Koei Tecmo is back with more hack-and-slash action, but now it’s Fire Emblem’s turn in the spotlight. Combining Nintendo’s cerebral tactical RPG with the chaotic gameplay of Dynasty Warriors was obviously going to be a difficult task, but Fire Emblem Warriors feels like the perfect mash-up of these two distinct franchises.
After Fire Emblem’s resurgence back in 2013, there’s been no shortage of games set in the world of the tactical RPG. Fire Emblem Warriors is the franchise’s latest outing, but the characters have never stormed into battle like this before. Just like Hyrule Warriors back in 2014, this sword swinging mash-up sees Marth, Chrom and Corrin committing to some serious hack-and-slash action.
The story follows Rowan and Lianna, the royal twins of the kingdom of Aytolis. While their only concern is bickering over succeeding the throne, they’re forced into battle when monsters descend upon the castle. It’s the usual Fire Emblem fare, but it’s quickly turned upside down when they cross paths with some familiar faces from another world. Throughout their journey across Aytolis, Rowan and Lianna ally themselves with various characters from the franchise’s past to try and save their kingdom from a parade of familiar foes.
However, this isn’t your usual Fire Emblem experience. With gameplay based on the Dynasty Warriors franchise, it’s far more chaotic and fast-paced than fans of the tactical RPG might be used to. Players will be cutting through thousands of enemies in each battle using massive combos and the newly added Warrior Specials. Gameplay largely revolves around capturing enemy bases and defeating more powerful boss characters roaming the battlefield.
It isn’t just a Dynasty Warriors game with a Fire Emblem coat of paint either. Warriors manages to combine the chaotic hack-and-slash gameplay of the Koei Tecmo series with some of Fire Emblem’s more tactical elements. While you’ll spend the majority of your time controlling a single character, a new option allows you to command unit movement on the battlefield. This certainly adds a new level of strategy to the game and helps it feel much more like traditional Fire Emblem. There’s also the option to pair-up characters to strengthen their bond. Other additions include the Weapon Triangle and the infamous Classic Mode, an option that means characters who fall in battle are lost forever. Unlike the shallow Zelda gameplay tweaks in Hyrule Warriors, Fire Emblem Warriors feels like a genuine mash-up of the two franchises.
History Mode introduces more complex battle types than the more traditional Story Mode and it’s often a breath of fresh air. They include battles against a single foe or rescuing an ally trapped somewhere on the battlefield. It’s interesting to note that, although they claim to be exploring battles from the franchise’s past, each individual match is completely unrelated to the game being referenced through sprites on the menu. This is similar to objective based Adventure Mode in Hyrule Warriors, that menu was designed to look like the original Legend of Zelda.
Hyrule Warriors was praised as a celebration of the Legend of Zelda franchise and Fire Emblem Warriors is no different. It features 20 playable characters from the franchise’s past and some incredible remixes of some classic Fire Emblem tunes. However, long-time Fire Emblem fanatics might be disappointed to hear that Warriors focusses primarily on the more recent games. Although a handful of older characters are playable, Awakening and Fates receive far more attention than their classic counterparts. Koei Tecmo probably wanted to focus on the franchise’s newfound 3DS fame, but it’s a shame that iconic characters like Ike and Roy aren’t featured.
Graphically, Fire Emblem Warriors looks great. Characters looks great with their new cel-shaded designs and the environments serve their purpose well. Players have the option to choose between graphical ‘Performance’ and ‘Quality’. While ‘Performance’ means Warriors will run at the smooth 60 frames per second, ‘Quality’ noticeably improves the game’s resolution. It’s certainly a personal preference, so it’s great that Koei Tecmo thought to include it as an option. Both Story Mode and History Mode can be played with a 2nd player, but this noticeably lowers the graphical fidelity and often impacts the framerate.
Fans looking for another methodical tactical RPG might be disappointed by Fire Emblem Warriors, but it really manages to unite these two distinct franchises. It feels incredibly natural to swap between singular hack-and-slash combat and the more strategic controlling of troops. It’s a real achievement by Koei Tecmo. If you’re patiently waiting for the next mainline Fire Emblem game, Warriors has you covered.