Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes – Review
Follow Genre: Hack-'n-slash, Musou
Developer: Intelligent Systems, Omega Force
Publisher: Koei Tecmo, Nintendo
Platform: Switch
Tested on: Switch

Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes – Review

Site Score
8.6
Good: A surprisingly effective blend between strategy and action
Bad: Some visual performance issues
User Score
9.7
(3 votes)
Click to vote
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Rating: 9.7/10 (3 votes cast)

As rumours of a new mainline Fire Emblem title are picking up, Intelligent Systems and Koei Tecmo division Omega Force are giving the cast of the previous title, Fire Emblem: Three Houses, a final hurrah with spin-off title Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes. Given the lukewarm reception of the previous Fire Emblem Warriors game, it was a bit of a surprise that we were getting a sequel, but any excuse to return to the continent of Fódlan is a good one for us. Can Three Hopes tide us over until the inevitable release of Fire Emblem 17 or is it as unremarkable as the previous Fire Emblem Warriors game?

Story

When the first Fire Emblem Warriors title launched, way back in 2017, it suffered from a major issue and that was that the story simply didn’t make sense. The original game was a love letter to the Fire Emblem franchise but it threw characters from various games together without keeping the timeline and distance in mind. Three Hopes fixes this by using its story as a starting point, and giving players alternate takes on the storylines from Three Houses. Because Three Houses was centered around a branching storyline in the first place, it doesn’t feel forced to add even more alternative versions of the same timeline, and the story arcs introduced in Three Hopes should please fans of Three Houses immensely. Each of the three houses gets its own storyline here, although they all start from the same premise. If you’re not up to speed, there’s a handy fan-made video that recaps the events leading up to Three Houses (and subsequently, Three Hopes as well), which we recommend checking out just so you have an idea of what to expect.

Three Hopes introduces a brand new player character, named Shez, who -for all intents and purposes- is presented as a rival for Byleth, Three Houses’ protagonist. In an unusual twist, Byleth takes on the role of the main villain here, under the guise of the Ashen Demon. After suffering a humiliating defeat at the hands of Byleth, Shez finds himself (or herself) rescued by a mysterious being known as Arval, that acts as a counterpart to the goddess Sothis, who lives inside Byleth. Soon after, Shez finds herself in the company of the Knights of Seiros and the students of the officers academy. They accompany Shez to Garreg Mach monastery, where Shez is invited to join one of the three student houses. This leads to a team-up with Edelgard, Claude, or Dimitri, and an all-new adventure that ultimately sees Shez and their leader of choice on a path of vengeance to defeat the Ashen Demon. Of note is that you don’t need to have played Three Houses to understand Three Hopes’ story, so if you’re entering the fray purely as a Warriors fan, you won’t be confused as to who these characters are. That said, we highly suggest playing Three Houses anyway, as it adds so much depth to some of the plotlines introduced here and it’s a fantastic Switch game in its own right. The story’s pacing can feel a bit off and those that aren’t as invested in Fódlan’s political intrigue as diehard Three Houses fans might find that the game is a bit of a slow burn, especially early on as the game obviously sets things up for its second half.

Graphics

We could gush all day about Fire Emblem’s art direction, as the character designs and aesthetics are simply gorgeous, and given that it’s been several years since Three Houses debuted, the existing character models have received some more polish. This is one of the best-looking games on the Switch right now, even if does feel very taxing on the hardware. Despite some visual flaws, however, the game feels optimized for the console, which makes sense as it was designed with the capabilities of the hardware in mind. Performance isn’t perfect and we saw several instances where there was edge flickering but given the sheer scope of Three Hopes, visual mistakes were perhaps unavoidable. Warriors games tend to be tough for the Switch to handle simply because of the constant amount of action on screen, so we were pleasantly surprised to see how well Nintendo’s trusty hybrid system performed in battle, both in handheld mode and in docked mode. Surprisingly, the most common occurrences where we noticed slowdown or frame drops weren’t while we were fighting hundreds of enemies at once, but when we wandered around the camp area, which acts as the overworld hub.

