I may not be a Fire Emblem veteran, far from it to be honest, but this leap into the series has sold me on its ability to produce memorable characters with a fascinating story to boot. Of course, I realise this isn’t your typical Fire Emblem game, crossed with the Dynasty Warriors franchise to make a hack-and-slash Action RPG, instead of the usual Tactical RPG style fans of the beloved Nintendo franchise are used to seeing.
A new story has been created specifically for the game and brings characters from various titles together in one big mash-up of heroes. It’s this collection of characters that help in bringing new players to the series whilst pleasing the veterans who know and love these familiar faces. As a newbie, I felt it gave me an insight into the history of the series whilst also making a unique sensible story as to why these characters are now in the same realm as each other.
Series original protagonists Rowan and Lianna are the royal twins of Aytolis and are joined by the likes of Marth from Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light, Chrom from Fire Emblem Awakening and Corrin from Fire Emblem Fates just to name a few. Aytolis is under attack and it turns out someone is trying to revive the Chaos Dragon Velezark who will absolutely wreak havoc if allowed to roam free. The royal twins with the Shield of Flames in hand given to them by their mother must journey to find the five gleamstones that will power up this powerful artefact, that can then be used to thwart Velezark.
The developers have done a good job in almost spoon-feeding the introduction of new characters to the player, so you don’t feel overwhelmed right from the get go. You are given time to let the name and backstory of a character process in your mind before the next set are thrown right in. There are some similarities between how a number of the heroes were brought in with some being almost the exact same. A misunderstanding followed by a fight, then followed by you trying to convince the other person that you mean no harm, after already having killed a lot of their warriors because they started it. Doesn’t always make sense, but it ultimately works when in context of the fantasy world.
What I love about this title is its rewarding and addictive gameplay loop. Team Ninja and Omega Force just know how to deliver on the gameplay front. It isn’t incredibly complex, being simple by design which allows all players to jump in and be good at the game. But that isn’t it, there is depth to the system that rewards players for being strategic. You have your typical dodge, guard, regular attack and strong attack which are the usual mechanics present in this style of game. Joining those are the Warrior Special and Awakening features, the former being a special attack which can be used once you fill the Warrior gauge and the latter being a mode that grants advantage against all weapon types and gives bonus rewards for large KO counts. The awakening mode also allows you to perform a Warrior Special without using up your normal gauge.
Upon activation, special moves go into a small cutscene style segment with the character performing their various strikes and then finishing off with a satisfying blow. I just love the combat, it makes me want to keep fighting and hit special after special. It’s certainly better however to reserve these moves for the right enemies at the right times rather than waste them on the lowly troops. The weapon triangle is like your classic game of rock, paper, scissors with this version however, being Swords beat Axes, Axes beat Lances and Lances beat Swords. Having the advantage grants benefits such as increased damage dealt with the opposite happening when you’re at a disadvantage. The weapon triangle doesn’t hinder you greatly on the lower difficulty settings, but when playing at higher difficulty it forces players to think about their team and pick the right combination. All in all, the gameplay caters for all players from casual to the hardcore.
Throughout each battle you will acquire weapons, items and other loot along the way. This is where the Convoy and Camp come in with their RPG style mechanics. In Convoy you can change your unit’s weapons, equipment, skills and costumes. Camp then gives players the chance to strengthen their team and weapons. You can spend a lot of time outside of the missions just customising and improving your team, experimenting with all the different elements. It’s all there for you if you want it and if not, these things aren’t fully necessary to enjoy the game on easy mode.
History Mode offers a different experience compared to the Story. Choose a campaign to get started on and be presented with a 2D map that has sprites drawn on it. Select an enemy to face and jump into a Warriors battle and complete the objectives. The goal is to beat the boss at the end of the campaign. Rewards include new characters, items and experience. This mode features more content than the story, providing multiple hours’ worth of battles to take part in. On the content front, Fire Emblem Warriors is not lacking.
The character design is fantastic, each having their own unique looks. That being said, some will have similar clothing styles which is based on their allegiances and yet they still look different enough to be memorable on their own. World and level design is key to any fantasy based RPG game, you need to be immersed in the world and feel as though you are part of that universe. Each level looks the part, be it a desolate wasteland or lush forest, it has that aesthetic that draws you in and makes you want to see more.
Detail wise it could definitely be better, but without focusing too much on the textures and world around you it is a good-looking game. When you stop to take a look, there are quite apparent jagged lines and flat textures which aren’t the most eye-pleasing. In handheld mode it looks better, but with the smaller screen that’s to be expected, the jagged lines are less noticeable and on a surface level it just appears more polished. But I’m not trying to take away from the TV mode because I played the majority of the game on the big screen and had no issues doing so.
Sound design is king, not only featuring a stunning, awe-inspiring soundtrack but great voice acting and pleasing sound effects too. Through each level your treated to epic tracks in the background that motivate you to fight on and conquer evil. Every slash of the sword has this distinct metallic clink upon connection with an enemy that makes it hard to stop swinging. Full voice acting helps in building a connection with the warriors just by being able to convey their emotions to the player.
GAME DESIGN & INNOVATION: 8.5/10
Fire Emblem Warriors boasts a large amount of content, addictive combat, fantastic sound design and a memorable story. It’s a great starting point for those who wish to take a look into the Fire Emblem universe without being disheartened by the tactical RPG style some players find challenging. For the longtime fans, I feel it offers a unique story with the top characters of the series and hopefully quenches the thirst of those looking for the next main series instalment.
OVERALL: 8.3/10 – GREAT
Reviewed by Rhys Baldwin.