Gameplay or Story?

This will be probably my last voting poll or a topic to be more specific until I’m finally ready to create a rom hack.

So yeah, the most important topic that I have wanted to see is about gameplay and story. I used to think that people like Fire Emblem for it’s story but the release of Engage proved me wrong. There are many people who like Engage for it’s gameplay even though it have a lot of plot holes. But whatever your opinion is, I respect it. I just want to see how many people prefer gameplay and how many prefer story. So let’s go :-

  • Gameplay (includes visuals, enemy ai, custom stuff, skills and music)
  • Story (includes lore, characters, their conversation and plot twists)

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I don’t know if I can find any creative way to improve gameplay other than just adding new musics, skills, custom classes or animations and weapons. I don’t really want something very broken like combat arts which makes the game too complicated. Some simple and unique suggestions will be appreciated.

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Both, but I’ll definitely drop a game if it isn’t fun enough in gameplay.
…Probably helps that I’m a derp who’s just easily entertained by a lot of stories. It’s more enjoyable to just find something fun.


If the gameplay is enjoyable I keep playing. I’ve played plenty games where I can’t read the story outright but the gameplay was enjoyable.


I feel the essence of Fire Emblem’s core identity is closely intertwined with both aspects—more specifically, the gameplay being tuned around supporting the story is what makes the franchise unique. Personally, I’d say that an FE game that has finely polished gameplay but no story to add weight to it is equally shaky as a game that has a well-written story, but never tries to convey that story through its gameplay in any way. That being said, I think FE’s mechanics by default are already designed towards naturally bringing out an emergent narrative within playthroughs; through things like permadeath, randomized growths, strategic decisions on maps, etc, players automatically create their own personalized tale through advancing in their runs.

As someone who plays video games almost entirely for story reasons, I honestly don’t mind an unremarkable or bad story in a romhack as long as it’s clear that the creator at least put some amount of care and effort into it. But I am much more likely to drop a game if it’s clear that the story was an afterthought.

Reflecting on it now, I feel I have yet to play a FE game or hack that I’d confidently call “amazing gameplay but bad story”, mainly because the aforementioned interactive storytelling plays a heavy role in how I judge the gameplay of a game, and therefore the most memorable bits of gameplay for me are always intertwined in the story. For me at least, fun gameplay for its own sake can only be so good, and it needs some kind of story to prop it up in order to be really memorable.

I’ve heard from a few others that Engage exists in a strange area where the actual content of the story is poor but the gameplay-story integration is very strong. I haven’t played it myself though, so I have nothing to say firsthand about that.


Same here. I know both aspects of game are important but i was just curious what people prefer the most.

Same case again. I thought of many ways to reflect the plot in gameplay in different ways. Bosses intrigue me the most. All the buildup that the narration of game uses to make some bosses look so high and mighty… Only to end with a luna on face. Nergal is the perfect example for this.

I thought of a skill which was related to supports. Say you are facing a very powerful dark mage who is capable of mind controlling a person. Then he should have a skill to reflect that. Something like this :-

Malicious Curse : Corrupts the foe completely if he doesn’t have any supports. (For 15 turns) (100% chance)

Basically, the players will be warned of this 5 or 6 chapters before the actual fight.

EDIT : I included supports in this because strong bonds between human can shatter the most diabolical of curses… (Or at least that’s what I think).

Both Is GIF - Both Is Good GIFs

I don’t know why this is a thing. I get that people may prefer one over the other, but as a creator you should strive to make both as excelent as possible. It’s why Engage to me atleast was such a dissapointment…it did some nice gameplay hooks (revival of WT with Break mechanic, return of the CON stat, good difficulty), but the story was absolutely attrocious…and this coming off the wings of 3H, which despite some glaring, but fixable, flaws had both nice story and gameplay. And these days this kinda polarization is worse, to where you kinda have to expect that you’re only gonna get one or the other and in FE games, they seem to cank story most of the time…and hell it’s even not that hard to craft an amazing story, if you stick to common sense and the basic tropes of story-telling.


I’ll play a game with no story and enjoy it, but if it has one, and I expect it to be good, and it’s trash, I’ll drop it faster than something with skill bloat or a ridiculous difficulty curve. Mechanics and gameplay are what make it a game, characters are what make it a Fire Emblem, and a good plot is what makes it a romhack lol


Hahaha… So true. Most of the good stories are only in Rom hacks aside from FE9 or 16.


Though I’m a sucker for story and lore, I gravitate towards gameplay more. It’s pretty much why I am more inclined to replay FE7 than Three Houses. Three Houses’ gameplay loop bores me but I am a fan of its story. FE7 is the opposite imo Not saying its story is bad, but its not the best that FE has to offer either but man am i a sucker for that classic FE gameplay


I generally prefer gameplay. I wouldn’t lump the visuals and music into the gameplay category myself, though. Those fall under polish in my opinion. A hack needs them to stand out, but it’s not the end of the world. What gameplay is good depends on the user (SNES FE is my favourite and I’ve no great patience for skill bloat), so pick your target audience and don’t worry about satisfying everyone.
As for the story, so long as it’s reasonably coherent I’ll be fine. Taking itself seriously isn’t required and I’ve played a good amount of funny hacks.