Sound

Music has always been a strong suit of the Fire Emblem series and Three Hopes’ soundtrack certainly delivers. Taking the tunes from Three Houses and turning them up to eleven, Three Hopes presents players with adrenaline-fueled versions of iconic tracks such as The Apex of the World and Fódlan Winds, which are perfect for the fast-paced action-focused gameplay that makes up the majority of the game. The voice cast from Three Houses returns to bring their characters to life once again, including the late Billy Kametz in his final performance as Ferdinand von Aegir. It’s a bittersweet moment hearing him say his signature line “I am Ferdinand von Aegir” knowing that he passed away from cancer weeks before Three Hopes launched, but we’re glad that he was able to bring Ferdinand to life one more time without having to be replaced.

Gameplay

If you’ve ever played a Warriors spinoff title, you already know that the core gameplay deviates massively from the classic Fire Emblem formula. Rather than turn-based strategy battles, what you’re getting here is the signature 1000 vs 1 signature Musou gameplay that originated with Samurai Warriors on the PS2 way back in 2004 and which we saw most recently with Touken Ranbu Warriors. You take control of an impressive roster comprising almost every character from Three Houses, alongside several new faces, as you play through a mission-based campaign where you hack, slash and shoot your way through scores of enemies. Three Hopes is more than just a Fire Emblem skin draped over the Warriors formula, however. Gameplay elements from the Fire Emblem series (and Three Houses in particular) are introduced seamlessly to add another layer of depth. The amount of new information can be overwhelming at times as the game keeps introducing mechanics at a steady pace until you’re roughly a third into the main campaign, and unless you’re already familiar with both the mechanics of Fire Emblem AND Warriors, you might need to take some time getting into things from a gameplay perspective.

None of these added mechanics feel superfluous either as they all tie into your units’ performance on the battlefield, whether it’s building relationships between units through support conversations, engaging in tea time with characters -an element from the series so iconic that there was a minigame about it in the latest Warioware game- and simply exploring the wilderness around you. A lot of what’s present here is fanservice of course –no, not in that way– and fans of Three Houses will love returning to this world and its inhabitants. Every cast member from Three Houses makes an appearance, and most are playable, even the Ashen Wolves, who were exclusive to DLC in the previous title. Just like in the main Fire Emblem series, there are simply too many characters present here to give every single one a chance to shine in a single playthrough, but players are able to select their favorites from a roster before starting a mission. There’s also (optional) permadeath in this game, a Fire Emblem staple, and given how brutal some of the missions are, there is a good chance you’ll end up having to replace some of your beloved students halfway through the game if you’re not careful.

Battles themselves are fairly straightforward affairs with clearly defined goals, and while there is a lot of character swapping on the fly to gain an advantage on your opponents –Fire Emblem’s weapon triangle system is beautifully implemented here- you won’t have to worry that you can’t simply play through the game with your favorite characters. To help further to achieve this, a reclass system ensures that you can focus on your cast members of choice. Naturally, some are better suited to particular classes than others: Bernadetta works much better as an archer than as a swordswoman, for example, but you should be able to make it to the end of the campaign no matter which of Three Hopes’ impressive roster you decide to focus on.

Just like in Three Houses, the story will deviate depending on which house you choose to join, and as such, there is a massive degree of replayability here. A single house campaign should take you roughly 30 hours to complete, so you’re looking at between 80 and 100 hours of gameplay here if you’re a completionist. That’s a lot of bang for your buck, and given how fun and, quite frankly, addictive Three Hopes is, it’s definitely worth it. Granted, as long-time Fire Emblem fans, we may be a *bit* biased, but then again, we’re not necessarily fans of the Warriors formula. If you’re on the fence, we highly recommend giving the game’s free demo a try as it gives you access to the first four chapters of each of the three routes.

Conclusion

While we vastly prefer the mainline Fire Emblem formula, we cannot understate just how good Three Hopes turned out to be. A perfect blend between a story that deepens the Three Houses universe, layered gameplay, and heaps of fan service make for a title that shouldn’t just please fans of Fire Emblem or the Warriors series, but also serves as a perfect entry point into either franchise. Granted, the game can be a lot to take in at first as it keeps throwing mechanics at you, and there were some minor performance issues, but overall, this is a title that you should definitely check out if you’re a Switch owner.

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Rating: 9.7/10 (3 votes cast)
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Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes - Review, 9.7 out of 10 based on 3 ratings
SebastiaanRaats


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