“So how about a Fire Emblem Musou huh? Team Ninja and Omega Force working together on Hyrule Warriors only is a sin, therefore they should team up again for a Fire Emblem Musou with the blessings of Ninty. This time however, the musou should feature completely original characters for obvious reasons!.”
HOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO BOI, was I naive back in 2015, when I first wrote those words.
My first plan was to make a what-if scenario based on how a Fire Emblem Warriors would look like when I got to play Hyrule Warriors back in 2015 and wondering : why wasn’t Fire Emblem considered first given its material? Wouldn’t you know it, one of the producers, Hayashi Yosuke also admitted wondering this in an interview when asked about working with Koinuma and Aonuma for Hyrule Warriors. But being the slowpoke I am, new of Fire Emblem Warriors being a real thing came first so I thought that since one of my dream games came true, I wouldn’t have the need to write entire essays(that I myself would read anyway, huehuehue) and dropped it. Then the game came out and it was a disaster in my eyes. What Hyrule Warriors tried to fix with Koei’s Warriors series, Fire Emblem Warriors doubled and even tripled down on while introducing some scant good additions or utilising some assets a bit better than HW. At the time(2017) I was really considering doing an angry write-up just for catharsis’ sake but that just drained me even more, especially when I learned more about the situation behnd the curtains with the staff, Ninentdo’s collaboration and how different the partnership was between Koei Tecmo and the new Intelligent Systems compared to the previous partnership of KoeiTecmo and the Zelda studio and how dedicated they were.
Fire Emblem Warriors, like the industry it’s come from, reached the height of its problems last year, not because of abrupt decisions and sudden changes; because of accumulated negativity, laziness, short-sighted easy profit venues that hurt the long run and drive away the core audience and a general exploitation of an audience that has indulged itself way too much in bad spending habits, easy appeasal from the most low-effort pandering, hype culture and a mainstream focus. Both sides of the industry, the makers and the customers effectively killed the goodwill and passion the industry at large once held for games from both sides(see Star Wars for a very similar phenomenon). Things are unlikely, if at all, to get better in the near future for what will probably soon be called “traditional video games”. And like Fire Emblem Warriors, I was equally drained of that as well. I couldn’t do it and I still can’t do it. I am really broken on that front. A few good jewels from the last 5 years that I showcased in a previous post aren’t enough to conveince me that there’s a hopeful future.
I have to preface that Hyrule Warriors was in no way a perfect game but KT has shown that if they love and are passionate about a project / license they can make it shine even more in a sequel as they did with Gundam, One Piece, Dragon Quest, Hokuto no Ken and even Toukiden as proof of that. They better tell the truth because if a sequel does come out it’ll be the ultimate test of their passion and Hayashi has said that a lot of the team members are fans of FE. And that’s the smidgeon of hope I cling unto as they have low-key teased a sequel as of late. Even if it doesn’t happen, I’d rather focus on that, focus on redeeming Fire Emblem Warriors and remedying the situation and awful decisions it’s currently stuck in.
So, first things first : completely redo the graphics. This :
is not pleasant to look at nor is it good in neither an artistic nor in a way to represent what it’s based on. Especially when it’s the result of minimising the graphical output to reach 60FPS that can’t even be maintained and at times crash the game. That is not good. I’d rather have this :
or this :
and 60 or either 30 fps with no crashes, no stutters and no chugging and I’d even settle for this :
if it meant super smooth 60FPS gameplay with no problems at all. It will fit the style the Fire Emblem series has much more and it’ll prioritise performance while having a stylistic look over the CGI semi-plastic aesthetic they tried to go with for FEW that honestly looks like they badly upscalled some models from a 3DS and smoothed their pixels out. And as shown in prior games, despite people hating on cell shaded graphics(especially on the stages) they have shown to work and KT knows how to optimise that. I know, people will bitch it looks like an anime way too much and all that stuff but I’d rather that be the only problem on the graphical side of things comapred to the ones I just listed. And hey, given how much people like Fire Emblem Heroes(I feel sick) and its artstyle, it wouldn’t hurt honestly, not to mention, they like the studio that produced the cutscenes for Awakening and Fates. Personally…I’d go for how Fire Emblem Echoes looks though, since we can’t go back to the GBA FE style of art anymore even if the artists still work at Intelligent Systems.
