It’s exactly what you think it is.
To be honest, I’m not the best person to tell you about this game. I’ve played a few Fire Emblem games but always bounce off or slog through them in search of deeper engagement, and my time with Hyrule Warriors was much the same. Still, I was among the fortunate few to play Tecmo Koei’s latest collaboration with Nintendo at E3 2017, and these are my honest thoughts. Also, check out our direct feed video below (that's me playing).
Fire Emblem Warriors may yet sneak in some clever tweaks that will change how you, I, and everyone feels about the musou genre of battlefield-massacre simulators, but the demo was entirely predictable. The playable character rotates (at will) among a handful of well-known Fire Emblem protagonists that all look great in action but are quite similar to each other in action. All the standard mechanics from other _____ Warriors games are mapped to Fire Emblem trappings, including a metered Awakening state that boosts attacks and ends in a cinematic super-move. Whether plowing through mobs of laughable peons or wailing on durable boss characters, the combat is simplistic and mildly satisfying.
Although also announced as the next New 3DS exclusive retail game, the focus is on the Switch version. Warriors makes good use of the hybrid system’s horsepower. Even in an unfinished state, the E3 demo ran smoothly and showcased the clean, regal design aesthetic that has been a staple of the brand since at least GameCube’s Path of Radiance. A thick slathering of Fire Emblem style is perhaps the game’s strongest connection to that franchise. Just don’t expect any of the high-stakes tactical gameplay, as everything I played was indistinct from Hyrule Warriors on Wii U. Nintendo has promised some version of the weapons triangle, but it was absent from the E3 demo, which points to it being an optional or advanced consideration. The fact that the demoed units all were sword users didn't help sell Warriors's variety.
Also not shown: multiplayer. It’s probably going to be in the final package, though. Musou games typically support at least two players, and Switch offers many options to make that happen. The twin JoyCons are perfect tools for tandem button-mashing, but splitting the screen may not be as elegant for a game so dependent on busy crowds and mini-map antics.
Fire Emblem Warriors is an obvious crossover that should appeal to fans of Nintendo’s last team-up with Tecmo Koei, and it’s coming just in time to extend the surprising boom of Fire Emblem’s popularity in the Western world. It’s also a kind of meat-and-potatoes action showcase that Switch needs right now, and everything I saw in the first playable demo indicates it will serve that role with honor.