Fire Emblem Warriors (Switch) Review
Hyrule Warriors was a great game, and Hyrule Warriors Legends was, in my opinion, better. This lead to a few questions and hesitations that I had with Fire Emblem Warriors before playing. “Is this just Hyrule Warriors Legends: Fire Emblem Edition?”, “Did I only like Hyrule Warriors for my love of Zelda, will my lack of interest in Fire Emblem bore me?”, “How many interesting movesets can you have with characters as similar as Marth, Chrom and Lucina?”
Let’s get the first question out of the way. Is this just a reskin of Hyrule Warriors? The engine like most musou games are the same and the gameplay is similar, so it has to be, right? Well, yes and no. Look, I’m not going to sit here and tell you that one musou game is vastly different to another, however, I will sit here and tell you that Fire Emblem Warriors feels like an iteration to Hyrule Warriors rather than repetition.
As with Hyrule Warriors Legends, you can now control multiple warriors on the battlefield. Previously driven AI characters can be cycled and swapped between to quickly dart around the map and complete objectives. New to Fire Emblem Warriors is the pair up system. You can pair up two units on the battlefield to not only combine their power in special attacks but also to swap between at anytime mid-combo. This is important due to the Weapon Triangle being introduced in this game. When breaking guards, you will do more damage if your weapon is more effective in battle, making pairing up of two different units more strategic and valuable.
The story mode is structurally the same, having the main storyline that splits off in the middle to two differing mini-arcs only to come together in the end. However, the biggest edition is easily the voice acting. Hyrule Warriors felt like a game that wanted to have voice acting, only to have Nintendo refuse it. This time, nothing is held back – cutscenes are fully voiced and have dialog sequences before and after the missions. Co-op also returns however without the gamepad to offer a second screen, the game is forced into split-screen which while not ideal for field of view and performance drops occasionally, it’s inclusion is great to see on Switch. 3DS remains a solo experience.
The main plot introduces two new characters, Rowan and Lianna from the Aytolis Kingdom and mysterious portals open upbringing not only monsters but our familiar cast of characters from Awakening, Fates & Shadow Dragon. While it certainly doesn’t have the same historical reach as Hyrule Warriors maintained, with half the series not translated for western audiences, it’s clear to see why they focused on the more recent and popular games. While the focus is on those, Celecia and Lyn do show up from Fire Emblem Echoes and Blazing Blade respectively.
Since this is a Fire Emblem game, after all, you have the option for Casual or Classic modes – yes, permadeath in a Warriors game. Don’t get your hopes up too much, however, the pains of Classic Mode aren’t exactly worth it. Firstly to spoil it for, you get nothing for completing the story in classic mode. Secondly, just like the series is known you can always restart the scenario before it saves and magically they pop back up and the story doesn’t even change once a unit does run down their HP, just “oh they are tired, can’t use them anymore” for them to pop back up in the cinematics and story.
When a character does die, you can revive them in the temple. This uses up a bunch of materials (usually pretty good ones) and mainly slows down upgrades becoming even more of a grind for materials (something the game already has major issues with). So really, the only reward for your Classic Mode gameplay is bragging rights, and if you do get sick of it, the option to revert to casual mode is always selectable. The permadeath even applies to History Mode, annoyingly enough where that unit is unselectable.
History mode is where you will spend most of your time in this game, and is very similar to the Adventure mode from Hyrule Warriors. As the name would imply, It re-creates battles from the mainline series with a twist. While certainly not a SRPG, each unit selectable is its own mini challenge map. These are the similar challenges from Hyrule Warriors where you are required to complete objectives while under damage and time restraints. As these challenges are cleared, the map advances and retells the chapter’s story loosely from its respective game.
History mode is also where you will unlock the last few characters of the game, and obtain master seals to increase that character’s class and abilities. Since these play out as an endgame challenge, clearing the story mode first is advised to get the most out of the experience.
History mode is also being the most expanded via DLC and updates. A free update has already been announced introducing a new History Mode map, in addition to a Season Pass that will introduce both 3 new characters and maps to explore, along with a multitude of weapons and costumes. The support for Hyrule Warriors was incredible, and I can only expect the same level of treatment for Fire Emblem.
So, I think the games pretty great, but the biggest question you may have is what version to pick up – New 3DS or Switch. With both being portable, it’s no doubt that if you have a Switch you should be grabbing it on that. Playing the game in “performance” mode increasing the framerate to 60 makes the game incredibly more fluid and a delight to play. The 3DS (or 1080p Quality Mode) is capped at 30 and for the most part, hits that fairly smooth. If you’re desperate to play this and only have a New 3DS, Your experience won’t be subpar. I played the majority of the game on my New 3DS XL and at no point was I feeling let down by the console – but that may be due to my extensive playtime in Hyrule Warriors Legends.
Hyrule Warriors may be one of my favourite games on the Wii U, and while I wasn’t as engaged in the characters and world of Fire Emblem Warriors, I loved every minute of the game both on N3DS and Switch. While the game is still fresh and will have several DLC and updates in the months to come, if you have any interest in a musou game, this is easily the best and smoothest on the Switch so far.
Rating: 4 / 5