[Review] Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes
Posted on July 16, 2022 by Dennis Gagliardotto(@LyonHart_) in Reviews, Switch
Release Date: June 24, 2022
Developer: Koei Tecmo / Omega Force
Warriors games have done exceptionally well at providing a strategic hack-and-slash experience, and Koei Tecmo has done a wonderful job at adapting many different properties into that format. In the case of Fire Emblem, it’s primarily been under the umbrella of strategy RPGs since its inception, but throughout the years we’ve seen it grow and become something more, turning into quite a deep experience. With so much to take into account when expanding on the Fire Emblem universe and given that Warriors games typically provide a straightforward experience, it’s incredible to see Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes essentially become a semi-sequel to Three Houses, as this is not just Fire Emblem Warriors 2, but genuinely feels like a brand-new Fire Emblem game where the battles are essentially replaced with Omega Force’s prowess in action-focused combat. Fire Emblem and Warriors titles both have a long history and have seen some fan favorites, yet marrying them together once more has created arguably one of the best games for both properties.
Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes puts Byleth in a bit of a dark light, instead focusing on a new Mercenary, Shez, which players will have as their avatar to take the story forward with whatever name and appearance they would like. Unlike Byleth, the protagonist here has a voice, making the game overall more engaging. As a lone merc, the protagonist will find themselves suddenly caught in the midst of battle coming to the aid of Edelgard, Dimitri, and Claude, of which soon after – much like Three Houses – you’ll be choosing which side to take as the tension between kingdoms will rise and spark inevitable wars.
As tensions grow, everyone participating in battle will both teach and be taught – protagonist included – and help each other achieve victory, but it’s not an easy task as without the likes of Garreg Mach Monastery they’ll have to rebuild from scratch. All of what was familiar and found in Fire Emblem: Three Houses remains present during the “downtime” between battles, which makes it comfortable for those that may not be as accustomed to Warriors titles or gameplay. Unit support, activities, bonds, enhancements, surveying, volunteering, expanding facilities, cooking, and so much more remain intact, making the entire experience feel much more authentic. Arguably what’s presented is the most authentic adaptation of any Warriors game to date.
Combat is what you would expect it to be from a Warriors game, but what makes it inherently Fire Emblem within it are the comrades you fight alongside – either your Golden Deer, Black Eagle, or Blue Lion factions – and how each unit performs is faithful to their default designated classes in Three Houses. Much like Three Houses as well, these classes can be swapped when certain criteria is met, so just about any of the characters can turn into whichever class the player feels most comfortable with (for example: If you’d prefer Bernadetta to be a Brawler than an Archer, go for it), and this translates out into the battlefield as well. With a wide selection of classes for each unit, Three Hopes can be as tame or as wild as one would like when going on both main and side quests to ensure that victory is guaranteed when progressing through the incredibly engaging and immersive story.
While Three Hopes will obviously have a very different gameplay dynamic compared to Three Houses, there are elements that once again cross over here as they do the rest of the game, like the ability to assign units on a map reminiscent of the traditional top-down view of Fire Emblem. From here you can make things run a little more smoothly out on the battlefield since there is typically a lot to catch up with and take care of, and one can only be in so many places at once. Selecting certain units can bring down a convenient drop-down menu that allows for a few options of strategy which will come in variations of offensive and defensive strategies that can be implemented and deployed on certain targets or strongholds.
Of course, with a variety of classes available, each will have certain perks over others which will naturally lend themselves to being advantageous or not against certain areas and enemies, and this is visually identifiable by a blue or red arrow indicating an advantage or disadvantage respectively. This makes it easy to decide who to send out where, and while you’re able to switch out freely with a simply press of the up or down directional buttons, I found it easier to focus on the mercenary protagonist throughout the game while assigning units and adjutants to the targets I saw most beneficial to victory. Some Warriors games more than others put too much emphasis on switching out characters, making it difficult to get comfortable with one when you can’t spend more than two minutes at a time with them, and to have to go through what will typically amount to 50+ characters on average (almost 200 at its largest), can be irksome. Thankfully Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes doesn’t have this problem as character lists are kept within their respective factions for the sake of the story, though eventually you’ll be free to play almost everyone seen in Three Houses and utilize their moves like you would any other Warriors title, giving a more personal look at the strengths, backgrounds, and power each is capable of.
