Hands On Preview – Fire Emblem Warriors (Switch)


Last week, Nintendo Scene were invited to attend a press event at Nintendo UK HQ to play the games from Nintendo’s stellar showing at E3 2017. So over the next few days, we will be posting hands on previews of the various games that we got to play at the event. Next on the list; Fire Emblem Warriors!

I’m not sure where to start with this game. It was, for me personally, one of the biggest and most exciting reveals during the Switch initial information trailer. After all, it’s a combination of a franchise I love with another franchise that I enjoy playing. Nintendo already made gold out of combining the Zelda franchise with Dynasty Warriors style gameplay, but could they strike twice by doing the same combination but with Fire Emblem. It sounds like the perfect fit right? But how does it actually play?

The first thing that strikes you when playing Fire Emblem Warriors is how beautiful it is to behold. All of the characters are beautifully rendered, and the original characters (which I presume are mainly there to consolidate the plot) look fantastic, unique and yet unmistakably feel part of the Fire Emblem mythos from the first meeting in a similar way to Alfonse and Sharena in Fire Emblem: Heroes on mobile. All of the usual music from the series is here, and I’m singing the theme in my head as I write this, so the music is undoubtedly completely excellent throughout. Add to this the recognisable sound effects that most would remember from Hyrule Warriors for changes to the objectives or enemy movements, and the satisfying combat sound effects, and you have a well-constructed title from an aesthetic stand point.

 

The gameplay is, largely, business as usual and those that have sunk a lot of time into Hyrule Warriors will feel right at home almost immediately with the control scheme. You engage in various large battles across a map, taking keeps and dispatching copious amounts of enemies, whilst following the objectives that continue to be thrown up on screen and change depending on your action/inaction. It’s hack and slash in the purest of terms, but not overly reliant on button mashing as particular combos of each character can only be used with a particular order and number of button presses. Needless to say that this style of gameplay is thoroughly enjoyable fun.

That isn’t to say that nothing has changed though, and some of the changes are those that can be seen in Dragon Quest Heroes as advancements of the Warriors/Musou formula since the first Hyrule Warriors title. Firstly, the player can switch between units at will with the touch of a button, of which it will cycle through the units on the field in the same order each time to avoid confusion. This successfully resolves the issue in the original game of units failing tremendously at self-preservation when being controlled by the AI. Also, the amount of enemy units has seemingly increased but thankfully not at the cost of fluidity of play as the game runs incredibly smoothly, even with large amounts of enemies on screen.

As an additional mechanic to this game, units can be paired up, like in the Fire Emblem series itself. When paired, not only will the characters will team up on their special attack for more damage, but also the player can use the paired unit to attack mid-combo to lengthen the main combo for greatly increased damage. I’m not sure at this point how much that will change the gameplay, but it was immensely satisfying almost reaching the end of a combo before using the assist move to start a new combo at the end of the last one and causing twice the normal damage from a single string of moves. Also, there’s no telling whether certain character pairings will result in unusual effects to gameplay.

In truth, this is really shaping up to be my game of the year and my absolute must have game for Switch in 2017. I had no reason to really worry about this title not turning out well, but I’m glad to see that it exceeded even my lofty expectations for it.

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