Long ago, in a far off place, lived a brother and sister, twins, destined to share the burden of ruling their kingdom. As for how monarchically accurate that is, I do not know, but it is what it is and we all have to deal with that. Also, it would seem that calmly ruling a nation does not a good adventure make, and thus the intricacies of wearing a crown are not so much focused on as they are forgotten amidst a horde of monsters whose ultimate goal is seemingly the destruction of everything ever for now real reason other than evil. On the plus side, combating the forces of evil is a pretty solid learning experience for a pair of fledgling royals…because responsibility.
Welcome to Aytolis, one of those wonderful fictional kingdoms that has lived in peace and tranquility for an indeterminate amount of sunshine laden years…until now. As it is want to do, the forces of evil descend upon the innocent, transforming the once idyllic landscape into a brutal realm of monsters and carnage. It’s not so bad though, because there exists a legend that will seal away this ancient malevolent force and bring peace to the land. The kind of legend that makes you wonder how so few people actually know anything about the grander forces at play, especially when all it takes is a casual jaunt through some ruins to find tangible proof regarding something as powerful as a devastating dragon. Also, there are already actual dragons, so nobody should have ever doubted the prophecy enough to condemn it to the annals of history. Regardless, things have gone bad and Lianna and Rowan (the aforementioned princess and prince) are the only two capable of uniting the Shield of Flames with the Gleamstones capable of empowering it to seal the evil dragon Velezark away…because fantasy.
With that in mind, the game proceeds to take us on a stroll through Fire Emblem’s recent hits to fill out our character roster and aid our deuteragonists. Featured in bold are Awakening and Fates, the latest entries in the franchise. Though not every major character from said games appear, the heavy hitters from each respective plot does. Thus, a merry band featuring the likes of Chrom, Lucina, Robin, Ryoma, Xander, Corrin and a few more is formed, adding even more options when deciding who you wish to play. Fear not, however, if you haven’t spent hours upon hours playing said games, for their stories are largely irrelevant and exist only to categorise these characters as heroes. I mean, if you truly must know, Awakening involves fighting an evil dragon and Fates involves fighting an evil dragon…as a dragon. It’s all very complex an involves at least one canonical marriage and dozens of instances of time travel…because fantasy.
When delving into the actual gameplay element of Fire Emblem Warriors, I pretty much just need to point out that the last word in the title is Warriors. If you have never played a Warriors title before, this next part is for you, but those who have are free to doze off. Up in the top tier of power fantasies, the Warriors franchise throws a playable character against literally hundreds of enemies, each possessing the proportionate strength and durability of a tissue in a thunderstorm. A simple press of a button (and therefore swing of a sword) can decimate an opposing army, in both current and historical meanings of the word. Some foes masquerade as tougher challenges, however they simply exist long enough to see the soldiers around them reduced to literal nothingness, which helps keep the rating down, realistic amounts of blood and viscera would be…horrifying. And if you were worrying that you would have to seek out this justifiable carnage, then allow me to comfort you. The near endless deluge of enemies love nothing more than to cluster together and run headfirst at the single person who, mere moments ago, performed a triple axel and killed their commanding officer….because strategy.
There are technically more elements to combat that simply spamming the two attack buttons in various patterns, but it’s little more than minute moments to give your fingers a rest. This is most true of the Warrior Special, a powerful attack that initiates a small cutscene each and every time it’s used. Though this can become understandably frustrating, the catharsis of seeing seventy bad guys fly into the distance helps mete this pretty well. Think of it as a microcosm of Warriors itself, considering that your ability to enjoy satisfying repetition without succumbing to tedium is what will determine what you are able to draw from the experience. Speaking of, Warriors itself draws upon the experiences of Awakening and Fates, mimicing the pairing mechanic from both. In battle, you are able to sidle up alongside an AI controlled teammate and enlist their aid as Support. In said position, a character will aid their Vanguard, automatically defending against an attack (as long as the required gauge is full) or launching one of their own (as long as the other required gauge is full). A useful feature to be sure, it comes at the cost of removing a teammate from the battlefield, placing a higher onus upon those remaining to defeat the enemy troops. That being said, AI allies are mediocre at best and pairing is often a better option, simply to remove them from harm’s way…because strategy.
Calling attention to a specific gripe of mine, Fire Emblem Warriors tends to shoot itself in the foot a little with the multitude of clear conditions for each map. At its core, Warriors titles are ridiculously scaled battles that allow you to embrace the ludicrous power difference between main characters and fleets of mooks whose greatest defining characteristic is the type of weapon they use. Thus, it can be more than a little disconcerting to hear the telltale signs of a game over coming from your system of choice. What is more frustrating about this however, is that, more often than not, it is not entirely your fault. As AI have a tendency to die in situations you can easily handle, allies are often akin to an anchor tied around your neck…and you’ve just decided to take a dip. Yes, there are certain teammates who you can assume control of, in order to clean up their mess, but the balancing act is in and of itself detrimental to the overall power fantasy. What’s even worse is failing because, in decimating an opposing army, you neglected one particular foe. Realistic? Probably (I’ve never fought in a magic war before). Disheartening? Definitely. Of course, I understand that there needs to be some way to lose each mission, it is a video game after all, but for those reasons to more often than not be troop management is less than ideal. Also, if finding those medicinal herbs was so gosh darn time sensitive, why didn’t Sakura go and grab them herself? I found them and killed the ninety seven troops surrounding them, just walk on in and take them. I’ve got bigger fish to fry. And by fish I mean dragons. and by fry I mean slash in half with a blade of light…because magic.
Now, let’s get one thing straight; Fire Emblem Warriors is a repetitious game that is mechanically dense as a rock hitting another, bigger rock…and I kind of love it. As amazing as the plethora of game mechanics that exist in this big wide world can be, I have never been particularly good at a large majority of them. As such, I quite enjoy a break in the challenge that lets me feel like a movie hero. Sure the story says that they are in danger, but do any of us ever believe the good guy will lose in the end? Do we ever get mad when the hero performs a technique that looks too cool to be effective? Personally, I say no to both and that is the kind of mindset that bolsters a Warriors game, at least for a time. Do I believe this game will remain in the gaming spotlight for an extended time? Of course not. But should you ever find yourself longing for a fun romp through a horde of ridiculously stupid (or arrogant) enemies, Fire emblem Warriors is definitely worth a go…because fun.
Warriors. Heroes. Friends.