After the recent release of Fire Emblem Engage I thought it would be a great time to look back on the game that came before it. The only spin off during the Three Houses era, Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes. This game is the sequel to Fire Emblem Warriors from 2017 and includes improvements and gameplay changes from the more recent Warriors titles such as Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity. It acts as a alternate telling of Three Houses but how does it fair on its own merits? Let’s find out in this review of Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes.
Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes is available now exclusively on Nintendo Switch, you can pick it up both physically and digitally from the official Nintendo Store for $59.99.
A Otherworldly Tale of Three Countries
The story of this game takes place as a alternate timeline telling of Three Houses. The same wars rage on between the three countries of the Adrestrian Empire, the Leicester Alliance and the Kingdom of Faerghus across Fódlan. If you played 3H you know that this means that there are 3 separate routes you can pick for this story, personally I played through Golden Wildfire, the story of Leicester and its leader Claude. This three route structure is great for replayability as you can experience the game again but with different story points and even different battles.
Rather than playing as the silent protagonist Byleth we follow a brand new character, Shez the mercenary. Shez has lots of similarities to Byleth but one that I personally love is the fact that they have a personality and voice. Byleth was always just a hollow shell who contributed nothing to Three Houses’ story verbally and was just following along acting as a vessel, but in this retelling they gave them a personality and this was an amazing change.
You can now actually care about Byleth as a character, they may just still be a vessel, this time being Sothis’s, but they have their own will, their own dialogue and their own story. The changes in this game make me able to actually like Byleth as a character. Not to mention that Byleth is now the antagonist! They turn Byleth into such a hardcore terrifyingly formidable demon. This is what they should have always been!
One thing about the story in general is that it heavily expects you to be familiar with Three Houses. This really makes the game hard to recommend to new FE fans as it cannot act as an entry point. Even if you have played Engage or Fates this game doesn’t introduce everything and everyone well enough. This is just one of those games where you have to play the game before it in order to understand it. For those who are fans of Three Houses, the world and characters are a treat! We get to see even more out of the colorful cast in even more scenarios such as Claude forming the Leicester Federation and Byleth being overtaken by Sothis.
A bad part of the characters comes from the bits between each battle, the camping. These are where you can interact with all your allies and perform activities together. Just like in Garreg Mach Monastery. Unfortunately it seems they ran out of time when it came to these sections as only a few characters will have something unique and interesting to say. What’s worse is they only change between each main chapter battle. We will come to why this is really bad later.
There is a secret route/ending which involves recruiting Byleth and Jeralt rather than killing them.This is a very hidden thing which I honestly really like. Many secrets in games no longer feel like secrets as they are just given to you in a million hints. I did not know about this on my first playthrough. Now I want to replay the game to get this more interesting ending. However, next we are going to cover why all excitement for a second playthrough is lost. All due to the thought of the having to experience the gameplay again.
Strategy Lacking Gameplay
The “Warriors” part of the title is what links the gameplay to be set apart from the Turn-based formula that FE usually has. This game is apart of the Dynasty Warriors series. Meaning that the main gameplay involves cutting down hundreds of soldiers which is very fitting to the war theme presented. Many players always have issues with how repetitive this genre can be and here it is almost worse than usual.
My main issue with the game is just due to how padded each chapter is. Throughout the 16-chapter adventure, between each overly long main battle is a bunch of optional filler battles that have zero impact on anything and only exist to level up, gain resources and potentially gain a exclusive Hero Relic. These just really slows down the pace of the game. For a mini completionist such as myself who loves to make sure I have done everything before I move on, this is infuriating as each chapter can take multiple hours to complete. Having optional content is good but when this content pads out a games length by a ridiculous amount it is not.
The further in the game you go the more of these optional battles become less optional and I think just having them all as a optional area or even allowing the player to go back and play them after they finish a chapter would have been nice. You can replay main chapter battles so I have no idea why these couldn’t be on a secondary map as paralogues.
The problem with the combat of the game is how it tries to have so many characters but still have the same level of customization with each of them. This breaks very easily as each character comes with a unique ability and some are so broken.Take for example Lorenz, he has an ability that basically makes him infinitely invincible leading to easy S Ranks.
