When Fire Emblem: Warriors was first announced earlier this year, I remember being really excited. After all, I adored Hyrule Warriors Legends, from the rich cast of characters to the diverse combat styles every single character had, I sunk so many hours into that game because of how fun it was to play as characters I could otherwise never play as in a traditional Zelda game. I assumed that Fire Emblem: Warriors would largely follow its example, featuring representatives from across the expansive Fire Emblem series and create fun, engaging fighting styles for everyone to fight with.
However, the Fire Emblem: Warriors announcements as of late have been largely lackluster and very divisive among the fan base. While half of the fans are excited to play as all of the Fire Emblem: Fates siblings (seriously, does every single one of them need to be present?), familiar Fire Emblem: Awakening characters, and Marth, the rest of the fans are infuriated that so few of the games are being represented. And honestly, I’m one of them. To be clear: I love Awakening. It’s an incredible game, and I’m beyond excited to play as characters such as Lucina and Cordelia. So on one hand, I’m stoked. On the the other, I’m rather disappointed at what seems to be a huge mistake that Koei Tecmo is making by featuring characters from so few games.
Fire Emblem is a huge series, with around twenty games under its belt. TWENTY. That’s a ton! It’s amazing to think that the series has been around that long (especially since so few of them have been localized outside of Japan), and yet, out of twenty games, only three are being represented in Warriors? You can see why longtime fans of the older games would be frustrated. And unfortunately, the timing of Warriors‘ release is not doing it any favors. Warriors should be out later this year, but earlier in 2017 we’ve had the release of two excellent and successful Fire Emblem games that set a standard of what to expect from Fire Emblem: Warriors.
1. Fire Emblem: Heroes came out in February, a mobile game that allows players to summon characters from across the entire series to fight for them. The game also utilizes a long list of talented Japanese artists to re-imagine the characters, and combined with the English release of a completely voiced cast, Heroes is a huge hit.
2. Not long after Heroes came out, Fire Emblem: Echoes was released, a remake of Fire Emblem: Gaiden, sporting refined art, gameplay, and story features to accompany a new group of characters for people to be invested in. This game did well critically and commercially, and its success has opened the door for Nintendo to possibly pursue future Fire Emblem remakes.
After these games came out, fans were getting excited for Warriors, imagining playing as their favorite Fire Emblem characters from the series while expecting amazement from a fighting game of Koei Tecmo’s caliber. But instead, the only news fans have been getting lately is of how every single sibling from Fates is going to be included in Warriors, and it only adds fuel to an already raging fire among the fandom. The rumors of characters like Tiki and Caeda from Shadow Dragon are hopeful at best, but it still doesn’t change the fact that the bulk of Warriors‘ cast is primarily from two games and no others.
Not only that, but Koei Tecmo even claimed that the success of Fire Emblem: Heroes “changed” the direction Warriors was going in, implying that they would follow Heroes’ example and include characters from across the franchise. I have a hard time believing that since the newest trailers and information seems to suggest nothing of the sort. If Heroes really showed them the worth of investing in characters from throughout the history of the series – garnering the interest of both old and new fans to buy their game – then why is that “change” unrecognizable? Why are there still only three games being represented?
In Koei Tecmo’s defense, the studio is pretty busy at this point, working on Dynasty Warriors 9 and another Attack on Titan fighting game, so the fact that Warriors is feeling rushed and borderline lazy with its development begins to make sense. Combine this with Awakening and Fates being the most popular games since they sold the best, and honestly I can’t fault their marketing strategy. They want to rely on what is familiar and known to perform well. I get it. But I’d be lying if I said it still didn’t bother me, or if I said that I don’t feel bad for Koei Tecmo during this process.
Fire Emblem: Warriors is definitely a game that is going to cause division among fans regardless of how it approaches its character roster. Either the old fans will dislike the amount of characters from the new games, accusing those games of not truly being “Fire Emblem”, or the new fans will dislike having characters from the old games that they didn’t play, so they wouldn’t recognize or care about the characters. It’s near impossible to satisfy all of the fans, and with the time crunch Koei Tecmo has, this makes it even more difficult to create a product that everyone will enjoy. It also doesn’t help that the success of Heroes and Echoes has cast huge expectations from the fandom onto the company, and this pressure may not be as intense had Warriors potentially been released before these games.
But at some point, the series can’t become dependent on the popularity of Awakening and Fates either. Without question, Awakening saved the series, and its success even encouraged fans of the new game to revisit some of the classics. These older games may be much more difficult and arguably inaccessible due to the permadeath feature, but that didn’t stop fans from tying them out (myself included). The series was revisited in a new light, and games like like Heroes and Echoes have proven that Fire Emblem is a viable series that thrives on having new releases while hearkening to the older installments.
I can only hope that Fire Emblem: Warriors will include new DLC characters down the road or perhaps even be pushed back to accommodate some new additions. Otherwise, Fire Emblem: Warriors is going to be a huge missed opportunity to promote the long, fantastic history of the Fire Emblem franchise.