Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes Review

Fire Emblem has never felt so good.

by J.T. Isenhour
Fire Emblem Warriors Three Hopes

When the first Fire Emblem Warriors game came out, players were a bit skeptical. It was the first Fire Emblem game that broke free from the turn-based combat genre that fans have come to know and love from the franchise. While the first game was more of a fancy show-off piece to let you play your favorite Fire Emblem character in a Musou game, Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes is a whole new storyline set in the Three Houses timeline.

While it may not seem like you can do a whole lot with a story that has already been told, Three Hopes introduces a different with a different main character that changes the timeline from how it was in Fire Emblem: Three Houses. Alongside the new story, Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes tries to bridge the gap between the Musou game genre and the Fire Emblem franchise. The question is if it manages to do a better job of this than its predecessor and present a nice blend of mechanics or does it follow in its footsteps and give you a Musou game inside the shell of a Fire Emblem game.

I’ll Fight For My Friends

Being back in the same world as Fire Emblem: Three Houses may seem a bit boring at first. However, this time around there is a slight twist. Instead of playing as the Ashen Demon and going off to the academy as a professor, you play as a different mercenary that goes up against the Ashen Demon. The game opens with your mercenary outfit going up against Jeralt’s mercenaries and getting wiped by the Ashen Demon. After your draw (loss) against the Ashen Demon, you are greeted by Arval in the dimension of the gods. Arval is to your character as Sothis was to Byleth, a god hoping to break a cycle by intervening.

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This is the point that the story of Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes diverges from Three Houses, aside from Byleth fighting your character. Instead of Byleth meeting the heads of the empires and becoming a professor at the Garreg Mach Monastery, they run into your character instead. You help save the house leaders from bandits that were chasing them and are then offered to join the academy as a student under the house of your choice.

From this point on the story of the game changes depending on which house you choose to join. You will go through a short time in the academy working with the house you chose, which will allow you time to learn about the game’s downtime mechanics. Then you will be shoved into the middle of a continent-wide war where you are the tactician for whichever house you chose.

The only other main constant between all of the stories is Byleth being the antagonist to your character. No matter which house you choose to work for, Byleth will always be a part of an opposing house. It’s quite an odd feeling to see the character that you played as in Fire Emblem Three house be your main enemy this time around. It almost feels like this is what would happen if there was some way for you to pick an evil route to playthrough in Three House.

Interpersonal connections are always a focus in Fire Emblem. But since you already know this cast of characters and their story from Fire Emblem Three Houses, it may seem hard to believe you could learn more about them in Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes. However, this time around you are not the professor to these students and a general in their army, but a fellow student with them in the academy and a fellow soldier in the army with them.

The player character is treated like someone that lives alongside all the other characters rather than a sort of higher power like you are in Three Houses. Instead of the support levels showing you the backstory of each character, it shows how each character comes to care about the player character, thus allowing anyone that has played through Three Houses to play Three Hopes and still experience not only a new story but also new side stories about each character.

What to Do With All This Downtime

This fits in well with all of the downtime activities you have available in Three Hopes. When you are not hacking and slashing your way through the battlefield, you will find yourself around the academy or at the war camp with a bunch of stuff to do. You can find any of your allies to talk to and learn more about what is going on in the story and how your allies feel about it, as well as plenty of background characters to hear some idle chatter from.

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You can use ingredients you have found on the battlefield or bought with your money to cook a nice meal for you and a few allies to enjoy. The meal will provide a nice stat bonus for you and your allies during the next battle and boost your support level with them by a little bit. While the professor assigned chores for allies to do together to improve their support level, you will go help your allies with their chores.

By spending some of your downtime, you can pick an ally to help you with a chore to improve your support level with them and get a morale boost that increases the damage they do. Each chore has allies that will do better at it than others, so it is important to keep those in mind when deciding what chore you want to do.

You can also spend time in the training arena where you can make create sparring matches for you and your allies to partake in. You set up who will fight and what class they will fight as. Each participant in the fight will gain experience in the class you had them fight which makes this a great way to transition somebody to a new class. This way you don’t have to slap a new level one class on someone and have them be useless in battle until they level up a bit. You can also put your own character into the sparring arena as well.

The final downtime activity you can do is the expeditions. These will randomly appear as you progress through the game, when on the map you will get a notification that a character wants to go on an expedition. You can then return to you the camp and spend some downtime going on an expedition with the character.

Expeditions are the replacement for having tea with a character from Three Houses. During an expedition, you go with a character to some location and get to sit down and have a talk with them. You can pick between simply talking with the character and getting a random prompt, or asking the character a specific question. Both options will require you to reply to them in some way and there are right and wrong answers. To get the most out of an expedition, you will want to perfectly answer everything. However, you do still gain support levels if you pick the wrong answers, just much less than if you were to perfect everything.

What’s The Combat Like?

If downtime activities are one half of the game, then combat makes up the other half of the gameplay for Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes and this time around it feels much better. While Fire Emblem Warriors’ combat felt slightly clunky and not well balanced, Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes has gone back and perfected the combat system.

To bring a bit more balance into combat and encourage switching of characters mid-combat, the weapon weaknesses have been amplified. While the weapon triangle was in the original Fire Emblem Warriors, it was more of an inconvenience than something you actively needed to play around with. Now in Three Hopes, you need to pay attention to what weapon your enemy is using and actively play around with it if you want to beat them. While you can still one-man army with a single character, it takes much more effort and time to do. Alongside the weapon weakness changes, a few more elements have been changed in Three Hopes to make it feel more like a Fire Emblem game.

