FIRE EMBLEM WARRIORS
By Mark "Demius" Bronneberg on January 13, 2021
After reviewing the amazing Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity (go check my review if you haven't already read it!), I told you guys that I became a new fan of Warriors games and wanted to play more of them. I kept true to that promise and bought the Fire Emblem Warriors Limited Edition (Amiibo's not included), since Fire Emblem is one of my favorite game series of all time.
We do have to keep in mind that FE Warriors was originally released back in 2017 when the Nintendo Switch original came out and therefore comparing it to a late 2020 game (Age of Calamity) might not be best comparison out there. Still, I was looking forward to playing my 'second Warriors experience', since I adore the Fire Emblem series. FE Warriors was developed by the same team that worked on the original Hyrule Warriors. Back when it released it received positive reviews, so let us see how well it holds up nowadays.
The story of Fire Emblem Warriors revolves around the royal twins of Aytolis, two really blond kids called Rowan and Lianna and their mother Queen Yelena. At the beginning of our adventure, Rowan and Lianna are sparring with their friend, Prince Darius from Grindstone, when they are all attacked. This is in line with the typical Fire Emblem opening, which almost all seem to have a very high probability of royals getting attacked out of nowhere. It is at that time, that you can choose either Rowan or Lianna as your main 'lord' (protagonist). Luckily you unlock the other one during the story, although they don't really play much different from each other. The story continues with the revival of the shadow dragon and assembling the 'Fire Emblem' (a huge shield with empty sockets that require hero crystals to be fitted into them). If the 'Fire Emblem' gets assembled it has the power to seal away the shadow dragon or stop it from ever appearing in the first place. The summoning rituals open op a multiverse which enables Fire Emblem characters from the world of Fire Emblem Awakening, Fire Emblem Fates and Fire Emblem Shadow Dragon to emerge from their corresponding worlds into the world of Aytolis and Grindstone.
To be honest, this multiverse story is not something that hasn't been done before, lots of TV-shows, movies and other games use this concept. It's a nice excuse to let different worlds collide in Fire Emblem Warriors, though I wish they would have brought more different worlds together. The game relies heavily on the heroes from the Fates games, and less on the other games in the Fire Emblem series. Knowing that the later released Fire Emblem Three Houses is the sixteenth game in the series, there are a lot of games and characters that are left out of this collaboration. I have heard from people that didn't play any of the previous Fire Emblem games, that this wasn't actually something that bothered them, so I guess this complaint is only valid for fans of the series. Even without a number of characters, Fire Emblem Warriors is still a great collaboration with lots of favorite characters like Chrom, Marth, Tiki, Ryoma, Xander, Corrin and of course Camilla (I like curves and I'm not afraid to admit it, hahaha! She also plays like a beast so use her!).
The game has different difficulties with the "Lunatic" difficulty providing the highest challenge. There is also a new game + mode for the completist among us. The game isn't that difficult on normal and it takes around 20 hours to complete the main story mode. Like always in Fire Emblem games you can choose between classic or casual mode, normally classic mode means there is perma-death for characters you lose during battle. In this game classic mode means characters lost are injured and can be revived in the camp's temple after battle. The combat is the same as in most Warriors games, you control one character at a time, with different heroes on a map. You try to make combos by pressing normal and strong attacks. You can also charge a special bar to unleash special attacks or the Awakening bar for a short period of extra strength, which also finishes with a special attack.
The Fire Emblem weapons triangle is intact in this game. That means swords are strong against axes, axes are strong against lances and lances are strong against swords. Magic is neutral against everything and there are special weapons that are strong against certain units. Like all bows are strong against flying units and a hammer is strong against armored units. If you activate the Awakening skill, weapon triangle effects drop and you can do damage to any unit. During battles your objectives is to capture checkpoints (called forts in this game) by defeating its captains. This way you advance through a map and try to get your army on every checkpoint to stop the enemies advance. Like traditional Fire Emblem games, there are reinforcements and special boss characters waiting for you at the end of every map. I liked the additional objectives the missions had, that look like traditional Fire Emblem objectives. Like a thief that steals the content of a chest and tries to make a run for it, if you defeat the thief on time you get the loot.
