Fire Emblem Warriors Review – Not Quite Lit
Fire Emblem WarriorsOctober 20th, 2017
You can’t blame Nintendo for letting Omega Force Musou-ify at least one more of their beloved franchises. Hyrule Warriors was hardly a groundbreaking game, but the fun, frenetic Warriors combat blended well with the Zelda universe, and fans were placated, if not overjoyed. Omega Force turns it’s hand this time to Fire Emblem, the only other series Nintendo really has where most of the cast can throw around medieval weaponry.
Fire Emblem Warriors follows the tale of two new protagonists, Rowan and Lianna, royalty of the Kingdom of Aytolis, the world in which other Fire Emblem heroes have been dragged into. Aytolis is basically a name alone, as almost all of the areas you fight in are locales taken from other Fire Emblem games. Travelling through their patchwork Kingdom, Rowan and Lianna team up with all of these stray heroes are they team together to beat an evil dragon at the end - you know, the usual Fire Emblem fare.
So playing the campaign isn’t exactly going to send any fans crazy, then - at least, not in a positive way. The fact is, a majority of the cast is straight from Fire Emblem Fates and Fire Emblem Awakening, with characters from other games few and far between. Unfortunately, this is all too obviously due because of future DLC plans - there’d otherwise be no reason to exclude Ike and Roy, two of the most popular Fire Emblem characters thanks to the Smash Bros. series. It’s difficult not to be reminded of the fact Nintendo and Omega Force intend to sell you some of your favorite characters later down the line.
The stages could use some more variety, too. Unfortunately it’s another problem with a franchise like Fire Emblem, where a majority of every game either takes place in a field, a canyon or a castle. The stages from Fates mix things up thankfully, with the Hoshido stage being particularly unique in design and most memorable, but otherwise these stages tend to all blur into one.
But despite these drawbacks, I couldn’t help but get stuck into the combat for hours and hours on end, especially when playing with a friend in split screen. This is where Musou games play best in my opinion; with a big army of enemies to pound through with a friend. You can play co-op through a majority of the campaign missions featured in Fire Emblem Warriors, and History mode allows you to play with a friend too.
History Mode in Fire Emblem Warriors is a lot like Hyrule Warriors’ Adventure Mode. Here you select enemies to fight from a map, the map resembling a famous stage from a past Fire Emblem game, starting with the final stage of Fire Emblem Awakening. Here characters play out the story as you go through enemies - each enemy representing a different challenge, such as defeat as many enemies in the time limit, defeat 500 enemies, capture all forts, and so on.
Sadly, the power of the Switch gets called into question when playing in split screen - there are hardly any enemies on screen, and switching the game into a lower-resolution Performance Mode in the settings instead of Quality Mode is necessary to maintain playable framerates in split screen. The lower enemy count also impacts how long it’ll take you to defeat groups of enemies; basically, these missions work best when playing solo, sadly.
There’s a bit too much busywork in menus too, sadly. A Crest Shop will allow you to upgrade you warriors, allowing them to equip higher level weaponry and use new attacks, or even just upgrade their defenses against certain weapon types. However, each character has plenty of crests to unlock, and you must go through each one-by-one to upgrade them. It’s a frustrating, time-taking task, which will likely see you only upgrading a central-team of characters you enjoy, rather than the full cast.
But upgrading as many characters as possible is in your best interests, as playing with all of them is the best way to get fun out of long sessions of Fire Emblem Warriors. In battle, you will often be with a team of four warriors of your choosing, and you can flick between controlling any of them at any time, allowing you to do damage to singular warriors with powerful swordfighters, or mow down crowds with mounted units.
The small, few Fire Emblem elements that this Warriors game has adapted work well, for the most part. Pausing the game and ordering your teammates to defeat commanders or defend/attack forts works really well, and the characters actually do a good job of fighting by themselves - even if they don’t, you can always order them to move there, and then just take control of them when they arrive. You can also take one of your pals as a partner, where you’ll be able to take them with you to swap between them at any time, use them as an extra attack in combos, and even unleash strong ultimate attacks which use both characters. One thing that doesn’t work, however, is a menu which pops up each time your character levels up, interrupting gameplay - luckily you can turn this off in menus, and I recommend it.
Fire Emblem Warriors is a strange one to quantify because while I have some major gripes with the game, I also played it for hours and massively enjoyed it. Maybe that’s why I’m so critical of the smaller elements that let me down, because this should be a massive celebration of everything Fire Emblem, and if anything, it’s a celebration of two or three games out of the massive, storied history of the series. And that’s a shame.
Reviewed on Nintendo Switch (code provided by the publisher). You can buy the game on Amazon.
Despite all the complaints though, I can’t help but recommend Fire Emblem Warriors to Warriors fans. If you enjoyed Hyrule Warriors, you’ll enjoy this just as much, and if you’re not really a Warriors fan, then this probably won’t convince you, even if you adore Fire Emblem.
- Some good adaptation of Fire Emblem mechanics
- Performance/Quality Mode option
- Expansive History Mode
- Forgettable story
- Poor framerate and character count in split screen