I’ve been thinking a bit about the oft-maligned mechanics of deserts, rain / snow, and their associated movement penalties in Fire Emblem maps. I’ve heard a good few people say they’d rather the series simply doesn’t include these elements at all, and while I can certainly understand that perspective, I’m not really one to be easily convinced that any given game mechanic is flat-out inherently unsalvageable. So, I’ve been pondering on and off how to design maps with these features in a way that makes them interesting and additive rather than just annoying.
The biggest idea that comes to mind for me, that applies to both of these two things, is to include “safe paths” on the map that aren’t desert tiles (or affected by rain/snow), while still including incentives for the player to choose to hoof it through the harsh terrain anyway for extra rewards and such things. Essentially, they’d be used not unlike, say, a wall of Forest tiles, but without as much (or necessarily anything) in the way of terrain bonuses. Units can still pass through them, but it’s not as fast as taking the “safe path”. This might be especially interesting with rain/snow, since those maps often include the weather abating temporarily every so often, which could serve as “openings” to move through outdoor sections much more freely and easily while still knowing that, if you aren’t fast, your units may find themselves stuck out in the cold with limited options in a few turns.
Following from this, there could also be specific sections of map that require you to push through a sort of “barrier” of desert or rain/snow before you can continue on. A sort of “point of interest” on the map where you have restricted movement and have to plan your approach more carefully, since otherwise your units may not be able to get to where you need them to be in time.
There are all kinds of ways to do this, and these are just a few of my own ideas. It’s just always seemed like a bit of a shame to me for these gameplay elements to be given up on without effort being put into finding ways to make them work. What a given gameplay element is by itself is just one part of the equation, after all; how it’s actually used in-game is just as big a part in how fun it is.