Unlike a lot of other people, the presentation didn’t bother me, if it meant good gameplay. A lot of my favourite characters, even from the games present in FEW were absent but if the movesets were good, if the features that made Fire Emblem what it is were adhered to and implemented over the Warriors format, I’d be happy. It didn’t happen and we got clones on top of that. And people rightly had issues with the clones but I had for different reasons. In Fire Emblem, due to it being an Turn Based Strategy RPG, the combat doesn’t allow for what one would call…variable in animations, even when they “upgraded” from sprite art.
If you noticed, beyond the unique classes(the Lords and whatever else the enemy packs) in each game, the rest of the classes share animations. I’ll adress that further. So let’s go over the clones first before moving to the overall gameplay changes and missteps :
I.)My issue with the clones is that they are mishandled here. In a license like Fire Emblem, it is impossible to completely avoid clones unless you make an entirely new cast of characters(like in Dragon Quest Heroes I and II) and have them fit in each class role specified in order to feel different. I personally wouldn’t mind that as it was one my original ideas for the game but it’s obvious that this won’t happen since unlike our silent “Yuusha”(Hero and Heroine) of every different Dragon Quest, the characters in Fire Emblem are all very defined and even have extra conversations to solidify in steel the kind of people they are. So naturally, the fans want these in the game. To avoid clones a smart solution would be to bring people from all over the place that fit into the class roles to aleviate that, except for the Lords since no Lord plays the same even with the same weapon…but then there’s the problem of having same weapon fatigue(the whole 90% sword cast). So what to do? Stick people into classes and never allow them to class change or anything to avoid problems with weapon overlap? Nope, the answer is simpler than that.
Pick the favourites of the audience and make everyone super unique in their playstyle and have just 20 characters or something? Nope. Simpler than even that. Because so far we’ve been ignoring the basics of what Fire Emblem is. It’s a Strategy RPG. You move peons throughout the battlefield and you face (usually) large armies with the odds stacked against you. That’s prime materials for Warriors and to give the game credit, they kinda pulled it off :
By utlising the Samurai Warriors 3 Chronicle system that was being refined in Hyrule Warriors Legends, you are able to control, command, switch and order around various characters in the same battlefield in a very satisfying way. Great, the system allows you to maximize the unit’s effectiveness and with the proper RPG elements, you can play around various different scenarions in the already satisfying maps. Now take that into account and the fact that each character has their own stats, skills and even sometimes rules that aren’t always adhered to in a game by game basis. With all that in mind, the clones situation to allow players to see their favourite characters appear on the battlefield is somewhat lessened since a lot more than base combat takes place on the battlefield in sharp contrast to previous Warriors games. But now we are just getting started as several characters have weapons unique only to them and even in the sprite based games, gave them unique movesets.
So the ultimate solution is to give the characters class movesets but they should adhere to the games they took part in. For example, we have Navarre and Owain in the game already and let’s say we add Guy from Fire Emblem 7 as well. They are all Myrmidons, they all class change to Swordmasters so they should have their own moveset, right? Wrong. Each and everyone of them will have different movesets. Why? Because each represent a different era of not only Fire Emblem games but Fire Emblem aesthetic and mechanics. Navarre is iconic enough with the template for most Myrmidons and his dual swords style from the anime adaptation and other media adaptations warrants him to have a completely unique to him moveset, while Guy should have something based on his generation of games, with backflips lots of speed phasing etc while Owain should adhere to his generation and pull off the moves he already demonstrates on the 3DS screens…albeit spiced up. Same goes with other classes obviously, even now that we have four archers in the game, each and everyone of them is a different class. I know there are so many ways to use a bow but if Koei has managed to make it look good and different before in their games, they can do it again in this one.
