Fire Emblem: Wings of Dawn [V1 - 13/30 Chapters]

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Hello everyone. I’d like to share my first go at a hackrom, titled Fire Emblem: Wings of Dawn. This is a hack of FE8U created in FEBuilder, and the current build contains 13 fully playable chapters out of a planned ~30. This is a gameplay-focused hack which aims to capture the magic of old school Fire Emblem, and draws much of its inspiration from the Kaga era.

DOWNLOAD HERE!

Gameplay

WoD prioritizes uncomplicated and elegant gameplay, while still allowing for player creativity and expression. Skills are primarily limited to series staples, and stat values themselves are rather low in order to keep computations straightforward and easy to calculate. The map design and side objectives reward strategic movement and efficient use of every action. I try not to go overboard with enemy quantity, but enemies hit fairly hard and accurately.

I personally prefer to play past unit deaths, only tending to reset in the most dire of circumstances or when I lose a favorite unit, and the hack is designed to accomodate this playstyle. The cast is large and units generally can contribute effectively without investment. Growths are relatively low, allowing units to come off the bench a few chapters after joining and still make an impact despite missing out on level-ups.

Some other features to give a sense of the gameplay:

  • TRS style promotion (level does not reset). Promoted classes do not receive reduced experience.

  • DSFE style avoid (Avoid = Attack Speed + Luck)

  • Magic types merged into one weapon type (light/dark replaced by daggers/ballistae)

  • Unit inventories sent to convoy on death

  • Additional objectives, including Thracia escape and defeat multiple bosses

  • Limited durability and an emphasis on resource management

  • Str/Mag split and hybrid classes such as sword troubadours

  • The usual ”QOL” including Thracia trade, actions after talk, etc…

Story

The story is meant to be economical and to pay homage to some recurring themes and tropes of the mainline series (hopefully without the requisite pitfalls). Writing is not particularly interesting to me, but I tried to come up with something relatively entertaining.

To make up for my lack of affinity for writing I try to make the most of the FEGBA event engine in order to engage the player visually.

Difficulty

Hard mode should be fairly challenging but it shouldn’t veer into “lunatic” territory, and is intended to be suitable for a blind playthrough. Normal mode is largely identical but enemies have fewer autolevels.

Screenshots

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Credits

Credits

Known Bugs and Oversights
  • The save slot color does not display as intended (changes to back to red).

  • Some sporadic pieces of dialogue are not yet written (parts of Ch. 3 End, Ch.7 End, Ch. 8 End, Ch. 9 Start, and 13x).

Thanks for checking out my hack! This project has not received any outside playtesting so I could definitely use some feedback. I appreciate anyone who gives it a go in its current state.

22 Likes

Played through a bit of it, but I just wanted to report a bug in Chapter 3. The command used to load in blue units doesn’t account for dead ones, so any dead units will load back in which leads to some jank. Otherwise, hack has been solid so far, and I’m looking forward to playing more of it.

2 Likes

sounds dope, looking forward to trying this. hope to see this at FEE3!

2 Likes

Played through a bit of it, but I just wanted to report a bug in Chapter 3. The command used to load in blue units doesn’t account for dead ones, so any dead units will load back in which leads to some jank. Otherwise, hack has been solid so far, and I’m looking forward to playing more of it.

Thanks for the report! Seems I used the wrong load command. It’s (probably) hotfixed now.

sounds dope, looking forward to trying this. hope to see this at FEE3!

Thanks! I’ll think about FEE3. I’m not really comfortable recording anything myself, but perhaps I can work out some kind of exchange.

1 Like

Hugo is not able to use Iron Blade despite having D rank in swords. Are Blades locked to cavs or is this a bug? Also, nice smorgasbord - or rather, smorgåsbord as it should be written - of Finnish / Swedish names.

1 Like

There’s a good amount of people who are volunteering to record others’ projects, I’d recommend checking out this thread: FEE3 2022 Help Thread

2 Likes

My favorite Kaga Emblem feature.

Really interesting hack, I’m looking forward to play it in the future.

4 Likes

Hugo (and Sanna) only use swords while dismounted.

The dismounting stuff is an experiment that I’m seriously considering removing altogether. In its current state it’s kind of confusing and I don’t think it adds much.

Updated the patch to remove sword rank from the weapon rank display for the aforementioned units until they take their dismounted forms for the first time.

