Examples of Damage Control in Gaming: Fire Emblem’s Chosen Warriors

It’s dazzling to see the speed at which Fire Emblem Warriors went from being considered a dream collaboration to a missed opportunity for several vocal Fire Emblem fans.

For years, the fanbase felt a Warriors installment developed by Omega Force (of the Dynasty/Samurai Warriors titles) would be perfect for the franchise. Just like characters that star in those Warriors games, the FE titles have characters capable of defeating groups of enemies without much assistance from others (though the amount depends on the game). Every company involved granted their wishes when this was announced at the Nintendo Switch showcase in January. The first trailer, which revealed only Fire Emblem Awakening’s Chrom, showed how the fanbase was seemingly getting the project they wanted.

The important word there is “seemingly,” because subsequent details turned those smiles into frowns within seconds. Several character wish lists were made earlier in the year that fans were hoping would be close to accurate, expecting faces from multiple titles within FE’s decades-long history. But they had to discard them after the developers confirmed they’d primarily come from recent titles, namely Shadow Dragon, Awakening, and Fates. This is mostly being aimed towards newer fans, as Awakening put the franchise back in the spotlight between four and five years ago, and Fates’ sales performance was so good that Nintendo decided to make FE a major IP going forward. This is good for the higher number of newer fans, but those who’ve stuck with the franchise for over a decade are disappointed.

While some reasons why these character roster decisions were made are obvious, director Hiroya Usuda and producer Yosuke Hayashi spoke to Japanese magazine Nintendo Dream to clear up some, but not all, the confusion.

In choosing them, the team felt all the important characters from specific titles had to be represented, due to their connections with each other. The developers don’t have unlimited resources, which is why they limited themselves to choosing them from three titles. This is shown through the current Awakening reveals, where they explained that with Chrom, characters like Lissa, Frederick, and Robin had to be in because they’re part of that game’s Shepherds. It also shows why they went through the bother of making Lissa an axe user instead of a cleric, since the latter class wouldn’t be suitable for a playable character in an action game. This will likely be a noncanonical entry, but they’re taking the story more seriously than expected.

Awakening’s Lucina was also confirmed. Since the characters were chosen based on relations, both explained how children will have to come with her. They implied that some could be downloadable content, which isn’t good news for anyone who was hoping the DLC would be for characters from other FE games.

Their explanation wasn’t good enough for those who want representation from many other franchises. The fans who want that don’t care about the story in a game like this, and it’s tough to blame them when many Warriors games aren’t narrative-heavy. But this game will be joining the Dragon Quest Heroes titles in being exceptions to the norm, and the developers involved want to adapt the characters as faithfully as possible. I highlighted how this will apply to the gameplay in my last post about it, which will include strategy/RPG elements like having the option to place multiple characters on the field and to switch between them at nearly any time. It will also have support conversations, though whether it will have the same volume of them as recent FE games is currently a mystery.

The game also has a heavy amount of sword users thus far, including original characters Rowan and Lianna. They’ll be the first characters players use in the story, and the developers felt sword users would be easier to learn for those new to the game. That could be the case, but it doesn’t explain why both siblings needed to use swords when players can switch between them later, and when so many other cast members are.

They didn’t get into why so many other characters chosen also use swords, likely because it’s easy to explain why. Many main characters in the recent FE games (and others) and their closest companions use swords, all of whom dominated early character reveals. In fairness, they’ve been mixing that up lately.

The previous group of characters were revealed at Japan Expo last month, which consisted of Awakening characters Lissa, Frederick, Lucina, and Male Robin. Now, Cordelia and Female Robin from the same game have been confirmed. Cordelia is another welcome unique addition to the roster as a Pegasus Knight who uses a lance, while Female Robin will be similar to Male Robin in being a magic user. Since other popular characters from Awakening that haven’t been unveiled yet, more should be forthcoming very soon.

There are still more characters to reveal from Fates, while Marth is still the only known face from Shadow Dragon. The game currently has 13 characters, so they weren’t kidding about this game having the largest cast of characters for the first installment of a Warriors game.

Fire Emblem Warriors is planned for a Japanese release on September 28th, so they’ll have to reveal the remaining non-DLC characters sometime over the next six weeks. The game is still listed for a vague “fall” timeframe for western territories, but it should receive a precise date soon.

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