The only character you need to play as the stupidly broken one, Shez. Shez has an exclusive class which can decimate bosses and they also have very strong abilities. Combine this with the fact that Shez can obtain any other characters ability by giving them a ONCE PER PLAYTHROUGH item means that a lot of the time no other characters matter as you have the one person army that is the protagonist.
One other part of the gameplay that is kind of annoying is the weapon durability and skills system. By holding R you can access your skills then, by pressing X or Y you can use them to activate special combat arts. These can do various special attacks. Some of these have advantages over specific units or weapons just like in regular FE gameplay. Providing incredible power which can be used to decimate bosses.
The one issue comes with how each time you use one of these arts some of your weapon’s durability is used up, this feels like a very pointless way to limit how many times you can use the arts. It just makes the whole art using process weird as you are always having to run around to find a pot just to decimate a strong enemy and use little skill.
That’s one thing that game does, requires no skill from the player. I always just turn my brain off and mash the same few buttons and still win. There are mechanics they added to try and make the gameplay more skill based such as the returning Awakening meter and the guard breaking mechanics. But all of these just also feel like more opportunities to button mash.
A Bland Palette In Fódlan
Being essentially a sequel to Three Houses, the game remains very faithful to its style. It does also have some great improvements to it as well. One of the main complaints I can say about this style is just how washed out and bleak the environments are. Every stage always feels the same. It’s either dirty forest battle field or random castle.
This lack of distinctive environments really makes the visuals just blend together. As of writing this the only environment I can say for sure I remember is the camp area. That’s just due to how frequently you revisit it. While the environments leave a lot to be desired the character models really do stand out as some of the best stylized models of this generation. The style tries to merge both modern anime troupes and more ancient fantasy art which it does well to create a iconic identity.
Each character also has redesigned “Timeskip” designs as the fans call them. These are what a bulk of the game you will see the characters appear as. The Academy Arc of the game is only a few chapters long. Which is greatly welcomed as it allows you to get straight into the main plotlines. Many of these Timeskip designs are better than their base Academy designs. Such as Ashe, Mercedes, Hilda and Petra. But a few really aren’t the best such as Bernadetta’s. Luckily they included an option to pick what style each character has and even change their outfits!
Cutscenes take place within an in-game engine now too. Which means we get a whole lot more dynamic ones. Thanks to the jump to 3D animation rather than 2D there’s a lot more cutscenes. Many of the cutscenes do still consist of characters standing around idling as text boxes pop up which is unfortunate but with how many there are this is alright. While the game may border on being a visual novel at times it still provides relevant story throughout each.
The Heavy Rock Sounds Of War
The score of the game is one of its best aspects. Despite how repetitive the game gets, the music always keeps me wanting to come back and play more. The tunes allow you to feel like a unstoppable warrior. Conveniently matching perfectly with the gameplay. Most of the tracks are remixes from Three Houses’ soundtrack but this is not a problem at all. Three Houses has one of the best soundtracks of all time. These remixes go for a heavy rock genre to better fit the action gameplay. Not being biased but these tracks are insanely good! They give the game its high energy that the gameplay can lack.
The music alone is enough to push the game’s rating higher! But on top that we have the whole cast of Three Houses returning. Iconic voices such as Joe Zieja, Chris Hackney, Tara Platt and even the sadly passed Billy Kametz’s final performance (He will always remain a star as our Ferdinand Von Aegir) all return.
All the returning voice crew do an outstanding job once again in bringing the characters to life. One sad part is that not every character has Support Conversations. Many only have upto a C or B Rank so many characters will never interact with one another enough. The characters are the shining point of this game so seeing little of them just feels like missed potential.
The sound effects are also just so satisfying. With every hit you feel the strength of your attacks. For example during Shez’s special there is this cross which slams onto the ground. The sound effect adds so much to make it feel strong. Shez’s other special where they slice a moon in half also sounds sharp and dangerous. When you dodge at the perfect time you activate a slow down dodge. The sound effect that accompanies this gives that serotonin boost for your effort and skill.
Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes was reviewed on Nintendo Switch