But let’s say this doesn’t pan out and every Myrmidon plays the same, every Pegasus Knight plays the same and essentially every member of the same class plays the same. Even then it’s not a problem due to a very simple solution : they would still have to adhere to the fact that even between games, classes aren’t exactly the same :
Did you notice that? Not only in some games characters don’t exactly have the same maximum weapon proficiency, maximum stats template but not even the same weapons really as in some games, the class can have more than just a sword. And the games that skills exist they don’t always get the same skills. Which makes it very intersting. So even if we have Shiida / Caeda and Hinoka in the same game, they would play nothing alike :
Shiida would get a sword not just as a Falcom Knight but as a Pegasus Knight straight up, using two different movesets from her starting class while Hinoka would just have a staff. Same with Cordelia. Not only that, Cordelia and Hinoka would have different stats :
So, even among characters already added in the game, there is a lot to differentiate them and have the player actively try to play differently. Incentive to utilise all characters. That is tremendously important. And that’s the surface level about cloning.
II.)The absence of weapons from characters and the absence of proper weapon proficiency. As I stated before, a lot of characters in the game usually have another weapon they can use if not two more than what they are given in game(Frederik can only use an axe but not a sword and a lance as well) and it hurts the characters by the end since it limits the movesets possible for a class. Not to mention it gives incentive to class change several characters or prioritize class change for some others, based on their moveset upgrades and entirely new weapon-based movesets. Just think of it that way : a stage doesn’t allow you to bring anyone but Chrom from Awakening and you have to fight against a myriad lance users. You’d be royally fucked since Chrom uses a sword. But if you class changed him, he gets to use a lance and suddenly, the enemy would deal less damage, stagger you less and your Chrom would deal normal damage to the enemy, smartly evading the hurdle just like in an actual Fire Emblem game. In previous warriors games, players can switch between weapons and Dynasty Warriors 8 and Arslan Senki X Musou showcase the system perfectly. In Dynasty Warriors 8, just like in 7 and the Multi Raid / Strike Force series before it, a character can carry up to 2 weapons in battle and they can switch between them at any given time with the press of a button making a moveset’s combo potential skyrocket. As for its evolution, Wonderpierrot even gives a very fine explanation of Arslan’s weapon switching, combo switching and multiple movesets :
Imagine that on Fire Emblem Warriors. That would be what perfection feels and plays like in these games. And it could be the actual mechanic needed to stagger opponents instead of what we have now, where the enemies can sneeze and expose everything for you to whack until they die. Not to mention, due to the combinations of weapons the characters can have, each and every one would feel really worth the effort.
III.)Speaking of weapons, FE Warriors screwed the pooch royaly here as well, opting for the ultra grindy Hyrule Warriors route instead of something smarter and more in depth, engaging the player for the same amount of time but with less tedium. If anything, Dragon Quest Heroes handled the way weapons are distributed and found perfectly and by adding the forging mechanic from the Warriors Orochi games in the mix, something very interesting could come ouy of it; possibly even a new standard for these games. A basic thing that the devs should work out is that a few(very few in fact) weapons should look different between classes due to some difference in stature with the prime example being the axes. The axes looking like polearms are fine for those with a steed or a wyvern but when it comes to infantry like Lissa and possibly future characters like Hector, a Fighter, a Warrior, a Pirate and even a Berserker, this :
looks absolutely pants-down retarded for anyone else :
It’s already hilarious seeing grunts in Fire Emblem Warriors wielding them :
But those are small edits. The biggest ones should also account for the size of the weapon period because an iron sword doesn’t look like this :
Weapons in Fire Emblem not only have a set length but shape, size and weight that distinguishes them from each other. To mess them up and make them all oversized plastic toys is unsightly to say the least, not to mention how jarring they look compared to everything that isn’t a unique weapon. Even if they used the artwork and design of the weapons from the latest 3DS games(or even just Awakening) as reference :
it’d make for a commendable aesthetic upgrade and it would be more appropriate for both of the series. But speaking of the stats a weapon has, it’s important to see how they could play in a Warriors setting. First of the weight : Dynasty Warriors 5 used a weight system for the weapons to balance the speed of attacks and the attack power of some weapons and to an extend, so does Fire Emblem :
Now the game has an additional advantage with tactics and balancing the distribution of weapons amongst the cast not to mention, the difference in a unit’s strength and the weapon’s weight could also be used an alternative to Astra / Hyrule Warriors’ Hasty Attacks, with units that have low strength and speed being burdened by the weapons and not attacking as fast, not cancelling out of attacks as fast and not recovering from attack animations as fast as they should but by the time the endgame rolls out, at least the melee ones will be able to wield the heaviest of weapons with ease and be normal or at best, be a speed demon like Swordmasters actually are and attack at double speeds, dodge faster and further and recover instantly. The formula should be simple like that :
Attack Speed x 0.5 = Speed – (Strength – Weight) < Weight
Attack Speed x 1.0 = Speed – (Strength – Weight) = Weight / 0
Attack Speed x 2.0 = Speed – (Strength – Weight) > Weight
*If (Weight-Strength) is negative, the result is taken to be 0.*
Again, that would also aleviate the clones problem because that would make for vastly different playstyles. Taking Chrom and Lucina as a very eclectic example, while both can wield the Falchion, due to Chrom’s 44 max strength and Lucina’s 42 max strength, this could make or break the endgame if the Falchion’s stat allowed Chrom to not only use it normally but at double speed as well while Lucina could only use it at either half the speed or normal speed. And even then, the effects the Falchion has would play a part in strategising if said unit should focus on strong one-off attacks since the weight doesn’t allow them to be a speed demon that prioritizes fast combat.
