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Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes Game review

Game review 28 June 2022, 17:00

author: Giancarlo Saldana

Giancarlo Saldana has been covering video games and tech for over a decade for publications like 1UP, GamesRadar, TechRadar, MacLife, Blast Magazine, and more. Twitter: @giansaldana

Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes Review - More Than Just Mashing Buttons

Featuring some familiar faces, Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes blends two genres together to give you a game that is a blast to play. Read our review.

The review is based on the Switch version.

Take the tactical RPG and relationship building elements of recent Fire Emblem games and blend it with the fast-action combat of Dynasty Warriors and you get Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes, a game that is somewhat of a sequel to Fire Emblem Warriors but offers you an entirely different story that takes place in the universe of Three Houses.

The result is similar to what we have seen before in Hyrule Warriors or Persona 5 Strikers: a blend of two genres that wouldn’t normally go together but built on the framework of a musou-like title. Yes, you will fight your way through hours of battles where combat is combo-heavy and filled with armies of enemies and checkpoints to seize. The difference here, however, is that the stylistic approach of the Fire Emblem games and the action that takes place outside the battlefield are what make this musou a must-play.

New House, New Rules

Let’s get one thing clear: Three Hopes is a completely different game from Three Houses. And while even their names look similar, the main difference is that it doesn’t play like a traditional Fire Emblem game even though it takes place in the same continent of Fodlan albeit in an alternate timeline. If you played Three Houses, you will instantly know where you are, who everyone is, and quickly understand why an army would send an army of students into battle.

PROS:
  1. Fire Emblem elements add strategy to familiar musou gameplay;
  2. Plenty of replayability during and after you finish the story;
  3. Lots of leveling up and relationship-building features to play with between battles.
CONS:
  1. A musou experience that gets old after a while;
  2. Political cutscenes make the story somewhat slow to pick up.

The big difference here, however, is that the protagonist of that game is now your adversary, and you get to play as a brand new character named Shez who befriends the original’s main cast. You can even choose which house, or faction, to join all over again so things begin feeling eerily familiar right away. No worries though – if you’ve played the original, Three Hopes diverts into a unique storyline within the first few hours featuring the war-waging factions of the original, but it doesn’t regurgitate everything you experienced already. Expect some twists, new characters, and an entirely different perspective.

If you played the original or even if you didn’t, be prepared for a lot of political talk and in-depth conversations on alliances, armies, and noble families. There will be plenty of cutscene conversations that are voiced by a talented roster of actors, but that doesn’t mean they will always pique your interest. In fact, oftentimes you may just want to skip the dialogue because it can all sound rather dry and unexciting at times. Talking about war is all well and good, but the true highlights lie on the battlefield.

On the flip side, the bonds you make with your team and the various interactions you make with everyone is what gives life to the game’s wartime planning. Like in previous Fire Emblem games, you will have a chance to chat with your team members, increase their support level, and even get to do fun activities with them like go on expeditions, eat lunch, or – dare I say it – do chores together. Each time you gain a level with a character you are treated to a lighthearted but sometimes introspective conversation that reveals more about your fellow soldier who will quickly become a friend. And while you can’t marry anyone in this game, the relationships you build are a joy to see develop and give you a break from all the battlefield hacking and slashing.

As in other Fire Emblem games, the time you spend between battles is just as important as the fight itself so not only will you be getting to know the members of the house you choose to join, but you will also be managing your army, leveling up your soldiers, and training them to gain skills for battle. The difference here is that you have more flexibility in how you choose how to train a character giving you the reigns to experiment more freely on various combinations. Do you stick to the script and make muscular Raphael a formidable grappler or do you take an unorthodox approach and make the delicate Marianne wield an ax instead? This isn’t a traditional Fire Emblem game after all, but it’s great to see these series staples be modified to fit the game’s style.

Battle Tactics

Progressing through the chapters involves playing through optional and story-driven missions that resemble the look of a musou-inspired game. Hundreds of enemies (yes, hundreds) come at you from all sides and it’s your job to mash the attack button along with others for special abilities, dodges, and combo finishers to decimate everyone in front of you. Each mission is somewhat different but essentially gives you objectives to complete such as capturing an enemy base by defeating its general, fending off against a giant monster, or simply taking down the boss at the end.

Besides just killing everything you see, the game borrows from the tactical elements of Fire Emblem and lets you plan out your attacks mid-battle, letting you pause the fight and order your characters to run to a specific area or to simply focus their attacks on a target. This option adds some flexibility in your combat approach and is great when an enemy starts to escape or when a team member is under attack as it lets you divert your team’s attention while you focus on whatever you want.

Like in Fire Emblem Warriors, you can scope the battlefield before a mission starts and see what kinds of enemies you will be facing and select the characters who will have an advantage. The traditional rock-paper-scissors weapon system play a key part in determining how effective your hits will be against certain enemies so strategy is involved here amid all the button mashing.

VERDICT

An improvement over Fire Emblem Warriors and a new perspective on the universe of Three Houses, Three Hopes gives you plenty to do and presents it all in a way that makes for a robust musou experience that is more than just mashing buttons. While the game can tend to drag on at times with a story muddled in politics, you are sure to find joy in its various features that marry two genres together in a surprising, yet successful way.

You are also not just limited to playing as Shez so you can swap to any of your teammates on the field and control them whenever you want to either save them from a dire situation or simply for some variety in attacks. Additionally, you can also team up with other characters when their health is getting low and have them offer you support during combos or team up for devastating final blows. These additional combat features make this a musou experience that feels more thought-out and works to keep things less repetitive over time. Some missions can be tricky if you don’t plan your attacks accordingly, but if you really want a challenge, try classic mode and lose a character for good if they fall in battle.

Final Thoughts

Impressively enough, even amid all the chaos that happens on the battlefield, the game runs smoothly without any jarring graphical issues. I did feel some slowdown when I played with another player – yes, you and a buddy can play together in split-screen co-op – but elsewhere, attacks look flashy and combos feature lots of pizazz. Because the game is based off of Three Houses, several character animations look reused but the new costume and character designs for the existing cast are a nice treat. Even the music sometimes sounds familiar but features remixed renditions and original scores that continue the vibe the first game started.

After about 30 hours or so, your time with Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes will come to a close but you will have killed so many enemies, gotten closer with your teammates, and played a key role in the history of Fodlan. And even after all that, you can always play certain missions over again for perfect scores or simply start the game anew but select a different house to view things from a different angle.

Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes Review - More Than Just Mashing Buttons - picture #9

Our reviews are featured on Metacritic.

An improvement over Fire Emblem Warriors and a new perspective on the universe of Three Houses, Three Hopes gives you plenty to do and presents it all in a way that makes for a robust musou experience that is more than just mashing buttons. While the game can tend to drag on at times with a story muddled in politics, you are sure to find joy in its various features that marry two genres together in a surprising, yet successful way.

Giancarlo Saldana | Gamepressure.com

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