Wednesday, February 28, 2018

800th Review! Fire Emblem Warriors (NSW) Review

It's a monumental day for SuperPhillip Central! We've amassed 800 reviews as of this new review on the site! Not a day too early or too late either! A day after my birthday and a day before a new month rolls around. Nice! Here are my thoughts of the Nintendo Switch version of Fire Emblem Warriors! Here's to the next 100 reviews!

These warriors are ready to come out and pla~a~ay!

Hyrule Warriors was a Dynasty Warriors game that incorporated a myriad of satisfying elements from The Legend of Zelda franchise to create a Zelda Musou that was a pleasure to play. It having a tremendous amount of fan service for those who love the series didn't hurt things either. When the game released and after the hype winded down, Nintendo fans quickly brainstormed what would be another franchise from the big N that would be perfect for the Musou treatment. A clear winner in that debate was Fire Emblem, which recently has become quite popular over the past five years.

Apparently, Koei Tecmo and Nintendo both agreed with the fans here, joining together to make Fire Emblem Warriors, the resulting project, a reality. While Fire Emblem doesn't have as much of a draw with the mainstream as Zelda, can one who knows little about Intelligent Systems' series of strategy RPGs still find enjoyment out of Fire Emblem Warriors with its fast-paced action focus?

Like any Dynasty Warriors style game, Fire Emblem's take on the Musou genre pits an all-star cast of characters, this time all related to the games of the Fire Emblem franchise, and throws them into pulse-pounding, action-packed quarrels across a great many battlefield. With just a sword, axe, bow and arrow, or lance to your name, the joy of games like this is being able to feel like a one-man unstoppable army, unleashing your might on a plethora of foes, mowing them down by the hundreds with fantastical attacks and combos.

Make a path through the opposition like a knife through butter.
Most maps require you to secure enemy bases and defeat particular opponents on the battlefield to progress in missions. This is all the while defending your own bases and characters yourself. Fire Emblem Warriors makes this process easier by allowing you to command your forces before and during battles. You select a character on your side and set a point of interest on the map screen for them to travel to, such as an enemy location, a base, or a specific grid on the map. You can have up to eight characters on your side at one time, with a maximum of four of them being playable, able to switch between on the fly with the up direction on the Left Joy Con. Having these options opens up new battle strategies, and makes it on harder fights that you're not as easily overwhelmed by the enemy as you attempt to make sense of all of the carnage on the battlefield. Dictating where your units move and what opponents they do battle with can be the difference between a swift victory or a horrible defeat.

Many lives were lost to Rowan's blade on that fateful day of battle.
Of course, some Fire Emblem trappings go into this Musou take on the franchise, so you can't just send your units willy nilly to battle. Like its patriarchal series, Fire Emblem Warriors uses a weapon triad, which takes a paper-rock-scissors like approach with weaponry. Obviously, instead of using rocks to crush scissors to smithereens -- swords, axes, and lances are the three weapon types used in the game. If you use a weapon strong against a certain opponent, they'll go down with ease, while using a weapon that they can easily defend will make that enemy take a lengthy period of time to whittle their health meter down. Likewise, the weapon triad works against you as well, making it so you can get bodies by certain weapon types if you're not careful, especially if you're under-leveled. Additionally, it's important to consider magic tome users, archers, and Pegasus Knights as well, as archers can immediately take out Pegasus Knights with one or two hits of their arrows while being weak to spells of tome users.

As long as Cordelia is out of the way of archers' shots, she's golden in her goal to demolish enemy forces.
Dynasty Warriors and Musou games seldom have complex controls, and this is also the case with Fire Emblem Warriors. Through a simple series of presses of the X and Y buttons, one for light attacks and one for heavier attacks, you slice, dice, thrash, and attack your way through enemy defenses, all the while carving a path towards victory. As you attack and defeat foes, two gauges increase. One is the Warrior Gauge, which when full allows you to press the A button and unleash a powerful and impressive-looking attack on a group of enemies in the vicinity. It's perfect for clearing a room or surrounding area with ease.

With a press of the A button, unleash incredible Warrior attacks like this one when your gauge is full.
Furthermore, when the higher powered gauge fills and is used, your character enters Awakening Mode, granting them the power to break enemies' guards effortlessly and build up a huge combo and K.O. streak. Also, when a stronger opponent like a base or enemy captain performs a heavy attack, if you dodge it, a circular meter will pop over their head. If you deal enough damage to empty this meter, you'll unleash a special power attack that will take out a considerable amount of enemy health, perfect for depleting a more difficult foe's health bar more quickly.

