After Dragon Quest and The Legend of Zelda, Fire Emblem is the latest series to get the Dynasty Warriors-style treatment. For fans, the action-packed combat is a departure from Fire Emblem’s strategy, turn-based gameplay, which requires you to stop and think carefully about your moves. As someone who loves the series, I wasn’t sure how much I’d like this change of pace, but after playing a demo on Switch and chatting with the developers behind Fire Emblem Warriors, I’m happy to report I had a lot of fun.
True to a Warriors game, you fight through gigantic crowds of baddies. Fire Emblem Warriors takes place in an alternate world, where portals to other dimensions are opening, which sets these warriors to come together to fight. The main characters are new to the series – twins named Shion and Liane. You can choose to play as either the prince (Shion) or princess (Liane) as they recruit characters to help them save their homeland.
My mission in the demo is to take out various leaders straight from the Fire Emblem series and recruit them to my side. Xander is the main boss, who I must defeat to win, but before I get to him I need to recruit iconic characters like Marth, Corrin, and Ryoma to my side. Nintendo is keeping mum on how many Fire Emblem characters you meet during the game, but producer Yosuke Hayashi did say it’s beyond the typical eight to fourteen playable characters that are usually in Warriors games. When it came down to deciding on characters, a balanced roster was essential. “We chose characters that there would be a good representation of different weapon types,” Hayashi says.
In the demo, I have a certain amount of time to complete my objective to defeat Xander, and as I roam the large battlefield plenty of side objectives pop up that offer extra bonuses to take on. With a tap of a button on the d-pad, I can swap to any of the other characters in my party on the fly. Similar to past Warriors’ games, it’s all about comboing up my light and strong attacks to fill up my special meter to unleash a devastating blow. In addition to specials, you also an “awakening” ability that you can trigger to increase your damage.
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Once you get someone in your party, you can pair up with them to coordinate attacks. This adds extra defense and support and makes your special even deadlier. The game uses Fire Emblem’s iconic weapon triangle, where certain weapons have advantages over others. This forces you to pay attention to what weapon your enemy is using, and you can swap to different characters who have the superior weapon-type to take them down in a jiffy. This isn’t the only carry-over from the series for the spin-off. While Nintendo confirmed there are no romantic relationships in the game (this is more about friendship), it did confirm support conversations, where your allies will create bonds with one another.
Battles are just flat-out chaotic, and a map in the upper right-hand corner allows you to see where enemies are, alerting you when other characters are in trouble and might need a hand. You can also see the different enemy bases you can capture for an advantage. Taking over one causes fewer enemies to spawn in that area, allowing you to double down and focus your attention on other threats. Occasionally, you find items on the battlefield that will help you in your fight. When asked if there was permadeath in the game, Hayashi teased “There’s definitely that element included in a way that makes sense for a Warriors game.” Combat felt smooth, fast, and fun during my demo. I liked the frenzy, and there’s something about having all these different iconic Fire Emblem heroes at your side and being able to annihilate waves of foes that’s satisfying.
Nintendo did say Fire Emblem Warriors would have modes outside of the story but isn’t ready to announce anything yet. It did confirm that game has local co-op. The game hits the Switch this fall, and is also coming to the New 3DS. Hayashi said content between the two versions would be the same. “Of course, we’re talking about two different hardware, so how the game is rendered on the two different kinds of hardware – the specs might be different. In terms of the graphics, for example, the number of enemies of enemies that can appear on the screen [varies], but the gameplay is definitely the same.” The game also offers Amiibo support for all previously released figures and for the upcoming Chrom and Tiki Amiibos.