Before you say it, yes it is a shame that such a long-running JPRG series is being represented on this Smash countdown via a Warriors game, but as I’ve mentioned several times already, I just don’t get on with turn-based RPGs, and that goes double to tactical RPGs with permanent death! So instead let’s have a look at the second Nintendo franchised Warriors game, and well as publish my first Switch review!
Marth, all geared up and ready for battle!
Fire Emblem Warriors was released in Japan on September 28th 2017, with the rest of the world getting the game October 20th that same year. It was made by the same team that made the Zelda-themed Warriors game “Hyrule Warriors”.
Looking at this screenshot it looks rather cluttered, but you don’t really notice in the heart of the action.
At its core the game is very similar to other Warriors games. You hit the Y button over and over to do a string of attacks, or add a press of the X button to do a different combo (for example, Y-Y-X, or Y-Y-Y-X, and so on). You can do a big special move (normally referred to as Musou Attacks, but I don’t remember what name they went by in this game) by pressing A if you’ve built up enough meter, and once a level you can enter an even greater, more powerful state that ends with an even greater super move. You can also jump and block, and refill your various meters (including health) by picking up items.
The Fire Emblem part of it comes in several ways. Firstly the weapons triangle of Axes beat Lances, Lances beat Swords, and Swords beat Axes, is incorporated into the game, putting you at an extreme disadvantage, or advantage, depending on circumstance! Secondly before a battle and at any time during one, you can call up the map and control the A.I. warriors on your team and tell them where to go and what to do using a Fire Emblem-like grid system. Several playable characters cover unique Fire Emblem roles as well, including Pegasus and Wyvern riders that can fly over gaps in stages that other characters can’t.
There are also mages that can heal other members of your army, both playable and not, and a system where you can join up with other characters which will see the absorbed character pop out and assist you, and eventually team up for an even more powerful Musou style attack. As you fight close to other characters you increase your bond with them, getting a high enough bond will mean you get a unique conversation between them. Oh and by default when you level up during play it actually pauses to show the characters stats going up, rather than doing it at the end like regular Warriors games. It’s a bit more RPG-like, though also quite a bit more intrusive…
Finally, and possibly most Fire Emblem-y of them all, you can have permanent death on, so when someone on your side dies in battle they’ll no longer be selectable (though they’ll still show up in cutscenes…) This can be turned off mid-Story mode, though cannot be turned back on after it’s been switched off. Frankly I ended up turning it off after a couple of my A.I. controlled playable characters went off to face a super-powerful boss before I had done any missions to weaken it, and got one-shotted before I could take control and get them out of there. You really have to micro-manage the other CPU controlled characters using the map ALL THE TIME as they’re just too stupid to see even when they’re at a disadvantage in the weapon triangle. It’s my one major gripe about the game.
Modes-wise there is the aforementioned story mode, which goes on for quite a bit, and History Mode, which has smaller battles tailored to each Fire Emblem game featured in this game. There also a tonne of information to read, weapons to equip and upgrade, and skill trees to flesh out using bits and pieces you collect from defeated enemies during battle. Some of the skill tree upgrades makes the chosen character look different, normally by having them don more armour.
Graphics and Sound:
A picture that truly shows “1 vs. 1000”.
Given the amount of moving models on screen, Fire Emblem Warriors, like most Warriors games (bar Dynasty Warriors 9, which still looks gorgeous) isn’t the best example of what a console can do, graphics-wise. It still looks nice though, the characters look nice and anime-ish, and lighting effects on some of the moves are nice, the draw distance is impressive as well. It’s a good-looking game, just not when compared to, say, Zelda; Breath of the Wild or Super Mario Odyssey.
Sound is fine, you have Omega Force-ised versions of classic Fire Emblem themes (well, I recognised a few from play Smash Bros. so much, I’m sure there are more!) and good soundeffects for strikes and explosions. The English voice cast is very… American teenage-y, which is a shame, but you can always switch to the Japanese voices and put up with the clearly-tailored-to-the-English-dub subtitles…
No! Teamwork is for fools! It’s much better to be alone! etc…
As with many of these titles by Koei, the story involves characters from various worlds (a.k.a. various games) suddenly arriving in this new world and fighting amongst themselves for a while, before eventually coming together to fight a great evil. In this case, two twin heirs to the throne of Aytolis, Rowan and Lianna, end up seeing their castle attacked and flee with friend Prince Darios of Gristonne. These three original characters then end up finding groups of Fire Emblem characters along a journey that eventually sees them forge the Fire Emblem itself thanks to the bravery and heroics of certain heroes they meet.
ENDING SPOILERS: Darios ends up corrupted by an evil dragon known as Velezark, who ends up being revived at the cost of his life. Everyone bands together and destroys the dragon, which then in turn undoes the magic that brought them all to this realm in the first place. Overall the story is… harmless.
Not sure what I was going with when I took this picture, but I couldn’t be bothered to boot the game back up and take another one…
Three pieces of DLC were released, featuring new playable characters and new maps for History Mode. They’re based on Fire Emblem Fates, Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon and Fire Emblem Awakening, respectively.
Final Thoughts (Now):
One of the few properly unique parts of the game!
Fire Emblem Warriors was fun to play through… once I turned off perma-death and was therefore not stuck constantly telling A.I. team mates where to go. I may only have passing knowledge on characters from the franchise thanks to countless hours with Super Smash Bros., but that didn’t impact the fun of playing a good old-fashioned Warriors game, but with a few unique twists and character types. Good fun.