During each battle, you control one of up to four playable characters. The default controls are:
|Left Stick||Move||After moving for a while, your character will automatically transition into a dash.|
|Right Stick||Camera/Taunt||Allows you to rotate the camera. Pressing on the stick will make your character taunt (just for fun). Rotating the camera when locked on to an enemy will instead shift the lock-on to a different, nearby enemy, allowing you to change targets easily.|
|Y Button||Weak Attack||Weak attacks can be chained together up to 6 times (once you've upgraded the relevant Crests). They are fast and useful for clearing out weak enemies or lowering a strong enemy's Stun Gauge.|
|X Button||Strong Attack||Strong attacks can be triggered by themselves, or added as the final attack of a weak attack chain. There are 6 unique Strong attacks for each character type, corresponding to the total number of weak and strong attacks in the chain.|
|B Button||Dodge||This allows characters to evade attacks. Additionally, moving while ending a dodge will allow you to transition directly into a dash without needing to move for a while. Dodging can also be done to cancel out of certain attack animations, reducing end lag or stopping your attack where you want it.|
|A Button||Warrior Special||As your character deals damage, their Warrior Gauge will increase. Once it fills up a bar, pressing A will instantly trigger a devastating special attack. If you are paired up and both units have at least one full bar, they will unleash a Dual Attack together instead.|
|L Button||Lock-on||When the L button prompt appears over a strong enemy, pressing L will focus the camera on that enemy.|
|R Button||Awakening||Your character will build up an Awakening Gauge as they collect items or meet certain conditions. Once the bar is at least halfway full, pressing R will trigger Awakening Mode, which provides a number of buffs including full weapon triangle advantage. Once the Awakening Gauge depletes, the mode will end, but not before the character unleashes a powerful area attack. This can also be triggered prematurely by pressing R again.|
|ZL Button||Guard||Holding ZL will trigger a defensive stance. Your character moves more slowly, but will block incoming attacks from the front. This is useful when dueling one-on-one against enemy commanders.|
|ZR Button||Multifunction Button||On its own, this button does nothing, but holding it down will bring up a context menu that allows for four additional actions, as described below.|
|ZR + A Button||Use Item||If your character has a healing item or staff assigned, they will use it, consuming a use.|
|ZR + B Button||Pair Up||When the ZR + B prompt appears over an ally, this will trigger Pair Up. Pressing it while already in a Pair Up state will cancel the Pair Up.|
|ZR + X Button||Swap Vanguard||When Paired Up, this will switch the positions of the two characters, letting you play as the Support unit instead of the Vanguard. Note that this is not available if the Support unit is an uncontrollable ally.|
|ZR + Y Button||Dual Strike||When Paired Up and the ZR + Y prompt is available, the Support Unit will trigger an additional attack. This can only be done when the Dual Strike meter is full, which builds up quickly as you deal or take damage.|
|Up/Down Button||Change character||To switch characters, press Up or Down on the D-pad to cycle through the list. Switching characters will also change your location on the map. It's also possible to switch characters via the Pause menu.|
|Left Button||Guide Display||Pressing this button will bring up the Guide menu.|
|Right Button||Minimap Zoom In/Out||If the current zoom level of the minimap is insufficient, pressing Right on the D-pad will cycle through its zoom levels, allowing you to find a level that suits your taste.|
Note that these are only the default controls; you may customize which button input performs which action in the Controller Settings menu.
Playable characters not under your control will act according to their AI.
Stats, Level-Up, and Promotion
Like with the mainline Fire Emblem games, each character has a number of stat values that determine how they perform in battle. These stats increase every time the character levels up, though unlike in mainline Fire Emblem games the growth rates are fixed; there is no random variance or chance, making stat growth predictable. Stats can also be artifically boosted by equipping certain Skills, or by using certain Blessings before playing a stage. These will revert if the Skill is removed or the Blessing wears off.
