Nintendo was slow to adopt downloadable content, and we've hailed them here for being pretty fair and generous with its add-ons. But even we can't help but raise our eyebrows at the plan for Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia, the upcoming classic Fire Emblem remake for 3DS.
Downloadable content will be coming on a weekly basis right from the start, totaling five packs in all. The first, the Fledgling Warrior Pack ($7.99) will come at launch on May 19, offering a new dungeon called The Astral Temple and two more maps. Nintendo says this one is intended for early players who can use the extra content to get some extra items, money, and XP.
The second and third packs will hit simultaneously on May 25. Undaunted Heroes ($9.99) offers another dungeon called The Inner Sanctum, and two more challenging maps for higher-level characters. Lost Altars ($14.99) packs several new dungeons that let you upgrade characters to exclusive, DLC-only classes.
The fourth, Rise of the Deliverance ($12.99) will come on June 1. It's a prologue that features new challenging maps and adds extra characters not available in the main game. The fifth and final pack, so far unnamed and undated, will be $5.99, but Nintendo isn't sharing any further details on it just yet.
A Season Pass will be available at launch too, for $44.99–more than the cost of the game itself. That is a pretty decent savings compared to the cost of buying them all separately, and Nintendo notes that free DLC will be available as well.
Nintendo boasted in the same announcement that Fire Emblem Echoes is "a massive game filled to the brim with content" by default. It clearly understands how announcing such a wealth of DLC, announced before launch and coming so close after, could rub fans the wrong way. And to be clear, I don't believe this is content removed from the main game, as critics of DLC often suggest. Generally downloadable content is mapped out as an extra revenue stream in budget and resources planning. Nintendo is also right that offering these a la carte allows fans to take the ones they want.
So practically, Nintendo isn't really doing anything too unusual. Still, the sheer scope of the plans, and gating exclusive classes behind the most expensive piece, is bound to cause some consternation in the Fire Emblem community. We'll reserve judgment until we see exactly how much value we can squeeze out of the DLC, but this move certainly seems less timid and generous than some of Nintendo's past experience with DLC, for better and worse.