healers. I do believe that Expel is less accurate, which I could have done without, but it generally gets the job done without insanely bad luck. Not to mention the fact that Warp/Rescue actually has combat use in this game, since you aren't forced to save them for specific occasions. 

In fairness, on Hard Mode, you hardly ever come across Archers/Snipers/Bow Knights without Anti-Fliers. I do wish that they would have handed out Silver Bows or perhaps even forged Bows more frequently however, since Iron/Steel Bows really don't scale well without forging.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by Deltre

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What I find I love about how the maps are designed is how playing those maps makes me feel. For example desert maps make me feel slow and sluggish exactly how I would feel if I was in the dry desert, swamp maps make me feel bogged down again in a muggy swamp this is EXACTLY how one would feel. It's a swamp, you should be slowed down. My favorite battles though are the ones where you are assaulting a fortress. Such as Sofia Castle, or when you are rescuing Mathilda and many other battles as well. In short I've enjoyed all the maps I've come across and really don't have any complaints about any of the maps. I love how whenever you assault these castles it feels like the enemy has the advantage which is precisely how it should be. I remember this one fortress on Celica's route where I thought maybe I can circle around to the back. Then I took a closer look and realized nope. The ONLY way in is through the front door, which also happens to be the most dangerous way as well.

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I found Celica's maps to be more enjoyable and strategic, even though there were deserts and such. By using things such as deserts to your advantage, the game becomes very fun to play. On Wolt's map there was a spawned mercenary group, so I go to go though a two-phase operation where slam dunked the mercenaries with my mages and Leo (the mercenaries cannot reach to counter when in deserts), and then I was able to rush in with the kill squad in and snipe Wolt and the archers. That map and Greith's were probably my favorite maps.

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