Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Fire Emblem Warriors Review

Musou games, such as Dynasty Warrior, often get a lot of flak for being “simplistic” or “repetitive” but my wife and I have found that smashing through hoards of enemies in these games can be a satisfying, almost cathartic experience. For #MusouMonth, we played through most recent collaboration between Omega Force and Nintendo, Fire Emblem Warriors. We came away from our co-op playthrough of the campaign with these observations:
  • Fire Emblem Warriors tries very hard to integrate the turn-based strategy elements of Fire Emblem into the fast-paced action gameplay of a Musou game. The results of attempting to blend these two very different genres are mixed.
  • The first several missions of the campaign are primarily devoted to introducing Fire Emblem mechanics as they apply to Musou. Unfortunately, this is done with text boxes that pop up on screen and abruptly halt the gameplay. My wife and I found that every time we would get into a groove with the action, we’d suddenly be interrupted by “useful” tips like “Health potions restore your character’s health. If a character’s health reaches zero, they will die.” Thankfully after the first five or so missions of the 20-mission campaign, these tutorials drop off.
  • The use of the Fire Emblem weapons triangle encourages the player to switch between characters in order to take advantage of enemy weaknesses. This helps vary the gameplay since making the most of this mechanic will mean playing as two or three different characters during each mission. However, after characters have leveled up a bit, it’s pretty easy to brute force your way through a weapon disadvantage. Often it's more convenient just to keep wailing on an advantaged enemy than it is to switch characters and then have to run that character all the way across the map to exploit the weapons triangle. A glaring exception to this is that a flying unit’s weakness to archers is absolute; a single arrow can instantly kill a Pegasus Knight. If that Pegasus Knight is a plot-critical character; that’s an immediate game over. Thus, we often ignored the weapons triangle but quickly learned to babysit our aerial warriors.
  • A major highlight of Fire Emblem Warriors is seeing all of your favorite Fire Emblem characters rendered in HD and fully-voiced. If you’re primarily a fan of the 3DS Fire Emblem games, Warriors mostly delivers. However, while there are at least 20 different playable characters, from a gameplay standpoint, there feels like there are closer to five or six since a character’s class determines how they control and which moves they have. For example, Fire Emblem Awakening’s Cordelia and Fire Emblem Fate’s Hinoka don’t feel distinct from each other since both of them are Pegasus Knights.**
  • In addition to the playable characters, a Musou game always puts some AI-controlled companions on your team. In most games of this type, the player has to rely on these characters acting on their own. Sometimes they make reasonably intelligent decisions, but plenty of other times they just get themselves in trouble. In Fire Emblem Warriors, the AI characters have far less initiative, sometimes acting on their own but often just standing around waiting for orders. What the game wants you to do is pause the game, open the map screen, and issue them commands as if you were playing a regular Fire Emblem game. While this may add a more strategic feel to the game, it comes at the cost of making the action feel disjointed. Perhaps this works better in single-player mode, but since the co-op is split screen, both players get disrupted every time the map is opened. As a result, my wife and I ended up mostly ignoring the AI-only characters unless they were partnered with a character one of us was controlling.
  • As cool as it is to see characters from several Fire Emblem games teaming up, the story that brings them all together is very disappointing. Similar to the mobile Fire Emblem game, the two lead characters are original creations for the Warriors game and they encounter the other Fire Emblem characters through portals that start appearing throughout their kingdom. The whole thing just feels like a shallow excuse to make the characters interact; the dialog sounds like an audio production of an uncreative fanfiction.
Overall, the thing we wanted, Musou gameplay but with Fire Emblem characters, is here but with a layer of extra stuff that doesn't blend well with this type of game. Perhaps the strategy elements will work for some solo players, but our enjoyment of the co-op experience came from finding workarounds for the Fire Emblem mechanics in order to keep the action moving. While there is still fun to be had with Fire Emblem Warriors, the game falls short of the more well-rounded Nintendo and Omega Force collaboration, Hyrule Warriors.

Score: ⭐⭐⭐
Completion Time: 12 hours, 55 minutes (main campaign, normal difficulty)

If you'd like to pick up a copy of this game and support Tales from the Backlog, you can get it via this Amazon affiliate link: Fire Emblem Warriors - Nintendo Switch


  1. Mind if I put my opinion of the game in a comment.

    1. Not at all. What are your thoughts on the game?

    2. If its alright to mention it here, there's also a upcoming indie game I'd like to recommend from the creator of Marth.

    3. Great points about Fire Emblem Warriors! Also, feel free to talk about other games (including indies). Which one are you recommending?

    4. No problem, another infamous thing were Koei's comments. Prior to game's release, they said they would only do three games to avoid too many infantry swords, despite many popular characters, not using swords or being infantry. Then Koei basically flooded the roster with OCs who were infantry swords and picked a roster with little variety.

      Just recently, Koei even made another comment on DLC, saying they added a 16 year old girl as a playable character due to her "Sexy feet" which sounds kinda creepy.

      If you are familiar with what happened with Rareware and Nintendo, similar happened with Nintendo and the Creator of Fire Emblem(also Marth). Basically they had a falling out during the 64 Era, during which a cancelled Fire Emblem ended up on PS1 with the license scrubbed off, and to this day, are still in conflict.

      Vestaria Saga is a indie game by the creator of the first five Fire Emblem games+all their associated mechanics. It has been released in Japan to widespread critical acclaim, it was so downloaded, it broke the downloading hosting site for a while.

      There is an official english translation of it coming out this summer, I was thinking you’d be interested in checking it out?


    5. Interesting! As someone who didn't start playing the Fire Emblem games until the 3DS, I wasn't aware of this part of the franchise's history. I hadn't heard of that indie game before, but it's on my radar now.

    6. I can always email roms and videos of Fire Emblem's past games.

      The FE community is very dedicated and has thorough fan translated versions of all games.

  2. The roster felt incomplete to me. Even with Fates alone, the game's deuteragonist, Azura is demoted to a DLC character while Sakura and Hinoka are in the base roster despite being minor players who don’t even offer a new moveset.

    The weapon’s triangle felt like it didn’t fit given the roster, as you said, all non DLC Lance users are Pegasus Knights weak to bows. Many integral FE fighting styles/classes are missing.

    Shadow Dragon felt barely there as it had the smallest proportion of the roster and no role in the story, despite boasting many extremely popular characters like fan favorite villain, Camus(who appears more then Marth in the series).

    A good way to put it is while Hyrule Warriors felt like a love letter to the Zelda franchise as a whole, Fire Emblem Warriors felt like it was more about Awakening and Fates with Marth as a special guest star. Its not a bad game, but its a disappointment considering past Warriors crossovers like Hyrule Warriors.