Koei Tecmo is as well-known for their spin-off games for other IPs as they are for Dynasty Warriors. The company has taken The Legend of Zelda and Dragon Quest, amongst other IPs, and provided their own Musou-flavored spins on them with Hyrule Warriors and Dragon Quest Heroes, to overall good results. Now, we have Fire Emblem Warriors, the unlikely mix of the SRPG series melded with that hack-and-slash, mow down everything before you Dynasty Warriors gameplay. The mash-up works better than expected, but it’s really the type of game that’s only for Fire Emblem fans—those looking for just a Musou title or new to Fire Emblem probably won’t find much to really dig into here.
I talk about Fire Emblem Warrior’s Story Mode extensively in my preview, and little changes throughout the game’s campaign, so make sure to give it a read. I find that the Story Mode is a great way to get a handle on the game’s somewhat unique mechanics (namely how to properly order your idle party members around), and after beating it there is an incentive to return with Lunatic Mode and more Mementos to collect to unlock images. The story itself is pretty standard and the plot hits about all the beats you would expect, but the main draw here isn’t the story but the gameplay.
Fire Emblem Warriors’ gameplay really gets to shine in History Mode, which is best played after the Story Mode is completed and you’ve unlocked most of the characters and gotten some of the leveled up. History Mode objectives are much more varied than Story Mode stages (which are mostly just ‘take over the forts then beat the boss’), including arena matches, defeating as many enemies as possible within a certain amount of time, and more. Some stages even put certain restrictions on you, such as only being able to bring in certain weapon types to a map or only being able to bring characters from one of the games in.
It’s engaging enough that I’ve played quite a bit of the lower leveled History Mode maps, and that’s a rarity for someone like me that’s far from a completionist. Completing a History Mode map will unlock the final missing characters for the base game, and is where you’ll get your remaining Master Seals (which classes up your characters and gives them major stat boosts), so there’s plenty of reason to delve into the mode even after you’re done with Story Mode.
Honestly, I think the biggest problem with Fire Emblem Warriors is the issue we all saw from a mile away—a lack of unit variety. Simply put, in an effort to include all the important characters from Awakening and Fates, there end up being too many sword users, and too little of the other types. Moreover, some of the character choices seem a little confusing, and a little more thought on characters’ secondary weapons would have probably helped to balance out some of the unit issues.
For example, Corrin could have been changed from another sword user to a Dragonstone wielder—I mean, she even turns more into a dragon with her special moves than the sole Dragonstone user (Tiki) does, so this seems even more egregious. Additionally, every single lance user is a Pegasus Knight, and all three of them share moves (and of course the inherent strengths and weaknesses of their class), but Oboro, a foot soldier that wields a lance, is right there in the game already with her own moveset, just unplayable. There just seem to be some questionable choices in terms of unit and weapon choices, but ultimately the imbalance only really shows during History Mode. Simply put, if I’m limited to only Axe characters and can’t make a full four-member party as a result, there’s an issue with unit choices.
But despite all that, Fire Emblem Warriors is just… fun. I really enjoyed playing through stages, cutting down enemies and directing everyone to efficiently take down forts. However, I could tell that more than a small amount of my enjoyment was due to me being a big fan of the series. There are all sorts of nods and fanservice for the games represented in Fire Emblem Warriors, and it’s clear who this game is for.
Of course, that begs the question, will this be fun for those that aren’t fans of Fire Emblem, or even those that don’t enjoy Awakening and Fates? While the gameplay itself is solid on its own, it’s very difficult to recommend to those who don’t like the series or the characters on display here. Since Fire Emblem Warriors is first and foremost a game for the fans, and Dynasty Warriors itself exists, it’s not really the game to play if you aren’t the target audience.
Basically, if you’re a fan of the modern Fire Emblem titles, this is just the fan spin-off for you. Fire Emblem Warriors has some good gameplay to prop the experience up, but the focus here is to play as your favorite Fates and Awakening characters in a new setting and genre. If you don’t know these characters or don’t like them, Fire Emblem Warriors will be more of a case of “what could have been” than what the game actually is. This is a title made for a certain fanbase, and those of that fanbase will undoubtedly enjoy what Koei Tecmo has on offer.
Versions tested: Nintendo Switch
Disclaimer: A copy of this game was provided to RPG Site by the publisher.