Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes review: A fitting return to Fódlan
It’s been three years since we saw Fire Emblem: Three Houses’ brave youth grow into battle-hardened soldiers, and Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes is a familiar refrain. Nintendo and Koei Tecmo have teamed up again for a Musou game in the Fire Emblem series that focuses on hack-and-slash combat and hordes of enemies rather than slow-and-steady tactical gameplay.
The result is a dramatic improvement over the original Fire Emblem Warriors and a must-read for anyone who’s dreamed of seeing more of Edelgard, Dimitri, Claude and their charming apprentices. My time with the fast-paced Musou title has encouraged me to have my Switch on hand for another fight whenever I have a spare minute. It’s safe to say that the game is not only fun, it’s downright addictive. Read on for our full Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes review.
Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes Review: History
If you enjoyed Fire Emblem: Three Houses, it almost goes without saying that you will love something about Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes. While there is no tactical turn-based gameplay, Three Hopes offers the same framework that has made Three Houses such an excellent game. And if you’ve dived headlong into Fire Emblem Warriors with a smile on your face, you’ll be thrilled to find an even deeper, more nuanced game here.
Three Hopes is not a retelling or reworking of the Three Houses story that you may be familiar with. However, it is an extension of the existing narrative that follows a major time warp event from Three Houses. Without spoiling what that means, it means a whole new scenario for three-house newbies and die-hards alike.
The story begins with the introduction of former mercenary Shez, who can be either male or female, like Byleth from Three Houses. Unlike Byleth, however, Shez becomes a student at Garreg Mach Monastery in a much more circumstantial way. You can register Shez in one of the three title houses from the previous game: Dimitri’s Blue Lions, Claude’s Golden Deer, or Edelgard’s Black Eagles. This choice will ultimately change the narrative, so it’s worth playing Three Houses before Three Hopes.
Shez may be an unknown face in the Fire Emblem continuity, but they’re ultimately a welcome one. You slide straight into the story as if you had always been just another student. And unlike Byleth, Shez has the power to choose her own destiny, which is ultimately up to you. Shez is the coolest new Fire Emblem character I’ve seen in a long time.
Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes Review: Gameplay
Fire Emblem: Warriors is about a raging war, and the missions you carry out could change the course of the conflict. It’s a much faster, messier affair than Three Houses. Instead of planning your every move, engage in massive battles with dozens of soldiers around you. You can choose which units to lead into battle and equip them with the skills and equipment they need to assert themselves. But after that, it’s onto the races as you take out countless enemies.
While that usually means battling nameless villains, you’ll also need to kill enemy commanders, special forces, and bosses as they arrive. It’s about staying flexible and being able to adapt to changes in your mission objectives. You have to conquer enemy outposts and various areas in the operational sites. These will help you hold your own strategic points and capture new ones to reinforce your troops.
The enemy can do the same. But with everything at your disposal, your enemies usually don’t stand a chance. You can control Shez directly or switch between additional troops to give bad guys a hard time. If you don’t want to constantly switch units, you can be strategic by sending troops to defeat specific targets. When you have to deal with timed mission objectives, these tactics can make the difference between passing and failing.
However, there’s more to the gameplay than just pounding on enemies. The classes from the previous Fire Emblem are here, complete with abilities and the branching trees that help make each character feel a little more customizable. Three Warriors doesn’t feel like many other Musou games where each unit looks like the same person with a different weapon. You must consider your weapon loadouts, however, as certain weapons are more effective against some enemies than others.
Every single mission has interesting folds, from weapon durability to enemy recruitment, no matter how boring a task may seem at the beginning. While the mission objectives can feel a bit repetitive even after your fifteenth foray into the world, the way you approach them is not. You can always make the most of what appears to be the same task.
Meanwhile, Shez spends the hours between battles at the war camp, a hub that resembles the monastery’s sprawling campus. There are vendors, a trainer, quests, cooking projects, gifts, and optional interactions between missions. After that, go to the War Map, which replaces the Three Houses calendar system. From your base, you can choose to play story missions or branch out into side missions. Completing these other missions grants you additional supplies and points that you can use to recruit new units, but you might as well focus on just completing the main story.
Although Three Hopes isn’t as complicated as Three Houses, the complicated network of mechanics of the older game is present here. If there was something you liked about the prequel to this story, chances are you’ll find it here too. These systems take what could have been an extremely ordinary Musou adventure and elevate it into something fantastic.
Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes Rating: Achievement
Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes ran fine on my Nintendo Switch OLED system. I saw a strong 30 frames per second in and out of the dock, with a jump to a solid 60 fps during missions as I ran from place to place. Even in situations where the screen was filled with dozens of soldiers, the Switch had no problem with Shez taking them all down.
Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes Review: Graphics and Sound
Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes is a great looking game. While it’s not as sharp as you’d expect from a console like that PS5 or Xbox Series X, the game features a bright, dynamic color palette and crisp character portraits along with their accompanying models. The animation is stunning, as are the new additions to the team. Shez’s design makes her stand out with her neon purple hair and outfit. Three Houses’ recurring color palettes, fonts, and layouts remain visually dazzling.
Most of the voiced dialogue returns as well. Unfortunately, not every single line is fully voiced, but there’s enough to avoid the RPG trap of “reading text, character spits out a line” for most of the game.
Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes Review: Verdict
Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes surpasses its predecessor in every meaningful way. Taking the insignia of Fire Emblem: Three Houses and combining them with winning strategic elements is a definite win. Three Houses fans have more time to explore the land of Fódlan and its people, while newcomers can board the Fire Emblem train and immerse themselves in the existing story.
Complex character development, base management, and skill tree exploration work together to make Three Hopes much more than just a hack-and-slash fantasy. It’s a full addition to one of Nintendo’s most popular franchises. Whether you’ve been waiting with bated breath for a new Fire Emblem game or are ready for your next Musou experience, you can’t go wrong here.
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