November 06, 2017

Fire Emblem Warriors - Review

Musou games are quite common these days, between all the different Dynasty Warriors games and the flavoured spin offs like Hyrule Warriors, it is hard to stand out, so when Fire Emblem Warriors was announced, my interest vanished, but having played the game, did it return?

In Fire Emblem Warriors, you take control of one half of a set of twins, Rowan and Lianna, the prince and princess of Aytolis and as they are sparring with their friend Prince Darios of a neighbouring kingdom, a portal opens above the land and monsters start to appear. As the three of them make their escape, they meet up with the Queen and her guards, but are soon separated and forced to continue on their own. But before they depart, they are handed the Shield of Flames, something which they know nothing about, but as they flee, they soon encounter Chrom and his allies and together they set out to discover what is wrong.

The story is interesting in that it weaves a tale that allows for characters from multiple game worlds, to come together here and it still make sense. Oskar, the leader of the kingdom of Gristonne is attempting to revive the evil dragon Velezark and in doing so has opened up the portals, which is where the heroes come from. As you meet the heroes, some of them have what are known as Gleamstones, which when enough are collected, power up the Shield of Flames and seal Velezark back again, so your goal is to meet as many as you can, but be warned, the power of Velezark is no joke and even the mightiest of heroes can fall under the dragon’s spell.

The concern right away that I had knowing that this was a musou type of game is that, each mission in those games are run in, hack and slash, run on to the next space and then rinse and repeat, so coming into the game I was not expecting anything to drastic form the normal. However, I was quite surprised at just how much they have added to the game, while the core of the game is still taking down waves of enemies, it changes when you encounter the captains, bosses or other soldier types, outside of the cannon fodder. Fire Emblem as a series has been known for using a rock, paper, scissor type of gameplay and it is here as well, if your character uses a sword, they are stronger against enemies that use axes, but weaker against those who use a spear and that extends to others. If you use a spear, then you gain the advantage against those with swords, but lose it to those with axes and so on. While on the easier difficulty level this is not a huge thing, when challenging yourself, the game will do so as well, so you will want to learn to have the right fighter, for the right challenge.

In addition to that, you can also pause the game and issue commands to specific members of your group, which in turn will let you send a set unit to a given space on the board. This is helpful for when you want to get someone in position to hold or capture a fort, before you yourself take control and push forward. While you can set people in position before a battle begins, you will likely no bother, at least on the first run through, as not knowing how each enemy is going to react, will dampen your desire to send a single person out towards the fringes of the battle. Once you have tried the system out, it does work well, but I still personally preferred just hacking and slashing my way forward, swapping to another character as the need arose.

The problem with the gameplay is that apart from the slight adjustments to it, it is still the same as the content that we have been experiencing for 20 years now. Once you attack enough enemies, you can unleash a super powerful attack, but each character has the same attack, so even that is rinse and repeat. Because the gameplay is based on taking control of forts, defeating enemies or possibly rescuing civilians, each mission is the same, just in a different location and the fact that almost every single battle begins with someone from another world thinking you are evil and fighting you, until you win, and they realise they were wrong, it grows old fast.

From a presentation point of view, the game has some really well animated cutscenes, with strong voice work presented alongside it, either in English or Japanese. The character animations are strong, with a lot of detail around the moving from one attack to another, changing direction mid attack and such is also handled well. The problem is the levels, or stages if you prefer, while they are distinct in their own way, they are also very bland, with little to hold interest in a space, or define one part of the map from another. Technically, the game does run very smooth, when there are hundreds of enemies on screen, I never noticed any sort of drop in the games performance, however there are still blemishes. Enemies will just appear from nowhere, all the time, something that every musou game is known for and there are times when elements that are above the battle, like trees that line the edge of a map, will pop in and out as the camera moves around, which can be quite distracting.

Fire Emblem Warriors is a game that does offer some replay, thanks to the weapon triangle, but at its core, there is not quite enough that is changed from the basic musou formula. Fans of the Fire Emblem series will enjoy seeing characters interact, I just wish that they did not involve the you are different, you are evil and I will defeat you action that every other medium uses, when two heroes meet for the first time. If the either series appeals to you, it is worth a shot at least, but don’t expect anything to revolutionary.

Review copy supplied by Nintendo Australia

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