The gameplay is very similar to Path of Radiance with a few differences. Units on higher ground do more damage than those at a lower level than at an equal or higher level. Several characters and classes were added, as well as new types of Laguz. Also, there is another level of class added to the existing two, so characters that start out in the first "tier" of classes can change classes twice.
Dark magic was also added. Another feature is that the usual support between characters accessed through base conversations is present, but so is another type of support that temporarily raises certain stats determined by affinity become activated when characters are within three spaces of each other. It also includes 44 chapters, 15 more than Path of Radiance.
All of the playable characters from Path of Radiance (except for Largo) return as playable characters in Radiant Dawn. Here are the starting classes and weapons of all of the playable characters.