When it comes to the ‘Warriors’ series of games, there isn’t much difference between them – take control of a character and endlessly pummel hordes of enemies into the ground while completing objectives. A simple enough premise that many different franchises could easily slot into, with minor tweaks for characters and story. Fire Emblem Warriors however, takes the stock-standard franchise and builds on it, crafting a game that takes the best of both worlds and blends them together nearly seamlessly.
Worlds converge when Prince Darios of Gristonne’s father seeks to revive the evil dragon Velezark, causing dimensions to shift and enemies from other realms to invade. It is up to the Royal Twins of Aytolis, Rowan and Lianna, to save the world; joining forces with heroes from Ylisse (Fire Emblem Awakening), Hoshido and Nohr (Fire Emblem Fates) and Altea (Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon) to restore the Shield of Flames and cast Velezark back into darkness.
For those of you who aren’t accustomed to the Omega Force/Team Ninja signature style in ‘Warriors’ games, the gameplay consists of taking control of characters on a map, seizing forts and defeating wave after wave of fodder soldiers, with a few tougher ones and boss characters thrown in for good measure. There are tasks and challenges – usually surrounding the need to protect an area, save a character, or defeat enemies within the time limit. Your characters build up gauges that allow for special attacks which can take out wider hordes of enemies and deal significant damage. But here’s where Fire Emblem Warriors differs significantly, and makes the playing experience that much better.
The game takes cues from Fire Emblem’s gameplay style and incorporates them so seamlessly in that you’d think this was an evolution of Fire Emblem itself; you can command your team to attack certain points and set up multi-pronged attacks (albeit in real time as opposed to turn-based), as well as using the pair-up mechanic to make your efforts stronger and more intense to take down enemies or save characters and points on the map. The game also brings in Fire Emblem’s ‘weapon triangle’ – swords beat axes, which beat lances, which beat swords – and uses that as a strength in order for players to calculatedly plan their attacks rather than rush in weapons blazing. This is alongside the other signature Fire Emblem weapons of bows, tomes and dragonstones, with characters from their respective series’ using these weapons. Even characters such as Lissa still have the ability to heal with staves as well.
The cursed perma-death option is retained too – you can choose to play with it on or off, just like in Fire Emblem. Characters level up in the same way including a short level-up screen including a voice clip, and at the end of each battle an MVP will be selected and awarded a bonus boost. Skill progression is opened up with a skill tree, which is actioned by harvesting materials in battle (usually by killing opponents) which boost the skills of all unlocked characters, making them better to fight with and unlocking new abilities.
Fans of the Fire Emblem series will also love the little nods here and there; the audio cues and remixes of songs from the games, as well as the voice cast which (for the most part it sounds like) return from each individual installation. The musical medleys really fit the battle scenarios, and having the voiced characters makes it feel just that little bit more Fire Emblem.
Although the good outweighs the bad, there were still a few issues with the game. Starting as a casual player means that every pop-up and tip interrupts the middle of your gameplay. You can turn this off, but for newcomers it will get annoying as at certain points you get engrossed in battle, and would prefer not to be interrupted. While on the battlefield, sometimes your allies will stand around once they have completed their task, and it falls to you to direct them tactically each and every time – there isn’t a consistent command to get them to keep attacking. While this is understandable from a gameplay point of view (you are the tactical leader) it just doesn’t make sense for them to stand and do nothing post-battle.
THE SWITCH VERSION OF THIS GAME WAS PLAYED FOR THE PURPOSE OF THIS REVIEW
Despite the silly and over-the-top story, Fire Emblem Warriors takes aspects from both respective series and breathes new life into them – the elements of the Warriors series make perfect sense in the Fire Emblem world, and the features and mainstays of the Fire Emblem series bring a new depth to the Warriors franchise. While some may be put off by the fact that the game can be overly helpful, this is adjustable, and ultimately a really good addition to the musou game genre. A real gem for both Warriors and Fire Emblem fans alike.