I love the Fire Emblem games; almost as much as I love Musou games. And just like the sublime amalgamation of the Zelda and Dynasty Warriors series created Hyrule Warriors in 2014, Nintendo, Koei Tecmo’s Omega Force, and Team Ninja have joined forces once again to bring together Fire Emblem and the Dynasty Warriors-style gameplay for a stellar button mashing triumph in the form of Fire Emblem Warriors.
Fire Emblem Warriors takes place in the kingdom of Aytolis, and features a brother and sister duo of Rowan and Lianna. The player chooses one of the two to drive the game’s story, but playing as both is an option during battles. When monsters suddenly attack the castle, the pair are hurried away by their mother, the queen, who gives them the mysterious Shield of Flames before she dies. The prince and princess must then fill the shield, or “Fire Emblem” with the Gleamstones of various warriors, each pulled from their respective lands and time periods, to battle the kingdom of Gristonne and their mad king, Oskar, who seeks to revive the terrible Chaos Dragon, Velezark, sealing the world in darkness.
The “warriors” in question are some of the best, most beloved characters from the venerable Fire Emblem franchise. The core characters secretly hold Gleamstones that will empower the Fire Emblem, and it becomes a race to find them all before Gristonne forces revive the ancient dragon. Counting the DLC packs to come, there are 25 legendary Fire Emblem characters to find and eventually play as, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. The distinct personalities and mannerisms of each hero are represented well, and seeing these legendary characters interacting with each other is an absolute blast.
Characters are discovered/acquired during the game’s 20+ chapters, or in special side quests in History Mode, where classic FE scenarios are given the Musou treatment. For long time fans, seeking out these characters is a must, as building an army of fan favorites to use in battle is what really makes Fire Emblem Warriors such a treat to play.
Gameplay in Fire Emblem Warriors is essentially the same as in every “Warriors” game from Omega Force, with a few exceptions. Players mash buttons for strong and weak attacks, stringing together epic combos and pulling off special moves when certain meters are filled. The battlefield is filled with hundreds (if not thousands) of enemies to run through, with captains and commanders scattered throughout. Each chapter has a main objective, but new ones pop up in the chaos of battle, forcing the player to pay attention not only to the multitude of enemies, but also to what is happening elsewhere on the map.
What makes combat so special in Fire Emblem Warriors is the inclusion of Fire Emblem-specific moves and the return of the “Triangle” system. This rock, paper, scissors setup gives strength and weakness bonuses to certain weapon types. Sword beats axe, axe beats lance, lance beats sword. Add to that special abilities attributed to the FE characters, like Pegasus Knights having flight and range, Tacticians casting spells to aid and hinder, and Knights being absolute tanks that can absorb massive damage, and this feels more like an extremely fast-paced version of classic Fire Emblem.
Between-battle management plays a huge role in Fire Emblem Warriors. Outfitting your characters with the best gear is essential to victory. The camp gives players access to a smithy to forge new weapons or upgrade existing gear, a crest market to unlock new skills and stat boosts, and a temple to sacrifice items acquired on the battlefield for various chapter bonuses. The temple can also raise fallen warriors, if the player chooses to play classic Fire Emblem.
Casual gameplay is also an option, where fallen heroes automatically resurrect after a battle. The convoy feature opens up equipping new gear, items, skills, and even outfits, as new attire can be unlocked with gameplay and DLC. Taking the time to tinker with load outs and ensuring characters are in the best shape possible is important. Once the characters are set, the next battle begins.
One of the big turn-offs in Musou games is the repetitive nature of the combat. Players just hack and slash their way to objectives until the prime objective is met, rinse and repeat. Fire Emblem Warriors changes that up slightly by allowing the player to switch to the various characters in a party in the middle to battle. A team of well-rounded warriors, say, a Lord, an Archer, and a Sky or Pegasus Knight will be better served to complete the chapter goals.
Characters can also be linked together in battles, as in Fire Emblem Fates, which maximizes their effectiveness, or in some cases, turns the tide. A Pegasus Knight can fly, so she can partner with a stronger fighter and then fly them both over gaps on the map, dropping two viable warriors into a mass of unaware enemies for a quick victory. This use of classic Fire Emblem-style gameplay is what truly separates Fire Emblem Warriors from the other “Warriors” mashups, like the aforementioned Hyrule Warriors and even Square Enix’s Dragon Quest Heroes. No matter how it looks or plays, this feels like a Fire Emblem game, and that’s fine by me.
Fire Emblem Warriors also comes complete with full amiibo support. Character specific amiibos, like Marth, Robin, or Lucina from the Super Smash Bros. Collection, give new powerful weapons to those characters, while other amiibos can unlock standard weapons or gold. There is a limit of using only five amiibos a day, but once a character-specific amiibo is used once, using it again only rewards the player with gold or items.
Fire Emblem Warriors does a wonderful job recreating the Fire Emblem universe with Dynasty Warriors gameplay. Nothing here feels cheap, and long-time fans of the both franchises will find something fun and unique in this game. The massive number of playable characters, history scenarios, and costumes, with the promise of more to come, gives it a replayability factor that most Nintendo Switch titles lack. I’ve come back to it often, because of the sheer thrill of seeing beloved characters in new light, and the call to destroy massive amounts of enemies is a good stress reliever. Fire Emblem Warriors is a solid entry in the mythos and it respects the games that came before it, while offering something new and exciting. Who could ask for anything more?
This review is based on the Nintendo Switch version of the game, which was provided to us.
Fire Emblem Warriors is the near-perfect mix of two beloved franchises, taking the best of each to create one solid gaming experience on Nintendo's newest hardware.