Overall, I’d probably have to give it to FE7, since I’m assuming this poll is asking about the vanilla games as they are rather than stuff like their potential as bases for ROM hacks. Truthfully, I can’t deny nostalgia being a part of that, but the thread title says “favorite” which is a subjective, personal descriptor and it’s my favorite and I get to set the criteria for that, so…
It’s difficult to really pitch it as any kind of objectively-exceptional Fire Emblem game. As gameplay goes, it’s pretty easy and unremarkable, though I don’t personally find it bad by any means. I think it really comes down to the vibes of the story and world for me. I think the more… “covert”, maybe? nature of what’s going on as opposed to an all-out war is, in retrospect, an interesting change of pace for Fire Emblem without completely ditching the sort of “high-profile international drama” element most FE games have.
I’ve also never really understood people’s complaints about the story being inconsistent or full of plot holes or whatever. I can only really see arriving at that conclusion if you play through the game thinking about each part of the story for exactly as long as you need to to come up with an idea for something to CinemaSins Ding it for and not a second longer, because things seriously make sense and fit together just fine provided you’re willing to take the dialogue as the characters speaking their own thoughts and feelings from their own perspectives instead of expecting it to be written like a Wiki page giving straightforward, objective, and comprehensive explanations of what’s going on and how the lore concepts work from a detached, third-person omniscient perspective. Of course, subjectively not liking the story or finding it interesting is obviously fine, but this sentiment I see going around about the story being some Fates-tier swiss cheese nonsense plot simply does not track when I actually play the game myself.
…Er, tract aside, I think the game has a really charming and lovable cast that meshes well with the scope of the plot. Elibe feels like one of the most “alive” Fire Emblem settings to me in large part thanks to FE7, actually, because of how much that game feels like you’re looking at a slice of time, space, and people in a world that’s surely home to countless more people, places, and tales worth telling should you turn the looking glass towards their own little pieces of time and space.
I don’t really think this is a theme FE7 or… really most Fire Emblem games are explicitly trying to explore or spotlight, but FE7 established my love for, and is by my estimation a pretty strong instance of, to put it in a really cheesy way, “the fractal nature of life and the world”. Every era can be broken down into its major historical events, which each can be broken down into their own constituent events and what led up to them. These can be broken up into the major factions at play, which can be broken down into the individuals comprising each faction and their own lives and what led them to be in that place at that time. These people all know other people, who know other people, who know other people, and each of these relationships is a story of its own. Zoom in, zoom out, look anywhere on the grand tapestry and you’ll find stories, big and small, worth exploring.
Intentional or not, the nature of Fire Emblem’s casts in relation to the scopes of its stories taps into the appeal of that idea, and I feel FE7’s scope in particular is in a really good sweet spot where there’s a lot of obvious room to “zoom” both “in” and “out” and find interesting things, really enhancing the idea that, even though the story feels mostly satisfying and complete on its own (Athos’s “oh shit FE6’s gonna happen in 20 years” vision at the end of the game notwithstanding), it still feels like it’s just a part of a larger picture, and that other parts of that picture might be just as interesting in their own ways.