The Dynasty Warriors franchise is an epic one. In the 20 years of its existence, the original game has spawned 7 direct sequels, a number of side chapters, and 12 spin-offs. These spin-offs often involve bringing in another company’s IP and mixing the two together. Omega Force hit a home run with Hyrule Warriors on the Wii U, and have again teamed up with Nintendo to try and recreate the magic.
For those who have yet to come face-to-face with a Dynasty Warriors title, no matter the franchise attached to it, the gameplay is always the same: kill hundreds upon hundreds of enemies while trying to defend or secure points on a map, and eventually take on the level’s boss. In between stages you can unlock stronger weapons and more powerful attacks, transitioning characters into unstoppable killing machines.
Omega Force embrace each franchise they meld with their proven gameplay, ensuring that fans feel at home in what is likely a new genre for them. In Fire Emblem Warriors, characters level up traditionally, menus look and feel as they should, and heroes from the most recent releases fill the roster of playable characters.
One of the biggest draws to fitting a franchise you know and love with Dynasty Warriors gameplay is that you get to see your favourite characters unleash some insanely epic attacks, and you get to take them on a new adventure. On the surface, Fire Emblem Warriors seems better suited to the Dynasty Warriors format than Hyrule Warriors; they introduce new kingdoms, create epic stories against a big evil, and have a multitude of new characters to fall in love with each time.
Fire Emblem Warriors tries its best to create something new, but instead misses the mark completely.
In Aytolis – a kingdom new to the series – twins Rowan and Lianna are separated from their Queen and mother when an otherworldly attack breaks out. Along with their trusted friend Prince Darios, they look for help to fit the Fire Emblem with Gleamstones, all to bring an end to the big evil that has appeared. So far, so good. We have a new kingdom, two interesting playable characters each with their own unique traits, and a fairly standard Fire Emblem plot driving them forward.
In their travels to find the Gleamstones, Rowan and Lianna come face-to-face with characters from Fire Emblem Awakening and things start to look a little grim. At first they’re confused and see you as a threat. They attack, and it’s up to you to fight back until you win. This allows them to realise you’re on the same side and something has brought them out of their world and into this one. This unfortunate plot device is used each and every time the royal twins meet someone from any of the previous Fire Emblem titles, regardless of whether you have their friends or family on your side.
Almost every character comes in angry and ready to attack. If you’re a fan of the series (and if you’re interested in Fire Emblem Warriors then you probably are), any and all character development from the handheld titles has been wiped clean to be told again in a worse fashion It’s hard to say who this game is for; if you’ve played the mainline series you already know the majority of the characters stories being told here, and if you haven’t, you’re about to get a lot of spoilers for much better games. There is an overarching story that is new, but Fire Emblem Warriors relies way too heavily on retreading old ground.
One great addition to the game is a quality option in the settings. Do you want better looking graphics, or do you want silky smooth 60 frames per second? Switching between the two doesn’t seem to make a big difference graphically, but the bump in frame rate is instantly noticeable. That isn’t to say that the game runs that smoothly at all times, but making the change is a no-brainer.
One of the things Fire Emblem Warriors does well is capture the spirit of the series. It’s odd then, that with all the polish they’ve given it, that some areas fall so flat. The story is lifeless and boring, characters are frustratingly different to earlier games, and you’ll be reaching for the mute button after every stage. In usual Dynasty Warriors fashion you’ll want to upgrade your characters by spending the loot you’ve acquired. Every time you select something to upgrade you get a sound bite to confirm what you’ve selected, and another once you’ve confirmed. You’ll upgrade numerous things after every stage, and each time will give you the same two sound bites over and over again. You’ll start to question whether or not you really need those upgrades.
If you take away all the things that Fire Emblem Warriors does wrong, you end up with a hack and slash game where you wipe out hundreds of bad guys every few minutes. There are impressive special moves, and seeing your favourite Fire Emblem characters come to life on the battlefield is impressive. The thing is, it’s just not doing anything you haven’t seen before. Fire Emblem Warriors could’ve kept the current look and feel, and trusted itself to tell a whole new story while introducing a slew of lovable new characters. Instead it ends up relying on retelling stories from previous titles, with none of the love and care they were originally given.
Reagan received a digital copy of Fire Emblem Warriors from Nintendo Australia for review.