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During combat, you still have your typical meter charges for your Warrior Guage and Awakening Mode, but new to Three Hopes are weapon durability and weapon arts. Each weapon has a maximum durability stat and you pick two different weapon arts that you can use that consume the durability. Fans of the Fire Emblem series will recognize the durability system from previous entries but it has been changed slightly to adapt to the Musou combat system.

The durability of a weapon will only go down when you use one of the two weapon arts. However, when the duality of a weapon reaches zero the weapon doesn’t break you just can’t use the weapon arts anymore. You can find crystals during a battle that will repair your weapon’s durability, thus making it less of a bare you need to fill up to do powerful attacks and more of a resource like most weapons in other Fire Emblem Games.

Another feature that has received a lot of polish is the command system for units you are not actively controlling. This was a feature in the previous game to make it seem like the game still had some turn-based strategy elements in it and allow your other units to contribute to the battle without you needing to control them directly.

The main problem with this issue is that you needed to pause the game to bring up the full map of the battlefield and then issue a single order per unit to follow. While this isn’t so bad to do once a battle it soon becomes quite tedious when you have to do it multiple times in a longer battle. While this is still an issue in Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes they did a system to allow passive orders for each unit to follow when they complete their direct order. These are simple orders such as telling them to keep pushing and attacking other forts or to sit still and defend where they currently are.

The real intent of the game is to switch characters mid-battle and use them where needed but you still need to order them to be in the right position when you want to switch to them or you will spend a bit of time running to where you need them before you can start fighting again. It would have been nice if you could issue at least one order on the starting battle setup screen rather than setting up all your units and starting the battle then instantly pausing and issuing the orders. Maybe this can be something added in the next Warriors game.

What Makes It a Fire Emblem Game?

The main challenge this game had to overcome was trying to blend a Fire Emblem game with a Musou game. While the first Fire Emblem Warriors did an alright job of doing this, it always felt like a Dynasty Warriors game with a Fire Emblem coat of paint on it. Some of the Fire Emblem ideas were there, but they just didn’t feel finished. Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes seeks to fix this problem and does a good job of doing it.

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Not only is the story this time around much more in-depth but all of the social mechanics were brought over as well which makes it feel like a visual novel and an action game all in one. You spend almost as much time out of battle managing all of your units and talking to everyone as you do on the battlefield slashing up your enemies. From the expeditions to all of the little chatter there is plenty of story to experience and that makes you feel like you are playing a normal Fire Emblem game. Compared to the menu system from the original Fire Emblem Warriors, being outside of battle in Three Hopes is almost indistinguishable from how Fire Emblem: Three Houses was.

The other major feature brought to Three Hopes is the class system. While the original Warriors game only had a small promotion feature that could be used to make your units into more powerful versions of what they already were, Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes features the full class tree. This can be used to change any character into any class that you want. To try to prevent you from stacking only one class on your team, each character has a class that they excel at to persuade you into taking them down a preset class path. However, there is nothing stopping you from making any character into whatever class you want, but you might want to keep your two cavaliers on the track to become great knights.

The Verdict

Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes had a huge gap to fill with its release. While the original Fire Emblem Warriors drew players in with the promise of fan-favorite characters in a Dynasty Warriors game and left a lot to be desired from fans, Three Hopes picked up the slack. Although it features the same cast as Fire Emblem Three Houses with a few new characters, the story that they managed to create with these characters is striking different while at the same time being similar. Although the outline is the same, the details are all different and that leaves you with a feeling of experiencing a whole new story.

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It feels like a lot of the issues that came from the original warriors were addressed and really improved upon. while downtime felt useless in the original, it has been given new life in Three Hopes. Instead of just giving you the same character backstories from Three Houses, each character slowly develops new bonds with your player character and reveals new facts about their past to you.

The game also provided small tweaks to the Musou combat to make it flow just a bit better and improved on the parts of it that related it Fire Emblem. With the addition of weapon durability and weapon arts and the improvement of weapon weaknesses, it feels more like you are actually fighting out the battles that you saw as animations in previous Fire Emblem games. Although it is not perfect since you have to pause the combat to issue orders, there really is no better way to do it.

The big question that’s left is to ask is: Does Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes do the job of bridging the gap between Musou games and Fire Emblem? The answer is yes. While it may not be perfect, it does a pretty good job of having elements from both games and making them work well with each other. If you enjoyed the previous Fire Emblem Warriors game or you wanted a bit more action in your Fire Emblem games you should give Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes a try.

This game was reviewed using a copy of the game provided by the game's publisher,public relations company, developer or other for the express purpose of a review.

"loved"
loved

  • Score: 4.5 / 5
  • Available On: Nintendo Switch
  • Published By: Nintendo
  • Developed By: Omega Force
  • Genre: Musou
  • US Release Date: June 25, 2022
  • Reviewed On: Nintendo Switch
  • Quote: "While the original Fire Emblem Warriors offered a decent Musou game in the shell of a Fire Emblem game, Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes provides the full Fire Emblem experience by offering a deep story and social system on top of slightly reworked Musou mechanics that are grounded in the rules of Fire Emblem's turn based combat."
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