Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes lets you hack and slash your way through a land divided into three as it descends into war. Similar to Hyrule Warriors, this is a musou title using an existing Nintendo property – though this one is more of a direct spin-off.
If you’ve played Fire Emblem: Three Houses, you’ll recognize parts of Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes. You take control of a mercenary, save the heirs to the three countries, accompany them back to their school, choose a house to join, and have a mysterious guardian with powers. But this time you’re playing as Shez and become a student rather than a teacher. Also, Blyeth who was the protagonist in the previous game acts as an ongoing enemy.
Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes has an independent story as it takes place in an alternate universe to Three Houses, but some parts do cross over. The answer to one mystery in Three Houses about ten hours in was very quickly exposed before the tutorials finished in Three Hopes. So while you can certainly play Three Hopes alone, if you intend to play Three Houses and haven’t yet, I’d suggest playing that first.
Again mirroring Three Houses, Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes features a timeskip – though it happens much earlier and skips fewer years. You won’t be staying at that school long before being thrust into a war this time.
The house that you choose will decide which country you work with through the war. Each has a separate version of the story, with different focuses. Avoiding spoilers, certain routes focus more on the political side, while others more on the personal. They involve alliances, varying interests, betrayal, personal crusades, trickery, and more. It was particularly interesting to see how each country’s system differed. Overall I enjoyed the story, though the pace did feel a bit slow at times. Having to play all sides to get the full picture was a great way to keep me invested too, though did feel a bit repetitive when the same events occurred.
While the overall story is engaging, I enjoyed getting to know the characters more. Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes has a lot of side content that reveals additional scenes. From fighting together, choosing the correct answer in conversation, shared activities, ‘paralogue battles’ and more, all of these give you this chance.
Between the political intrigue, talk of social mobility, and putting enemies to the sword, a moment where you need to avoid being experimented on or see someone fawning over their friend helps to keep things lighter. That said, alongside musical invites to battle and other silliness, there are more serious talks with mentions of death and revenge.
Going through these scenes not only helps you to learn about the characters but also gives gameplay benefits. Being able to teach certain skills is a particularly interesting one.
1 VS 1000
While the story is certainly a large draw, Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes is at its core a musou game. You’ll spend more time beating down enemies with a sword, lance, bow, magic, or more than learning about the fate of the country.
The basic gameplay is running around and killing hundreds of enemies, with the occasional strong enemy or boss appearing. Capturing bases by cutting down the captains often features too. One aspect that Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes does particularly well with is objectives. Even if the default is going around to capture a base, missions often have several stages, so you’ll take a break to escort someone, kill a particular enemy or save someone. This is added to by bonus objectives where you need to do these within an unknown time limit, which adds a sense of urgency.
It sounds like almost any other musou game, but I’m most impressed here by two aspects: the feel of combat and the sheer amount of systems that keep things from being too repetitive. Though it is still an issue like it is with any musou game.
The Many Features of Battle
In terms of feel, I appreciate a lot of little touches like being able to dodge and flip back up when knocked down – this is surprisingly not in all Warriors games, but it feels like things move in a more fluid way here. And bigger features such as an advantage/disadvantage system that encourages the player to switch to one of the other characters that you place on the battlefield. Class actions vary based on a class system that opens up throughout the game, but some of these special moves tie in nicely too, like the Swordmaster being able to teleport dash into the midst of a dozen enemies. Something extra I appreciated was the ability to actually teleport to an area on the map under our control a few times per battle – it really helped when trying to finish quickly to get those S-ranks and cut down on the less interesting running between areas.
Systems are too numerous to describe. Even the game keeps giving tutorials for the first several hours. But one highlight is being able to issue orders to other characters – and it actually being useful. I rarely bothered with this in some other titles, but in Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes, if I tell someone to take a base, they’ll usually take it within a reasonable amount of time. It ties into the advantage/disadvantage system again, where I can order characters to take bases they’re strong against, while I personally take others. The same if I order an ally to guard an NPC or protect an area.
