Koei Tecmo did a solid job combining Zelda with Dynasty Warriors in Hyrule Warriors. But after a few hours of play, we think they’ve done a better one with Fire Emblem.
There’s a genuine synergy between the two intellectual properties that makes it feel like more of a natural crossover. For instance, the ability to use Fire Emblem strategies to position your forces on the battlefield, and paying attention to the weapons triangle so you’re always most effective in combat.
By using the Convoy screen between battles, you can see your character status, the quality rating of the weapons/ items you have equipped, and even change out costumes. It tells you character proficiency ratings, how you can raise them, and even allows you to optimise equipment based on what you already have.
In order to get the most out of Fire Emblem Warriors, though, you need to visit the Crest Market at camp and start building a combination of Attack, Defense, and Boost crests. This can provide new combos, furies, medicinal cures and surges to try in battle. Later battlefields will hold much tougher enemies and it’s important you’re as fully prepared as you can be.
Battlefields vary in size and structure. One moment, you can be fighting inside a dungeon against animals and insects. The next, you’re on a battlefield crawling with armies, broken up into several sections, which is where you need to use your allies and units effectively to ensure victory.
As you beat enemies, your characters level up and earn bonuses to attributes like their HP, strength, defence, magic, and luck. You can also combine characters together to perform extra-special attacks and unique combos. Which also builds into the games’ bond and trust system, where the more you do for a teammate, the better relationship you will have, offering even more additional benefits.
This will all sound very familiar to Fire Emblem players and that’s what Koei Tecmo seem to have done so well. Crafted an RPG experience befitting the classic franchise on top of one of the greatest wave-based fighters in gaming history.
But perhaps the most impressive thing is how smooth the game actually feels. When playing the similar Fate/Extella earlier this year, the game became noticeably choppy – either docked or in portable mode – when the action got frantic. Not so with Fire Emblem Warriors. Of course the frame rate becomes a tad sluggish when you’ve got around one hundred enemies charging you, but in the early stages, at least, the game handles itself very, very well, no matter how you play it. That said, there is an option to tweak the display settings, choosing quality over performance and vice versa.
With a second player able to jump in at any point, three difficulty settings for each battleground, and various hidden extras filled throughout, there’s seems to be a fairly robust, co-operative, and compelling package to keep us entertained throughout.
Our full review will be out closer to launch once we’ve had a chance to play the game in full, but what we will say is don’t sleep on this one. The Switch is having a busy year in terms of first and third-party games, and this may not be the Fire Emblem game you initially wanted, but Fire Emblem Warriors is more than just mindless, hack-n-slash fun. There’s genuine layers to this and it is shaping up to be the cherry on top of very fulfilling and delicious Switch covered cake.