Fire Emblem is without a doubt my favorite Nintendo franchise. Likely, that’s because I’m a writer, and Fire Emblem has some of the deepest stories and characters in the Nintendo library of franchises. While it started out as a niche franchise, through games like Path of Radiance, Awakening, Fates, and character appearances in Super Smash Bros, the series has reached new heights. With those new heights comes new opportunities, such as becoming a new genre, which is exactly what Fire Emblem Warriors is. Something very different, yet, something that feels true to what the franchise is.
Game Name: Fire Emblem Warriors
Platform(s): Nintendo 3DS/Nintendo Switch
Developer(s): Team Ninja, Omega Force, Intelligent Systems
Release Date: 10/20/2017
Fire Emblem Warriors comes from the same team that did Hyrule Warriors (a game I thoroughly enjoyed), but as they noted once, Fire Emblem was something altogether more special to them. So when they got the chance from Nintendo to do this game, they did it, and happily so, and that love and passion can be seen in this game. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not perfect, but it’s still dang good.
If you’ve never played Dynasty Warriors or any of the Warriors games, that’s ok. You don’t need previous experience with this, you just need to be able to press a few buttons and watch hordes of enemies fall to your might. But don’t think that’ll be easy because it’s more strategic than you think. You see, as you progress through the various levels, you’ll have missions, and sub-missions to complete, and if you don’t do the right thing, or the smart thing, you’ll lose, regardless of how far you’ve come, or how close you were to victory.
But, where Fire Emblem Warriors excels in this hack-n-slash gameplay is the strategy that is everywhere, and the characters that make up the roster. On the first part, the team at Omega Force brought in the classic Fire Emblem “Weapons Triangle”. Sword beats axe, axe beats lance, and lance beats sword. Enemies have this built into their DNA, and though the mindless hordes will die regardless of your weapons type, the bosses, mini-bosses, and certain higher-rank soldiers will not. You’ll have to be the right character at the right spot to capitalize, else your units can die.
Going further into this, Fliers (Pegasus Knights and Wyvern Riders) are weak to bows, and by “weak” we mean they’re Flier-killers. If you’re not careful, they’ll get one-hit KO’ed. Thus, why strategy is important. As you build up your roster of characters you’ll need to be careful who you deploy into battle, else be on the receiving end of your bad choices. Fire Emblem is a strategy game above all else, and I’m happy to see that it wasn’t abandoned in Fire Emblem Warriors.
Which brings me to the other thing, the characters. Say what you will about the roster choices (I’ll get to that later), but Fire Emblem Warriors truly excels at not only making each character unique but being true to their own individual personality and weapon style. There’s been a LOT of complaints about the number of sword-users here, but let me tell you, ALL of them feel different. Every. Single. One. Marth does not play the same as Chrom. Corrin and Ryoma have entirely different fighting styles and techniques, it’s all special, and that’s what makes the game even more fun.
You’ll have favorites no doubt. I like Chrom, Cordelia, Camilla, and Ryoma. But then, one time, I decided to take a chance on Lissa, and dear gosh, she’s awesome! One of her techniques is doing front flips with her axe and it’s the coolest looking technique in the game I’ve seen so far, and that’s saying something! You’ll have a blast checking out the different characters, their techniques, and how they win in battle situations. Don’t be afraid to experiment!
Moving onto the Story Mode, I was pleasantly surprised by how well Fire Emblem Warriors did the story, and then some. There’s been a lot of comparisons between the game and fellow title Fire Emblem Heroes. For my money though, Warriors is the better experience. Our new Lords, Rowan and Lianna, are wonderfully introduced and are given a heartfelt story, as well as unique personalities that ring true and familiar for what a Lord is meant to be in the story. This is different than Alfonse and Sharena, where their story is limited to certain characters and situations. In Warriors, we see how they grow through the interactions with the various characters brought in.
Which is another epic highspot…we get to see all these Fire Emblem characters together! Chrom meets Marth! Ryoma meets Robin! Lissa meets Sakura and Elise! And they all talk to each other frequently, it’s a true fan-desire moment, multiplied by twenty! It’s amazing to see them all in one spot, having one conversation, encouraging and enjoying each others company, it’s almost indescribable.
And of course, there are support conversations! They put some interesting duos together, and it makes for some both heartfelt, and hilarious situations. For example, Leo gets a wardrobe manager…and his name is Frederick…you’re welcome.