Now for the crafting, they should modify the system found in Warriors Orochi 1 and mix it up with Fire Emblem’s mechanics; that is for non-unique weapons that several characters wield, like the Falchion for example. Normal weapons should have a very specific appearance, a very specific attack number and depending on the rank they need to be wielded, a certain number of slots. All weapons have slots but for some weapons, some slots are always occupied with certain effects; for example, the Zanbato will always have the effect of Horseslayer :
But since it’s a D rank weapon, it can have another skill placed in its second empty slot. The series has ample material to choose from :
With that in mind, the weapon attributes should also change considerably from what the current Fire Emblem Warriors have in stock. The attributes, unlike Warriors Orochi are either grafted before hand in a weapon and the player gets them after he fells certain enemies(usually a specific enemy like in the games) or by using the blacksmith to forge a skill into a weapons empty slot using materials they find on the battlefield; materials shouldn’t be used just for the crest market anymore. Weapons should be also bought far more often than just being earned n heaps like in the Warriors games, with certain buying options getting unlocked the more one advances the stories and sometimes when they aquire certain weapons in battle, like the Brave Sword. Said atributes should include all the attributes of Warriors Orochi 1 minus Slay and Flash :
and they work exactly like in that game along with three more elements : Wind, Light and Dark and a new attribute called “Light Metal” that reduces the weight of a weapon it is attached to and finally we have the attributes Stability, Highflier, Supremacy, Procurement and Rigor from the Orochi games as golden attributes that can not be stacked up to ten times and requires very certain materials. The Elements this time will be restricted to one element per weapon unlike the Orochi games so there will be a compromise : elements can stack up to 10 times but if the player wants more than one element, then they have to use the double and triple elements from Warriors Orochi 3 :
Now being golden attributes and only able to be raised up until level 5. Finally, the attributes True Power and Divine Favor should instead be Crests in the Crest Market for those that do have unique weapons and not for every unit in the game.
IV.)The handling of the various RPG elements and their importance is completely mishandled in FE Warriors. From the leveling system, to the class system and even the weapon triangle, they are all massively mishandled. First of, what the absolute fuck is this?
And that’s not the half of it, the DLCs raised the level cap from 99 to 150 as of now. Jesus fuck, we wanted less grinding from Hyrule Warriors, not loads more. And those stats number, no. Just, no! The levels should only go up to 20 for base classes and another 20 for the promoted classes so only 40 levels in total. As of late, the maximum level in several Warriors games has been 50 so 10 levels less is not a problem. And the stats should never be overblown as they are now, especially when the changes mean nothing in game. Absolute disgrace. In Warriors Orochi 1 there was a huge difference between a character with different stats, even to their running speed. There’s nothing like that here. That could make or break a gameplay style not in a single playthrough but a single stage. It’s ludicrous as well, considering that Warriors Orochi 1 had no numerical values on the stats of the Warriors, instead opting for maxed out gauges at level 99 giving the player the idea that “Congrats, all your Warriors have the exact same stats, hooray” but once you play tested them on the battle field you felt the difference and when you really wanted to feel the difference, you just stacked the bonus abilities on your team and each character became an absolutely different beast depending on the endgame stats they had. Fire Emblem Warriors on the other hand has a very clear and concise stat screen with clear numbers for each stat and yet…most of the characters feel so samey it’s kinda off putting even looking at their stats. Their empty, hollow numbers mean absolutely nothing in the grand scheme of the game and waste your time.
