Fire Emblem Warriors Review: Much More Than Button Mashing

8
  • 3DS
  • Switch
  • Action
2017-10-20
fire emblem warriors nintendo switch 1
There are a ton of Fire Emblem characters in FE Warriors Koei Tecmo/Nintendo

Action games that focus on mindless button mashing have never really been my forte. I appreciate the formula and style that Dynasty Warriors has perfected over the years, but these types of games can get very repetitive and my enjoyment of them come mostly in short bursts.

Fire Emblem , on the other hand, is a series I got into late in my gaming life but has become one of my favorite Nintendo series. The storytelling and gameplay mechanics have always equaled a great time, and I always appreciate a game that forces me to be more strategic.

So when Fire Emblem Warriors was announced I was equal parts excited and skeptical of how Koei Tecmo would handle it. I’ve enjoyed early demos of the game ; the action looks and feels great and the little features brought over from the Fire Emblem series, like the weapons triangle, seem to give the game a layer of strategy that those series of hack-and-slash games needed.

After extended time with the game, I’m glad that Fire Emblem Warriors, while not perfect, is enjoyable enough that both fans of Dynasty Warriors and Fire Emblem should check it out.

STORY

The story of Fire Emblem Warriors is really inconsequential to the game itself, to be honest. It doesn’t tie into the grand scheme of the Fire Emblem franchise, in that it doesn’t progress any one particular story. It’s more of an alternative story, similar to the mobile game, Fire Emblem Heroes.

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You'll need to find the gemstones for the shield in FE Warriors Photo: Koei Tecmo

Without giving too much away, the story of Fire Emblem Warriors introduces our main protagonists, the twins Rowan and Lianna, whose kingdom becomes overrun with monsters and armies from another dimension. This is the reason for all of the greatest characters from Fire Emblem’s past to appear in one place, as Rowan and Lianna gather gemstones to fill a shield to prevent a dragon from appearing. It’s a bit outlandish, even for Fire Emblem, and while the story is pretty thin, I can’t complain about a game that lets beloved Fire Emblem characters team-up when they otherwise wouldn’t. It’s also a great way to introduce characters for those who aren’t familiar with the previous Fire Emblem games.  

GAMEPLAY/BATTLE

Although the story is just ok, the main focus of Fire Emblem Warriors is the over-the-top action that fans of Dynasty Warriors are used to, and it does this very well. The action is so satisfying, with sword slashes horse flips (yes, horse flips) scattering waves of enemies. The special attacks from each character feel unique and give an added flair while battling.

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You'll have your fill of over-the-top action Photo: Koei Tecmo/Nintendo

I’ve played games like Hyrule Warriors in the past and while the action is fun and can reduce a ton of stress (who doesn’t want to cut through waves of faceless men, from time to time?) it got pretty repetitive and boring. And to be honest, Fire Emblem Warriors was becoming repetitive and boring in its early stages, but as I started to learn how to use the features that are inherently Fire Emblem, the gameplay became way more enjoyable.

The aforementioned weapons triangle is a big part of the battle system, intended to influence which characters you bring into battle and which enemies you avoid. But I’ve noticed that any disadvantage in the amount of damage dealt and taken is pretty negligible. I was able to just push through and take down characters, even bosses, with this disadvantage.

This may have something to do with the fact that Fire Emblem Warriors is just not very challenging. Playing at normal difficulty, I was able to breeze through the beginning chapters of the story with no problem. While the difficulty did creep up as I got towards the end, I never really felt like I was going to lose all of my characters, if any at all. In a game that has the option of permadeath, this can be

The characters I did lose in battle were mostly due to the AI, which is probably the biggest problem with the gameplay. The number of times I saw the characters I wasn’t controlling standing around, doing nothing is too high to count. You’re constantly having to press start to access the map and give orders to your AI characters. If you have one invade a fort and capture it, they will remain there until you give another order.

Other times, especially when the boss of that chapter appears, the AI will automatically march to engage them. Unfortunately, the AI can’t evade and perform combos needed to take them down on their own, so when you finally switch to the character that’s already there, their health has been depleted.

Another issue with combat is the map itself. There is way too much going on for it to be effective. When you pause the game, the map enlarges for a better view, but the massive number of red enemy warnings can really slow down your ability to navigate. It’s also a pain when two characters are in the same area and you want to give commands. You’ll have to press on the character avatar on the map and select which character to choose. It’s a nitpick, but when you’re in the middle of battle and have to give commands, it’s a bit maddening to repeatedly press A and X over and over again to select the correct character.

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The map can get cluttered very quickly. Photo: Koei Tecmo/Nintendo

Otherwise, the Fire Emblem mechanics make this game way more enjoyable than I thought it would be. Pairing up characters to shield the weak, or using a Pegasus Knight to fly a grounded character over a ledge are just some of the many things players have to account for in every battle. This makes Fire Emblem Warriors more than just a button-masher’s dream, but adds a lot of strategy that even fans of Dynasty Warriors may not be used to.

OFF THE BATTLEFIELD

Between Chapters and battles, players can prepare for the fights ahead by visiting Camp or going through your Convoy. If you don’t do your due diligence and prepare by strengthening your weapons and creating crests before every fight, you’ll notice that your opponent’s defenses become impenetrable and your character’s health will drop much faster. However, there are plenty of other ways to become stronger. Fire Emblem Warriors allows for players to go back to older levels to gather material to build crests and weapons, find special items like Master Seals and just beat up on enemies to level up.

Fire Emblem Warriors also allows character’s levels to be raised in the Training Ground by spending gold. There is a ton to do off the battlefield in Fire Emblem Warriors that adds more strategy to the game, even when you’re not fighting. There’s also a History Mode that lets players play through classic scenes in past Fire Emblem games in the style of Fire Emblem Warriors. It’s a neat little mini game that fans can enjoy after completing the main campaign.

VERDICT

Overall, Fire Emblem Warriors is more than just your typical hack-slash, button-mashing affair. While the action and over-the-top combos are highly entertaining, the real joys of this game are the Fire Emblem mechanics and the strategy that goes along with it.

The battle map UI is a weak point, making it difficult to command characters. Also, the AI just standing around waiting for orders is a bit annoying, as you’re constantly having to pause to give more commands, which takes away from the fast-paced action that FE Warriors otherwise does so well.

While the story is pretty thin, it doesn’t take away from the overall enjoyment of the game.

Fans of the Dynasty Warriors formula will enjoy the different mechanics that the Fire Emblem series brings, but those coming to the game from the Fire Emblem franchise may feel a bit out of place., That said, there’s lots to appreciate about what Koei Tecmo and Nintendo have done with this mashup.

Fire Emblem Warriors is available today for Nintendo Switch and 3DS.

REVIEW SUMMARY
Fire Emblem Warriors
8
Fire Emblem Warriors Review: Much More Than Button Mashing
Fire Emblem Warriors is more than just your typical hack-slash, button-mashing affair. While the action and over-the-top combos are highly entertaining, the real joys of this game are the Fire Emblem mechanics and the strategy that goes along with it.
  • Action-packed
  • Layers of strategy
  • Just the right difficulty
  • Story is thin
  • Map UI
  • AI needs constant commands
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