Apparently, we have strayed from Naga's light.
The Western release of Fire Emblem Warriors was confirmed to have one big problem as soon as its release date was announced: the fear that Super Mario Odyssey would suck all the oxygen out of the room. After finally having the opportunity to crack into the latest mook murder simulator from Omega Force today, I'm finding enough Fire Emblem to keep casual fans of the series entertained and some nice changes to the Warriors formula.
Early on, the story is going through a lot of army building motions. The two original characters Rowan and Lianna are trying to save their kingdom, Aytolis, from an invading wizard and the dragon behind the wizard that inevitably ensues in Fire Emblem. The prince and princess are carrying around a shield with five holes for stones drawn from heroes of Fire Emblem, and before they can go to a temple a cutscene familiar to Awakening veterans will play that draws the Shepherds into the story. The Awakening portions featured multiple other callbacks to the original game, and a few “stunning” revelations, before a path split serves to bring the royalty of Fire Emblem Fates into the world. Presumably, the cast of Shadow Dragon will follow shortly after. The prologue features a nice tease of the game as I still haven't encountered one of the Fates characters in it halfway through the path split.
The combat will be familiar to veterans of past Warriors games,: Y and X perform weak and strong attacks, A and R activate special moves that build off separate energy meters, and swapping between characters happens with the up and down directional buttons. So far, I'm still getting used to some of the Fire Emblem-specific functions like pairing up, which can theoretically enhance damage and defense but only left me with a pegasus knight against one of the game's fastest archers. As might be expected, I couldn't switch to Frederick in time and poor Hinoka was out for the rest of the fight. Thankfully, permanent death is as optional in Warriors as it has been in every Fire Emblem game since the DS/3DS transition, so I can bring back Hinoka for revenge against Takumi if it comes to it.
The other thematic elements of Fire Emblem actually make it a good introduction to the main series. There's a relationship system, which gives optional items and works in conjunction with the pairing system. And just like I played Awakening, Chrom and Robin were max rank with each other by Chapter 8. Before the maps, it's possible to assign first targets to each of the units, and once they complete their tasks the AI makes sound decisions on where to move the troops to and avoid bad matchups. The series staple of the weapon triangle (sword beats axe beats lance beats sword) is present, complete with an ingame achievement for going against it and winning. Although the characters do have stats and level up with the standard chime, I've found so far that the good level bonuses have outweighed the bad and haven't had a 1 or 2 point boost at all.
An option can be toggled for two modes: Performance, which lowers the resolution but makes the game run at 60 frames per second, or Quality which runs at a higher resolution but at 30 frames. So far I haven't noticed a difference in the two modes, but my TV is set for 720p on the Switch's HDMI port anyway so I'll probably switch back to Performance going forward. In either mode, the game hasn't run into any affecting slowdown, and I think it's locked but can't say for sure. Our John Rairdin put together a comparison video of the two modes.
My sword hand has been tingling in anticipation for weeks as I waited for Warriors to arrive, and now that it's here I'm looking forward to a nice weekend of serial murder. The History mode definitely didn't want me to try and marathon it right away, as the challenges ranged from level 2 to 30 on the Awakening themed map I opened. Nintendo, Koei Tecmo, and Omega Force picked a god and prayed and so far, they hit the jackpot.
A review code was provided by Nintendo of America.