Linear FE Game or Open Map FE Game?

As most of you know Fire Emblem games fall in 2 categories. Linear of open map as Chaz Aria expressed in his YouTube video

Here’s some examples of FE linear games: Fe1box


Here’s some open map FE games: FE2

So which kind do you prefer and why? And would you consider the open map FE games in the same RPG Strategy family with their linear FE cousins?

I prefer open games because they make one really immersed with the worldmap though traveling over it in gameplay instead of cutscenes and it cuts down on frustration of planning purchases wrong because one can go to older shops at any time. What I do not agree with is the optional encounters, because they break the concept of the series even more than the unlimited arenas ever would.

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Interesting perception… I don’t know why but for me however linear FE games feel more Fire Emblem. I can agree with the idea of going back to older armories and shops but that’s why you have 3 slots to make save files. This way you don’t get in the pickle that you mentioned.

Linear. Fire Emblem is not Final Fantasy. It does not make sense to let you play the game as you would a traditional JRPG.


I wish to make the argument that “open map” FE games are in fact linear in the senses that matter.

In the RPGs we normally think of as “open map”, traversing the map has a purpose and a built-in challenge. Even though these games still generally have a linear plot, you are often required to do some amount of exploration before you are able to advance that plot (for example, finding a route to the next city that some NPC told you about, before you can fight off the monster that’s besieging that city). You may also have to either evade or deal with random encounters as part of this process. (Typically the evasion challenge is real-time, but it can also be tactical, as in the Etrian Odyssey series.)

Contrast to FE: the world map is really just an extension of the between-chapter preparations UI. Skirmishes are warned about and usually can be pathed around, or escaped from without penalty. Navigating to places is just a way to access the shop (or training grounds) at that location. You don’t even access optional quests this way (one of the common ways that RPGs let you take a break from the main story is to let you do one or more of these, in any order).

Having access to “older shops” is something that could theoretically be implemented just fine on a standard loadout screen - simply by having the available set of items update each time instead of being replaced entirely.


This is a message from lord Awakening:“I await you on the dread isle”

the only real exception to what you’ve said here is gaiden/echoes, which although it doesn’t have much it does have functionality to the overworld outside of preps. Gaiden has a few side areas like the sea shrine, and Echoes added several side quests to the game that gave things like extra marks for forging or rare items.


They’re basically two different genres. They’re both SimRPGs, for sure, but the earlier games are more Sim and the later games are more RPG, and both offer different styles of appeal. The fun part about Three Houses is that it tries to appeal to both, but if you ask certain people it fails at both because it doesn’t know what it wants to be.

I personally prefer linear, but I also like building the strongest My Castle Team in Revelations. There’s different appeal and thus it suits different tastes.

Also, as an extra note, Conquest is an example of a linear game with a world map. Indeed, there is a world map, but it only exists for slight customization and resources are limited. Limited resources mark a linear Fire Emblem experience, not a world map.

If you want to be strictly accurate to linear vs open map, the one FE game that even broaches a truly open map is gaiden/echoes; FE8 has a traversable world map, but I definitely wouldn’t call it open, at least until you reach the Creature Campaign. But even then it’s not open as there’s not actually much substantial to actually do other than clear the same 2 dungeons and fight random skirmishes. It’s like the opening continent of a JRPG but with no plot or structure, so you just wander around fighting random encounters and clearing dungeons that you find without any real goal.

Even still, I’d argue that by their very nature all FE games are linear, even if they have an open map. You’re still going from point A at the prologue to point Z at endgame, and the steps you take to get there will, even if taken in varying order, always be the same. Thus, I wouldn’t dichotomize linear and open map as you can easily be both.

That being said, I think something with a traversable world map vs. something without entirely depends on the story being told. In FE9, having a traversable world map would be weird considering the plot is driven by you travelling from point A to point B, then to point D via point C. Suddenly returning to the port you were just chased out of and onto a boat from said boat makes no sense and throws the player out of the world. Awakening suffers from this insofar as once you get on a boat and cross the ocean you can freely go back and forth across the ocean between chapters, which makes no sense. Opening up the entire world map just before endgame makes sense, but when you are on campaign on another continent you shouldn’t be able to just wander back home between chapters. FE8 has this same issue, albeit to a much lesser extent as there’s rarely if ever a strong narrative reason why you couldn’t or shouldn’t backtrack on the ultimate path of reaching your current objective, except maybe the last few maps of Ephraim route moving backwards from anywhere but there. In cases like these where there is an important plot event taking place and reaching a point as soon as possible is of the upmost priority, it makes sense for one chapter to lead directly into another with no world map interlude in between; FE8 does a fairly good job of this (Ephraim getting on a boat -> Ephraim on a boat -> Ephraim getting off a boat happens in succession with no world map breaks, which makes sense, you wouldn’t just arbitrarily stop a boat journey halfway through, go back, then go forward with it again (cough) ) while Awakening definitely does not do this well (see previous examples).

