Comparing the Nintendo Warriors: Fire Emblem vs. Hyrule - ArticlePaul Broussard , posted on 14 July 2018 / 7,009 Views
Over the course of the Wii’s and Wii U’s lifespan, third party developers were in short supply for Nintendo. For one reason or another, third party games simply weren’t selling very well on Nintendo home consoles. As a result, any sort of partnership that did produce sales was valuable. One such fruitful partnership was with Koei Tecmo, who developed two games based off of the Dynasty Warriors series, but focusing on story and characters from specific Nintendo franchises rather than the usual Dynasty Warriors cast. Hyrule Warriors, based on The Legend of Zelda, was released for the Wii U in 2014 and later ported to 3DS and Switch in 2016 and 2018, respectively, while Fire Emblem Warriors, based on Fire Emblem (duh), launched simultaneously for 3DS and Switch in 2017.
As someone who’s enjoyed both games quite a bit, I thought it might be worth looking back on the two and comparing them. I’ll be placing them head to head in a number of different areas, determining which I think was the better title, and ultimately picking one game to recommend to people who might be interested in trying a Nintendo Warriors title out. So, with that in mind, let’s get started.
Right off the bat, which game presents itself better? From music, to levels, to just the general overall aesthetic, which title provides more glisten to surround the meat of the experience with?
Hyrule and FE Warriors both provide some very interesting takes on areas pulled from their respective franchises. Being able to run around Fire Emblem areas that were previously only viewed from a top down perspective is a real treat, while looking at Zelda areas reimagined and mixed with each other is also extremely enjoyable. Hyrule Warriors gets a slight nod in this area due to having a few more levels from its 3DS version, but both earn high marks here.
The music for both games is also (pardon the pun) rock solid as well, with electric guitar remixes of songs found throughout the games pulled from. FE perhaps edges ahead here slightly, if only because I like the few original songs introduced in FE Warriors more than the ones found in Hyrule, but again it's very close.
On the other hand, Fire Emblem wins easily in regards to graphical quality and post-story content. Hyrule’s graphics have dated considerably since the Wii U release in 2014, and don’t look significantly better on the Switch. FE Warriors' more stylized aesthetic does and likely will look quite good for some time to come. And while both games have roughly equivalent story modes, FE Warriors stacks up better in regards to post-game content, with its History Mode providing a much more enjoyable incentive to fight additional battles than Hyrule’s rather schizophrenically organized Adventure Mode.
Winner: Fire Emblem Warriors
Roster of Characters
Much of the appeal of crossovers like these lies in being able to play as a variety of different characters from the series being represented. Both Hyrule and Fire Emblem Warriors market themselves on the player being able to play as various protagonists and/or antagonists from the series’ past. Since Link is usually the only playable character in Zelda titles, and Fire Emblem is more about giving orders to units than actively playing as them, these crossovers present the first real opportunity for many people to directly control many characters that they may have always wanted to.
In that regard, it’s hard not to feel at least a little disappointed in Fire Emblem Warriors, and its DLC, opting to pull from just three games: Shadow Dragon, Awakening, and Fates. Hyrule Warriors, at launch anyway, only featured playable characters from three games as well, but since then has added both protagonists and antagonists from titles across the series. Conversely, FE Warriors only offers characters from those three titles, even with its DLC. In fairness to FE Warriors, there are far more characters from the Fire Emblem series that fans really want to play as, so it would never have been realistically possible to satisfy everyone, but this doesn’t even seem like trying. The infamous “too many swords” excuse doesn’t hold up either, given the sheer amount of sword characters already included both in the main game and the DLC.
And this doesn’t even touch upon the sheer number of clone characters included in FE Warriors, who reuse the same moveset. Camilla and Hinoka are similar to Cordelia, Celica is similar to Marth, Navarre is similar to Lyn, Lucina is similar to Chrom, Tharja is similar to Robin, Owain is similar to Ryoma, etc. In total, of the 34 playable characters available with DLC, ten have a copied moveset. By contrast, Hyrule Warriors has 29 characters, all with unique movesets. And this doesn’t even touch on some characters having different weapons, each of which provides entirely new movesets.
Winner: Hyrule Warriors
As important as representing your series well is, playing well is just as significant, and it’s here where Fire Emblem Warriors shines over Hyrule. A number of significant improvements are either unique to or simply present in FE Warriors that are not available in Hyrule. Arguably the most significant improvement is the ability to change characters on the fly, which allows players to quickly be in several places on the map rather than having to run back and forth constantly. This function is completely absent in the Wii U version of Hyrule Warriors, and while present in both the 3DS and Switch versions, it’s significantly limited and, in many cases, not even available.
FE Warriors also brings in the concept of the weapon triangle from the Fire Emblem series, which functions essentially as type advantages between units. This, in turn, helps alleviate a lot of the bullet (or sword?) spongy nature that tougher enemies would otherwise possess. Having trouble with a tougher foe? Plan your units’ positioning correctly so that you can take advantage of the weapon triangle and give yourself an advantage in combat. This also adds a degree of strategy to the game, and it adds another much needed layer of complexity to keep things interesting later in the game when the joy of simple button mashing has worn off. Hyrule lacks any equivalent, and as a result many foes will require long stretches of running up, getting a few hits, and ducking out before they attack again. Taking down foes is almost always enjoyable in FE Warriors, whereas it can turn into something of a grind in Hyrule.
The last major benefit present is that, while FE Warriors does copy a lot of its movesets, the movesets that are there tend to be much more enjoyable than the ones in Hyrule. Playing Lucina/Chrom is probably the most fun I’ve had in a Warriors game, and other characters such as Lyn, Robin, Lissa, Ryoma, Olivia, Frederick, Azura, and Oboro are all incredibly enjoyable to use. While Hyrule has a greater variety of movesets, they are often a lot slower, more easily interrupted by enemy attacks, and just don’t hold the same visceral appeal as most of Fire Emblem’s. Out of the movesets in Hyrule, I only found myself really enjoying Ganondorf, Zelda, and Tetra, and leaving a lot of the cast relatively untouched.
Winner: Fire Emblem Warriors
Simply put, while Hyrule Warriors feels like a better celebration of the series, Fire Emblem feels like a superior overall game. If you’re looking for a celebration of the Zelda series, it’s hard to go wrong with Hyrule. However, if you’re in any other category and looking to try out a Nintendo Warriors title, Fire Emblem Warriors would be my recommendation. There may be a bit more content for Hyrule in the way of playable characters, but quality beats out quantity in my opinion, and Fire Emblem Warriors is certainly the more quality experience.