Remember the days when I bemoaned the lack of games on the Nintendo Switch? Yeah, those are pretty much over. Switch owners are slowly but surely becoming spoiled for choice as more and more games end up on the hybrid console – and, what’s more, a lot of those games tend to be pretty good. Here’s another example: Fire Emblem Warriors, the first entry in the long-running series to show up on the Switch (and the New 3DS, should you prefer that platform, but we’re talking about the Switch version here.)
The Kingdom of Aytolis is under attack by monsters! The sibling prince and princess of the Kingdom, Rowan and Lianna, are forced to flee when the capital is taken by the horde. Now they’ll have to team up with Fire Emblem heroes from across the series (well, mostly from Awakening and Fates) to take Aytolis back. They’ll do this in a more direct manner than usual – namely by getting out there and chopping up monsters by the thousand.
Fire Emblem Warriors continues the recent trend of Warriors spinoffs embracing their parent franchises and feeling like unique games in their own right as a result. Hyrule Warriors is a Warriors game, sure, but it’s a Warriors game with Zelda DNA. Likewise, Fire Emblem Warriors feels explicitly like you’re playing a Fire Emblem game thanks to its dedication to the series.
This is something that needs to be felt rather than explained, for the most part, but series staples like the tense level-up screen (well, tense until you learn that stat gain isn’t randomized as it usually is in this series – no saving and reloading here!) and the Fire Emblem focus on character relationships are present and accounted for. Characters can team up in battle, aiding each other, gaining access to new attacks and building a friendship as their trust grows. This results in cutscenes and extras as the two continue to work together, so pairing off heroes can pay dividends. Character advantages and disadvantages based on the classic weapon triangle and the characters’ classes come into play as well.
These are nice additions, but that’s not to say you should expect this one to play all that differently from most Warriors games – it’s just got a whole lot of flavoring sprinkled on top. You’ll still take out monsters by the horde, using powerful super attacks to clear out everything within your zip code. As characters level up, they’ll be able to access new movies; you can also find new gear and upgrade what you’ve got to ensure that you’re ahead of the power curve. Naturally, heroes can also promote to more powerful classes using Master Seals, offering even more enemy-crushing insanity. There are some light strategy aspects to this one as well, allowing you to order allies to attack or defend certain areas, but they’re absolutely not the focus of the game.
In another nod to a much-beloved (or loathed?) feature from Fire Emblem, permanent death is in. Well, “permanent” until you get your character healed at a temple. As in more recent main series games, this is also an optional bit of gameplay rather than required, so players who aren’t enamored with the idea can turn it off.
Fan favorite characters abound to help anchor the game firmly to its franchise. Chances are if you’re a Fire Emblem aficionado at all, you’ll find a hero to suit your needs. Unsurprisingly, most of the cast consists of your heavy-hitting marquee heroes like Marth, Lyn, and Corrin. I also wasn’t surprised to see that Celica from the most recent entry Fire Emblem Echoes makes an appearance. Devoted fans of more obscure characters (and, bizarrely, some of the more popular choices – where’s Roy?! Shelved for a sequel, apparently!) may have to wait for DLC, but the variety of playstyles offered by the cast as it stands should satisfy.
As expected from a first-party Nintendo game on the Switch, Fire Emblem Warriors looks and sounds great. I say the same thing every time another one of these big-name franchises shows up on the Switch, mostly because it’s true. In an interesting touch, it’s possible to choose to have the game focus on visual quality or performance; we’ve seen this sort of option show up in console games more and more often recently and it’s appreciated. Either way, Nintendo knows how to make their hardware sing.
The Warriors formula works great as a handheld experience as well – you may already know this from Hyrule Warriors Legends – so this is a perfectly enjoyable title both at home and on the road. If you don’t have a Switch, in fact, you can still pick this up on the New 3DS, though I haven’t had the chance to try that version out.
Fire Emblem Warriors is another step in Omega Force’s ongoing quest to make a solid Warriors spinoff for pretty much every franchise. It’s also a full-fledged Fire Emblem experience that does its series justice and yet another damn good Switch game besides. Perhaps more importantly: have we had a Final Fantasy take on this idea yet? If not, I’m sure we’ll see one eventually.