Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes Review

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Fire Emblem Warriors Three Hopes Header

X-X-X-Y. X-X-X-Y. X-X-X-Y. A! X-X-X-Y. This right here will be your right thumb’s experience of Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes. If you’re going to play a Musou game, you need to be accustomed to some things and spamming X-X-X-Y is first, primary, chief and foremost among them. Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes is entirely emblematic – fnar fnar – of a series that is synonymous with the term ‘hack and slash’, but by filtering in elements of the main Fire Emblem series’ strategic, companionable DNA Omega Force has once again created an amalgamation that will please fans of both franchises, without furthering either of them.

Whether it’s samurai warriors, Chinese dynasties or the denizens of Hyrule, the fundamental construct of a Musou game is the same. You invariably run around a battlefield while despatching hundreds upon hundreds of only vaguely sentient blade, axe and lance fodder. These dumb, digital soldiers are interspersed by slightly more dangerous combatants who may even chip away at your health bar while you’re trying to chop them into pixelated parts. Finally, there’ll be a figurehead – a general, or occasionally in Three Hopes’ case an immense beast – who will appear to really make things difficult for you. That is, ultimately, the formula that has built a thousand Warriors games. OK, maybe not quite a thousand, but there’s definitely a lot of them!

While you’re running around your battlefield, Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes will provide you with a fair few things to do, though they will mostly involve hitting a particular enemy until they stop moving, or protecting a particular person so that they keep moving. Variety is not the central gameplay’s strongest point, but it fires commands and missions at you with such abandon that you won’t have time to consider this fact. It is, largely, a frantic rush from one side of the battlefield to the other while you attempt to spin sword-filled plates without chopping your hands off.

Things aren’t quite as straightforward as all that though. Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes chucks in a shedload of different ideas cribbed from the mainline games. The most important point, personally, is that the dev team have included a Classic mode, which allows for the permadeath of your central characters. This changes the tone of the game, raising the stakes of each engagement, so you suddenly feel like the protector of all. Thanks to Three Hopes’ idiosyncratic batch of characters, it’s a role you’ll take incredibly seriously, and you’ll come to care for them so much you won’t be able to let even one of your team expire.

Fire Emblem Warriors Three Hopes Special Attack

That relationship is helped by the fact that Three Hopes’ cast is largely comprised of returning characters from Fire Emblem: Three Houses. Intelligent Systems’ most recent masterpiece remains a must-play within the Switch’s ever-growing back catalogue, and I would imagine that there’ll be many who played that game and cannot wait to catch back up with those digital friends. I dropped straight back into my position amongst House Golden Deer, with favourites like Claude, Raphael and Hilda all present and correct. I suppose there are also the houses led by Dimitri and Edelgard, but they’re not first playthrough material, surely?

Incorrect choice of houses aside, just like in Fire Emblem: Three Houses you can follow three different narrative paths, surrounding yourself with the people you like the most and, in essence, expanding the enjoyable narrative out three-fold. Your player character – available in male or female forms – is called Shez, and though their name belongs in a 1990s sitcom, they are absolutely a Fire Emblem character through and through. Once you’ve joined up with the house of your choice you’ll follow them around, helping them to succeed in Fodlan’s increasingly convoluted political landscape. Three Hopes is, disappointingly, set in an alternate timeline from Three Houses, though that presumably made the most sense if they wanted to include the majority of the original cast.

Fire Emblem Warriors Three Hopes Cutscene

Just like in Three Houses, spending time with these characters is the key to success. Your character and everyone within your house develops an ever-deepening bond as you play, building a friendship that makes them a more effective pairing on the battlefield as well as at home. If you enjoyed this aspect of Three Houses you’ll love the inclusions here, being able to sweep your chosen partner away for horseback outings, or chats in the kitchen over a meal you’ve prepared. You can’t help but be drawn in by these interactions; they’re thoughtful, playful and lightly amusing, and whatever the digital gauge might say about the relationship, you’ll already be smitten.

You have a home base from where you can set all of these connections in motion, and much much more. Unlike many Warriors games where you leap from battle to battle, Three Hopes wants you to spend a great deal of time in this hub, and if you’re going to get the most out of your party you’re going to need to. Besides being able to chat with a variety of different people, you can train, feed, or equip them, as well as a host of other things; if you didn’t like this aspect in Fire Emblem: Three Houses you may as well stop reading now. While Three Hopes wants you to spend a great deal of time hacking and slashing, it equally wants you talking, supporting and befriending. It can be an enthralling mix, but it won’t be for everyone.

Fire Emblem Warriors Three Hopes Combat

The home hub does highlight one particularly unwanted guest, and that’s slowdown. The frame rate here is particularly poor compared to the game as a whole, where there can be some choppy moments before it catches up with itself. It seems to have improved since the start of the review period though, so hopefully optimisation will continue past launch.

The Nintendo Switch is a long way from being a powerful console, but when you’ve got games like Monster Hunter Rise running flawlessly you do have to wonder if Omega Force are missing something. It’s also a real shame that you can’t choose between graphics and performance as you could with the first Fire Emblem Warriors game – I know which I’d be opting for.

Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes is another enjoyable slice of Musou action, even if it does little to advance either franchise. Fans of Fire Emblem will adore chatting to the huge cast of returning characters as much as going into battle with them.
  • Familiar Musou action married to Fire Emblem character building
  • Revisiting old friends from Thee Houses
  • Being locked in an alternate timeline to Three Houses
  • Poor performance in the home hub and, to a lesser degree, in combat
Written by
TSA's Reviews Editor - a hoarder of headsets who regularly argues that the Sega Saturn was the best console ever released.