Fire Emblem Warriors Nintendo Switch Review
And so, six months after I bought it, I've finished the first game I purchased for the Switch.
Just in-time for its prequel and now also sequel Hyrule Warriors Definitive Edition to come out!
I spent ten hours playing the campaign of Fire Emblem Warriors, spread across many months. I have zero connection to the Fire Emblem series. I've never played any of them except this one, because it's a Dynasty Warriors game and I like Dynasty Warriors games.
I had no idea who any of the characters were most of the time, and that was okay. The story does a decent job of setting them up...and then it's mostly typical Omega Force stuff. Proclamations of loyalty, melodrama, that sort of thing.
At the end of the game they pull the classic Nintendo trick of making you fight a bunch of shadow versions of yourself. So that was fun.
Like other Dynasty Warriors games, this one has a main campaign that takes about 10 hours to finish and a whole pile of Extra Content. There are scenarios based off of older Fire Emblem games, a few bonus modes, and super hard bonus difficulties that have better loot drops in them.
While I was playing the game over the course of the last half-year, they updated it many times to both add support for numerous DLC packs and improve things. The level cap for characters is now 150. My highest leveled character at the end of the campaign was 45, so it'll take a long time to get any of them to the level cap.
If you like to mash buttons, get things, and watch bars fill up, you'll have a great time with this game. It has about 20 playable characters without the DLC, and they're all very different from one another. Except for the people that are permanently stuck on horses, or other animals. Those characters all feel the same, but they're great for getting around the maps quickly.
The graphics are a mix of amazing and awful. At times, it's one of the prettiest-looking Omega Force games, thanks to its strong Nintendo/Intelligent Systems art direction and its incredible optimization. The game runs at 720p30 in handheld mode, and you can choose from 1080p30 or 720p60 in docked mode.
The 60 frames per second mode is my favorite way to play the game, and lends it a glorious speed just like the first Dynasty Warriors games on PS2, and some of the more recent games when played on a nice PC. I think these games work fine at 30fps, but they become a whole other thing at 60. You can really feel the difference in controller response when you're mashing buttons all the time.
Frequently, however, you'll notice an ugly piece of art and then you might remember that this was also released on 3DS. None of this artwork is a deal-breaker, nor is the fact that several of the stages are reused a couple of times. But it doesn't have the artistic expansiveness of Dynasty Warriors 9, or even Hyrule Warriors. This was a game produced on a budget, and all of that budget was put into characters and particle effects.
I'm not going to sit here and get into whether the combo strings are good or the combat is well-designed. That's not really my deal. But it's fun to play.
The strategy layer is a little deeper in this game than in others, fitting given the source material. The map screen has a lot of helpful functionality for managing the rest of your party and quickly switching around the battlefield, and you'll actually need to use that stuff if you want to complete all the bonus objectives in each mission. The game even gets somewhat challenging towards the end.
There's a rock-paper-scissors style weakness system in play for different weapon types, but I mostly ignored that and just used the characters I thought were the coolest. That's only really possible on the normal difficulty.
The sounds and music are very good. The voice actors commit to the melodrama, and the music has a bunch of rock guitars in it, just like all good Omega Force games.
You probably already bought this game if you wanted it, and you probably already finished it if you bought it because it's not that long and you're not ridiculous like me. But I finally finished this and wanted to write positively about it, so I did. I'll probably play a little of the side content, but I won't finish all of it, and I'm not sure I'll ever buy the DLC. But this is a good Warriors game.
But then, has there ever been a terrible one? Like, I know that people sometimes like to split hairs over the minor mechanical differences that show up now and then, but I feel like this series has plugged away with the same general level of okayness for like 20 years now. The graphics get better every so often, and the mechanics get...different.
Dynasty Warriors is the beating heart of retro video games exploited at least three times a year for your button-mashing enjoyment. And I'm still enjoying it because I'm sort of old. And I like to press buttons and watch bars fill up, even when I have zero idea who any of the characters are.