I have never played a Fire Emblem game in my life. Before you run at me armed with flaming pitchforks, please note I didn’t say I don’t like the series, I just have never stopped and played an iteration. Weirdly enough, I was actually looking forward to Fire Emblem Warriors the moment it got announced, not because of its themes, not because of the fact it was yet another Warriors game, but because it instantly reminded me of my favorite Wii U game, Hyrule Warriors, a game I expected so little from and got pleasantly surprised throughout the whole duration of my playthrough.
That’s what basically what I was expecting from Fire Emblem Warriors, and that’s exactly what I got from Fire Emblem Warriors: Hyrule Warriors with a different skin.
While I was indeed expecting the game to be inspired by the last exclusive Warriors game on a Nintendo console, I can’t help but feel a tiny bit disappointed with some major similarities featured in both games. The biggest offender is the fact that the game’s story is basically the same as in Hyrule Warriors, as it revolves around people from various games in the series being considered beings from multiple worlds and dimensions, united in order to restore a McGuffin of sorts which can defeat evil at last. The only difference between Hyrule and Fire Emblem in this aspect is that the former has the Triforce as a McGuffin, while the latter has a shield that can carry gems just like Marvel’s Infinity Gauntlet. Everything else is played out just like the 2014 title, for better or for worse.
Gameplay-wise, you already know what to expect, it’s Dynasty Warriors. Run around the battlefield, murder more people than the Black Plague, conquer territories, fight a boss at the end of the level. You’ve seen it before a million times (even on the Switch, with Fate/Extella), this game will definitely not make you change your mind towards the series if you’re not a fan. Some of the good elements of the series are still present, such as the catharsis you can feel by killing a literal thousand of enemies per level. Other issues are still present, like the low level of difficulty (as you can beat levels with your eyes closed just by mashing the attack button) and the fact everybody but yourself has the IQ of a stillborn slug.
In order to differentiate itself from its Hyrule-born brother, Fire Emblem Warriors borrows a few elements from its main series, one being really interesting and effective, the other being pretty much useless. The fact you can command your troops via the pause menu, just like a strategy game, is one of the game’s most interesting aspects, as it adds another layer of planning and depth to an otherwise brain dead series like Warriors. That is also one of the very few instances when your allies develop enough intelligence to actually do what they’re supposed to do. The other addition is a weapon effectiveness triangle of sorts, present in all Fire Emblem games. While they act like a “rock paper scissors” system in the original games, they have little to no effect here, as you can easily use any character on any enemy and it’ll still be pretty easy to complete your objectives.
When it comes to its artistic department, the game gets the job done. The cartoonish visuals are pretty, bringing the otherwise static or sprite-based characters to life, even if the textures and environments aren’t exactly gorgeous per se. Given the fact the game forces the console’s hardware by maintaining a high framerate when hundreds of characters are onscreen at a time, that’s a sacrifice I’m completely okay with. The sound department follows the pattern set by Hyrule Warriors, with lots of rock and metal remixes of famous tunes from the series.
My biggest gripe with the game, however, isn’t the fact it’s yet another Warriors game. The game suffers from some pacing issues while you’re in the middle of a battle. Every single time a new objective is revealed, the game pauses. Every single time the game wants to teach you something, it stops to shove tutorial screens in your face, alongisde a very obnoxious voice saying “I’m here to help” (honey, you’re doing the exact opposite). Every single time you level up, the game pauses, and there’s no easy way to skip the leveling up screen. This happens a lot during every single level and mission, and it’s very irritating due to how constant it occurs. Fire Emblem Warriors is actually pretty fun when the insane action is let loose, so being forced to park the car every now and then feels like an unfair tease.
Don’t expect me to say Fire Emblem Warriors is phenomenal, it’s a must-have, none of these things. It’s a very good game, but its appeal is limited to certain niches: either you’re an open-minded Fire Emblem fan (as the whole “worlds collide” storyline might trigger a few loyalists) or a fan of the Warriors series, as this is nothing but yet another entry on the franchise with half a dozen extra bits to differentiate it from the other two dozen games made by Omega Force out there. A good one at that, though.
Also available on: 3DS