I will say this, I wish that the end of the story mode was a little more expanded upon. Especially with the Chaos Dragon…who doesn’t even speak. He’s just there, and how he got there is a little confusing at points. But still, a good story worthy of the Fire Emblem series.
Once done with that, you can hit up History Mode, which is an expansion of sorts upon the Adventure Mode from Hyrule Warriors. And this one is MUCH better. For here, you get to relive classic battles/moments from the Fire Emblem franchise. You get to take on Validar and Grima in the temple from Awakening. You get to help Corrin make his choice between Nohr and Hoshido, and much more! Oh, and two high-profile characters can only be gotten through History Mode: Lyn and Celica.
What I really like about History Mode isn’t just the old-school look for it (as it uses sprites on the overworld map of each level), but each map is different, each has different ways to evolve, and each level has its own special condition that you have to complete. It makes it more of a variety, and yet, you can pick and choose which ones you want to do. Some you will have to do, but others you can ignore.
One thing I cannot ignore is the music and look of the game. This title takes classic Fire Emblem themes and amplifies it ten-fold to make it sound even more epic. Anytime you use your “Awakening” gauge you’ll get a powerful anthem of the classic Fire Emblem theme. It’s great. As for the looks, the Switch makes every single character model look amazing. Seriously! Every character (or at least, the main characters, let’s be fair here) looks crisp and detailed. Every attack, ability and special attack is wonderfully rendered, and the battles can be something to behold.
Before I dive into the “bad” parts, I want to go back to the strategy/character elements. Much like in other Fire Emblem games, you get to help evolve your characters. They each have stats, weapons, items, and skills that you can give them. The more battles you do, the more materials and weapons you can get to make them stronger. Now, while “key” characters have their legendary weapons, not all do. And you won’t be fighting with every character you have, so you’ll want to level up your “lesser” characters before bringing them into battle. Crests are a wonderful addition to the mythology, and they give you the ability to get new attacks, new abilities, new resistances, and more. Add that to the classic Smithy were you can forge special weapons, and you’ll have a LOT to think about before going into battle.
…that being said. There are some things that Fire Emblem Warriors doesn’t do well. First off, it can be a little overwhelming at first. Especially if you’re not used to this. You’ll have to get used to various abilities on the fly, and then have to balance out how you use certain characters. Which is another thing, the character roster is big, but that’s also a problem. As in some battles, you’ll get a max of 6-7 to use. When you have a roster of 20+?And you’re used to certain characters? That leaves some of them behind. There are situations when you have to use a certain character, but I wish there were more of them in the main game.
Which…brings me to the voice acting. Fire Emblem Warriors is close to 50/50 on how the voice acting comes off. Some voice actors have returned from previous games to voice their characters, others haven’t, and it’s very noticeable. For every Chrom, Ryoma, Female Corrin, Navarre and Marth, there’s Xander (too high pitched), Hinoka (too high pitched), Camilla (trying REALLY hard to sound like the previous voice actress) and Tiki (who’s…British?). It’s sad, to be honest, but hey, at least they got more right than wrong.
Now, as for the roster itself. I understand the hate that only 5 Fire Emblem games got represented (including Lyn and Celica from Rekka No Ken and Shadows of Valentia), but it honestly does work well here. Yes, I do wish that certain characters made the cut, but you’ll understand why they did it this way via the storyline. And hey, we are getting more in DLC. Yes, I wanted characters like Ike and Hector in the game…but isn’t that what sequels are for?
Another complaint I have is with the A.I. At times? It’s right on point, very strong. Other times? I’ll see ally characters just standing around, not doing anything. It’s battle guys! Help me! There were many times where I would guide a unit to a place, they’d complete the mission, and then they’d do nothing! Or, in the final boss, I bought EVERY unit I had to fight Velezark…and I was the only one attacking him! WHY?!??!!
All that being said, I truly believe that Fire Emblem Warriors is a fun and enjoyable adventure. If you’ve dreamed of these games crossing over in a meaningful way, this is it. This game has depth, heart, personality, and lots of fun to be had. It may have been “doomed” at various points in time leading up to its release. But it challenged its fate (get it?) and won in the end.
Fire Emblem Warriors Review
Fire Emblem Warriors proves that with the right team, any kind of genre is befitting. With true loyalty to what the franchise is, plenty of characters to be, and lots of enemies to fight, this is one game you shouldn’t pass up.
For even more insight into the game, check out the latest episode of the Nintendo Entertainment Podcast!