Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes Review – Wars Between Friends


With each new release from Dynasty Warriors developer Omega Force, the word “Warriors” moves away from the word “Dynasty”. The Musou action genre he created, where you play as an ultra-powerful soldier against an army of hundreds, borrows more and more from the franchises whose story and characters he licenses. Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity looked and even felt like Breath of the Wild at times. Persona 5 Strikers (which doesn’t have “Warriors” in the title, but is a Musou game) played like an expansion of Persona 5, but with a different fighting style. This trend among Omega Force games is positive, as you can only press the Y button a certain number of times before you want to do something different. Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes offers perhaps the most opportunities to entertain you outside of combos through the thousands of enemies the studio has yet released through its Fire Emblem: Three Houses-inspired content between missions. The result is a faster-paced and more interesting experience than previous Omega Force games, but still a Musou game.

Where the original Fire Emblem Warriors presented an ultimately unfulfilled opportunity to meet and play with the larger story of Fire Emblem characters, Three Hopes reigns in focus and is essentially a pseudo-sequel/alternative narrative to Three Houses that is an action game instead of a tactical RPG. You won’t encounter characters like Roy or Marth, but you have the choice of joining Edelgard’s Black Eagles, Prince Dimitri’s Blue Lions or, the right choice, Claude’s Golden Deers. If you’ve played Three Houses, revisiting these characters and agonizing over the choice is nice, but this time you play as a new character named Shez, whose appearance desynchronizes the timeline and forces former Three Houses protagonist Byleth to antagonist role. Departure gives an illuminating new look at this story, allowing you to interact with familiar characters in new circumstances. This change also made me admire Byleth in a new way, as she destroyed me the first time I encountered her, and proved to be a worthy challenge in almost every subsequent rematch.

Now Playing: Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes Video Review

Before and after battle encounters, Three Hopes is closest to Three Houses and doesn’t look like a typical Musou game. Between presumably pressing Y too much, you visit base camp, where you can upgrade facilities, train, talk with your soldiers, cook a meal, or even take care of the horses. I enjoyed the respite from repetitive combat and while I didn’t want to hear every character between battles (and often chose not to), the opportunity to get to know the cast of characters, improve all the interpersonal relationships and making them stronger in battle made me want to go back to base camp. I even enjoyed the weirdness of occasionally going on a date between slaughtering opposing troops. Base camp doesn’t change visually as a result of upgrades which is disappointing, but upgrading and improving facilities are rewarding for the bonuses they provide, like faster training or shops can carry more supplies.

The combat is sadly familiar from older Musou games where you fight literally hundreds of the same enemies over and over with repeated combos. Musou’s fighting formula is one that is always impressive in the early hours of the morning, but wears thin as each fight begins to feel the same. The many tutorials that appear regularly even five hours into the game don’t help matters, but small spikes of fun appear when you unleash a particularly destructive special attack against a large number of enemies. Where Age of Calamity and Strikers toyed with core mechanics by adding Breath of the Wild’s attacks and runes and Persona 5’s stealth to mix in repetitive action respectively, Three Hopes is a small twist back. You repeatedly press the Y button to create combos and unleash ultimate attacks on the soldier who is flashing green on the overview map.

Limited-use combos and special abilities mix up combat, and new in-combat fast travel options help to up the overall pace of the action, but it’s like ignoring most enemies to focus on a few generals and play the game. ping pong between them. Your class choice dictates who you’re strong against, and I’ve changed Shez’s often, as you’re encouraged to level them up individually. Classes like Cavalier and Pegasus Knight put you on horseback, while Swordmaster makes you run faster. Each class for each character changes how they look, which is great, but it doesn’t change how they play in any meaningful way, which is disappointing.

Fire Emblem’s inspired strategy layer has been vastly improved since the first Fire Emblem Warriors game, and engaging in it is much more fulfilling. You can get as specific as you want, ordering your individual soldiers to attack and defend specific areas and enemies, but I’ve found great joy in sending my entire army on singular missions to take out bases. I didn’t know, or tell them all to follow me as I ran towards particularly powerful enemies. The team is really helpful, and your relationship with each of them grows alongside their power levels as you interact with them between missions. Chatting with everyone and getting to know them makes it exciting to see them succeed on the battlefield.

I encountered a handful of occasions where suddenly the battle was lost and I wasn’t sure what happened. An enemy general suddenly found himself in an area he wasn’t supposed to be in, or one of my bases fell when I didn’t even know there was trouble. Your attention is sometimes too divided and the single objective description on the side of the screen is simply not enough to keep you informed. The worst case scenario and most frustrating scenario, which luckily only happened a few times, was when I lost a battle and the checkpoint threw me into an impossible scenario where there was only only a few moments before losing. These instances force a mission restart entirely, which I’ve always hated to do.

Missions are selected by looking at a region on a map and working your way from base camp to a final destination territory by territory. You can choose to take over each section of the region, or you can head to your end goal to speed things up. There’s something joyful about slowly going over the map in every battle and seeing your color overtake the world. But when I don’t care about participating in every battle, I appreciate that I can be a finalist and gain a few extra levels and materials, or only participate in the battles you need. I also liked the bonuses that appear after taking over a small section. Once a section is completed, you earn small stories that come with collecting resources from earned locations.

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Getting to know your co-workers is a highlight, but the larger narrative falls flat and the decisions you make to direct the story don’t have a drastic impact. The production values ​​are impressive with fully voiced and well-animated cutscenes showing leaders making tough decisions about where and how to lead the troops, but I found it hard to invest and was often confused with the machinations. politicians of all the different interests. The competing objectives of your opponents are never clear, and the elaborate plans being built always boil down to attacking hundreds of enemies to eliminate various forgettable generals. Going on a date with Claude and talking about how much we love parties is way more interesting than watching him hold his hand to his chin and empathize with why the oppressive church is evil and we should probably fight them.

Musou games have been on an upward trajectory since Omega Force stepped out of its Dynasty comfort zone. This, as well as recent releases, has shown a stronger willingness to adopt the unique mechanics of the franchises it borrows from and Three Hopes is one of the strongest examples to date. The repetitive and sometimes frustrating combat, however, is what makes up the majority of the experience. Even with upgrades, the core idea behind combat quickly loses its luster. If you squint, however, you arrive at something closer to a Fire Emblem: Three Houses expansion as opposed to a licensed spin-off in hopes of cashing in on recognizable characters and locations, which is a good place to be.

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