That's why I've prepared some helpful quick tips for you based on my three playthroughs of the game. Read up on what you need to know to avoid any slowdowns before you begin your heroic quest.
Tame non-story spoilers incoming. I’d recommend saving this article if you get stuck, and need a quick reference:
- Story wise, the game takes place thousands of years after most of the core series, just in case you need some perspective from a timeline standpoint. It does have a few very minor references to characters from past games, but the narrative is a completely standalone adventure.
- There's no shame in choosing the Awakening's Casual Mode option, which eliminates permadeath from the game. The reason being is that the Lunatic difficulty level is extremely challenging in its own right, and may prove to be too hard even with the Casual setting turned on.
If you find yourself constantly pressed for time, choose Casual -- you can always replay the game again on the Classic [permadeath enabled] Mode.
- Awakening has three save slots, and two in-combat save slots. You can only save in-combat in Classic Mode.
- There's a dual audio option for spoken dialogue -- just go to the options portion of the main menu and change it to Japanese.
- There is no New Game+ option in Fire Emblem: Awakening. Once you beat the game, you have the option to save your progress, which allows you to return to the point right before the final boss fight.
When the DLC hits, this save file will come in handy, as some of it needs to be tackled by a swarthy crew. After beating the game, your Renown rating and all of your ancillary info (avatars, character information) will save to the core save file until you erase it.
- The game supports paid DLC and free DLC via Spotpass, so keep your Spotpass function on. You will need to progress past Chapter 4 to open up the DLC shrine, and clear Chapter 25 to unlock the ability to play Spotpass side-chapters.
Paid DLC can be repeated on the same save file (which is useful for grinding) -- Spotpass quests cannot. Keep in mind that there's a 20 character limit for "extra" units from Spotpass, DLC, and Streetpass interactions.
- Streetpass utilizes another function entirely. If you "talk" with a friend's 3DS locally, you can pass your party over to your friend's game, and even gain their avatar as a unit.
Out of combat tactics:
- Make sure you stay on top of your item durability constantly. Always check every world map hub for deals on the bottom of your screen, so that you can keep backups of your weapons.
Keep in mind that weapons break when their value gets to zero -- which would be a horrible setback if you forgot to stay on top of it, and one of your party members couldn't attack in the middle of a battle.
- If you're having issues, use a Master Seal when your character turns 10 and turn them into their master class job. If you want your character to have a different job, use the Change Seal. You can do this an unlimited amount of times. Your stats may decrease, but the game will remember your maximum stats for each job, and all of your skills.
In order to get the best stats, you should always wait until level 20 to use your Master Seal, so you can maximize the most out of your character.
- Donnel, one of the first side-characters you meet in the first sidequest, should get the Change Seal treatment at level 15, so he can learn his best skill as a Villager first. Then you can change his job and retain the skill.
- This is how the support system works: as you use the Pair Up and Dual Support mechanics in-combat, you foster relationships between characters that interact with each other. These relationships unlock support conversations from the world map. Always check for them and always initiate the conversations when they appear.
- Speaking of the support system, marriage is possible, and children born out of said marriage can actually fight in battle. If you have two characters of different genders that obtain an S level support rank, they marry automatically.
Children will join the party as the game progresses and inherit the parent's stats and one skill. There are no "second generation" children, but the children can marry each other, so long as they're not siblings.
- The main character can utilize the "Convoy" function in combat, which means that they can draw from the "infinite storage chest" that the game gives you. Use this to your advantage if you have a party member with a broken weapon.
- Going along with the convoy tip, store lots of recovery items, just in case. In typical SRPG fashion, enemies might turtle up in a corner, leaving you with plenty of time to heal your characters to full health, unprovoked. If your healer is dead, you may need to do this the old fashioned way.
- Use your healers a lot. You start the game with one, you pick up a few along the way, and if you choose, you can change certain characters into a healing job. The best part about healers is that they can grind XP even outside of combat by constantly restoring your unit's health, even if they're sitting in a corner while the enemy waits for you to reach them.
- Using the Pair Up mechanic can turn the tide of battle in an instant. Use this early on with Frederick to turn him into an unstoppable killing machine. Keep in mind that the secondary support part of the Pair Up will donate their stats -- so it's more useful to pair melee with melee, and so on. Only raw unmodified stats count -- no boosters.
- The Pair Up option can be extremely useful, but it can also cripple your squad as a whole. When you choose to pair up, the core unit will get the XP during combat. Keep in mind that the support unit may end up becoming too weak to fight enemies as the game progresses. This is especially true for Frederick early on (you'll see) -- you don't want to power him up severely beyond the rest of your party even though he's a beast.
- Speaking of Frederick, I think it's worth stressing this as its own tip: make sure you don't use him too much early on. In fact, try and use him as a last resort, or as a defensive blocking unit for your more fragile troops. He's very, very strong initially, but the rest of your squad needs to level up too.
- With that in mind, the Dual support option may be ideal in certain situations, especially when leveling a balanced party. Rather than combine units into one character (Pair Up), the Dual mechanic allows units to take advantage of standing next to other characters, and perform a support boost, support attack, or a support block.
- Those sparkling squares are event tiles that can grant you items or XP -- always grab them if it doesn't put you at a tactical disadvantage.
- Always have the option to see where the enemy's movement range is turned on. That way, you can go right outside of their grasp, have some room to breath, and launch a surprise attack on the next turn. Enemies will also target your weakest unit first (healers and casters), so keep them out of range at all times.
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