Of the games with a traversable world map, Gaiden/Echoes does it best solely by having the enemies move around the world map along with the player and giving you a real reason to backtrack for Mila Shrines. By having A. a reason to go back other than just visiting shops or grinding and B. reason not to go backward by enemies taking up positions you may have already cleared if you abandon those positions to go back to somewhere else, it creates a dynamic where there are real incentives to all players to go in either direction, which is something Awakening and FE8 both lack; if you don’t want to grind or visit old shops, there’s no purpose in backtracking in these games.

tl;dr not quite mutually exclusive styles of game but it depends on the narrative structure which is better (and oftentimes open maps are too open given narrative constraints)


I’ve only played a little bit of the game so far but I think a world map like Pokemon Conquest’s would be interesting, but with added depth. You deploy units in kingdoms/castles you hold and have them perform tasks in those territories and occasionally engage in combat in them. If you need to move units around then it costs them their turn on the world map and they can only move through so many territories at once, meaning you need to think carefully about how you move your units around on the world map and where they’re stationed if you need them for a particular battle.

definitely wouldnt call any fe game with a traversible world map open since they all follow a strictly linear path, even including the sidequests and bonus content to an extent. and thats perfectly fine, fe games benefit from stronger linear story telling then they do from more free form elements both in terms of gameplay and story simply due to the nature of their gameplay and story telling.

however, the closest i feel you could realistically approach a truly open world fe game is by defragmenting the story, as opposed to a wider continental war narrative that pulls the main character through stations of the heroes journey or what have you, focus on smaller narratives self contained to the areas that the player chooses to go to with a framing device to establish a general sense of how these smaller self contained stories fit into the larger one. say for instance you start off at one point/country on the world map, and you chose who you want to invade/fight first. having done so you then proceed to engage in a handful of maps that detail the invasion, and if your successful then you conquer that area. the next area you chose would then be autoleveled to match your current rate of progression, possibly getting some added elements to it depending on who was invaded previously (country a is beat, country b has more archers on their maps or floods a road to force your movement on the battle map a certain direction). which could be neat in its own ways, if also probably frying the story to heck.

As far as whether to have a traversable world map or not, I could go either way honestly, it depends on the specific game. While Gaiden/Echoes is among my favorites despite both versions’ flaws, it’s not as if I want every FE game to have that style of dungeon crawling or optional areas. It works for Gaiden, but it wouldn’t work as well in, say, the Jugdral games. It’s all about how it will or won’t serve each game in particular.

That said, Gaiden/Echoes is my preferred implementation if you are going to have one, it feels the most purposeful.

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If can use the command to move to the village from the preparation screen, I don’t need the open map.


Personally, I really like the way Gaiden/Echoes handled it’s world map, for reasons many people have described above. However, I think the full potential of a Gaiden/Echoes style dynamic map has never really fully been realized, even in Gaiden/Echoes, and if I have a choice between a less fully realized map a la Echoes/FE8/Awakening, vs the standard, traditional linear chapter progression, I prefer the linear approach.

I don’t think that pretty much every “open” fire emblem game (barring Gaiden and SoV, though they have their own bundle of issues like the enemies that keep popping up) were made better for having maps, and sometimes it makes things a bit worse. As mentioned there are narrative reasons like how the player can just cross the sea in Awakening, and in Sacred Stones, it feels weird to me that there would be shops inside of chapters because you can just skip them and buy stuff on the map instead.

Also, I kinda wanna mention grinding, because while it is wholly optional, it undermines choices in-game pertaining to how you spread experience from turn to turn. Overall, I’ll admit that it is ultimately optional, and it really comes down to me just disliking the presence of grinding in Fire Emblem barring arenas (besides fe4), but for the people that want to grind (and I’ll readily admit I was one of them), I guess it’s fine.

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I would be very interested to see a Fire Emblem game that embraces the “open world” concept much in the way that Breath of the Wild turned the traditional Zelda formula on its head. Completely open. You can march right up to the stronghold of the evil empire, just like how you can just run to Hyrule Castle after completing the tutorial area for the speed run challenge. It could add a very compelling aspect of being a “grand strategy game” with an FE combat system, if you have enemy battalions traversing the map as the player moves from point to point. Traversing the world map in different ways would alter the story’s progression and add an incredible amount of replayability. This would ideally include a “level scaling” type of feature so that grinding becomes obsolete, with the game becoming more difficult based on the number of maps completed.


Why redo an entire chapter (or more) when you can just go to the world map? It’s much more convenient.