Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes poses a question: what would the beloved world of Fódlan be like if Byleth never met the next generation of world leaders?
What follows is the dynamic answer; a fast-paced hack-and-slash adventure that transports fans right back into the Fire Emblem: Three Houses universe. This Musou game takes what made its source material great, and repackages it into something both familiar and new – an experience that’s engaging, thoughtful, and filled with high-speed action.
My first foray into the Fire Emblem series was Three Houses, so the characters and world of the game are very near and dear to me after many playthroughs. I was interested to see how Omega Force could take such an iconic story from the single best-selling game in the franchise (according to the 2021 CESA Games White Papers), and turn it into something new.
You take on the role of the mercenary Shez in this adventure, set in an alternate universe to that of Three Houses. In this new reality, Edelgard, Dmitri, and Claude are the foes of Byleth, who has become the ‘Ashen Demon’. The story opens with Byleth defeating Shez and killing their allies. However, they mysteriously forge a connection with the otherworldly being Arval, who saves them from certain death. Spurred forward by promises of riches and an itch for revenge against Byleth, they become involved in the political intrigue of Fódlan through one of three unique storylines tied to each of the three houses.
As with the rest of the Fire Emblem series, the storytelling is strong in Three Hopes, and intimately connects you with each of the compelling cast of characters. Some favourites from Three Houses like Dorothea receive less screentime, but overall the slow build in character relationships reveals new facets of old favourites and fleshes out others.
The masterful soundtrack makes an impact, and aids this epic quest, from the moment you enter the game. The team behind the franchise is no stranger to creating soaring, heartfelt beats, and their prowess is well on show here. The large orchestral tracks bring a sense of real gravity to tense combat and playful moments interacting with allies, strengthening your relationship with each character.
Life at the Officers Academy is short-lived however, swapped out for a lively war camp and centre of operations. Limited actions between battles mean you must choose how they spend their time at the war camp wisely between training, support level building, and preparing for the next fight. Disappointingly, fishing is off the menu this time around, and romance isn’t an option between characters as war and deception stay ever-present on the mind.
Still, the growth of these characters is aided by strong performances given by the voice actors, and dialogue pulls you deeply into the centre of a story about war, politics, and corruption. Interestingly, the changing story routes are altered through decisions made during missions, instead of mid-dialogue choices.
Combat in Three Hopes is typical of other Warriors games like Hyrule Warriors and the original Fire Emblem: Warriors, but is a big shift compared to the usual turn-based play style of its predecessor. Previously, battlefield strategy could be carefully considered at your own set pace; but here, you must make on-the-spot decisions in a dynamic combat environment against waves of enemies. Missions regularly update and change as the battlefield shifts, and deploying units to disadvantageous locations could spell the failure of the whole battle at a moment’s notice.
Combat in Three Hopes is typical of other Warriors games like Hyrule Warriors and the original Fire Emblem: Warriors, but is a big shift compared to the usual turn-based play style of its predecessor. Previously, battlefield strategy could be carefully considered at your own set pace; but here, you must make on-the-spot decisions in a dynamic combat environment against waves of enemies. Missions regularly update and change as the battlefield shifts, and deploying units to disadvantageous locations could spell failure of the whole battle at a moment’s notice.
Initially, I wasn’t sold on the combat style as a turn-based tragic, but after completing multiple battles and getting more proficient, it grew on me in a way I’d never expected. The Adjutant game mechanic is revisited in a whole new light, allowing for units with weaknesses against certain enemies to regain the upper hand. This is in addition to the innovative and devastating Partner Attacks which can be game-changing in particularly difficult combat. Being able to wipe out droves of foes makes it feel like each character is making a major difference in turning the tides, and ups the stakes all the more.
Where the combat falls short, though, is in the repetitive nature of the battles. You’re limited in their options during combat and against overwhelming odds, it sometimes becomes simpler to button mash your way out. The class system also suffers to some degree due to this; class changes feel slightly less impactful in some situations because of the repetition. There is also an overwhelmingly large amount of tutorials and different mechanics to juggle, which is at the detriment of some of the more well-thought-out additions to gameplay.
Read: Why Fire Emblem: Three Houses deserves all the fanfiction it can get
Overall, Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes is a well-paced, dynamic return to the Three Houses story. The divergence in story beats from its predecessor, and intriguing twists and turns along the way make it a stand-alone title worthy of the success this world and its characters have already received.
While the multiple storylines provide the option for replays with exciting twists in the tale of Fódlan, the repetitiveness of some game mechanics make it difficult to envisage being able to play through the whole game many times over. However, for those committed to learning the full story of a vastly divergent universe than that of Three Houses, Fire Emblem: Three Hopes delivers countless hours of exploration, frenetic battles, and heartfelt interactions with the game’s beloved characters.
4 stars: ★★★★
FIRE EMBLEM WARRIORS: THREE HOPES
Platforms: Nintendo Switch
Developer: Omega Force
Publisher: Nintendo & Koei Tecmo
Release Date: 24 June 2022
The Nintendo Switch version of Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes was provided and played for the purposes of this review.