First things first, the HP stat is the only one that shouldn’t change that much, given the nature of the game. If it wasn’t a Warriors game, more conservative numbers would be appreciated but now the numbers have to reach the hundreds. The rest of the statuses do not have to. According to the wiki, each stat affects things differently and the list is as follows :
- Strength – Affects damage dealt for those using swords, axes, lances and bows.
- Magic – Affects damage dealt for those using tomes and dragonstones.
- Skill – Affects power of Critical Hits and Warrior Specials.
- Speed – Affects how long the character can stay in Awakening.
- Luck – Affects the drop rate of recovery items and also the effectiveness of some chance-triggered skills like Sol and Luna.
- Defense – Reduces physical damage taken.
- Resistance – Reduces magical damage taken.
This is really bad and it just negatively affects the game as it oversimplifies a lot of things and removes various elements of customization that could have been very crucial. So let’s see how the actually mishandled stats are used in the context of Fire Emblem :
And then you have a very certain stat missing :
This being very important and very crucial as it adds another layer into Fire Emblem Warriors that wasn’t present in previous Warriors games : attack speed and general speed. Like in life, even the best runner doesn’t have the best reflexes nor is the greatest martial artist with the best reflexes able to run fast like an Olympic athlete. And in Fire Emblem, this meant crucial strategy and positioning which this game prioritizes as well and brings to its forefront. Let’s start by revising what we have :
- Strength – Affects damage dealt for those using swords, axes, lances and bows along with Attack Speed.
- Magic – Affects damage dealt for those using tomes and dragonstones.
- Skill – Affects power of Critical Hits and Warrior Specials. Used to calculate the rate of Critical Hits.
- Speed – Affects the dodging speed and distance of a character and Attack Speed.
- Luck – Affects the drop rate of recovery items, the effectiveness of some chance-triggered skills like Sol and Luna and decreases the enemy unit’s critical hit chance.
- Defense – Reduces physical damage taken.
- Resistance – Reduces magical damage taken.
- Movement – Affects the running speed and dashing speed of a unit.
Four things that are important to change with this new set-up are how the running and dashing speeds are affected along with the types of dodges once can do, the removal of Awakening for all characters(more on that later) to make way for new mechanics and the way Critical Hits work. First off, Movement is now a very static stat that is locked with each class according to the games and doesn’t change in the slightest during the game unless a skill or a weapon atribute is used. That way the pairing mechanic becomes even more engaging since now the player must carefully weight their options since the battlefield is vast and movement in it is now more crucial than just flying off broken bridges. Critical Hits now work like the Weapon Attributes Flash and Slay combined from Warriors Orochi 1 making the need for medics and Dual Guard even more apparent and prominent. Finally, the dodging should be reworked and have each character have a different kind of dodge based on their speed that affects the animation, speed, distance, cancelling and recovery frames of that dodge, starting with a simple step, moving to a simple dash, moving on to a faster roll and culminating with something like this :
where each successful dodge amps the crazyness and the visual flair of the dodge along with all of its properties making for engaging battles and the requirement of mastery for the one-on-one duels with the bosses to land successful hits. Each dodge gets better with each successful input and the lower the level, the easier it is but the rewards are smaller as well and it ramps up from there.
Finally, the Awakening system should be removed for the majority of the characters and instead have these characters get a second and third musou they can access at any point. The only two characters so far that should have an Awakening system that isn’t altered in game are Tiki and Kamui / Corrin. Reflet / Robin should have a bit of a reworked awakening that makes him / her channel Grimma with a dual voice over and a bit of a changed moveset along with the addition of the Dark element in the attacks. The way other characters can access the two remaining Musou attacks are more reminiscent to the Rage Musou and True Musou attacks, one triggered by pressing the Awakening button now and the True Musou by pressing the Awakening and normal Musou buttons together to do this :
Then we have the Weapon Triangle and given all the fixes above, it is now very viable and very well implemented in FEW. The only change that should happen would be that now the attack after the Stamina of a character is depleted doesn’t result in this mess :
Absolutely attrocious. A far more refined and personal attack should be more fitting, like the Mighty Strike from the Samurai Warriors 4 series of games. Also, the stamina bar should only appear if there is a clear indication of weapon advantage in the Weapon Triangle. Only then.
