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E3 2017: Fire Emblem Warriors is the Koei-Nintendo Combo That Makes Sense

Hyrule Warriors was strange. Not only because Nintendo allowed one of its most iconic franchises to mingle with a less popular one–not unlike another partnership announced this year–but because the Legend of Zelda didn't comfortably fit Dynasty Warriors. Link isn't known for taking down swaths of human soldiers, and thanks to the patterns of myths repeating some characters multiple times, it doesn't have a large pool of heroes to choose from. Fire Emblem, as it turns out, is a much more natural partnership.

A large part of that comes down to its deep stable of recognizable cast members. Thanks to Fire Emblem's long popularity, and each game featuring dozens of characters, it easily can easily pluck from a veritable gaggle of beloved soldiers. In only a short demo I saw Marth, Chrom, Corrin, Ryoma, and Xander–each a pitch-perfect representation of their assorted other appearances. The two new characters fit in nicely, and their gold-and-white designs appear similar to the art of Fire Emblem Heroes for mobile.

The larger stable of characters may have come at the expense of differentiation, but in that area too, Fire Emblem Warriors excelled. These are characters known for unique fighting styles and, in the case of Corrin, magical hidden talents. Special abilities like the Awakening charge and finishers are unique little visual treats that pay homage to their source material. It's possible that with the addition of many more characters I might see more repeated patterns, but for the sake of the demo, at least, it had a nice level of variety.

Mowing down swaths of enemy soldiers, then, is already nicely differentiated, but also more sensical. Fire Emblem at its core has always been about larger-than-life heroes fending off scores of enemy soldiers, so the core dynamic of Dynasty Warriors is a thematic fit as well. Even the presence of closed battlefields with multiple shifting objectives doesn't feel entirely out-of-place for fans who have been playing the strategy series for a long while.

Unfortunately, my demo didn't go into deep detail about other Fire Emblem elements being imported into the series, like the weapons triangle or support conversations. And this is still, ultimately, a Warriors game. Nothing about the core gameplay loop of pushing through gaggles of faceless nobodies to reach bosses and then unleashing wild, screen-filling attacks has really changed. If that hasn't carried much appeal in the past, there's not much reason for Fire Emblem Warriors to change your mind.

If on the other hand you're a Fire Emblem fan who just didn't feel a connection to the series before, or if you haven't even tried it before, this may be the perfect jumping-on point. It has all the charm and fan favorites one would expect from a huge Fire Emblem mash-up, taken out of their usual strategy element and into an action spectacle. That should be enough to please Dynasty Warriors fans and many Fire Emblem stalwarts alike.

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