I couldn't see anywhere else I'd feel okay wall-of-texting like this, so I just made this. Two things to note before I go on whatever this is going to end up being: I'm playing Birthright and I haven't actually beaten it yet. I'm half way through, but that's been more than enough time for me to get my thoughts on this game together. (Oh, and spoilers ahoy) SO LET'S GO:
Firstly, let's just get the stuff I dislike about Birthright out of the way (This should be a wall). The plot is a predictable mess. Like seriously? I could probably tell you the ending right now. They've managed to get more formulaic than Pokemon games with so many trends from past games being squished in for ??? reason. Firstly, wow, legendary sword, no one saw that coming. Secondly, wow, parental figure death. Actually, let me go into more detail here. This was bad story telling, and is one of the main things that bothers me about following a formula that closely. In Awakening and Path of Radiance, we have time to get to know the character that is going to die before they do. We see their bond with the main character and perhaps even make an emotional attachment with them... Not in Fates. The mother figure was alive for so little time I don't even remember her name. She died so quickly, not even the protagonist had time to feel like he knew her (yet explodes into a dragon when she dies anyway because plot plot reasons). It just felt forced and made me feel absolutely nothing when it happened. Maybe it's just me, but the emotion was entirely lost with me.
Thirdly, the choice you need to make seems... eh. Again, everything up to this point felt so forced the choice had no emotional impact on me. Oh, and the fact that you actually get to choose between Hoshido and Nohr even if you only bought one is laughable. I think I literally laughed when it gave me the option to choose Nohr, because I'd have had to pay money to get it and it would feel more like an add-on than a full game. But that's diverging a bit.
The characters in this game... Uuuuugh. The characters in this game are so shallow that they've become a rival from a Pokemon game. Literally one thing defines them and they stick to that character trait like gorilla glue. In Awakening, I would complain about the superficial reasons units would get married, but dang if it isn't worse here. Support convos stick to one topic and the units get married because of that, even if it's something like Kaze giving candy to Rinkah sometimes... really!? I could probably define every character in under 4 words, and be 100% accurate. That's... not good. There's no depth to anyone. I've grown to like many characters, but that's because I always add nonexistent character traits to them in my head. (I also gave Kaze the nickname "Kazoo", but again, that's diverging a bit)
A few minor things that really bother me are:
1. Contrived weapon forging. They should really just bring back PoR's system (I've expressed my love for that thing before).
2. No weapon durability. I'm pretty sure this is a lot more people than me. At least staves still have durability, that would be broken otherwise.
3. Bonding, and the whole treehouse thing in general. I'm mostly okay with inviting people to hang out in your private quarters so that support levels can go up, but bonding does... nothing. I was only doing it believing it had some purpose in the end, like Pokemon-Amie
(the thing it was based on) that it would boost character stats or something, but nothing of the sort ever came to be and I just stopped doing it altogether. I get that the argument "it's an optional feature you can ignore" probably still holds water for a lot of people, but a pointless feature is still a pointless feature.
With all of that out of the way (although I'm sure I could say more), let's talk about the things I like about Fates.
1. My Castle is actually pretty fun and I enjoy it. It adds to the barracks and previous base preparations by making them an online thing as well as a decently fun passtime between battles. My love for secret bases in Pokemon probably carried over to this.
2. The chapters are alright. I like the Challenges and the actual chapters in general, because, I mean, it's still the base gameplay of an FE game.
3. Certain new features are fantastic, in my opinion. I like the new classes and weapon types. I feel like throwable weapons are a really cool idea that should be kept. Branching off of this, the way pairing up was modified in this game is also very good. It feels much more balanced than Awakening's pair up system, and I like that enemies can do it now as well.
Aaaaaand that's all I can come up with that I really liked about this game. Final verdict: This is a good game in my opinion, but it isn't a good FE game. We've seen Fire Emblem be so much better than this, but I'm not going to say this game is horrible. Good game, bad FE game.