All’s Fell that Ends Fell:
Given the fact that Fire Emblem Engage was only released on the Nintendo Switch on January 20, 2023, it’s a little hard to believe that already we have experienced all that the game has to offer. Yes, an Expansion Pass was announced before Fire Emblem Engage was released, with Wave 1 releasing on the same day as the game but it’s not even three months later and now all four waves are available to play.
Admittedly, the first few waves were short in terms of content. One could even argue they were welcome, but still sorely limited. Wave 1 added a couple Divine Paralogues for players to play through, along with new Emblems to acquire, some accessories and support items. Wave 2 added Hector, Soren, Camilla and more accessories and support items. As for Wave 3, it gave us Chrom, Robin and Veronica from Fire Emblem Engage.
However, whilst previous waves allowed players to reconnect with some of their beloved characters from older games, it is Wave 4 that serves as the make-or-break moment when it comes to the justification of purchasing the Expansion Pass in the first place. So, what does Wave 4 have to offer? Firstly, there’s a somewhat hefty Xenologue to play through. It consists of six chapters and tells a new, but condensed story set in an alternate reality. Two new classes are added, five more characters can join the ranks of the Divine Dragon’s army and, provided you can beat the campaign, you can collect plenty of useful items.
In fairness, it’s worth mentioning that everything Wave 4 does add, requires players beating the Xenologue first. In other words, those two new unit classes that are added? They’re downright refused to you unless you clear the Xenologue first. Fortunately, depending on which difficulty you select, the Fell Xenologue needs only to take you between one and two hours to beat as it has no bearing on the difficulty setting you’re playing the rest of the game on, and that permadeath doesn’t affect the DLC maps. In short, if Ivy or Veyle perish during one of the Xenologue maps, it’s okay, they’ll still be usable for the next one.
As for the story of this new campaign? Alear is pulled into an alternate reality, summoned forth by twin Fell Dragons, Nel and Nil. This brother and sister combo are the Fell children of an alternate Sombron, but chose to oppose him. To make matters worse, during their version of the previous war, their incarnation of Alear, whose gender is the opposite to the one you chose for your Alear, died fighting Sombron.
Both twin Fell Dragons are stunned to see Alear, but the timing is perfect as wicked deeds are being committed and an unknown villain is attempting to finish off where Sombron started. Thrust into the deep end, in a land where seven bracelets must be collected as opposed to twelve rings, Alear soon discovers that the more they see of this alternate reality, the more different it is compared to their own one.
Those who were once considered allies, are reborn as enemies and those who were enemies are, surprise, good guys. The villainous Four Hounds are now the heroic Four Winds and they live to serve Nil, Nel and Alear. However, Alear never really gets the time to wrap their head around it, as like I said earlier on, this campaign is only six chapters long and if you were wishing Sombron would play something of a role in it, you shall need to keep those desires in check.
There is no final battle against Sombron this time around, but there is a fun final battle nonetheless that will leave this alternate reality changed forever. It’s a shame really, the Fell Xenologue started off so well and had such a strong promise of what it could have been, and yet, we wind up with a story that quickly becomes underwhelming and in all honestly, wasn’t really something that we needed. I would have much preferred the campaign to be an alternate reality where Alear never turned and works alongside with Sombron to succeed in his plans. That would have been more substantial or interesting.
There could have been a campaign that focused on the war that took place 1,000 years prior and made more of it playable. Heck, they could have added Lumera as a playable character, but instead, all we got was Nil and Nel, two characters you can take or leave, and alternate versions of The Four Hounds. It’s nice to have them finally playable, but I would have preferred the original evil ones, as opposed to the goody-goody twos shoes versions.
On the plus side, at least when all is said and done and players have completed the Fell Xenologue, when the five new characters join Alear’s forces on the Somniel, Alear and other characters, can actually bond with the likes of Madeline and have full-on support conservations. Previous DLC characters in the past didn’t always get that luxury.
Could Fire Emblem Engage have benefited from spacing its DLC out, making it every other month as opposed to every month? It’s hard to say. It would have certainly kept many of us playing the game for longer and given us something to regularly go back to. Then again, with the likes of The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom out in May (May 12), perhaps it all worked out nicely.
At least now players won’t feel divided in how best to spend their time. Instead, they can complete Fire Emblem Engage outright and then devote themselves to Tears of the Kingdom. Until, you know, Wave 4 for Xenoblade Chronicles 3 releases, Wave 5 for Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, Wave 2 for Splatoon 3 or Wave 1 for the Pokémon Scarlet and Pokémon Violet Expansion Pass.
One thing that I can answer in the meantime, is that while I did enjoy more time with Engage, being able to recruit the Four Winds and adding two more Fell Dragons to my current team, I found the Fell Xenologue to be hit and miss. Arriving a little too late, especially if you have already beaten the game in its entirety, as it leaves you with new things to try out, after you’ve already beaten everything. Sure, you’ll still give things a go, but you’re simply playing skirmishes, as opposed to smashing through main missions.
In short, the DLC was good and it added a variety of content, but there are plenty of other games on the Nintendo Switch where their Expansion Passes offered a lot more for the same price.