Okay, before we go any further, I've got to make something clear.

This is a Warriors game, part of the greater Warriors franchise. There are certain things that are going to always be there when you look at a game like this...And also, quite frankly, it's gonna get a bad rap in a lot of places. People are going to call it mindless, repetitive, a waste of time.

So before we get to my actual opinions on this game in specific...Allow me to ramble on, and tell you about Jason Italic's survival guide to enjoying Warriors games!

First, do not get attached to a single character. Every character has their own moveset within the standard controls, but a single one is only so deep; I strongly encourage you to focus on a different character with each stage, and in so doing, ensure you're hitting different button combos at different times to do different things.

Second, understand that every character has moves that serve a purpose. You will have moves that focus lots of damage into a small area, you will have moves that do less damage but can tear through broad crowds, and you will have moves that stun enemies and open them up for vicious followups. Learn the point of all the moves a character has, and use them.

Third, you don't have to kill all, or even most of the enemies. I'm gonna level with you, if they don't have their own lifebar, they're mostly there for you to look cool when you carve the entire army open. Focus on named characters, fort captains, and in general people with lifebars, unless you have a reason to do otherwise.

Fourth, and perhaps most important... Warriors games can be difficult, they can be easy, but what they just about never are is punishing. Doing the wrong thing will generally not fail to work, it just won't work very well. You can absolutely beat the game by just running around mashing Y for hours, but it'll take forever and be incredibly boring. You will need to find the more efficient or interesting combos, and work them out yourself.

These four rules will apply to just about every Warriors game you play, whether it's a licensed title like this one, or a core entry like a Dynasty Warriors game, and they will make your time with one far more interesting.

Now! All that said, let's come look at the specific one we have today. It's Fire Emblem Warriors, and I'm finally actually using the full title. I know, right? The latest licensed title in the massive Warriors mega-franchise, Fire Emblem Warriors is all about playing as the mighty swordsmen, swordswomen, and other combinations of weapon preference and gender identity, of the Fire Emblem strategy RPGs! You won't be carefully contemplating the life of a single soldier as you stare down a thin squadron of foes, no, you'll be carving through armies, as though you were living the legend as they'll tell it generations hence!

All that is to say, this is your classic Warriors style hack-and-slash. If you've never played one of these, your absolute core mechanics are quite simple. You've got a basic attack and a strong attack, mapped to Y and X respectively, and can string out various combos with them. Y-Y-X gets you something different from Y-Y-X, with the only typical rule being that the strong attack is always gonna end the combo and start you back at square one.

You've also got your big super attack on A, one of the central threads tying the entire franchise together...And borrowing from some of the licensed titles (including the previous game done with Nintendo, Hyrule Warriors) you have an Awakening mode, which gives you more damage for a little while and finishes off with a different, also really cool, super attack.

So that's all the Warriors usuals. You run around, decimate armies, capture territory, and make a march on the stage's primary enemy. Standard stuff. Where are the unique spins that make this different from any of the previous Warriors games you may have bought over the years?

I'm glad you asked, hypothetical viewer! Fire Emblem Warriors brings a few interesting bobbins to the table; The first, you enter a typical battle with four warriors actively playable, plus some more named AI companions, and can hot-swap which one you're controlling with the dpad. Which means you can be in up to four places...not quite at once, but in rapid succession, surely.

Next...Death is a(n optional) thing. While it's not true perma-death, in that you can have characters resurrected (and they're merely too injured to keep fighting, not killed outright, so they can continue to participate in cutscenes), if one of your playable characters goes down...He or she is down. You can't play them anymore until you can get them resurrected. (You can, of course, go into Casual mode and not have to deal with any of this, if it's not your jam)

Oh, and the game does use the much beloved weapon triangle! Sword beats axe beats lance beats sword, the classic arrangement. Be on the right side of that triangle and you get bonus damage, can stun them more easily, and it's generally just a good place to be.

And if you're into the newer games, you've got the pair-up mechanic! You get some stat bonuses, can call your partner out like an Assist in a fighting game for a quick strike, and can even do a dual super attack. You can even do it with named AI companions, which gives them an extra use beyond just being a wildcard on the battlefield, and without taking away your capacity to deal with problems in all different locations. Oh, and this also is a great way to build up stronger bonds, which help you unlock skills and such.

But that's just all mechanics. And yeah, I tend to do that a lot, I tend to talk mechanics and really explain to you how the game works, but what do I think of it, in the couple hundred words left in this review?

Speaking as a fan of both Fire Emblem and Warriors games, enough that I actually went and bought this with my own cash to ensure we could review it, I'm digging it. I won't pretend that this isn't well-worn ground, but the game fills a solid niche in my playtime, and it's really refined some of the quirks and flaws of the central gameplay in Hyrule Warriors.

There's only...Well, two problems with it, actually. The first is somewhat inherent to the franchise. Fire Emblem tends to have a lot of people who just use...Well, swords and axes and spear-y things. And while the Warriors team really did a solid job of differentiating as much as they could within that space, I'm not going to lie, it's a fair bit more limiting than some of the bonkers-ass weapons you saw in Hyrule Warriors, or even some of the mainline Warriors games.

The second thing is...While the four-warriors thing is cool, and I like the interesting strategies that it produces, it can make the game's History Mode a little less...Relaxing. One thing I liked in Hyrule Warriors was just putting on a podcast, dropping into its Adventure Mode, and basically goofing off completing missions and working my way through a map. With Fire Emblem Warriors, I have to put in some more serious focus. (That said, like all complex systems, I'm sure I'll get more comfortable with it in time...to say nothing of the simple fact that you don't actually have to take all four out when you go into a mission)

But at the end of the day, there's a lot here to love if you enjoy, or are willing to try out, the core gameplay loop of a Warriors game. I'm not gonna lie, they're not for everyone. And hell, I know this review won't matter much before Christmas, what with Mario Odyssey coming in a matter of days. But I think if you take it as it is, and really embrace what the game wants to be, you'll find a lot to love in Fire Emblem Warriors.

Just, you know, look at that survival guide I did up top. For real.