Fire Emblem Warriors: review

  • Format: Switch (version reviewed), New 3DS/2DS
  • Unleashed: Out Now
  • Publisher: Nintendo, Koei Tecmo
  • Developer: Team Ninja, Intelligent Systems, Omega Force
  • Players: 1-2
  • Site: https://fireemblemwarriors.nintendo.com/
  • Game purchased by reviewer

Fire Emblem Warriors is exactly what you’d expect from a Warriors game. Scratch that; it’s exactly what you’d expect from a Warriors game on a Nintendo console. A Warriors game with standards. On the Switch at least, it holds up Hyrule Warriors as a high bar that needs to be jumped. It glides just over that bar… only to knock it on the way back down. It’s not going to turn your head if you’re not a fan of Warriors games, but as a Fire Emblem spin-off it digs into your free time more than it has any right to.

Much like Hyrule Warriors, it brings in a new world (Aytolis) and new main characters that meet with up familiar faces. If you’re not au fait with the Fire Emblem games, then you’ll likely only know the characters which appear in Smash Bros or have Amiibo figures. Either way, at the start you’re stuck with the twin royals from Aytolis – Lianna and Rowan – who, through sheer determination and running into helpful strangers, will save the world(s).

Much like other Warriors titles there’s a story mode, which is a must if only to unlock the characters and some other important items that you’ll need for the more difficult and – dare we say it – the staggeringly more interesting “History mode”. History Mode gives a series of battles on a board that looks much like a Fire Emblem level would. You go around killing units (fighting battles) until you do enough of the right ones to get to the boss level and maybe get a chance at one of the unlockable characters. It plays off of scenarios from past Fire Emblem games, but does let you use whichever characters you want (though it’s no replacement for Hyrule Warriors Maps).

For a game with so many characters, this has few specially made for Aytolis and disappointingly few who play uniquely. They are of course slightly different, but that’s down to stats and a marginally different special ability. You’ll unlock all the main characters fairly quickly though; some join you as soon as they meet you, while others will either test your strength or willfully ignore the fact that they really shouldn’t be trying to kill you. This is especially weird as it means “Oops, I probably shouldn’t have decided to try and kill you” leads to the deaths of thousands of allied soldiers (the real punchline being that you only play as the “good guys”). Unlike many other Warriors games you don’t get to play as the antagonists at all, and they’re neither unlockable as of yet nor listed as DLC.

Like all the other Warriors games though, there are vast armies to hack through in what feels like some of the best Warriors combat that we’ve played in about a decade. It might be those rose-tinted Switch goggles that we’re wearing, but it certainly never has issues with the number of enemies on screen at any one point – something that couldn’t be said of Hyrule Warriors on the Wii U. It may still be the same bashing of buttons in various combinations but it’s pure as driven snow, and feels cathartic like few other games can ever hope to be within any single given moment.

There are some minor improvements to the game systems, including materials dropped by enemies being automatically picked up, which is in all honesty a godsend. Then there are a few Fire Emblem themed additions as well; characters can create bonds between each other by fighting alongside or near each other. After a bond gains some traction you’ll be rewarded with high-level character specific materials, which is an incredibly welcome way to have those delivered to us. Also, if a bond is strong enough between two characters, you’ll also be treated to a little dialogue between them which is usually quite interesting, and well worth delving into even if the main story didn’t grip you.

When we said ‘fight alongside’ we meant that more intimately; in that you can team up as a “vanguard” and a “support”. This lets you call upon a second character or even switch between the two if applicable. You’ll have to sort out the team-ups yourself as it won’t let you start the battle paired up; so you do have to fiddle about a little every time you play. It’s well worth it though, as it lets you pair characters up to take advantage of their respective disadvantages, such as taking an archer to take down flying units or sword/axe/spear wielders to support whichever you need from the rock, paper, scissors dynamic of said weapons.

Is it the best Nintendo Warriors game? No. Hyrule Warriors is better in quite a few ways, but this is still very good, and feels brilliant on the Switch. It plays brilliantly both portably and in docked mode, and there’s a vast array of content to play through. It’s still not going to shift somebody’s dislike of Warriors games… but who cares?! It may be button bashy at times, but it’s so cathartic to sweep through hundreds of digital enemies. We know we’ll be sinking many hours into it long after we should have stopped.

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Written by Sean P

I enjoy playing games and I enjoy writing things, so I decided to combine the two. I do bits here and there and have a twitter that mainly just announces things I’ve done as my life revolves around very little that is truly interesting.

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