Returning players to the world of Fire Emblem: Three Houses, Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes is surprisingly accessible to series newcomers.
While those who have played Three Houses will be familiar with the characters here, your role as a mercenary-turned-student allows you to see them in a different light. And not only that, the story has been spun around so that your hero in Three Houses is now the villain. And so, whether you’ve played Three Houses or not, Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes proves to be engaging.
In fact, as Warriors games go, Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes is up there with the best of them. It’s certainly the one with the deepest story. Playing as Shez (you can change their name if you wish), it’s not long into Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes that you’re forced to align yourself with one of the game’s three houses. The main villain will remain the same no matter which you choose, but the story will be altered in numerous ways. Those who want to get the most out of Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes, then, might want to play through it three times.
The house you choose does more than just alter the story, too; it also provides a unique assortment of characters you can play as, with more becoming available as you progress. Each has their own strengths and weaknesses that you’ll need to learn and capitalise upon while playing to succeed. And in moments of downtime, you can even develop your bonds with these characters, making them fight more effectively by your side. So far, so Fire Emblem.
But of course, the major difference here is the gameplay, which is very much action focused. Anyone that has previously played a Warriors game will feel somewhat at home with the combat of Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes, but there are some key changes that make it unique. While there are still functions such as standard and strong attacks, screen-clearing special attacks and a need to manage the battlefield, Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes doesn’t forget its roots.
Each character you can take control of in battle is either strong or weak against notable enemy units depending on their weapon type, for example. This adds a layer of strategy to how you play, with it making sense to exploit a weakness when you can. It’s imperative when fighting large monsters, too. Take advantage, and you’ll find that you break through an opponent’s defences much easier, opening them up to a fancy attack that decimates their health bar.
Another element that allows Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes to stand out is the fact that you can pause the game at any time and issue commands to your units. You can send them to capture important points, defend other units, and more. Handy markers will even let you know what enemies your selected unit is strong and weak against. It perhaps breaks the flow of the action, but it helps make Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes feel like a true Fire Emblem game. As does permadeath for your companions, if you enable it.
Between battles, and lengthy bouts of story exposition, you’ll find yourself in rest areas such as camps. It’s here where you can talk to your companions, who will sometimes ask you questions. Impress them, and bonds will be formed. There are other activities to engage in as well, such as completing chores, enjoying a cooked meal, and making use of the coin you’ve earned to buy items and new gear. All will benefit you and your team in some way, rewarding those who put the time and effort in.
It could be said that there are three pillars to Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes, then, which is fitting. And thankfully they all complement each other rather well. Once the story of Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes has its hooks in you it won’t let you go, but it’s balanced nicely with the strategy-tinged combat. The moments of rest, meanwhile, allow you to take things at your own pace for a short while, focusing on you getting to know your companions better, developing their abilities, and readying yourself for the battles ahead.
Despite all the frenzied action during the game’s battle sequences, we’re happy to report that Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes looks and plays brilliantly for a Switch title, especially on a Switch OLED where its frequent use of bold bright colours pop off the screen. Characters models are wonderful, the framerate remains consistent even when absolute mayhem is unfolding, and the soundtrack is a delight. There’s even extensive voice acting that’s of high quality.
It’s so easy to recommend Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes to not only fans of Fire Emblem, but also those simply seeking a high-octane action game. And if you also happen to enjoy politically-charged stories, you’ll absolutely fall in love with it. This is, without a doubt, one of the best Warriors games yet, taking strategy elements of the Fire Emblem series to embellish the gameplay in all the right ways. And the masterstroke is that, despite being set in the same world as Fire Emblem: Three Houses, its narrative cleverly makes playing that title an option rather than a necessity.