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Fire Emblem Warriors: Cheap and Cheerful

If you’ve been gaming for a certain amount of time, you’ve no doubt noticed one specific thing that is generally considered a universal truth. Games that are niche and exclusive to Nintendo platforms, nearly always hold their value. There are the odd outliers that fluctuate in value, of course, and you have some niche Nintendo-exclusive titles that never hold their value and just tank immediately, but typically they remain in the £35 and up area.

Pokémon, Metroid, Zelda, Mario, these games aren’t niche but still maintain a respectable price. Most of the Fire Emblem series is the same, with some of the older and more rare games (I’m looking at you, Radiant Dawn) hold their original retail value years after their release, in some cases climbing considerably, selling for £70, £80, and even £120. But on the other end of the spectrum, we have those particular Fire Emblem games that, while perfectly sound, just plummet in value. I’m talking about Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia, Fire Emblem Fates (in general) and, more recently, Fire Emblem Warriors.

Fire Emblem Warriors has taken a fairly considerable nose dive when it comes to its price, being available brand new at retail for £21 with it’s 3DS counterpart going for, I kid you not, £8 brand new. Now if you ask me, there’s a good reason for this, and forgive me if you’re a diehard Fire Emblem fan, but it’s just really not on par with the Switch’s other big Musou game, Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition. But with that being said, if you’re looking for a game that you can sink a lot of time into and you don’t want to shell out for Hyrule Warriors, then Fire Emblem Warriors is certainly worth your time, irrespective of my preference.

But what does Fire Emblem Warriors do to stand out?

Well for one, the entire thing is fully voice acted. The entire cast of characters, with the odd exception, really give it their all when it comes to the voiced dialogue in the game. Seriously, I mean it. It’s a dub track with an optional subtitled Japanese voice track, but nearly everyone sounds excellent. Not Rowan though. Rowan sounds like a discount anime dub voice actor. But everyone else is great. This is a bit of a double edged sword, though, because it means you will constantly hear the same lines being repeated over and over again throughout combat. And that’s never good.

Combat is certainly a lot more flashy than what you would find in Hyrule Warriors, with characters slashing dozens of enemies into the air while delivering their voice lines and stylishly dicing the foe to pieces, but it comes with an added mechanic. The famous Weapon Triangle is present in Fire Emblem Warriors, and this means that, should you encounter specific enemies on the field, you can have an advantage over them or vice-versa. If you don’t know what that means, the sword beats the axe, the axe beats the lance, and the lance beats the sword. I take issue with this, however, as it really just seems like a way to needlessly force you down the path of least resistance. I want to fight enemies on my own terms, not as dictated by the weapon triangle. That small nuisance aside, there’s a massive amount of fun to be had here. Weapon variety is impressive, character interactions are meaningful as in-game bonds grow and you can even play with a perma-death mode, preventing dead teammates from rejoining the fray.

If there’s one place that the game is lacking, and this is a pretty common complaint, it’s the overall narrative. Again, I’ll need to make a Hyrule Warriors comparison here, but bear with me. In Hyrule Warriors, you battle against Cia and her dark forces before moving on to Ganon. The entire time, they are your enemies and you know it. You have a clear and present target at all times. Fire Emblem Warriors, on the other hand, doesn’t really present you with a clear individual threat for quite some time. Instead, you’re introduced to new characters at every turn and given some contrived reason to fight them before the story can move on. For example, in the opening stages of the game, you engage in a full battle with Frederick from Fire Emblem Awakening purely to earn his trust. And when the fight is over, he tells you that he still doesn’t entirely trust you, making the whole affair rather pointless. This sort of thing happens a bit too often for my liking, but doesn’t hinder the actual gameplay at all.

I genuinely enjoy the presence of many of the characters, with Lissa the Cleric being a particular favourite because of her oddball personality when she’s on the battlefield, but there are so many to choose from, with 32 playable characters and 9 DLC characters, that you’re not going to get sick of anyone in particular anytime soon.

Fire Emblem Warriors. What more can be said about it when we’re speaking plainly? It’s cheap. It’s cheerful. It’s fully voiced. Packed with characters. Hundreds of hours of gameplay, and it’s portable. You could do far worse than pick up this Switch-focused Musou gem. (You’re probably better avoiding the 3DS version. Same goes for the 3DS version of Hyrule Warriors. Just trust me on that.)