The stats are as follows:
- HP: Determines the character's maximum HP. The higher this value, the more hits a Warrior can take before being defeated. HP can be restored mid-battle using items, healing magic, or just standing in a fort owned by the player's faction.
- Str: Strength determines the power of the Warrior's physical attacks; swords, lances, axes, and bows deal physical damage by default, but tomes can be altered to use Str via the Topsy-Turvy Attribute. Stones use both Str and Mag, but otherwise a Warrior will only ever use one of their attacking stats at a time.
- Def: Defense against physical attacks. The higher a Warrior's Def, the less HP they lose when struck by the physical weapons listed above.
- Mag: Magic determines the power of the Warrior's magic attacks; tomes are the only weapon that deal magic damage by default, but other weapons can be altered to use Mag via the Topsy-Turvy Attribute. Stones use both Str and Mag, but otherwise a Warrior will only ever use one of their attacking stats at a time.
- Res: Defense against magic attacks. The higher a Warrior's Res, the less HP they lose when struck by the magical weapons listed above.
- Skl: Skill determines how powerful the Warrior's Critical Hits and Warrior Special attacks are.
- Sp: Speed determines how quickly the Awakening Gauge depletes while in the Awakening state. The higher the Warrior's Sp, the slower the gauge drains, and therefore the longer they can spend in the Awakening state. Sp has no effect on movement speed or attacking speed, despite how it may sound.
- Lck: Luck affects the quality of recovery items dropped by enemies. It also factors into certain Skills; Luna, for example, increases the Warrior's power relative to their Lck stat.
- Mov: Movement determines how quickly a Warrior can move around the battlefield. Unlike other stats, this stat remains fixed at a specific value and never changes during level-up. Infantry have a Mov stat of 5, armored cavalry have a Mov stat of 10, standard cavalry have a Mov stat of 15, and flying units have a Mov stat of 20.
To level up, simply fight enemies. Every enemy, no matter how weak, provides some experience points towards levelling up, though naturally stronger enemies will provide more. Experience gain rate can be improved in a number of ways, including Marth's Paragon Skill, certain Blessings, and scoring many KOs while in the Awakening state. Besides levelling up directly in battle, the Training Ground can also be used to raise your Warriors' levels for a price. This price is determined not only by your Warrior's current level, but also by how close to naturally levelling up they are.
Once a Warrior is level 15 or higher, they are eligible for promotion. This costs one Master Seal, which can be acquired through Story Mode and History Mode. The Master Seal can be redeemed on the Warrior's Boost Crest page. Promotion will change the Warrior's appearance and class title and give them a massive boost to their stats; the stat gains from promotion are fixed values and the Warrior's level is not reset, so it makes no difference whether you promote at level 15 or level 99. Promotion also grants the Warrior extended access to their Crest tree, with many powerful Crests hidden until promotion. Finally, some Warriors also gain the ability to equip Staves upon promotion, such as Corrin and Hinoka.
In general, the battlefield is occupied by hundreds and thousands of enemy soldiers, most of which are fairly passive--and serve as fodder to rack up your KO counter. Dotted around are slightly stronger foes, recognised by having a name and HP gauge, as well as having an icon on the map.
- Outpost Captain: These foes guard Outposts, which steadily spawn weak enemies. They can be defeated very easily.
- Minor Enemy Captains: These foes can be anywhere on the map, and are significantly stronger than the basic fodder. They are often named after classes from Fire Emblem, such as Myrmidons, Soldiers, or even Wyvern Riders.
- Fort Captain: These protect Forts, which spawn enemies and restore HP to enemies within the Fort. They are the same as the above enemy captain types but tend to be slightly weaker.
- Bosses: These are Fire Emblem heroes who fight against you for one reason or another. They occasionally guard Forts, but are not restricted to any one location. They can be quite formidable and challenging to defeat.
Defeating an Outpost Captain or Fort Captain will allow you to take the outpost/fort for yourself. However if the enemy defeats your Outpost/Fort Captain, you will lose it again.
