- Developer: Koei Tecmo/ Omega Force
- Publisher: Nintendo
- Platform: Nintendo Switch
- Release Date: 20 October 2017
- MSRP: $59.99
Fire Emblem has become one of my favorite Nintendo franchises. My experience with Fire Emblem series began with Fire Emblem Awakening. I couldn’t wait for Fates to come out and bought it at launch. Next thing I know, I’m buying the GBA ones. The series began near the end of the Famicom’s (NES) lifespan. It enjoyed modest niche success but didn’t get a Western release until 2003. Nintendo feared the series wouldn’t appeal to Westerners and might be too hard. Many were introduced to the series in Super Smash Bros. Melee. Marth and Roy were included due to Masahiro Sakurai’s insistence of having more sword fighters. If it weren’t for Sakurai, there’s a chance we in the West wouldn’t have gotten Fire Emblem. It’s the way I found out about it. The series saw a decline in sales and was nearly canceled. Awakening ended up being a surprise hit on both sides of the pacific. It become the first game to break 1 million sales, in effect saving the series. No matter one’s opinion on Awakening, the series would be dead without it.
The announcement of two Fire Emblem games heading to Switch had me ecstatic. Nintendo announced Fire Emblem Warriors soon after. With the success of Hyrule Warriors, its not surprising Fire Emblem was the next Nintendo franchise to receive an installment. The Fire Emblem series lends itself well to a Warriors style game. The series has many characters to pick from. Koei Tecmo is known for getting lazy and cheap with its games, but Intelligent Systems and Nintendo would allow that for one of their iconic franchises. Good times are to be had here.
The story of Fire Emblem Warriors follows twin siblings Rowan and Lianna. They are the young prince and princess of Aytolis. One day, Rowan is sparring with his good friend Prince Darios of Gristonne when suddenly monsters have attacked the castle. While escaping the castle, they are separated from their mother, Queen Yelena. It turns out Darios’ father King Oskar has decided to invade Aytolis and wants to revive the Chaos Dragon.
For whatever reason, Outrealm portals have opened and heroes from Ylisse, Hoshido, Nohr, and Altea have been transported to this world. The heroes gather and support the twins. They gather the heroes from Ylisse fairly easily. Chrom and Lissa are immediately ready to lend a hand while Frederick is wary. This mimics the opening scene of Awakening. Things don’t quite go as smooth with the Hoshidians and Nohrians. Several misunderstandings occur before everything is sorted. Eventually, the two kingdoms put aside their differences and joins with twins’ cause. The Alteans join later. They all join together to fight off Gristonne forces and stop the summoning of the Chaos Dragon.
Our heroes must put together the pieces of the Fire Emblem and prevent Gristonne from acquiring it. The will of the Chaos Dragon will not make this easy. He will force a betrayal and get his hands on the Fire Emblem. The Dragon is revived and must be defeated. It ends with an epic battle against the Dragon and a bittersweet send off to all the heroes. Everyone goes back to their worlds.
Warriors has a story that’s typical Fire Emblem fare. Royals and knights trying to save the kingdom from eminent doom. The story is straight forward and simple. Just save the kingdom and destroy entire armies. What makes it special is seeing all the past characters interacting with each other. The characters are true to their original counterparts.
Obviously, this is not a strategy RPG like the main games. This is a Dynasty Warriors game with a Fire Emblem skin. For those that don’t know, this entails fighting hordes of enemies with hack and slash combat. The point of this is to get a rush from the feeling of be so powerful by destroying entire enemies. To win, you must take over enemy forts and defeat the boss.
Despite the different gameplay style, Fire Emblem Warriors keeps many mechanics from the main series. The weapons triangle is featured here. Swords beat axes, axes beat lances, and lances beat swords. Sort of like Pokémon weaknesses. Playing matchups is just as important here. You must direct fighters where to go to get the right matchup. It can be easy to lose track of what everyone is doing so check the map frequently. Characters will wander wherever if the task assigned was completed. Every character is given a class and have set weapon types. A character can be promoted to an advanced class with a Master Seal. Master Seals are found in specific chapters. Classes have weakness, like Pegasus Knights and Wyvern Lords are weak to bows. Chrom’s and Lucina’s Falchion is strong against dragons. Staves can be used to heal combatants but only have limited uses per battle. Characters level up and have varying stats based on their game counterparts. Characters can pair up and increase support level with each other. Supports are increased when battling strong enemies, healing an ally, or impressing a fellow warrior. When support reaches A+, a special conversation between the two takes place. Fire Emblem Warriors did an excellent job of incorporating elements that Fire Emblem fans can appreciate.
