Tecmo Koei has been on a pretty good roll recently in incorporating it’s “Musou” engine into a variety of games you’d honestly never think would work. The Fire Emblem series is well known for being a punishing Tactical RPG game that requires you to strategize and plan your moves ahead of time while also punishing those who don’t adapt by making you watch your character fall in battle, permanently removing them from your roster. While this isn’t a game I would never think would be a hack and slash title, it’s actually quite fun to see some of my favorite characters in action with some pretty well done animation and skills as I lay waste to thousands of enemies who dare cross me.
If you’ve ever played any of Dynasty Warriors or any of the various spin-offs released in the last few years (Dynasty Warrior Gundam, Dragon Quest Heroes, Hyrule Warriors), you pretty much know exactly what you are getting into. The first 15 minutes of the game will play exactly like the rest of the game will, for the most part. While it can get rather repetitive fast since it’s an endless cycle of button mashing using the same combos to mow down waves of enemies but it also has quite a few things going for it to keep you enjoying doing so, which we will get into shortly.
Fire Emblem Warriors plays out quite a bit like a fanfic someone made after playing the most recent Fire Emblem games (Shadow Dragon, Awakening and Fates). The game is set in an alternate world where Princess Lianna and Prince Rowan of the Kingdom of Aytolis live peaceful lives with their mother until one day strange creatures attack and Lianna and Rowan are separated from their mother after escaping. Suddenly, the two start meeting various Fire Emblem warriors who have been drawn through their world via portals as they slowly start teaming together for the sake of their world. The story overall isn’t unique just a nice way of making an excuse to bring a large variety of characters together. It seems to just slide by with very little use of the source material for each title or doesn’t really try to do anything with the characters aside Lianna and Rowan but even then you only use them because you have to.
The main bulk of the game will see you running around and slaughtering endless amounts of enemies. While you gain various characters throughout the game to level up and use, you are only about to use four characters at a time (sometimes only one or two depending on the mission) which you are able to swap between freely throughout the mission. Later in the game, it’s important to have a good balance of characters and weapons since you come across all types of enemies and bosses. Being able to do more damage is pretty important especially in the arena battles where you have two characters fighting against stronger enemies for a few rounds, luckily leveling up characters can be done in two ways: normal usage and defeating enemies or buying their next level with money.
There is a nice bit of strategy involved in the game which is nice rather than just going in hacking and slashing all day. Giving your party members orders can help change the flow of battle as you send them to various locations on the map to either defend your home base or attack enemy forts before advancing. Of course, being able to actively switch to that character after he reaches where you tell him to makes it that much easier to control the flow of battle or let the AI go wild.
Let’s now talk about some of the elements Fire Emblem Warriors uses from the Fire Emblem series. The Weapons Triangle system from the Fire Emblem series makes an appearance which means that certain weapons are stronger against a particular type (Swords over Axes, Axes over Lances and Lances over Swords) so having a balance of what weapons you take into battle is important…or just making it so your opponent doesn’t get a chance to attack which isn’t too hard in the game if you exploit the right combo. Of course it can play a big advantage to you since Pegasus Knights are very weak to Bows so it never hurts to have one in your party.
It feels like Tecmo Koei tried to add elements to keep the overall Fire Emblem feel but really just implemented the basics which bring us to…..
Permadeath. Classic Fire Emblem is tough because if a character dies, they are gone forever. While this option exists in Fire Emblem Warriors, it’s not really what what you would expect. Characters still appear in the game’s story via dialogue but can’t be used in the campaign…that is unless you have enough resources and gold to revive them. Seems a bit pointless and counterproductive doesn’t it? Especially since it takes away from the urgency of having to plan ahead well.
The level up system is also in full swing as you gain extra stats each time you raise a level. While it looks cool, it seems almost pointless since you really don’t feel like you’re gaining anything from it, rather it’s just a cool piece put on to replicate the feel of the Fire Emblem games. This systems feels stripped down to a bare minimum especially when it comes to the Master Seals which are the main way to change classes in the Fire Emblem series. Where you would get different branching options which provided different boosts in stats in Warriors you are only able to ascend to a Prestige Class once in the game which leaves a lot to desire.
History tries to repeat itself….
The main campaign doesn’t take too long, around 10-11 hours on normal. While you can replay each mission on a harder difficulty and level up characters, you can also try to find all the collectibles in each area to take on the challenge that is History Mode. History Mode is a series of battles set around various scenarios from different Fire Emblem Games. While it plays off a bit of the source material, it really just sets up various missions to complete as you slowly take out different challenges laid out before you. It’s a fun way to enjoy more of the game and importantly unlock a few more characters to join you in battle.
Is it worth picking up?
While the game feels like it’s missing a bit of charm especially compared to some of the more recent Musou entries, Fire Emblem Warriors still has plenty of non-stop action to keep you glued to your Switch or Nintendo 3DS. It’s a title that if you aren’t already a fan of Fire Emblem or Dynasty Warriors you may not be a fan of but if you like slicing through thousands of enemies for hours while playing as your favorite character you are in for a nice grinding session, filled with plenty of fanservice.