Sometimes, when enemies are defeated, they will drop small items that replenish your Warrior's stats when consumed. The size of these items determines their quality; the larger it is, the more potent its effect will be. The quality of these recovery items can be influenced by the Warrior's Lck stat; the higher the value, the greater the odds of getting better quality items.
- HP Tonic: Identifiable by their green coloration. Restores a portion of the Warrior's HP.
- Warrior Tonic: Identifiable by their yellow coloration. Fills up a portion of the Warrior's Warrior Gauge.
- Awakening Tonic: Identifiable by their blue coloration. Fills up a portion of the Warrior's Awakening Gauge.
- Ultimate Tonic: A very rare tonic with a rainbow coloration. Restores HP, Warrior Gauge, and Awakening Gauge all at once.
Besides recovery items, enemies will also drop Materials or Weapons when defeated. These do not have to be manually picked up, and will collect automatically; however, the mission must be successfully completed to receive the items.
Materials come in three different rarities, and are determined by the type of enemy defeated. Materials are used to craft Crests to improve your Warriors. They can also be used to create temporary Blessings, if you have an excess of them.
Weapons that drop during battle can be equipped by your Warriors in subsequent battles, provided they're the right weapon type and rank. Weapon drops are randomized; their rank, power, number of Attribute slots, and whether those slots already contain Attributes are up to chance, though Blessings can skew the odds in various directions.
Victory and Defeat
Winning a battle requires fulfilling the battle's specific victory condition, which can be viewed via the Pause menu. This can be defeating a particular boss. However, very often, you cannot complete the victory condition straightaway.
In the meantime, there will be multiple missions and sub-missions added as the battle progresses. Clearing the missions will help progress the battle, eventually allowing you to reach the final mission. Sub-missions are entirely optional and can be failed, although doing so can sometimes make the battle harder.
At the same time, you will lose the battle immediately if a defeat condition is fulfilled. Again, these are shown in the Pause menu, but some loss conditions are universal:
- All playable characters under your control are defeated. Obviously, you cannot complete the mission if you no longer have any character to play as.
- The Allied Commander is defeated. Most History Mode maps will feature an Allied Commander stationed right outside the Allied Base. They must be protected.
- The Allied Base is captured. If the enemy invades your home base, you will want to drive them out before they can successfully take it.
- Until you clear Story Mode, all Story Mode levels will impose a condition where if your chosen protagonist is defeated, you lose the map regardless of how many other playable characters you still have standing.
- Time runs out. Every mission in the game has a time limit of at most an hour, though you are unlikely to encounter this loss condition unless you deliberately waste time. Some missions will reduce the time limit, however, providing a more realistic loss scenario.
Some levels have more specific defeat conditions listed in the Pause menu.
Taking Advantage of Enemies
To make battles easier, you can exploit enemy weaknesses to take them down faster.
Like in the main Fire Emblem games, the Weapon Triangle is present.
- Swords beat Axes
- Axes beat Lances
- Lances beat Swords
If your Warrior has a Weapon Triangle advantage against a foe, a white-and-red "Down" symbol with two arrows will appear over your foe. Fighting such an enemy will cause a Gold Stun Gauge to appear. If your Warrior has a disadvantage, the symbol will instead be a red-and-black "Up" symbol with two arrows. Enemies with an advantage over yours will be more resistant to damage, won't show their Stun Gauge as frequently, and will block attacks more often.
Some weapons also have minor advantages and disadvantages depending on the enemy type, represented by only one arrow symbol pointing up or down. Bows have a minor disadvantage against most non-flying basic enemy types, Tomes have a minor disadvantage against Pegasus Knights, ect. These are not nearly as impactful as the main triangle, but should be noted.
