October 20, 2017
Nintendo, Koei Tecmo
Team Ninja, Intelligent Systems, Omega Force
The Fire Emblem franchise has been around since 1990 and while it has seen a resurgence in popularity since it’s 2012 entry, Awakening, it has long been considered a staple in battlefield strategy. For almost as long Omega Force and Koei have been releasing the Dynasty Warriors series, best known for bombastic characters and hack and slash — not really strategy. So you’ll forgive my confusion at the existence of Fire Emblem Warriors.
This isn’t the first spin off from the Warriors franchise with a third party franchise. Previously we’ve seen the likes of Gundam Warriors, One Piece: Pirate Warriors, Hyrule Warriors and most recently Dragon Quest Heroes. Each of these titles managed to bring aspects from the original title and mixed those into what can only be called a “practiced” game play style from Omega Force.
Cards on the table from the beginning, I spent a very long time playing the Dynasty and Samurai Warriors titles as a teenager all the way up to adulthood. In all those years the franchise has not really ever felt the need to reinvent itself. Dropped into a battlefield as a general in an army you’ll mow through mobs of paper men, occasionally slowing to take on enemy generals or pinpoint particular points of interest.
Warriors games have always been a guilty pleasure, they are simplistic fun for the most part. The gameplay is fairly mindless with little challenge but that is not where the charm of the series comes from. I can’t deny there is a sense of twisted joy from brandishing ridiculous weapons and racking up another 10 KO’s with a single swing.
Fire Emblem Warriors definitely continues the tradition of its predecessors. Taking control of an array of memorable heroes from past Fire Emblem titles as well as two new heroes you’ll begin your time with the game by making your way through the Story Mode. Introducing our new protagonists Rowan and Lianna, who are saccharine at the best of times, the story fulfills its purpose but is nothing groundbreaking and is sufficiently predictable.
Players of Fire Emblem titles will recognise that the plot is par for the course when it comes to their particular brand of fantasy story telling. Expect chaos dragons, evil wizards and once again for some reason, children from the future. The writing is nothing special and characters are as cardboard cutout as can be expected. Everything just feels a little lazy, there are literally 6 levels in succession that see you fighting “good” characters because of the same misunderstanding and because no one can be bothered explaining themselves succinctly.
“The roster compared to other Warriors games seems very limited and that is before you take into account that only one or two characters felt unique.”
Our leading lad and lass don’t really ever help the plot as it treads water. At the very beginning you will choose to play as Rowan or Lianna and the only difference this will make is that one of the pair will be locked in on every level you play while the other can be swapped out with other players — even this is unimportant though as they both play identically.
Warriors games make their bread and butter on a wide variety of characters each with unique move sets and weapons. The Fire Emblem Warriors roster compared to other Warriors games seems very limited and that is before you take into account that only one or two characters felt unique. Also for a franchise spanning almost 30 years the roster seems to be heavily focused on the post Awakening titles and those that aren’t from the last five years in the series don’t appear until almost the final act of the game.
Maps have a fairly formulaic layout and never include very interesting set pieces, hazards cleared by taking over certain locations and areas only traversable by flying units. You can almost always expect the enemy to suddenly launch an ambush behind you as you’ve pushed forward so you’ll always want to leave one character towards the back of the fight to deal with this.
This opens up one of the strengths of the game. Warriors titles usually see you play as a single unit; sometimes you are able switch between two other heroes but only ever having one member of your squad active on the battlefield. Fire Emblem Warriors instead offers you four playable characters that will operate on AI when not in your immediate control. The added strength of this is that from your pause menu you are able to issue commands to your four playable characters or the other NPC generals in your army.
This is one of the few times that strategy plays into the hack and slash fest the rest of the game offers. Managing your heavy hitter to simultaneously hit forts or pincer attack enemy generals does have a bit of joy to it. It also means that if you know something will need your specific attention you can send off an AI character and assume direct control when the time calls for it. It’s a handy addition and harkens back to the classic Fire Emblem game play mechanics along with the ability to pair up to heroes for support, the use of master seals to rank up and unlock skills and the rock paper scissors game of swords vs axes vs lances.
Once you’ve trudged through the story you’ll then be given the ability to replay missions without the restriction of which characters you can and can’t use. You’ll utilise this to complete tasks, collect new weapons, earn materials and XP to help level up and unlock extra skills. As well as this there is a History Mode that will offer a bit of a mix up on the levels and offer some higher difficulty fights. At the end of the day though all of these extra bits and piece just feel like plate dressing to hide a meal that will satiate your appetite but won’t wow your tastebuds.
- Hints of strategy shake up the Warriors gameplay MO
- Mindless hack and slash still feels satisfying in short bursts
- A cast of memorable characters
- Uninspired design that begins to bore quickly
- Characters movesets feel repetitive
- Extra busy work added to hide repetitive gameplay
Fire Emblem Warriors is in no way a bad game, in fact it is a fair amount of fun, but as someone who has enjoyed both franchises previously I cannot understand who this game was aimed at or even why it came into existence. Preceding Warriors games have performed better and I can’t imagine anyone who is a fan of the Fire Emblem series will find much of what they love about the previous instalments. Fire Emblem Warriors is inoffensive at best and forgettable at worst and will have drifted from the combined consciousness of gamers in the near future.