I’ve been reasessing some of the early chapters and I’ve decided the early game is more difficult and punishing than I would like, even for hard mode. Part of this is an unintended consequence of injecting some chapters into the early game (notably chapter 3), which makes the cast size build more slowly than it used to and consequently rather heavily punishes early losses. I’m looking into dialing back the difficulty of Ch. 3-6, adding an additional recruitable or 2 in this section, and/or shifting a unit or 2 to join earlier.

I’m trying to strike a balance. On the one hand, the early game is an opportunity for uniquely tight design because as a designer one knows more or less precisely what tools the player has access to. But, I also want to make sure I don’t stray too far from the hack’s philosophy that it should be playable even if units are lost.

Anyway, I’ve updated the patch to move to tone down Ch. 3’s difficulty (this chapter was kind of egregious on release lol), move the first heal staff drop to Ch. 3 (adding Ch. 3 unintentionally stretched the first heal staff pretty thin), and make a few other small balance changes included in the change log. I’ll be making the updates I alluded to above fairly soon. I’ll also re-emphasize that this project is still very untested (and it seems releasing a project is a pretty good way to suddenly realize everything that’s wrong with it).

I plan to add normal mode back in once I have a better sense of where hard mode is situated. Thanks to everyone that’s downloaded so far!

7 Likes

It took me a bit longer than I expected to play and write up the feedback post, but I played up to Chapter 12 so far and will probably stay there for now, since it seems like a good place to pause until more chapters are released. So far, I would say it was a good time that definitely invokes some of that old Kaga game feel. I’ll admit that I’m not super tuned into each story beat and what’s going on there, but given it’s not a large priority, it works well enough, and I don’t have much feedback to give there. The following feedback is all gameplay-related and put into drop-down sections because there’s a lot of it :smile:

Overall

For the overall gameplay, it was definitely fun. There were a good amount of anti-turtles thrown in to spur moving forward and playing proactively(a race against a green Swordmaster to the throne boss with a drop is one that stood out). As you mentioned, I do think the early game can make this proactive play rough if you do lose a unit or two, speaking as someone who lost the two cavs for Chapter 3 which essentially turned the chapter into a turtlefest by the south forest area. Part of this is due to just not getting that many new units in these early chapters, and more specifically, not getting a second healer until halfway through Chapter 5. Only having Aleksi as your healer makes your options for splitting fairly minimal, which does limit some options in Chapter 2/3/5. Personally, I think another healer in 2 or 3 along with potentially another unit would help in making the game more playable if one lets early units die.

Outside of this earlygame issue though, it’s pretty reasonable to let units die and keep going. Part of this is due to most units not having majorly individualized niches, in part because skills aren’t a significant part of the gameplay generally. However, this does make some units feel rather samey, particularly those that don’t have any really distinguishing traits like novel weapon ranks or statline. This is not negative in all cases, but I do feel that units like Jaako and Kalle pretty much just end up having their stuff get given to other units who are in the same class as them, have the same weapon ranks or better, or are just better (Heta for her speed, Linnea for more time to get wexp). I do think some of these units could be more differentiated in their base stats or growths to at least feel as if they offer something different from their counterparts. More examples of this will be in the Units section, but in general, I think more stat variation could do some units a lot of good.

Something else that I liked in a vacuum was the low rate of exp, making units last longer without being outshined within a few chapters. However, I think this is a bit of a double-edged sword because this also means the prepromotes you gain don’t really have any particular tradeoff to using them. They gain the same amount of exp. Their growths, while not that great, aren’t much worse than your unpromoted units when taking into account the slow rate of progression. And finally, Master Seals have a Level 15 requirement, and as of 13 preps, I have no combat unit at Level 15 and probably won’t til at least Chapter 14, possibly 15. All of this put together means units like Hugo and Mira are essentially auto-deploys as they’re just better than your other units, which does make some growth units with similar niches feel poor in comparison. It’s possible that whenever Master Seals become plentiful, this won’t be the case anymore, but it’s probably worth keeping an eye on either way, given how much investment it takes to get growth units to 15.

This last bit is minor, but I thought that it was odd that Bows seem to have been shifted up one tier in WEXP while no other weapon type has. This doesn’t usually matter, but the Steel Bow in Chapter 2 being a C rank is actually a bit of a problem since Helmi doesn’t have the WEXP to use that at base, making it sort of awkwardly hang around until she can. This is rough for archers in particular because their rate of WEXP gain is lower than pretty much all other units anyway.