Additionally, some enemies are inherently weak to certain weapons. For example, flying enemies like Pegasus Knights are weak to bows. In such cases, a white-and-red exclamation mark symbol will appear over the enemy. Fighting an enemy with an effective weapon will do a huge amount of damage, often defeating the enemy in a single hit. Of course, some enemies are equipped with effective weaponry, which can be extremely dangerous for your vulnerable units to engage. Enemies with an advantage over your current Warrior will display a red-and-black exclamation mark symbol, and should be avoided. The Iote's Shield Skill, available on the DLC Warrior Minerva, protects the user from effective damage. Some special History Mode maps will also nullify all effective damage for everyone on the map.
The Stun Gauge
When fighting any enemy stronger than an Outpost Captain, a gauge may appear from time to time depending on certain conditions. Attacking the enemy while this gauge is displayed will reduce this gauge, and if it empties out the enemy will be left vulnerable to a Critical Hit, which is performed automatically. Keeping the enemy juggled in the air will delay the Stun Gauge from disappearing.
The Stun Gauge will automatically appear after the enemy performs certain attacks, and can also be forced to appear with certain attacks of your own and Dual Strikes. If your weapon has an advantage over the enemy, a gold Stun Gauge will appear instead; triggering a Critical Hit on a gold Stun Gauge will create a more powerful attack that hits more than just the target.
Pair Up and Support
The Pair Up mechanic introduced in Fire Emblem Awakening appears in this game, adapted for Warriors gameplay. During battle, you may initiate a Pair Up with any other character under your deploy, with the exception of certain story NPCs. This can be done on the battlefield using the ZR context menu, or from the pause menu. Any Pair Up can also be cancelled in the same two ways. You may also switch which character is in control of the Pair Up at any time, unless the Support unit is unplayable.
While in the Pair Up state, the Support unit is essentially removed from the field to benefit the Vanguard unit. The Vanguard unit receives a boost to their stats based on the Support unit's strengths, and gains access to the Dual Strike and Dual Guard mechanics. These two meters build up as you inflict or take damage, and will increase faster with a higher Support level. When the Dual Strike meter is full, you may call in your Support unit to unleash a quick attack on the enemy, breaking their guard and possibly exposing their Stun Gauge. When the Dual Guard meter is full, you are protected from attack and will take no damage from the next attack that hits you; how much the Dual Guard meter is depleted depends on the strength of the blocked attack.
The Vanguard unit can also trigger a Dual Special if both units have at least one full Warrior Gauge. This functions similarly to a basic Warrior Special, but is even more powerful and further-reaching.
Besides the combat benefits, Pair Up will also greatly boost the Support level of the two involved units as they fight together. The only negative consequence to Pair Up is that it essentially reduces your battlefield presence by a character, but the benefits are strong enough that you will want to make frequent use of Pair Up.
Support is a representation of the bond between two Warriors; the higher the Support level between two Warriors, the faster they'll build up Dual Strike and Dual Guard meters when in Pair Up, and the more potent their stat boosts will be. Unlike in mainline Fire Emblem games, every Warrior in the game can support with every other Warrior in the game, and there is no marriage mechanic; all Supports stop at A Rank. Support values can be raised in a multitude of ways, which is represented by a small heart appearing over the Warriors accompanied by a sound effect. Fighting together in Pair Up is the most efficient way to raise Support, specifically by defeating enemy captains and using Dual Specials. It can also be raised by using healing items on each other, and by fulfilling certain side objectives in Story Mode. Support can never decrease, but it can only increase a finite amount of times in a single battle; once two Warriors can no longer build up Support, the sound effect accompanying the heart icon will change.
Besides the in-battle benefits, Support also provides benefits off the battlefield. At C Rank, you will receive a Silver material from both Warriors; at B Rank, a Gold material from each, and at A Rank, an Essence from each, which can be used to allow Warriors to learn each other's Skills. Support is the only way to earn Essences, so you'll want to build up as many as you can. Some Warriors have their A Rank support replaced with A+ Rank; this is functionally identical, but is accompanied by a special conversation between the two Warriors that can range from heartfelt to hilarious. These Support Conversations can be viewed again from the Warrior Gallery once unlocked.