After battle, you get a tally of rewards given to you in the form of weapons, materials, and money. As you progress in the various modes and difficulty settings of Fire Emblem Warriors, the weapons you find from fallen foes on the battlefield and occasionally found after battle have improved stats to them, sometimes offering higher attack power and many slots to store abilities in. These abilities can range from taking out monster-type enemies in one hit to getting higher defense in battle. Materials have two uses: upgrading weapons and upgrading your characters' skills by using crests. Crests improve aspects of your character such as increasing their combo length, granting them the ability to use healing items mid-battle, being better at defending against specific weapon types, and much more.

Fire Emblem Awakening's Chrom isn't here to show off his new armor. That much is for certain.
I must say, however, that I wish there was a more streamlined process to upgrade each character in Fire Emblem Warriors. It's not so much an issue at the beginning of the game where you have a limited number of characters to select from, but by the end of the story mode, you have about 20 individual characters, each with their own crests in three categories. I found that after each battle I did I was moving between character page after character page, using new crests to provide new skills for each character or simply checking to see if something new could be learned. It's an involved process, and one that many players will spend a fair amount of time devoted to if they want to have a fighting chance on higher difficulties.

While not as tedious, changing weapons is also something that you will want to do in Fire Emblem Warriors as well. Thankfully, FEW offers the ability to optimize your equipment to use the strongest weapon available for a given character. Still, it only bases that off weapon power and not things like added slot bonuses that weapons also possess.

Don't worry, female Robin fans. You can pick that version of Robin as an unlockable costume option.
Outside of the story mode, taking up to 10-14 hours to complete if you're not revisiting missions, there is the History Mode which is Fire Emblem Warriors' side mode. However, unlike what Hyrule Warriors offered in side content with its Adventure Mode, FEW's History Mode is much less of a headache. History Mode tells the tale of numerous stories within the Fire Emblem mythos.
This mode is played out on traditional Fire Emblem series maps, but instead of each skirmish being a quick one-on-one fight as seen in the FE games, they unfold in Warriors form with different objectives and conditions to consider. Successfully completing a battle might have barriers get removed from the battlefield to access new portions of the History Mode map, or backup forces might be called in as well. Winning a battle also rewards you with a prize, and you get a special prize for completing a mission with the highest grade possible (usually performed by clearing the battle under a set amount of time, while taking low damage, and taking out enough enemies).

History Mode provides a double dose of the content story mode already provided, bolstering the playtime of Fire Emblem Warriors to astronomical levels. You're definitely going to be getting your money's worth by purchasing this game. Throw in the ability to play with a friend locally and DLC packs for new characters and costumes, and the amount of content is seemingly endless without wearing out its welcome.

Things get a little dicier in cooperative play, but Fire Emblem Warriors
is still more than playable (and enjoyable, too).
Fire Emblem Warriors isn't the most technologically advanced Nintendo Switch game on the market. Textures and environments don't do overly much to make you wish to marvel at them, but the characters do animate wonderfully and have lots of color and vividness to them. While the visuals don't particularly excite, you can use one of two options to run FEW at a higher frame-rate with a lower resolution, or vice versa, which is an option I don't see much on home console releases. Thus, if you prefer 60 FPS with less pronounced features or 30 FPS with more detail, you can get it. Either way, it's nice to have a choice. The amount of foes on screen is also amazing to see, but you decidedly have less enemies to slice through in cooperative play, where the frame-rate is iffy at best. As a series, Fire Emblem has a terrific soundtrack to it, and many of the remixes and rearrangements in Fire Emblem Warriors sound energizing, though some are muffled by all of the voicework and action going on on the battlefield.

I think this enemy is regretting saying, "You'll rue the day you ever did battle with me!"
If there's one big gripe that Fire Emblem fans will have with this version of Warriors is that the roster isn't the most remarkable to be found. Only picking and choosing from mostly modern releases like Awakening, Fates, and Shadow Dragon means that the representation for the entire Fire Emblem series is not that admirable -- merely passable at best. Perhaps the developers wished to keep some picks for a sequel, but what is available now from a limited selection of games is rather disappointing to say the least. Fans have made it no secret that they don't care for the small amount of games and characters represented in Fire Emblem Warriors, and I can't help but agree with them on this point.

That notwithstanding, Fire Emblem Warriors does manage to be a delightful Musou game that is filled to the brim with content, unique battles, scenarios, and customization options to give anyone a satisfyingly good time. Though some characters play too similarly -- and the selection of characters and games is a bit on the small side representation-wise -- Fire Emblem Warriors doesn't disappoint much when it comes to the unmatched thrill and pleasure of striking down enormous swaths of enemies with a few simple-to-pull-off strikes and stylish combos. Sure, the simplistic combat of the Warriors franchise hasn't much evolved, making the games repetitive at times, but when you're defeating 100 enemies with one Warrior gauge attack, how can you argue? You're a Fire Emblem all-star, after all, destroyer of worlds.

[SPC Says: B]

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