Waiting in line for Fire Emblem Warriors at E3, I had one expectation: that this would be like every other Warriors/Musou game in existence, with a Fire Emblem skin and some slight tweaks accordingly. But when I finally got my hands on the game and tore my way through the opposing armies, I was stunned by just how absolutely correct my assumption had been.

If you had played Hyrule Warriors a couple years back — or indeed, any other entry in the long-running franchise — then you’ll immediately grasp the basics of Fire Emblem Warriors. Devastate mobs upon mobs of enemies with the simplest of combos. Tear through forts and mini-bosses with the flashiest of special attacks. You may have to guard once or twice against the actual bosses, but otherwise it’s attack, attack, attack. It’s very satisfying to play, though given my short time with the game, I’m not sure how long this iteration will last before it grows repetitive.

Presentation-wise the game reflects the smooth UI of the more recent FE titles. Maps display the same familiar red and blue of the series, along with cute pixelated versions of the characters à la Awakening/Fates. The music was a rock remix of one of the standard Awakening map themes, and was appropriately hard and fast-paced. One odd thing about the demo was that it had a mix of English and Japanese voice acting (the former for on-field quotes, the latter for cutscenes), but I doubt that’ll make it into the final game. Dual audio would be nice, however.

To characterize FE Warriors as a carbon copy of other Warriors games is somewhat unfair, of course. The main new detail I noticed about the game was the pair-up mechanic. Much like in Fire Emblem Awakening and Fire Emblem Fates, you can walk up to an ally and push a button combination to pair up with them, which will combine your special attacks into one and allow you to switch between the two on the fly. It’s a nice incorporation of the series’ mechanics into the title, though I didn’t tinker around with it too much.

Whether paired up or not, however, you can switch between characters very easily, which — as somebody who only played the original Hyrule Warriors and not Legends — is a welcome addition. In the short demo I got to play as four of the characters: Rowan, Chrom, Corrin and Marth. Each had the tools to inflict massive carnage, but also had their own little quirks that helped them stand out.

Rowan felt the most basic of the bunch, and I accordingly spent the least time playing as him. He utilized fairly basic sword swipes and slashes in his moveset, with nothing that really stood out to me as particularly flashy or impressive. Chrom wasn’t too far off either, but he had some more interesting moves that displayed what seemed to be a weightier sword, including sticking the Falchion into the ground (just as he does in Awakening).

Corrin and Marth were a bit more interesting to play as. Most of Corrin’s moves involved her turning at least partially into her dragon form, stabbing or swiping with appendages or even going for a full body slam. Several of her animations I recognized from Fates, including her Dragon Fang and its critical version. Marth was probably who I had the most fun with. His moves were clearly inspired primarily by his Smash Bros. incarnation — one of his combos was the Dancing Blade, another involved the Dolphin Slash, and his strong attacks was akin to his up-smash — albeit now with a giant beam of light decimating everything around him.

Besides that, the little fan service nods here and there really added to the experience. While not explicitly shown, it was pretty clear that the game’s “mission control” helper character was Anna, who commented on profit margins and other little things that were completely in-character. Level-up screens were also inspired directly by the main series, down to the individual stat ticks and character quotes — and if you don’t like it, then you can easily turn them off. I feel like these details are going to be what gives this game likability.

The demo overall felt like just about every other Warriors experience I’ve had, but that wasn’t a bad thing. It had been a couple years since I had let loose and annihilated hordes of faceless mooks, and I’m sure that as a big Fire Emblem fan in general, I’ll find plenty to love about the full game. While the limited focus of games (Shadow Dragon, Awakening and Fates) is disappointing, some of the game’s features — like the Coliseum mode shown off during Treehouse, which involves going through a gauntlet of enemies — will help make it stand apart.

In the end, Fire Emblem Warriors was everything I expected it to be. And that was perfectly fine.

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Written by Amelia Fruzzetti

A writer and Nintendo fan based in Seattle, Washington. When not working for NinWire, she can be found eating pasta, writing stories, and wondering about when Mother 3 is finally going to get an official localization.

Amelia Fruzzetti