Whenever we head into a Musou game, we need to prepare for beat’em up action. It’s our one unit against hundreds of other characters. Fire Emblem Warriors maintains that mindset where combos are king and attacking named figures is key to success. But it also draws from various elements of the original series to make things more interesting. In so doing, it requires you to think a little more tactically. These elements require a bit more care and thought when it comes to cutting down enemies.
The biggest returning element is the weapon triangle. Anyone who has played a Fire Emblem game knows that swords trump axes, axes best lances, and lances beat swords. Each unit has a specific weapon, which you can see both in the field and when looking at the map. When a character is selected, you will see arrows that let you know if he or she will be strong or weak against specific units. You will also see exclamation points if you can exploit a weakness or are in danger of having your own weakness targeted. We’ll use Cordelia as an example. She is a pegasus knight with a lance. If a major unit is wielding a sword, you’ll see she is at an advantage against them. However, if archers are on the map, you’ll see big, red exclamation points alerting you to their position.
This means people need to put a bit more thought into directing units to take over forts and complete objectives in Fire Emblem Warriors. Ahead of a battle, you can choose which of your available units are active and heading into this fight. If there’s an instance where, say, three sword users are your playable characters, you should probably go ahead and swap someone else into one slot. This is the default situation in Chapter 6: Hoshidan Princess, which means replacing Chrom or Lucina with Frederick is a very good idea. It honestly improves the overall experience, because it very much forces you to have certain people on hand and keep everyone leveled, so you can tackle each situation.
It also makes the pair-up mechanic even more practical. Just like Fire Emblem Awakening and Fates, it is possible to pair up with another unit. While you can do this with playable and NPC units, it is best to do so with other characters you can control. This will boost the active character’s stats and sometimes cause the inactive character to pop in to protect against a hit. You can perform a paired attack when both’s gauges are charged. But most importantly, you can switch between two people. This is invaluable when heading to complete multiple objectives in the field or on a map where a flying unit, like a malig knight or pegasus knight, can cross a gap. It lets you cover two different kinds of attacks, making it easier to plow through opponents. It also gives you a measure of protection, should that same winged character suddenly come upon a group of archers.
The only holdover that feels like it doesn’t work so well is Classic mode’s permadeath. It actually does exist in Fire Emblem Warriors, alongside a Casual mode that allows characters to come back without any issues if they should fall in a battle. Should someone be “injured so badly that they can not rejoin any battles,” then that’s it. You will see them in the story and history segments, but you can’t play as them unless you pay to revive them. Considering there are only about 23 characters (since female Robin and male Corrin aren’t present in the story mode), that’s imposing quite a limitation on people. It also feels impractical in a game where you can’t totally rely on the AI to keep your characters alive when you aren’t directly controlling them.
There’s a lot in Fire Emblem Warriors that sets it apart from a standard Musou game. It pulls more than just characters and themes from Fire Emblem. The way the weapon triangle is implemented means you get a lot of use out of characters you might otherwise ignore. And the pair up function makes it easier to get through maps when you pick up a buddy. The permadeath option is a bit of a miss, rather than a hit, but the effort is appreciated. Put together, these all make you think a little more about your actions when playing through the game.
Fire Emblem Warriors is available for the Nintendo Switch.