If i want to read a good story, i wouldn’t play Fire Emblem. It’s stories range from absolute trash at worst to B-Tier at best (Unless FE1-3 have some hidde masterpiece writing that don’t exist in the remakes).

So i am here for the gameplay. Mostly. Characters are usually cool as well.

That said…

While i don’t like most FE stories, FE is stellar at integrating the gameplay and the story together. Take FE4 for example, it’s a game whose gameplay and story i both dislike, but due the integration i have a general positive outlook on the game. And another example in RD, where the atrocious balance works well with the story until the blood pact ruins it all. And even Engage with it’s meh writing has some absolutely stellar integration moments.

FE had always had trouble balancing writing and gameplay (and different fans care about one or the other more), even though the gameplay integration in the series is really really strong, even in games with bad writing or bad gameplay, or bad at both, the integration tends to elevate everything further, bigger than the sum of it parts, so if they can make a game that get’s both completely right, we might have peak gaming on our hands tbh, but it’s pretty hard to do that.


I like both but prefer gameplay. If a game has atrocious gameplay but a “good” story like Genealogy or Echoes (I didn’t like either) then I’ll still dislike the game. On the other hand, I’ll still like a game that has a “bad” story but stellar gameplay like Fates and Engage (I actually liked Engage’s story, but I know the community has by now decided that it’s wrong to like it).

I think this community is also too obsessed with making a clear value judgement on stories which I feel misses the points of narratives entirely. Stories don’t have to check some arbitrary boxes in a checklist, and they don’t have to be liked or understood by everyone. I never understand people who say X game’s story is definitively good or bad.

Also, just a weird thing but don’t you just hate it when someone says that they only really care about the gameplay in an FE game then bashes a game for having a bad story?


Personally, I think one of the aspects that fan projects should be trying to do is to achieve something that the series itself does not, especially in regards to plot, characters, and premise. We’ve gotten enough “mid-tier” stories out of Fire Emblem - we don’t need more, IMO. Fresh takes for what the concept of the plot would be, fresh character ideas and less reliance on established archetypes, etc. can breathe new life into a project.

That said, I will always prioritize fun over only story - once upon a time, reskins were the best thing in the community (because it was hard/impossible to do anything else at that point in time), because it was all about what wacky, fun things that were put in them. If the graphics look nice, if the characters have some fun spice to them, if there’s cool weapons, if the maps are well thought out and interesting, then even a middling plot can be carried by it. (Disclaimer, I’ve only finished Chapter 15 of Engage but I would say that it fits this bill so far - maps and gameplay are extremely well thought out, but the story has been so barebones and generic so far that I’m not really being drawn in or caring about it.)


A small addendum about my opinion of FE stories:

They are not able to mix the fantasy and political/war elements well, and usually it ends with the fantasy hijacking the politics and interesting story and making the whole story suffer really hard. Take those heralded as the games with the best stories in the series -Jugdral, Tellius and Fodlan- an opinion i generally agree with that they are the best…but they are B-Tier at best due to how the fantasy elements ruin everything else. Jugdral with the biggest story ruining cult to ever exist and Anankos 1995ver I played FE4 right after Fates so Loptyr just reminded me of Anankos lol, Tellius with the stupid conflict forcing blood pact and Fodlan with the nuke wielding mole dubstep’ers that only exist to wash away the sins of the main characters.
They should make a fantasy a tool for politics/war instead, that would massively increase the story quality imo.

A shotout to @Permafrost’s Deity Device, where they are able to have cool fantasy elements while making the conflict more ideological and personal. The fantasy is used to enhance the characters and the story, instead of ruining or hijacking it, despite it being a centeral point of the plot.

I wouldn’t say i like it, but it’s average FE for me, and i am surprised at how much i ended up liking some of the story beats and 2 characters the story revolves around.

Still waiting for Witch hunt setting FE.


All the responses are valid. It seems gameplay and story are both related to each other closely and a good sync between both is necessary.

Suppose, I introduce some gimmicks about a character then it should be reflected in the gameplay. TLP did this with Galagar’s mind reading and that’s a very cool example.

I can’t judge it good or bad… People have their opinions and I hate to criticize it.

Majority of people desire both gameplay and story. One seems incomplete without another. (Although it took me long enough to realise that.)

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I think what the community is obsessed with is having a high quality narrative, which FE has been lacking for a decent time. There is such a thing as a base standard of quality. What i believe atleast is that you should strive to create a high quality story. Which things like archetypes and yes, boxes in a checklist do help achieve. Before you wanna go break the mold, learn how it works first and why it held on for so long. Yes you will never get everyone liking a story, but you should try to make something atleast somewhat paletable for most of your core audiences.