EDIT: I forgot to comment on the dismount implementation here, since it was mentioned that it was in a sort of uncertain state. Given how rare it is so far (maybe in 1 chapter?), it feels under-utilized and would benefit from either commiting to it more or just removing it, imo.

Specific Chapter Feedback

I’ll separate it out into chapters I liked, ones I was mixed on, and ones I disliked. For me, 1, 2, and 4 all solid earlygame maps that were pretty enjoyable, although 2 and 4 were somewhat tougher due to losing the two early cavs. 7 and 8 were also very good, and the last map I played, 12, was maybe my favorite in the hack since a lot is going on, and I’m a sucker for both port and Escape maps, so it was a perfect combo.

I was somewhat mixed on Chapter 5, less due to the chapter itself and moreso because you don’t have a second early healer to facilitate the split that the map seems to want. Vuln chugging works to a point, but I think it would feel better if you had another healer here.
9 was a tough sell for me because I’m not fond of fog or Survive objectives, due to both feeling as if they encourage a slower style of play, but this chapter had incentives to poke your head out with the villages and essentially is Defeat Boss as well, so it worked out. I did feel the fog vision was extremely low though, and that the map may feel better with a higher fog radius.
10 I felt was a bit awkward to approach due to the overlapping siege. Yes, Maj’s prf and Barrier can pretty much trivialize the magic damage, but all the enemies in the center give her a lot of trouble, especially the soldiers, so she’s not particularly good at clearing the area. A Barrier’d Bjorn is your best bet, but it still feels like a bit of a slog, and the reward you get is not particularly worth it, so it seems more straightforward to just go Seize instead on the right and ignore that middle area.

As for the chapters I didn’t vibe with, you’ve already mentioned pretty much all the issues I had with 3. Because it’s a Rout map where all the enemies charge at you, being undermanned makes it pretty tough, and since there are no side objectives to go for, basically what I did was rush to recruit Nilou and then bunker down in the bottom forest area. Another healer would have helped a lot here for sure.
The next map I wasn’t sold on was 6. I have a bias against a lot of survive/defend maps, and here I think the issue was that playing proactively wasn’t particularly rewarded. There are a ton of reinforcements on the left side, so a good chunk of your units have to weather the storm there, and the main objective you’d stick your neck out to get it is on the boss and isn’t that great from what I recall. The actual side objective you want is the Kalis, and that guy charges far enough that you don’t really need to move too much to get him, so you don’t have much reason to not play passively here.
The map that I felt was the weakest was 11. Part of this is due to fog (which seems to be even lower vision than in 9) and while you do have the torches you can trigger, going out into the fog to do that is a risky process. There are a lot of enemies, especially near the starting area, so it’s very easy to get a unit killed by moving them out into the fog here. This map could really benefit from a Torch staff for safer checking or a Torch being in Antero’s starting inventory so he can just run out with his avoid prf and scout immediately. From my experience, he’s one of the few units you can send out and be confident that he’ll live, aside from maybe Mira, so he’s actually very important here despite poor combat. I lost a couple units here and couldn’t muster up the will to reset due to the fog feeling more “unfair” than in 9. With easier methods of getting rid of that fog though, it would feel much better in my opinion.

Despite my gripes, chapter design on the whole was quite solid, and I look forward to playing more chapters (though I’m saving 13 for later).

Units

Unit thoughts are going to be a lot less in-depth, as most of them are pretty much alright or good. I don’t have strong thoughts on most of the Monica-side units as I didn’t get to use them very long, but all of them seemed like solid contributors at least. Particularly standout units to me from the main group are:

  • Aleksi - healer lord is vital due to being the only one you have early, not a slouch offensively
  • Hugo - the Jagen who still has yet to fall off with good enough speed, bulk, and strength to put in serious work with the two silver lances you get
  • Elias - high speed + mage + prf leads to onerounding where many units struggle to do so
  • Risto/Kristian - high speed + Kalis gives them really good combat along with their 1-2 range. Kristian is probably pushed out by an invested Risto, but he does have waterwalking which seems like it could be useful, and his bases are solid.
  • Mira - Really high speed, silver sword, good enough bulk all lead to a mainstay unit
  • Heta - A fast axe user, she eclipses Jaako almost immediately. Great target for Speedwing as it gets her doubling reliably and she has enough Attack to use it well.
  • Roni - All-around sword user, has enough speed to do alright
  • Helmi - Does okay for herself with chip and eventually Longbow
  • Julius - Does armor things, kinda folds to axe users but otherwise is solid enough
  • Lumi - A classic pegasus knight that does her job (speed + flight)
  • Both f!myrms - I can’t remember either of their names, but they pretty much fill the same role as fast swordie and do it well enough.
  • Johan - Seems very good with what little time I’ve had with him, notable bulk and great strength with not terrible speed. Will probably join the Hugo/Mira echelon of “prepromotes I will never want to bench”.
  • Linnea - Second healer / 10, she joins early enough that this is very valuable, and the only other healer that joins after her is pretty much just inferior. Easily wins a deploy slot in your army.