V.)Next up come the Pair-Up / Dual mechanic along with the Support system, both grossly misshandled in FEW. For the Pair-Up, depending on your partner when pairing, the character receives abysmally small bonuses on their stats :
Downright disgraceful and useless beyond the ability to switch fast to another character. Meanwhile, in the FE games ever since Awakening, things were spliced much better :
Much more interesting and if put into this re-worked Fire Emblem Warriors games, it will add such potential to the combat it will make the game be at its peak strategic value with the player constantly wondering if the option to pair up two characters to make an unstoppable force of nature of spread his forces thin over at the entire map to be not fail the objectives, while worrying about the units getting killed to raise the stakes, like the old Warriors games did and how FE has always done. Not to mention, the way the Pair Up added bonues in this game could come with the ability to switch faster when paired up, just like in Senran Kagura 2, where the higher the support rank, the faster the switch is, allowing for crazy combo cancelling and combo making and the few units that have S rank supports can even deal damage and have a small speed buff upon switching to make the pairing even more strategic. Not to mention that the characters with S rank supports should completely new, reworked and utterly unique to their Pair Musou attacks, like what Senran Kagura 2 does.
And the game gives you enough people to have that kind of set-up, with the Fates characters almost hogging all of the unique Tag specials given what their relationships are in the games and how they can marry each other. Of course, since this is a Warriors game, the whole marrying / forging and ever lasting bond with a unit that affects the ending isn’t feasible but since this is also a crossover game, the S Rank Supports could be both : a.)Supports that can reach that level in the games like Corrin being able to marry everyone thus S rank with everyone and b.)Supports that are references to other character relationships in the series like Lyn and Chrom alluding to Lyn and Hector and Lyn with the male Reflet / Robin alluding to Lyn and the Avatar / Mark from Fire Emblem 7. While the later two from the B.) example are present in the game, they should be S rank conversations not A rank conversations. Additionally, to make the S rank supports even more worth it, these kinds of supports should be the only ones that allow for Skill sharing between characters, making it even more intriguing to see the set-ups instead of the universal set-up that exists in the current meta that makes everyone play the exact same. That way both the weaknesses and strengths of each characters are heightened and require thought to be overcome and utilised respectively. And gives the weapons far more of an identity since now the attribute slots and Slayer attributes will play big roles.
VI.)Finally, the way the Crest Market and skills work now should be overhauled to not be as grindy and as ridiculous as they are now. This time the crests should be limited to the moveset crests, the Awakening crests for the characters that have that and the various Musou crests for the characters that have that system instead, the Surge Crest for promotion and the various Skill crests available. So, right off the bat, a lot of the unnecessary grinding is reduced and now we have room for new types of crests that are going to be useful, things like completely new skills unique to only this iteration of FE and crests that raise the support levels faster. As for the materials needed, they should be reduced so it’s not as obnoxious as it is now and as it was back in Hyrule Warriors.
But most important of all, this has to be removed :
Get that thing away from Fire Emblem. Keep the underwear as costumes, I don’t give a flipping damn but the ability and the idea of the ability in itself is just hideous and utterly breaks the fun of this game. It doesn’t break the game, it breaks the fun of the game. Instead, in its place we should have two new innate mechanics : Ram / Shove and dodge offset. Ram / Shove should be available for all mounted units, not just the horses and deal more damage than it does now but the trade-off should be that they don’t have access to dodge offset. Meanwhile, non mounted units get dodge offset to increase their combo potential and abilities, like other Musou games have started implementing when a game of theirs lacks a jump button.
And after those fixes, any future Fire Emblem Warriors can be redeemed quite easily and can give us the joy of of actually playing a Fire Emblem-like Warriors game that many of us fans wanted for years.