I’ve always admired musou style games for their sheer intensity. Repeatedly hacking and cutting waves of villains never seems to get old, from the Dynasty Warriors franchise, to the more recent Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity† As a result, the fire emblem franchise has decided to give the genre a second try, giving fans a sequel to the well-received Fire Emblem Warriors† Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes does its best to bring the genre into extra layers of strategy and planning, while providing the same chaotic gameplay the genre is known for, making for a solid, yet safe hack-and-slash romp.
A story about three houses
Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes serves as a sequel to Fire Emblem Warriors in which you play as Shez, a mercenary who joins one of the three houses to take revenge on nemesis Byleth who defeats you early on. Funny enough, Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes also serves as an alternate version of Fire Emblem: Three Houses where you play as Byleth. After an admittedly lengthy prologue, you choose to join one of the three main houses to begin your journey. Choosing between Dimitri and the Holy Kingdom of Faerghus, Edelgard and the Adrestian Empire or Claude and the Leicester Alliance is easy enough at first, but will most likely dictate how the experience unfolds in terms of gameplay.
Along with the ride is Arval, a mysterious ghost bound to Shez, helping them on their way. Arval is responsible for most of the questions behind the story, which makes for some memorable moments towards the end of the game, even if you have to punish several waves of soldiers during most of the journey. Thanks to fully voiced cutscenes and multiple-choice conversations, the story rolls along well and is easy enough to hold onto for newer fans of the franchise. Given this listing stands as an alternative view of Fire Emblem: Three HousesI imagine fans of that game will benefit more from the story, given the minor differences between the two games.
A hacking and slashing we will go
As for the game, Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes offers pretty much everything you would expect from a musou style game. You progress through a battlefield and conquer areas and points of interest by defeating enemies in that area. You can access a range of light and heavy attacks along with devastating special abilities to clear your environment. The numerous enemies on screen also provide a constant flow of action and chaos, in which the combat mechanics consistently hold up. During each mission, you also team up with the teammates of your house and guide them towards certain objectives while going elsewhere. It’s this added layer of strategy and pause that gives Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes the edge over recent musou-style games, as any attack on the battlefield is one of careful implementation. Even if hacking and slashing will get you out of most of the trouble, leading troops and squads across each target will only add to the equation and make your time there easier.
Between missions, head back to a central camp where you can talk to your teammates and choose your next mission. You can also upgrade the camp for bigger rewards, buy weapons, train to increase Shez, and even cook a meal. Once you choose a house, you also inherit a squad full of unique personalities and combat characteristics. As much as you need to increase Shez, you are also encouraged to meet teammates and increase your friendship level and as a result their effectiveness on the battlefield. The interactions are more like a quiz of sorts, testing you on character knowledge more than anything else. Thankfully they aren’t too overbearing and add another unique layer of progression that takes you away from the constant struggle for something more relaxing. However, I’d be lying if I thought the dialogues weren’t a little cheesy at times.
For a musou style game it is at this point that Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes show it’s the true hand. You’re definitely supposed to take on countless waves of enemies, but rarely forget the JRPG roots that have often infused character relationships, upgrades, and miscellaneous systems. It can sometimes weigh down the experience from the constant need to go back and forth through different menus, but eventually manages to add another layer of depth to both the musou genre and the Fire Emblem Warriors franchise as a whole.
Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes runs relatively well, although we highly recommend playing on extended life or OLED Nintendo Switch models for the most consistent experience. The experience is fluid in terms of frame rate, but does drop off when the action gets a little too busy. This is only by a few frames, but it’s definitely worth mentioning as the performance feels quite similar in both handheld and docked modes.
That said, it performs much better than the recent ones Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity, with which many understandably compare this. Thankfully, all other aspects on the visual front seem to hold up. Texture pop-ins are rare, even if the game rarely throws anything too flashy at you when it comes to gameplay environments.
General, Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes is a win for fans of the musou genre and the fire emblem franchise right. The combat is satisfying and diverse, while various side missions and character relationships add considerable depth to the game’s structure. The story offers some nice twists and the cutscenes with voice actors are a nice addition. Other than that, I’m not sure how many new fans this particular entry will attract as it’s not just a sequel to a Fire Emblem Warriors game, but an alternative view of Fire Emblem: Three Houses, which can be a bit confusing for newer fans, if they want to dive in at this point. shaky performance aside, Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes ultimately holds up on most fronts and will satisfy most returning fans of the franchise. See you on the battlefield.
FOUR STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
Highlights: Solid action; Fascinating story; Strategic options add depth to battles
Low lights: Performance can be a little shaky at times; Mission structure can feel repetitive
Developer: Intelligent Systems, Omega Force
Publisher: Nintendo, Nintendo of America Inc.
Platforms: Nintendo Switch
Review performed on Nintendo Switch with a pre-release code from the publisher.
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