I got Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia yesterday. Much like when it was announced out of the blue in February, it was something of a pleasant surprise, as I had completely forgotten about it and my pre-order for it.
It's a really nice game (so far) and I'm surprised how well it works given it breaks some of the tenets of how Fire Emblem works. There's no weapon triangle, to start with. This is actually quite freeing, as it means less worry about taking scissors to cut all the paper and instead just using which troops you want. Along with this, fliers aren't immediately made mincemeat by all archers, which makes them more useful and archers have a much better range of attack, 1-3 squares, rather than just 2, making them much more versatile.
Another item change is that the traditional system of equipping weapons is gone. Each character can hold one item, whether it be a weapon, a shield or a vegetable (to eat and regain HP). Not having a weapon equipped means that they use a generic default, whereas giving someone, say, an iron sword gives them some stat buffs and, as they use it, learn "arts". These are Echoes' equivalent of skills from Fates and Awakening and are tied to items rather than class. None of them seem to passive and they all cost HP to use (as does magic and healing now). It definitely creates an interesting dynamic.
One clear improvement, rather than alternative, over the previous games is that there's much more voice acting. Pretty much every bit of dialogue is fully voiced, including the support conversations, which makes them much more lively. I suspect there's room for this because the game's not quite got the breadth of Fates (I assume it hasn't, anyway) but I think it's a great trade off. The soundbite vocal style of the previous games wasn't terrible, but could get a little wearing at times, whereas here, the characters get to be so much more endearing, especially Alm, whose VA is great.
The only real problems I have with the game are to do with extras. The Amiibo compatibility is a bit naff. You can use the new Alm and Celica amiibo to unlock extras dungeons, I think (not got either of those) or you can use any other Amiibo to summon an "illusionary fighter". These cost a decent amount of HP and last only a turn (and they act independently, rather than under your control). Using a Fire Emblem Amiibo summons a shade that looks like that character, rather than a generic fighter summoned by any other Amiibo. It's a bit pointless though - they essentially steal XP from your proper characters, the ghost like design mutes the thrill of summoning favourite characters like Lucina and given how much HP they cost to summon, you probably won't be able to afford to summon one if you really need it.
The other extra problem is DLC. There's a season pass available from day one and it costs £40. £40! That's more than I paid for the full game. If you got the premium limited edition and wanted the season pass, for the full Echoes experiences, you'd be looking at £115. It's extortionate.