I haven't been able to do any of the bonus missions for lvl 60+ characters because I haven't gotten those characters to 60, just a heads up about that.
Rowan, Prince of Aytolis, and Lianna, Princess of Aytolis, are training when the kingdom is under attack. The two are forced to flee while their mother is captured. The two encounter Crom, leader of a band of mercenaries. Frederick gives them a test and the two groups join up when they realize that Crom is from another world. By befriending Crom, one of jewels on the Shield of Seals is completed. The group discover that Oskar is trying to ressurect Velezark. The group then discovers other heroes (Fire Emblem Fates and Marth) and get them to join. Together, they complete the Shield of Seals and acquire a pair of swords.
Rowan and Lianna are able to free their mother, but Darios kills his father to awaken Velezark and fights. The power of the twins is not enough to defeat Velezark. They are reminded that they are not alone. Everyone joins together to fight Velezark as space and time is torn apart. As Velezark weakens, people are slowly being slipped back into their own worlds. But, by defeating Velezark, everyone is sent back to their own world, promising not to forget each other as they fade away.
This game has great graphics for a 3DS game. There are very few problems with frame rates and even though the draw distance can have issues at times, there are numerous enemies on screen at once, which allows it to avoid the problems with the Dynsaty Warriors games on the Vita. The only problem is that the elemental effects are extremely generic and there are not many enemy types. Most enemies fall into horseback, armored soldier, soldier, and monster type. It feels like even a lot of characters share abilities. Even though there are a good number of characters, many of them seem similar to one another.
The game is a basic hack and slash, but they integrate the weapon triangle system of Fire Emblem to replace the Dynasty Warriors 8 weapon triangle. In Fire Emblem Warriors, swords beat axes, axes beat spears, and spears beat swords. Some weapons have special "slayer" properties that deal extra damage against certain enemy types and less against others. You can ignore this with a super meter known as Awakening though. By stunning enemies and hitting them, you can trigger super attacks that deal massive damage.
New skills and abilities are learned through seals that are created by collecting items from enemies or by befriending characters. Every character has their own and require different items to unlock. Chances are you will have to focus on a few characters at a time. But, you only need a maximum of 4 as that is how many characters you can deploy even on the largest maps. For the most part though, leveling up is what gives you stats and promotion through the Master Seal will pretty much double your stats. In order to unlock class skills that existed in Fire Emblem, you have to improve relationships between characters, giving you a special item that will allow you to learn those equippable skills. These are among the strongest from increasing a stat by 10 points to granting unique effects.
A unique feature to this game is Team Up. Each character can partner up with another character on the map, whether it is a character you selected or a character that appears for the designated fight. The two fight as one unit and can assist each other with attacks and defense. As they defeat officers together, their relationship improves, granting you the items needed for learning some of the equippable skills. Relationships improve pretty quickly and isn't as much of a grind as it was in Fates. It is possible to get some relationships up to A in just three fights (you are capped at one increase per battle).
Every character has a unique set of attacks though some are clearly better than others. The most important factor is the speed in which a character attacks as the number of hits you deal determine how likely you can trigger special attacks that deal massive damage. On higher difficulties, you will be relying on it for your attacks. The result is that slower characters are at a massive disadvantage until you get all the gauge upgrades that allows some of their slower attacks to trigger the gauge. A good example of this is Camilla. The pause between her third hit and strong attack finisher is huge, often causing the stun gauge to disappear. This is similar for many mages, putting them at a severe disadvantage until you get upgrades to extend it. Even then, special boss enemies will still recover faster than normal and make it impossible to trigger the special attacks. This leads to a big problem with how the game attempts to balance itself.
A big improvement in the game over Hyrule Warriors is that your allies are not completely retarded. They will advance on their own and they will be able to defeat enemy officers on their own. They will however, struggle with all the special named enemies regardless of their own levels and abilities. In Hyrule Warriors, simply walking away from a base for 30 seconds meant enemies would take it over. Luckily, it does not happen here unless the enemy sends a special enemy and even then, it takes one minute for that enemy to take over the base.
The big problem with the game is balance. The Royals of Fire Emblem Fates and Aytolis are insanely strong thanks to their special weapons. They are E graded weapons, but have as much power as B grade items with six weapon slots and some even have special properties. For example, Chrom's Falchion has six slots, 80 base attack, and comes with Dragonslayer effect by default. The two main characters, Rowna and Lianna, have monster slayer on theirs. As a result of this, you pretty much want to stick with the royals with these weapons. The cheapest by far is Ryoma though. His Strong IV attack basically shoots across the screen and instant kills all mooks. To top it off, you can supposedly improve them by clearing the Lunatic mode battles.
Once you get to Hard difficulty, things start to suck. The main reason for this is enemy HP. In Hard, enemies are around level 30, but have an absurd amount of health. And when I say absurd, I mean insane. I'm talking like 100x more health than they should. Even with weapons designed to kill those enemies specifically, it takes an insane amount of hits. The worst part is, archers can kill your pegasus and dragon riders with a few hits. Yet, these same critical hits to an enemy Hinoka make it feel like you are doing no damage at all to them. This is a massive problem. Four of them will literally run into your main base and kill everything just because of the amount of time it takes to kill them. Unless you have all four people in your team armed with staves to heal them, you've practically lost if they made it into your base due to the amount of time they get to rampage in there.
Now to the minor problems. When you kill 1000 enemies, Anna will appear somewhere on the map. If you can run to her in time and press B, she will give you one of Anna's Memories to fill in a picture. Most battles have two of them though the second set for story mode battles are not unlocked until after you clear the game once, forcing you to play through the game a second time on a harder difficulty to unlock the second. While I do not mind the need to play it a second time, the problem is that she disappears very quickly and if she appears across the map, you may not have enough time to reach her before she disappears, forcing you to restart the battle to see her appear on the battlefield once more.
Another annoying thing is that if you did not select that character for battle (you can only bring four), you cannot switch to them, even if they are already in the stage as part of the story. This is an annoyance for me because you can activate Team Up with them and call them out for special attacks. They are already unlocked and playable, but they just will not let you switch to them.
The archer class is also fundamentally weaker than all the other classes because they naturally come with Wingslayer on all their weapons, making them highly effective against flying Wyverns and Pegasi, but weaker against everything else in the game because all the "slayer" type skills on weapons makes them weaker against enemies that are not of the same type. It just seems like a dumb design issue.
It's an improvement over Hyrule Warriors. It takes advantage of a lot of the features presented in Dynasty Warriors 8 and manages to adapt it for Fire Emblem. There are a decent number of characters available though it is nearly all concentrated in Fates and Awakening. They manage to make it not as much of a grind and the overall gameplay is good, especially for a portable. The downside however, is that in the higher difficulties, major characters just has insane amounts of health. They are not hard to fight, but it just takes forever to kill someone as you chip away at their life for several minutes before they die. This creates frustration as you attempt to complete the bonus challenges as they are only available in the highest difficulty available, Lunatic.