Though this won’t be the most effective method to level them all up in a balanced manner out in the field, it actually works itself out once you’re back at camp to regroup, as with all the aforementioned methods and actions that can be done before battle, including training, will get your units up to par (but never exceeding) the highest-level unit in your convoy. This will not only use up activity points but also require a fair amount of currency to be spent to do so, and likewise if you’d like to enhance those classes further to the next tier, those will require seals and other prerequisites to be met and used before doing so. Regardless of the method chosen, I never once felt pressured to switch often out on the battlefield which allowed me to focus on whoever I wanted to control, and even if I wanted a unit close by to increase support levels and initiate combo moves and special attacks with – a staple in Warriors games – I could always assign them through the battlefield menu and Convoy Menu as well. Assigning strategies beforehand through the Convoy Menu also adds another layer of strategy in true Fire Emblem style so you can come up with a plan prior to heading out on the field. With goals to be hit as well to achieve a perfect S-Rank, it’s also highly recommended to take these into consideration rather than go in guns blazing, and all throughout Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes everything felt properly balanced and rewarding, also including a sort of in-game achievement system where further gifts and perks can be acquired, which of course can also be used to expand facilities and increase support levels and bonds with other characters.
Performance on Switch for the most part is what tends to teeter and fluctuate with each Warriors release, with some being more optimal than others. Thankfully, Omega Force was able to focus on one piece of hardware with little to no compromise here, though their ambitions tend to cause them to get ahead of themselves as we’re still dealing with a title that once again is uncapped and hovers around 25-40 (with a target of 30) in an erratic fashion. This is especially noticeable when going into first-person mode and looking towards an area that keeps the screen as freed up as possible, where all of a sudden the game will be running at a silky smooth 60 FPS, but there’s only so much one can get done while looking at the ground throughout the game. Even with its jitters and erratic nature, however, Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes is an overall stable release but still has plenty room for improvement in that regard. Thankfully, it’s certainly a step up from Three Houses that was riddled with a lack of aliasing and jagged edges, and while some of that remains present here, it’s not as impactful to the overall environment or art direction making for a much more visually appealing game and resting easier on the eyes.
The overall premise of Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes is incredibly engaging and interesting, much like Three Houses was before it, and the successful blend is a feat worth praising. Fire Emblem Warriors in 2017 did a fine job, but it admittedly was yet another reskin of the classic hack-and-slash format that didn’t offer much variety or personality of its own. Three Hopes by comparison is a colossal and magnificent improvement over its predecessor and Warriors games as a whole, giving a whole new look and feel to what a title in the genre can be while providing another stellar entry for Fire Emblem in general. The cutscenes are flourishing with colors, excellent animations, and scenarios while the gameplay offers action that’s impactful and memorable where the tension and power exude from the screen through each hit made and piece of dialogue spoken. In the fashion of Three Houses, with characters already fleshed out, it feels like a genuine group of people you know and can get along with, and with all the events that transpire throughout with permadeath enabled or not, Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes provides without a doubt one of the biggest epics in series’ history for both franchises that will undoubtedly appease fanbases of each franchise while unequivocally being a home run for those that dabble in both.
Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes is arguably one of the best – if not the best – Warriors games ever crafted by Koei Tecmo. The way it’s able to wonderfully mesh the traditional Warriors gameplay while still making Three Hopes feel inherently Fire Emblem behind it all is immensely important to the experience. Having those key characters, mechanics, and strategies that makes Fire Emblem stand out above the rest in a Warriors format out in the battlefield should be commended through-and-through. Cutscenes, dialogue exchanges, animations, and the overall production quality of Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes makes the entire experience feel like an absolute epic that you’re taking part in, and it’s a surprisingly stable one that also makes it one of the best performing (and looking) Warriors games on Switch to date.
Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes copy provided by the publisher for the purposes of this review.