Marth Goes Musou.
You may be mistaken, thinking that if you’ve played Koei Tecmo’s Dynasty Warriors, that you’ve played Fire Emblem Warriors. Not the case. With an intertwining of one of Nintendo’s most popular franchises, and swift, overwhelming, over the top combat, Koei Tecmo and Nintendo’s Fire Emblem Warriors features both fun and fiction, with the solid fighting mechanics featured in previous Warriors titles, sprinkled with an engaging and spectacular story to boot. While the customisation of battle layouts and character growth aren’t quite as dense as you’d expect from a Musou game, these are minor gripes for what is one of the best franchised Warriors titles to date.
If you’re expecting the slow, calculated turn-based strategy gameplay from previous Fire Emblem games, culture shock will set in immediately. Fire Emblem Warriors is a clever spin on popular Musou combat games, such as Dynasty Warriors and one of my personal favourites, Warriors Orochi. Simple combat, with an overarching theme of war and heroics, with just enough tactical pre-battle preparation to engage you over many tens of hours. It’s a fun premise, and given simple combat and a lending to pick-up-and-play gameplay, it feels right at home on the Nintendo Switch.
Your story begins with a cinematic introduction, brazen with overgrown monsters and a whirlwind of trouble ahead of you. Set in Aytolis (a new setting for the Fire Emblem series), the one prestigious glowing empire is overrun by powerful beings, and your first controllable heroes, Lianna and Rowan, are left scrambling. You won’t be expected to save Aytolis on your lonesome, though; as you fight through a slew of towns and blast your way through enemies, you’ll unlock plenty of new heroes from the Fire Emblem universe, including Rowan, Lianna, Marth, Lucina, Chrom and Frederick, just to name the notable. It’s a slight disappointment not to see some our favourites from retro titles, such as Ike and Oscar, but it’s justified given the heavy focus on the cast of Awakening and the popular mobile title, Fire Emblem Heroes.
What is a real surprise, though, is that the weapon triangle has made its way into a Musou game. As per previous Fire Emblem titles, characters that take battle against other units using a different weapon type/style to that of their opponent will receive a buff or nerf based on their choice. On the cadence of weapons, there’s tonnes of them here; piercing lances, gigantic swords, powerful axes and nimble bows are all a standout feature – and you’ll need to make efficient use of all of them to take the upper hand against the infinite hordes of units charging in your direction.
Fire Emblem Warriors continues the fanservice, keeping many of the intricate details intact. Weapon forging, although featuring a Musou-inspired twist, is very similar to that of previous Fire Emblem games, giving you the option to create the ultimate weapon. The legendary Falchion became my most popular wield, dealing some serious damage and slicing through enemies as if they were butter in the late-game. Permadeath makes its appearance also – if that’s your kind of thing. I was too chicken to take the permadeath route, known as Classic Mode here, but it’s a nice option to play both paths if you so desire.
Graphics & Sound
I’ll preface by saying this – Fire Emblem Warriors is gorgeous. While a fair chunk of my playtime was dedicated to handheld mode this time around, I’ll resoundingly recommend that you slide your Switch into your dock at any chance. Special attacks are orchestrated brilliantly, with bright, dramatic lighting filling your screen, while the gorgeously animated cutscenes (and yes, there’s lots of them) are less of a chore and more of an attraction. While I’m on the topic, you’ll find almost all cutscenes and cinematics here are fully voiced, and that alone is an attractive premise for any player.
The sounds of battle will continuously blast through your speakers, despite sometimes getting lost in the onslaught of war. You’ll discover the occasional dialogue splashed throughout mid-battle sequences, and these are no stranger to past Warriors titles. When the bloodshed subsides, and you’re met with each of the many story sequences, the compositions are calm and classic, a staple in all Fire Emblem titles. I’ll occasionally recommend you, the reader, to take a trip online and experience masterful soundtracks, and surprisingly, this is one of them – you won’t be disappointed with what your ears will experience.
While many of the Warriors titles can feel all too similar across their iterations, Fire Emblem Warriors is a standout in much the same way that Hyrule Warriors blasted on to the Wii U and 3DS. It’s a fan favourite franchise, wrapped up in fun, addictive and easy to experience combat, with little learning curve, but with a foray of tactical customisations for those who wish to use it. While fans of the classic Gameboy Advance, Gamecube and Wii titles might be a little underwhelmed with some of the character absences, Fire Emblem Warriors is a polished, quality title that is yet another solid entry into the Switch library, and a must-play for Musou and Fire Emblem fans alike.