You may have gathered this from our preview a few weeks back, but Fire Emblem Warriors has quickly become one of my go-to games on Switch.
It’s not just a week’s filler before October’s main event, this is an enthralling, entertaining romp that both legitimizes and adds another layer to the first party diversity of the console’s year one lineup.
There’s a huge array of characters to play around with and meet, each offering their own attacks and mannerisms. But most surprisingly is a decent story to be unravelled, one that really feels at home in the Fire Emblem universe. Players will gradually meet familiar names and faces from the Fire Emblem world as they hack and slash their way through hundreds upon thousands of guards. It certainly helps take some of the sting THAT mobile title left behind earlier this year.
But the best part is how RPG-like this game feels. There’s a genuine feeling that your tactics can influence the tide of battle, and that developing the right attributes can make you more efficient at staying alive and protecting your allies. Add to that the ability to combine and change the properties of your weapons, as well as build bonds between characters and suddenly you find yourself stunned at the astonishing depths at play here.
To break it down further, between each mission you can access a camp which lets you reforge your weapons, combining the powers found in others you collect along the way, in turn strengthening your equipped weapon. But you can also purchase war crests which improve aspects of your attack, defense and even specials with a more basic talent tree. You’re never really forced to make a choice between one crest or the other, and the likelihood is you’ll max out each character you control, but it will take a while to boost up to that point.
But while you can work on characters individually, you can also build bonds between characters, using them together to perform extra special attacks as well as swap them out in order to watch each other’s backs. In some missions, certain characters cannot fall otherwise it’s game over, so this is a good way to ensure that doesn’t happen.
The game’s performance doesn’t suffer for the amount happening on screen either – both in portable and docked modes. Fire Emblem Warriors is stable and solid throughout, even when you choose to favor quality over performance, and considering the state some lesser-quality third party games have shipped onto Switch, makes it even more mightily impressive.
And then there’s the dazzling cut-scenes, of which there are many. This is perhaps the biggest tease of all that a fully fledged Fire Emblem game is going to be a perfect marriage on Switch. Don’t get me wrong, Warriors does scratch the itch somewhat, but the elements that make these games stand apart from the rest in the genre has been simplified somewhat to fit the Dynasty Warriors mould.
But the combination works so masterfully with little pop up shops appearing during combat for valuable collectibles and fun side quests which merit extra experience points and loot. Not to mention the boss sections which vary from wild skirmishes to fully fledged war and the branching narratives as you progress. Pacing wise, the game also introduces bigger and badder battlefields as you work your way through, so you never feel overwhelmed at the start, but also not shortchanged when you reach the conclusion. The balance here is just perfect.
But to add some weight to the content is the games’ historical battle mode which relives some of the key battles in the Fire Emblem saga. Take part in them in a whole other way using characters you know and love, while also fending against some of the great villians in the franchise. It’s such a smart addition, but also an extremely beneficial and fulfilling one that really rounds out a magnificent package.
Fire Emblem Warriors does certainly benefit more drop-in and drop-out play, but you can also find yourself losing hours trying to beat the higher difficulties and maximizing your character’s potential. Nintendo have scored yet another homerun, and in a year that’s still yet to give us the first proper 3D Mario game in years and a Xenoblade sequel, FEW more than stands shoulder to shoulder, offering something quite fresh, different, and unexpectedly brilliant.
+ Two franchises which compliment each other so well.
+ Great, exciting action and power moves
+ Varied cast of characters and abilities
+ Absolutely stunning to look at and surprisingly strong story
– Can feel repetitive
– Engine does seem a bit textured and dated in some areas
Fire Emblem Warriors
9 out of 10
Tested on Switch