The thing I enjoyed most about this game is that they synergize specific Fire Emblem mechanics into the Warriors genre. More specifically, the strategic preparing for battles at the start. You can pair heroes together, this is inspired by the pairing mechanic first introduced in the Awakening game. Your characters level up in the same stats that traditional Fire Emblem games do. Characters can also support each other, which means they get bonuses when they are close to each other during battles or paired up. This support levels up and grows stronger the more you use them together. They did make it a bit easier to level up, since stats are now fixed and no longer a %-chance for leveling up a certain stat like strength, dexterity or speed. After battle you have the camp in which you can upgrade your characters by using certain items or rewards you earn during battles. This can unlock higher weapon skills or special skills.
During each mission you'll find loot: weapons, which you can upgrade or sacrifice to inherit weapon skills into other weapons. A lot of heroes start with special weapons like the Falchion, which is empty with skills but has the maximum amount of skill slots. I used these weapons throughout the entire playthrough and only upgraded their skill slots once I found better skills. Maybe you eventually find better S or A tier weapons in new game plus, but on my first playthrough I never managed to get past B-tier weapons, which never really provided an upgrade from their starting personal weapons. The game also makes use of Amiibo, which you can use to get rewards. Seeing as how I seem to have gotten my hands on every Fire Emblem Amiibo ever released, this provides me with some nice bonuses. There is however a limit of how many Amiibo you can scan each day.
In story mode there are cutscenes in between each mission/chapter until you reach the end. In history mode you play like a 'campaign' in which there is a certain 'mario-like' overworld map with enemies on it. If you click on an enemy a tiny skirmish starts. You can unlock more items and more parts of the map until you reach the boss. There is some banter and story skits in between but nothing like the main story, where there are cutscenes between every mission. If you enjoy the game this does provide you with a lot of additional content and unlockables. There are also a few DLC available, sadly these don't introduce new games into the multiverse, only expand on the existing three games with additional playable characters and history maps to complete. I did not touch the DLC so I can't decide if it is worth your money. Maybe invest in it if the DLC include one or more of your favorite characters to play with. To be honest the original 21 available characters offer enough enjoyment and diversity to play around with. Most of the time you can select 8 characters each mission, 4 are playable and 4 act as support. My playable characters were Rowan, Camilla (I'm sorry I just really love her for certain. shall we say "strong assets.?"), Elise and Hinoka most of the time, for supports I mostly had Corrin, Ryoma, Xander and Sakura. I loved pairing Ryoma and Camilla, because they are from rival houses in their original games which provided some nice and cute banter during battles.
Even though this was one of the first games ever to release on the Nintendo Switch the graphical style of the game holds up really well. That is mostly thanks to the cell-shaded anime style graphics and awesome character models. The game runs really well and the action is always fluid. I never encountered much slowdown during battles, which can become quite frantic with a lot of enemies together on the screen. The sounds and music are nice, nothing too special. With a lot of familiar Fire Emblem tunes and sound effects. I didn't like the design of the Aytolis royal family, I liked Darios his design better, to me they felt a little generic. Like I said before, the multi-verse has been done better. Fire Emblem Heroes (a mobile game) has a much better multi-verse story than this game. The story did get better the further I got, the end-game is very enjoyable. There are also really cute little references to their original games, like how you meet Chrom and Lissa in this game, which brought a smile to my face.
I concluded my review of Age of Calamity with "I never believed I would love a Warriors game as much as I love Age of Calamity". Now, although Fire Emblem Warriors is a really fun game, it does not manage to even come close to Age of Calamity, which I believe to be one of the biggest surprises of 2020 (in gaming terms, that is.). Still, people that enjoyed Age of Calamity and love Fire Emblem, or Warriors games in general, should really give Fire Emblem Warriors a chance. The story isn't too long with about 20 hours of gameplay. There is a lot of replay value for the completists amongst us, also thanks to the many campaigns in History Mode. Fire Emblem Warriors successfully manages to blend the strategic elements of Fire Emblem games into the frantic action of the Warriors-genre.