Fog of War (Advance wars and Fire Emblem)

From Atrocious Gameplay Wiki
Its not even about real strategy anymore if the AI can see through everything.


Fog of War is a gameplay element that obscures vision of a map and hides units. This gameplay has been featured in Advanced Wars and Fire emblem (these games were both developed by Intelligent Systems and have similar gameplay). It was first added in Tharcia 776 and featured in Advanced Wars titles starting from the GBA. The concept is that the fog would obscure units on the map and can they only be revealed if a friendly unit was there depending on their vision.

Why It Sucks

  1. While in paper is a good gameplay element in strategy games, the main reason for its infamy is that the enemy ai can still see you in the fog while you the player cannot! Its a cheap way to make levels difficult than they are. Levels such as Battle before Dawn (Fire emblem) or Kanbei's Error (Advance wars) suffer from the fog that makes these levels unfair to beat.
  2. A problem with the enemy not being affected by the fog is that they can attack at anytime giving the player no reaction. A weaker unit can be suddenly overwhelmed by a stronger enemy unit that comes right behind the fog. One of the rules in fog of war is that if a unit happens to move into the same space an obscured enemy is on, that unit is forced to wait the turn. But because the enemy ignores this, they will attack when right next to them leading to some cheap hits.
    • It is especially unfair in Advance wars since each unit has a differing amount of vision they can see through fog. You could have enemy bombers (which have vision radius of 1) cheaply destroy your defences or hidden units blindly.
  3. It also removes the potential for stealthy attacks on enemies. Fog of War is meant to restrict the units vision and encourage careful movement. Limiting the vision would add some suspense on what enemy you'll encounter or to hide your ambush squad for a suprise attack. Because the enemy bypasses this, the enemy will see your unit early on and foil your plan. This makes also using the fog to hide units pointless.
  4. When it was introduced in Tharcia 776, the fog was pitch black, osbcuring every tile and unit which made it harder to view the map.
  5. It forces the player to be cautious in a bad way, sandwiching units or cluttering them into blobs making it less about real strategy and more on cheesing the cheating ai. It doesn't feel rewarding at all when you use these tactics.

Redeeming qualities:

  1. The concept of obscuring the map to allow a more tactical approach would've been far better if the ai actually worked with the fog.
  2. In Advance wars, the ai for some reason couldn't see your units obscured in forests and reefs unless they had their units adjacent to that hidden one.
  3. It was fixed in Advanced wars Dual strike. The ai doesn't see through fog anymore, and that they have to spot a unit and keep it in their vision before they can attack it.

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