The combat very fast paced and simple. You could call it a button masher. Everything seems frenzied and full of mayhem. There is emphasis on being aggressive and going on the attack. You will unlock new combos over time. As you attack, two gauges fill up, The Warrior and Awakening gauges. The Warriors gauge allows a character to perform their special attack. The Awakening gauge takes long to fill up. Activating Awakening makes the character more powerful and allows them to perform two special attacks.
Its important to pair up characters. The supports allow for stat boosts. You can control the actions of a partner, like attacking and defending. This got me out of many sticky situations. My partner prevented me from taking a lot of hits. Your partner can also join in on the special attack, allowing for even more damage.
The character selections were mostly what I expected. It had many characters from the recent Fire Emblem games as well as some iconic characters (like Marth). Some may think that Awakening and Fates are overrepresented. Both games are among the most popular in the franchise, so it makes sense. Maybe I’m just happy my Awakening waifu, Lissa, is in the game. She’s just so cute! I have a thing for girls with pigtails and a mischievous side. Along with old characters are two original characters, Rowan and Lianna, who are the focus of Story Mode. They are basically clones of each other but with slightly different stats.
When a battle is over, you are given rewards based on performance. Rewards like gold, materials, and weapons. Gold can be spent to level up characters or unlock character upgrades. Materials are used in tandem with gold for character upgrades, like new combos or defense. Some materials are only gained through increasing character supports., like Cordelia’s favorite book or Chrom’s cape. Weapons can be reforged with additional affects applied to them. Grinding for materials can be tedious but isn’t detrimental to the experience. If you’re enjoying the game, then that won’t be a problem.
There are two modes, Story and History. Story Mode I obviously the story of Fire Emblem Warriors. Rowan and Lianna are the protagonists. They must save Aytolis from being destroyed by the Chaos Dragon. History Mode allows the player to relive classic moments from the franchise.
The player is encouraged to replay chapters. There are many unlockables to acquire. Within each chapter, Anna the dimension traveling merchant, will give you Anna’s mementos. These are pieces of a portrait of the three games that Warriors focuses on.
Fire Emblem Warriors is pure fanservice through and through. It has many references and nods to the entire series. Longtime fans will definitely enjoy this game. You get to actually play as your favorite characters and see them interact with each other. You can listen to music or character voices, like Super Smash Bros. There’s so much for fans to appreciate. If you love Dynasty Warriors, you’ll be happy. This is far better than Dynasty Warriors 9. Why would anyone think an open world Warriors game is a good idea? That kind of defeats the purpose of Dynasty Warriors.
Fire Emblem Warriors is not impressive graphically. Maps may seem on the generic side. The characters themselves look great. They are very accurate to the original source. Characters are very expressive. Lip synching is a little off, but I didn’t find it distracting. Pre-rendered cutscenes looked very good as they should. Other cutscenes were told with character portraits and text reminiscent of the main series.
One problem was that the game had some performance issues. The framerate was prone to dropping when there was too much happening on screen. This can become a problem in a game like this. The game even crashed at one point. Luckily, this only happened once.
Fire Emblem Warriors mostly contains remixes of series classics. The soundtrack is epic orchestration fitting with the fantasy setting. You can listen to the songs in the extras menu. Many of the sound effects from the games were also included, such as the level up and menu sounds. Nice touch! The voice acting was solid. Fire Emblem Warriors kept the original voice cast. It would be difficult to hear new voices. Thanks Nintendo for not allowing Koei Tecmo to cut corners.
Fire Emblem Warriors is a good time to be had for fans of Fire Emblem and hack and slash games. Its another game worth getting on Switch. Unfortunately, I wouldn’t recommend playing this game undocked. A bigger screen is need with how much is going on. The game provides plenty of fanservice and references. I can’t wait for a real Fire Emblem game on Switch.