There are all sorts of ways to change things before a battle that mixes things up too. Characters can learn to be almost any available class, abilities can be learned, weapons can be upgraded, and more.
On a wider scale, there are different paths to take. Each chapter has several battles to participate in, culminating in the main one. You can choose whether to head directly to the main battle by fighting only in battles you need to, or by clearing everything. I always liked going the long way around more, particularly as this often means gathering plans to use in the final battle. Being able to set someone else’s base on fire as a tactic is always satisfying and may only be unlockable by doing this. Clearing everything means more resources for building facilities too.
Outside of battle, most of the time is spent at a base camp. This has merchants, facilities to upgrade your character, and all of your characters to talk to and trigger the social cutscenes with.
In each chapter, you get a certain amount of activity points and some separate training points. Again, not too dissimilar from Fire Emblem: Three Houses. The number of points can be increased by increasing your camp level through developing facilities and picking up the occasional extra point through battle rewards.
Improving facilities is a nice way to feel progress. Adding more items to the shop, improving the type of weapons that could be strengthened at the blacksmith, and unlocking the ability to buy improvements like a second or third special attack gauge are just some of the things to do.
I did feel the balance was off at times, perhaps because of how completely I finished areas. For example, I’d maxed out all of the classes I wanted at the second tier (Intermediate), but the third tier (Advanced) was still locked away behind story progress for quite a while. I’d also picked up so many basic resources of one type that it told me I couldn’t collect more several times, but I couldn’t make improvements due to missing other types, so I repeatedly had to sell those I did have at a loss.
Despite that, I found upgrading the facilities and the feeling of growth it brought to be satisfying. Aside from those occasions where things halted, it felt there was often something new being added to my repertoire of abilities and options.
Unlike the recent Touken Ranbu Warriors, Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes presents a reasonable amount of difficulty on normal mode. And if you feel otherwise, there are easy and hard modes to try.
Most interestingly, it carries over another element from Fire Emblem that you can choose – Classic mode. If turned on, any fallen units die permanently. Luckily you can recruit more optional members as you go through the story and use gold to level up anyone under-leveled.
On normal mode, I typically found myself completing battles without much trouble. But if I didn’t keep on top of objectives or got distracted, while I’d not fall in battle, I’d occasionally lose due to someone I was meant to be guarding dying while I fought elsewhere or similar circumstances. It always felt fair when it happened.
While the Nintendo Switch is certainly falling behind other platforms in terms of power, Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes looks surprisingly good.
It’s still possible to spot less detailed textures and jagged lines. The draw distance is quite low too. But models usually look great, even in close-ups and the designs are praiseworthy. I’ve not come across any issues with the framerate either, which was a concern after Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity. It doesn’t feel like anything was sacrificed to achieve this either.
The camera angles were typically not a problem, but it is worth noting that they occasionally spun around to zoom in at odd angles. This is nothing new for the series.
Japanese and English audio are both options, with a lot of talented voice actors involved on both sides. Having tried both, it feels like the voices matched the characters well and act out the scenes to convey what they need to. That most scenes are voice-acted, including the protagonist is nice too.
While I was often more focused on the battle, the music is absolutely beautiful too. This isn’t anything new for either Fire Emblem or the Warriors series, but it’s always appreciated.
Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes is one of the best Warriors games available. It implements many of the best features from other Warriors titles, adds in an interesting story told through cut scenes, and backs it up with a ton of systems to grow and customize your characters.
FIRE EMBLEM WARRIORS: THREE HOPES IS HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
Many thanks go to Nintendo for a Nintendo Switch review code for this title.
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A gamer since the days of Amstrad and DOS and someone who has dabbled in a variety of professions. He enjoys a wide variety of genres, but has been focusing on visual novels and virtual reality in recent years. Head Editor of NookGaming. Follow him and the website on @NookSite.