Fire Emblem Warriors is a gem in the long-running “musou” series. It’s also something of a polarizing game, but not because of its gameplay. After putting in 400 hours playing the game and testing out each of the downloadable content packs, I’ve finally solidified my thoughts.
If you can see past the “my favorite character didn’t make it, so the game is trash” mentality, there is a lot of good stuff to be had here, and a deep system that goes beyond the usual hack ‘n slash gameplay.
First things first though. I’ve never seen the amount of ire over a selection of characters for a game…actually, who am I kidding? Super Smash Bros. character announcements always inspire at least this level of debate (read: vitriol), so that’s a good comparison.
THE CLONE WARS
One of the biggest criticisms the game has faced that I somewhat agree with is that there are a number of clone characters in the game. While this is certainly true (4 archers is overkill), characters are only clones insofar as their regular attacks go. However:
1. The stat differences between characters are meaningful. A bow user like Takumi (high atk/skl) is not really the same as Anna (high lck) or Sakura (high mag). These stats have an effect on the kind of damage critical attacks, warrior specials (solo and dual), and awakening specials do. Leading to my second point…
2. The warrior and awakening specials are all different. This is where the real work for the game went, and it’s very satisfying (my favorite is Cordelia’s vacuum light ball warrior special).
3. Some of the clones make sense like Chrom and Lucina, and if we’re being honest, each character within a class has the exact same normal and critical attack animation in their respective normal games, so it’s not like FEW is not true to the source material. Still, Marth and Celica sharing a normal move-set seems lazy.
Systems that differentiate Fire Emblem Warriors from the rest of the “Warriors” series are the weapon triangle and pair-up system. These are the things that make FEW a deeper experience than Hyrule Warriors even without weapon switching. Swords best Axes which in turn best Spears…which best swords. This holds true until you start experimenting with weapon skills like anti-trangle, which reverses this weapon
Pairing up provides your vanguard character with bonuses to attack and defense while also giving your character a second, much more powerful dual warrior special; It’s always a good idea to pair up warriors who cover each others weaknesses, especially earlier on. As you progress and get to ridiculous levels and learn how to manipulate skills, this becomes less important.
SKILLS THAT PAY THE BILLS
The various weapon skills and crests can really give you an advantage and negate the “damage sponge” reputation games like this have. For example, put Topsy-Turvy and any of the “slayer” abilities on Sakura’s “awakened” unique weapon to switch her atk and mag stats at a high level to see her run through enemies. Or use something like antitriangle and critical+ on Lissa to wreak devastation on sword users. Through DLC, we now have skills like the “breaker” series to cover offensive holes and the “gen” series to do more damage to enemies of the same or opposite gender. The DLC has really enhanced the strategic options and ease of use with skills like “acceleration” which bestows the same effect that Ryoma’s essential Astra crest and frees up a crest skill slot.
Character specific crests you can receive as you improve your relationships can enhance your vanguard fighter further. For example, when you improve Lissa’s bond to A (or A+ that has a special dialogue) you will receive her “essence” which, with her gold material, will allow you to create the Strength + 10 crest. Every character has an “essence” material that is used to forge a crest in this manner. Some crests are more useful for certain characters than others (Owain’s Resonating Power is good for probably 4 characters total). Combining Niles’ useful Lethality crest with Celica’s Luck + 20 crest will improve your chances of dealing a devastating critical attack.
The right crests, pair-up partners, weapons, and weapon stat modifiers are the basis for game mastery.
FIRE EMBLEM CHARACTERS IN HD
This is something that is totally glossed over in every article comment section I see. Here we have (mostly) beloved characters that have existed in mainly 2D and low-res low-poly 3D in full, glorious high definition with great mo-capped cut-scenes, and almost nobody takes notice. Each character’s personality is displayed beautifully. Owain’s odd manner really comes to life, a bland character like Hinoka differentiates herself, and I found a new favorite in Minerva.
I highly recommend checking out Fire Emblem Warriors as a great example of what the “Warriors” genre has to offer. It clearly lacks the comparatively large budget of Hyrule Warriors, but it makes up for that with a deeper combat system than your normal Dynasty/Samurai Warriors game, and even though the roster skews towards the more recent titles, little touches like the sprite avatars of the characters, and the classic history maps complete with classic sound effects really smacks you across the face with the white glove of nostalgia.
The only question left? Where is the playable villain pack?