I have never been a big fan of the Dynasty Warriors series. The repetitive button smashing started to get mindless for me and I jumped that ship ages ago. The thing is I am a huge fan of the Fire Emblem series so I would either have to suck it up to experience the latest in the series or just miss out. Also, it helps that I am trying in every way possible to spend more time on my Switch these days because it has become my favourite gaming platform. Fire Emblem Warriors is the latest in the Dynasty Warriors genre that takes the Emblem series and all its awesome characters and puts them all into a massive battlefield with thousands of enemies to fight through. The combat is addictive, the story is half decent, there are some great characters, and not to mention it looks stunning on the Switch.
Fire Emblem Warrior's story is very much in the same lines of other crossover games from Koei Tecmo. One day a strange darkness appears over Aytolis and Gates of the Other Worlds appear in the royal castle. You may have guessed it already but these gates link all the Fire Emblem kingdoms together and contain creatures and heroes within. While the game does have a range of characters from across the series, it has its own duo of new heroes that it focuses on too. Rowan and Lianna enter the roster after their kingdom is brought into darkness. With the Shield of Flames being the only object that can help them, they set off to find al the seals to return the shield back to full power.
Each of the seals is scattered somewhere across the land and during their adventure they come across some familiar faces from across the Fire Emblem series who are both friend and foe. Characters like Marth, Hinoka, Elise, Lissa, Robin, Frederick, Cordelia and more join the battle and every character has a unique attack style and control system. Cordelia for one ride on a winged horse and can use this to stay above the enemies and also fly across gaps which. if you are playing with any other hero. would need you to either go around it or activate a toggle to lift a bridge.
With so many characters it is hard to choose just who to master but luckily each mission restricts you to different heroes so you never feel overwhelmed by the roster. Missions also never feel as if they rely on specific heroes to complete, which again gives you freedom in combat. Fire Emblem Warriors plays out just like any other Dynasty Warriors game but it also has a fair share of unique tactical options that makes it feel like a Fire Emblem game. Before a mission starts you can order the heroes that you are not controlling to attack forts on the field. Each hero's weapon has an advantage and disadvantage over another type. For example, spears are weak against axes which are strong against swords. Using this formula you head into each mission and instruct each hero to attack a fort guarded by a “Fort Guard” with the weapon you will deal more damage too. At the start of the game I could send anyone anywhere but as the game got more and more difficult, enemies would kill my AI heroes if they tried their luck by tempting fate on the weapon system.
Battlefields are divided into segments of which each of them is controlled by an enemy leader. Take down that leader and you will own that block until reinforcements arrive. Forts control the flow of battle, and enemy gates are also scattered around missions which can be controlled again if you kill the enemy in charge. A standard mission would see you begin, command each hero to attack a certain block and fort, and then you set forth as a hero you control to takes over the map. With the multiple heroes comes the best part of the game, being able to instantly switch between them at any time. If there is trouble on the opposite side of the map and a side mission is triggered that needs you to save a wizard, then you can easily change to a hero on that side and finish it up.
The same goes for reinforcements and forts. Where you play your heroes at the start of the mission, is sort of where they will stay throughout, so if trouble does arise then you at least have someone there to help. As repetitive as Fire Emblem Warriors gets, its combat is very addictive and it is the sheer depth of attacks, partnerships in heroes, and the skill system that makes this so. Spamming buttons to pull off a large combo that sends hundred of enemies flying into the air to finish them all off with a super move that gets even better once you have joined up with one of the non-playable heroes on that mission. Often I would get so distracted by the combat and the joy of pummelling a hundred pathetic soldiers into dust that I would forget about the objective at hand. The super moves are all very flashy, and the attention to detail in which the 3D rumble comes alive when fighting makes it feel just as good at it looks.
While the main combat is fun, I wish I could say the same about the boss fights. Often the story leads you in a direction that is very confusing. You will need to fight a hero which is friendly but instead of them being on your side, the appearance in this new world confuses them so they send out an army to kill you. It is all very farfetched and makes very little sense from a lore point of view. Luckily them being confused leads to a mission which means more beating up hordes of enemies. Once I took over all the forts and the boss appeared these fight offered nothing new and exciting at all. It was the same spam of the buttons and just making sure I cornered the boss so he or she could not attack back.
Fire Emblem Warriors has a simple gear system that relies on your heroes being a specific ranking before they can equip a better weapon. These are all obtained in battle but you need to unlock these higher ranked requirements using materials found on a mission. It never feels as if you are grinding for these materials luckily as they are most easily obtained if you kill enough in a mission. As for gear itself, the stronger the rating from A to D, the more skill slots they will have in them. Each weapon has different attributes on them which can be transferred to other weapons at the cost of the weapon itself. Near the end of the game, and after careful crafting, I was wielding a sword with six slots all filed up with various attributes. Things like Strong increases damage, Power Up will let more weapons drop with more slots, and other attributes deal more damage to specific enemies depending on if they are flying or not too.
The weapon system can be confusing and feel limiting at first, but you settle into it pretty fast and the amount of customization is great too. My only issue is that these attributes never really felt as if they were having a major impact on the game itself. I could still get away with not relying on bonuses to specific enemy types.
Fire Emblem Warriors runs like a dream on the Switch with both docked and portable modes being flawless. There are even graphical options to choose from that favours resolution for frame rate, and vice-versa. The game can run in a 60FPS mode but it does lower the quality a bit. Both on and off the TV the game looks superb. Levels are detailed and the sheer amount of enemies on screen at once is a true testament to the power of the little Switch's internal parts.
In the end, Fire Emblem Warriors made me forced to love the Dynasty Warriors genre and I have no regrets. The game is addictive, fun to play in bite-sized portions, and is a great representation of a great series. Switch owners who have been hungry for a Fire Emblem game might not get the original experience with this but at least it is better than nothing.
Available On: Switch, New 3DS | Played
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