Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes
June 24th, 2022
Platform Nintendo Switch
Developer Omega Force
The mammoth lore surrounding each Fire Emblem game can feel almost impenetrable. There are hundreds of characters, romance options, factions constantly warring with divided loyalties, betrayals, and not a small amount of drama. Once upon a time, Dynasty Warriors had a similar perception, with the battlefields of Ancient China used as a backdrop for countless noble lines to rise and fall. When you merge these two far-reaching series, the result might be something even the most dedicated fan might struggle to digest. It can be daunting to confront reputations like these, but thankfully, it’s incredibly satisfying too.
Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes is not a simple game. It revels in complex systems both on and off the battlefield. It is so packed that you will be forgetting and remembering things in the story and gameplay as they fade from the limelight only to resurge slightly down the line. But behind it all are two central hooks that keep you entertained even when the rest is daunting.
The story revolves around you, a survivor of a brutal ambush, thrust into the war rooms and battlefields of the rich and powerful that fuel the conflict and sue for peace. There are dozens of characters to meet and interact with. It’s safe to say that none of them break the mold as Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes characters fit the classic tropes. You’ll also be going through a fair amount of philosophy and ideological discussions as each argues for their vision of the end of the war, and what comes after that. It’s all very familiar and often similarly out of place with high notions of peace and justice mixed with slapstick comedy and humorous misunderstandings, but that is all part and parcel of the convention. It’s not outstanding, nor is it below par for a series that has retold this story for a generation now and feels like a familiar, comfortable blanket to wrap everything else up in.
The other big hook in Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes is the combat itself, which will be instantly familiar to anyone who played one of the countless games of the series, where you mow through thousands of enemy soldiers, duel grand generals and slowly capture or defend vast swathes of the map. At its heart, Three Hopes is a mindless button-mashing brawler with a complicated story wrapped around it, and you might even be able to play it as such. But dozens of systems are at play as you step foot on the battlefield. This is one of the games that doesn’t quite work in handheld mode because there is just too much information to convey on such a small screen. As you play the introductory levels and are gradually introduced to all the relevant bars and numbers and icons to track, you’ll find them almost immediately blurring in as the explosive battle takes centre stage, and struggle to engage with what they track until it becomes vitally important. On the larger screen, it becomes easier to parse, but you’ll still have to actively hunt the edges of the screen to work out what you need to know.
But once you get past the UI, you are in a beautiful world of chaotic fighting that always leaves you thirsty for more. The animation is stunning for a start. Even the simplest attacks look graceful and impactful, especially as the bodies go flying, and as you’ll be jumping across the battlefield with a handful of characters, each with their own weapons and styles, you’ll never grow bored of the visuals, even after dozens of hours. The character models are incredible too. Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes doesn’t shoot for photorealism and instead leans into its anime inspiration, and it works well because of it. Lowly soldiers look distinctive and formidable, at least right up until you hit them, while the more threatening commanders look unique, varied, and immediately stand out. The battle maps themselves are the least interesting thing to look at but are still colourful and offer a few distinct landmarks to catch your eye. Often the maps are intersecting corridors, broken up by larger arenas and fortresses.
Against the mobs of soldiers running across the map, you can deploy your most enjoyable power fantasies, slicing through them with manic button presses and little concern for yourself. Obviously, being overwhelmed by sheer numbers is still a possibility, so you’ll have to be careful, but only in the most limited sense. Commanders are as strong and have as much health as you. This allows you to use all the tools and tricks hidden around your UI and utilise the combos you’ve studied or discovered while fighting the footsoldiers. Three Hopes also deploys a few nice tricks like a rock-paper-scissors styled advantage of different weapons, letting you feel tactical as you plot which hero will tackle which threat.
Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes is a solid game; it offers everything you would want from it. The combat is fun, the plot is huge, meandering, and detailed, and it looks fantastic thanks to its stylish art. It probably isn’t going to appeal to those who don’t already like the Fire Emblem brand, but it offers another comforting, branching, time-consuming entry for fans hungry for more.
Review code provided by the publisher.
Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes is a great game that offers loads for the hours you’ll spend on it. While it doesn’t feel revolutionary, it’s still a lot of fun to play especially for fans of the two series.
- Looks amazing
- Great fun to play
- Interesting story
- Not as groundbreaking as I wanted
- UI is overcomplicated