Units I thought were meh:

  • Oliver - Despite the 6 move, he feels just okay to me. His speed and strength are in an awkward spot where he rarely doubles but also has less strength than Helmi, along with lower wexp. Decent filler chip.
  • Niilou - I was incredibly cursed with his high speed growth, but even despite that, I think his base performance is hard to swallow. Exp growth is low enough that it takes quite some time for the speed to kick in, and his bases are poor along with really rough weapon ranks and somewhat shoddy starting inventory (scimitar is unreliable and wooden bow does poor damage).
  • Sini - She feels potentially overshadowed by Lumi but that’s not a bad thing, given she’s a replacement type unit. Has better lance rank notably which is a bit of a niche.
  • Antaro - As funny as he may be, his Prf is going to break eventually and it doesn’t appear like his stats will hold up. Could get some use out of him in specific instances (maybe more fog maps) but will have to see

Units that didn’t feel good to use:

  • Kalevi/Sanna - If they had lived, I might feel differently, but they’re pretty lacking in the stat department so I expect they would have made their way to the bench quickly.
  • Vilma - Unlike these two, she’s fairly solid initially, but due to low exp growth and not great bases and growths, she fell behind pretty quickly for me to where it made more sense to bench.
  • Kalle - More or less Linnea but joins two chapters later with worse staff rank. He feels very superfluous as a unit, as whatever minor stat differences he has with Linnea don’t really matter since staffers don’t really do combat. He feels like a replacement unit that comes too early.
  • Jaako - As the Heta part mentions, he is pretty much immediately mugged by her for whatever axes he may use due to just being worse stat-wise. There’s not really any rank difference between them, and his minor advantages in Str and bulk aren’t much in comparison to her speed advantage.
  • Teemu - I get that low base HP + high HP growth is his gimmick, but 15 HP feels pretty much unusable for any unit that may want to frontline as he gets 2RKO’d frequently. He died almost immediately for me, but I didn’t bother to reset because, with the low experience gain, it didn’t seem like the payoff was worth it.

The key to making some of these units feel better is, imo, giving them greater differentiation from direct competitors stats-wise. In Kalle’s case, that may still not be enough, but I think it would at least help Jaako and the three early cavs.

Despite any criticisms I may have here, I really do think the hack is neat and has a lot of potential, so I’ll def be keeping my eye on it as it develops.

3 Likes

Thanks so much for the detailed feedback! I can’t overstate how valuable it is to get some input from someone who isn’t me. I’ve been second-guessing a lot of my decisions lately and reading this has helped to ground my thoughts.

I should also mention that I’ve been working on an update that should be released by the end of the weekend. It’s primarily geared towards making the early game less punishing (in line with what I alluded to above) but it should also address a few of your overall ideas (including the weird bow wlv stuff).

I’ve had similar thoughts regarding exp rates, and in the update I’ve nudged exp rates up a touch. You make good points regarding the prepromotes too. I kind of like the idea of toning down the prepromotes so that their main edge is early access to premium weaponry rather than blatant statistical advantages.

I’m not sure about master seals yet – I moved the level up to 15 since 10 feels early for a no-drawback promotion, but I’ll have to play around with it as I design more chapters. Another idea is to keep promotion available at 10 but limit master seals to prevent everyone from promoting immediately, but I’m worried that could feel a little bad.

Chapter 6 has been toned down significantly – I’m a little embarrassed that I released it in such an over-tuned state. It’s still my least favorite chapter in the hack (I’ve developed a similar bias against defend since I started this project; unfortunately past me was a big fan :neutral_face:), but it should be less frustrating now. I’d definitely consider it the top candidate for a total rework down the line, but I’m going to prioritize new chapters for now.

Good points re: Ch. 10 also. I’m a fan of the Kaga forts which really feel like impenetrable strongholds (this one is inspired by Fort Dandrum from FE5, actually), and I want catching the thief to feel a little ”puzzley”, but I think the overlapping (physical) ranges are a bit excessive. I don’t really like that Maj is not particularly useful in a map which should really be showcasing her prf.