I think it’s a matter of tolerance. People may prefer gameplay over story, but will tolerate bad story-telling only up to a certain point.

Like i said before, you should strive to achieve maximum quality and polish on both ends…yes realistically that won’t happen, but the audience will appreciate your work more if they see how much work and passion was put into all aspects of it.

One game i think doesn’t really break any molds at all and can be viewed as “standard-issue” but was beloved by audiences was Ghost of Tsushima. Because it kept a bare-minumum standard of quality and had alot of details that showed that the devs put alot of love into it despite it’s flaws. And thus the end product was something jam-packed with good-quality content (and one of the few games that produced a actually good multiplayer DLC). Atleast it’s what i see from it.


on paper i’d say gameplay every time but i can’t enjoy the gameplay much if the story is bad
i can’t separate it like a lot of people seem to be able to
it’s the reason i haven’t been able to finish engage for a while now, and it’s probably worth noting that the only other game i’ve had this problem with was revelation

i think it doesn’t have to be one or the other (good gameplay OR good story), but i also don’t have extremely high standards; i think most fe games are fine in the story department which lets me enjoy the gameplay

but when the story is really bad i just get this overwhelming feeling of “man i could be playing something much better right now” even if the gameplay is highly praised, because the gameplay simply not something i can separate from the rest of the product

that’s also why i think the oft-repeated “just skip the story” and “you can skip the story but not the gameplay” statements are not super applicable if you consider games packages instead of several independent elements which is how a lot of people seem to approach it (but not how i approach it)


This really shouldn’t be an either or because the story should be feeding the gameplay. I’m going to be a lot more gung-ho about playing through a Fire Emblem game if I care about the narrative stakes of the battle ahead and what it means to the characters. This is a problem I’m having with Engage. There are actually a lot of things I like about it, but the story is such a load of nothing that I only ever feel like playing a map or two at a time.

The biggest problem is with Alear who has no character other than a generic good-guy level of compassion. Alear’s role in the story is entirely based on what he is and not who he is. He doesn’t have any goals or desires. He does what he does because he’s the Divine Dragon and that’s what he’s supposed to do. It doesn’t help that the supporting cast of princes and princesses is equally bland, also lacking motivations and storylines and pretty much just standing around to say a line every now and then. Everyone loves and admires Alear, and there’s really no one for him to have meaningful interactions with. This is somewhat of a problem with all of the Avatar centric FEs, where the plot and characters are made to orbit a bland character, but Engage is the most severe case yet. Perhaps the reason Corrin is so bubbly (and almost smug) in Engage is she knows she doesn’t have the holkiest narrative in the series anymore.

I think it says a lot about how little substance there is to Engage’s story that I couldn’t actually imagine Engage’s story without Alear. I could see Fates rewritten without Corrin and Xander/Ryoma as the main characters, and I could see Three Houses without Byleth and using the House Leaders as the PoV characters, but Engage has so little going on that a non-entity like Alear is the only thing driving the narrative.

I wind up not really caring about what I’m doing in Engage battles beyond just playing a video game. Even fighting the main antagonists isn’t very noteworthy because they’re a bunch of Saturday morning cartoon villains who get beaten and run away so often that they might as well be shouting, “The Four Hounds are blasting off again.”

My favorite Fire Emblem stories are Blazing Sword and Radiant Dawn (and Celica’s half of Echoes) because they are the most character driven stories in the series. Most of the rest of the games are pretty generic war stories where the PoV character gets told what to do by an advisor and does it. Blazing Sword is unique in that there is no full scale war and instead there is a group of friends trying to thwart an enemy who they don’t fully understand until the half-way point but who is causing chaos in their homeland. I’ll give a special mention to Genealogy for some genuinely emotional and gut-wrenching moments, but it really requires some imagination and self-embellishment to appreciate because the actual script is pretty bare-bones.


Good story and characters will motivate me to finish a game. Good gameplay will make me want to go back to a game after I already beat it.

I’ve played Engage a lot despite having (in my opinion) the worst story and characters in the series yet, so I can say I would pick gameplay over story if I really had to. I can’t think of any FE game that was truly awful to play, but in the case that one with an amazing narrative and terrible gameplay existed, I would probably have a banger of a first playthrough and then never pick it up again.

If you’re making a hack, though, you shouldn’t have to choose one or the other. I personally care more about the characters and worldbuilding than the story itself. As long as it’s clear that you’ve put effort in both areas, I’m probably going to enjoy your work.


My friend, have you ever watched power rangers? Because I kid you not, the final maps first cutscene plays like a damn tokusatsu moment. I half expected a multi colored explosion behind alear after recalling the emblems.

Anywho, My two cents on this whole thing is the two are tight too closely to ignored entirely.