Fire Emblem Warriors: Stranger than Fanfiction

Fire Emblem Warriors is a Fire Emblem spinoff game modeled after the Dynasty Warriors gameplay. It was co-developed by Omega Force and Team Ninja at Koei Tecmo, and published by Nintendo. It was released in September of 2017 simultaneously on the Nintendo Switch and 3DS. MSRB is $60, though it is often discounted. I played the Switch version.

Your enjoyment of Fire Emblem Warriors will depend entirely on whether you’re okay with cheeseball fanfiction of Fire Emblem characters coupled with an action spin on Fire Emblem gameplay.

And you know what, cheeseballs and all, I actually enjoyed it better than Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity.

There’s a comforting satisfaction in mowing down hundreds of enemies within seconds.

In a way, that says more about me than it does about the game. I had high expectations for Age of Calamity, which it didn’t quite meet. I approached this Fire Emblem spinoff with more tempered expectations. However, I also believe the Warriors’ action-packed battles are also a more natural fit for Fire Emblem’s core game design.

I didn’t expect this game to be so strategic. I looked at these battle maps almost as much as I fought dudes on the ground.

Classic Fire Emblem already puts the player in tense battles, with high stakes and multiple things to monitor at once. Sometimes you need to play offensively, and sometimes you need to play defensively. The player has to track their characters’ stats, weapons, and skills, carefully nurturing them as they grow stronger and reclass into powerful units. Koei Tecmo translated all of this seamlessly into a Warriors game. These battles have that same push and pull — you have forts that need defending and enemy lines that need breaking. You campaign across the continent, recruiting more and more warriors to your cause. You have to carefully pick which units you send into battle so that they will have the advantage over the enemy. You can choose to turn permadeath on or off. You can pair up units to boost your combat ability, and these characters can even increase their support level. While there isn’t a comprehensive array of support conversations, you do at least get one heart-to-heart for each relationship you max out. It’s all these little details that show me that the game designers were definitely fans of Fire Emblem.

And the writers were certainly fans of the game too. It’s exactly the kind of writing you’d see on fanfiction sites. The plot is your standard MacGuffin Fetch Quest that brings together the main characters from three Fire Emblem games: Awakening, Fates, and Shadow Dragon (aka the first one). If you’ve played Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, then you’ll at least recognize Chrom, Lucina, Robin… Marth… Corrin… you know, half the Smash roster? If you’ve never played the 3DS Fire Emblem games, then you’ll wonder who the rest of the cast is, but the plot is still easy enough to follow along. The game takes place on a new continent called Aytolis, with twins Lianna and Rowan as the main characters. As the twins struggle fighting a hoard of monsters from entering their kingdom, portals from the other Fire Emblem games begin opening up, bringing along with them our beloved characters. It’s silly popcorn fanfiction, but it’s entertaining in its own way.

The Story Mode is still only half of it, though. History Mode places the character into iconic scenes from the series past, with its own sets of challenges and collectibles for the player to acquire. There are even a few other playable characters to unlock in History Mode like Celica and Lyn. I wish completionists the best of luck with this game, because it appears it would take hundreds of hours to acquire everything in History Mode.

Fire Emblem Warriors’ biggest appeal, though, is directly controlling your favorite characters and fighting dudes with them. The second biggest appeal is getting characters from different games to interact in support conversations. As a Fire Emblem fan, the entire game feels like one big present. It’s like the developers made a delight piece of fan art and delivered it right to my door. The sound design, the level-ups, the strategy, the soundtrack remixes, it all felt like something special. I’ll proudly pin it on my fridge.

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