I’m a big fog fan (bff?) myself, but I empathize with the general dislike for it among the fanbase. Testing fow maps is pretty hard, since as much as I try to put myself into the mindset of a blind player, I obviously can’t just forget where everything is. I like the idea of putting the torch on Antero, and I’m not opposed to increasing the vision radius in 9 and/or 11 (or the vision radius of the Tellius torches).

Ch. 3 should be more doable now that there are some new friends available in the update. I want to redeem rout haha.

Glad you liked Ch. 12 – it’s a personal favorite of mine (I also like ports and escape :grinning:).

Thanks for the unit reviews – really helpful in assessing what kinds of adjustments to make. I’ve certainly struggled with unit ”sameyness”, and my attempts to really break the mold (eg. Niilo, Antero, Teemu) have had… mixed results. I think you’re right that increasing stat/growth variation between units could help, particularly for same class pairs like Heta/Jaakko. I do find it funny that I accidentally made really mediocre cavs despite not entering with an anti-cav agenda.

I like Kalle’s early join because it can be kind of frustrating to play without a second healer for certain maps, and Linnea is pretty fragile and easy to lose. He’s meant to be kind of a Linnea backup, with the ”niche” of having actual combat parameters on promotion and more durability as opposed to being a walking heal staff. Perhaps a minor buff is in order so that Linnea v. Kalle is more of a real decision if she is alive.

Thanks again – this is all really helpful! You’ve given me a lot to think about.

3 Likes

I posted an update. It includes several balance changes, primarily to the early chapters, most notably adding a couple of early recruits. It also adds back normal mode: it’s pretty lazily balanced (mostly just hard with fewer autolevels), but it should be playable.

Also – dismount’s gone. I still think it’s a fun mechanic, but I couldn’t get it to work effectively in WoD, and I found myself gradually stripping it down over time. I think it’s best not to try and force it into the project.

The full list of changes is recorded in the change log. Duplicated here for convenience:

Patch Notes

Version 1.1

  • New units Veikka (join Ch. 2) and Minna (join Ch. 3)
  • Map rework: Ch. 2
  • Normal mode added
  • All dismount mechanics removed
  • Several balance adjustments, especially in Ch. 2-7
  • Slight dialogue adjustments in Ch. 2, Ch. 3, Ch. 4, Ch. 6
  • Some item location changes

Units:

  • Hugo: Spd 11 → 10, Spd% 25 → 20
  • Roni: Con 2 → 0, HP% 90 → 85
  • Heta: Lv 5 → 3, Str 9 → 8, Skl 7 → 6, Axe 71 → 31, Str% 30 → 35, Skl% 45 → 40, Lck% 50 → 35
  • Heta joins in Ch. 4 instead of Ch. 6
  • Mira: Skl 14 → 10, Spd 14 → 12, Mag 3 → 2, Str% 30 → 25, Skl% 50 → 65, Spd% 30 → 45
  • Kalle: Lv 3 → 4, Spd 7 → 8, Staff 71 → 85
  • Monica: Lv 13 → 14, Skl 15 → 12, Spd 14 → 13, Str% 30 → 20, Spd% 40 → 50, Def% 20 → 10
  • Johan: HP 31 → 28, Str 15 → 14, Skl 13 → 11, HP% 75 → 95

Weapons/Items:

  • Armorslayer: Hit 75 → 85
  • Battle Axe: Mt 15 → 16, Hit 65 → 70, Wlv B → C
  • Kalis: Mt 5 → 3
  • Killer Bow: Mt 10 → 11
  • Scimitar: Cost 20 → 13

Other:

  • Exp rate increased
  • Miscellaneous enemy growth rate adjustments
  • Minor text bug fixes, Johan portrait fix
2 Likes

Oh hey we’re live! Big thanks to BigMood for the assist!

Unfortunately, I don’t have any new updates at this time, thanks to a pair of very busy months in the ”real world”… I’ve drafted up a few new chapters, but I don’t want to release anything until I get a little further, with the current plan being to release an update once I hit chapter 20. I’m not setting any specific timetables because that never seems to work out, but I’ve been enjoying getting back to hacking once again. Watching the other showcases has me inspired :sunglasses:

Shout outs to all the classic Fire Emblem fans in 2022, and happy FEE3 to all! Stay tuned for future updates coming soontm

4 Likes