Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes Review – Just Shy of an S-Rank Video Game

Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes is an Action RPG developed by Koei Tecmo and published by Nintendo. It was released in July 2022 as a Nintendo Switch exclusive. MSRB is $60.

Fire Emblem: Three Houses earned its spot as my #1 Switch JRPG thanks to its robust customization, fascinating lore, and emotionally rich cast of characters. Claude, Edelgard, and Dimitri all feel like real people. I still go out of my way to show my partner fan art of our favorite characters. My partner and I affectionately call the cast of Three Houses “our babies.” Any follow-up to this game was going to be a Day-One Purchase for us.

Thankfully, Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes is a companion worthy of fighting alongside Three Houses. It even offers its own improvements that I hope make their way back into mainline Fire Emblem games. However, Three Hopes‘ plot is a little too ambitious for its own good, and it made this plucky newcomer trip right at the finish line.

Byleth’s the bad guy now?!

An Alternate Fodlan

Three Hopes procures an alternate timeline from the events of Three Houses: what if Claude, Edelgard, and Dimitri met a different person other than Byleth? Enter Shez, a mercenary with a strange past that takes the protagonist’s place. After a hasty introduction, you choose which house Shez will join. The Butterfly Effect happens, and Shez dramatically alters the lives of the three Lords of Fodlan. Byleth, interestingly enough, becomes a rival mercenary instead of a teacher, and is a constant thorn in your side. A mysterious entity keeps forcing the two of you to meet on the battlefield, raising the stakes against your former avatar even higher.

Three Hopes story is certainly ambitious. It tries to tell the emotional journeys of each individual Lord, weave an epic tale of warfare, create dynamic relationships between over 30 playable characters, expand the lore, and untangle the secret behind the source of Byleth’s power.

I picked Claude for my first playthrough, just like I did with Three Houses. I was pleasantly surprised with how this game treated him. Claude is, admittedly, the least interesting Lord of the original story. Despite the first chapter of Three Houses setting him up as this charismatic schemer, he doesn’t actually do anything that surprising. In Three Hopes, however, Claude is a conspirator through and through. He operates exactly in that grey area that I was hoping he would. Even more to my delight, important characters that you never see in Three Houses take prominent roles in Three Hopes, such as Hilda’s ever-protective brother, Holst. The world of Fodlan grows even wider with this game, and I want to take it all in.

Props to the writers for making Claude more interesting.

After an explosive beginning, the game’s pacing goes all over the place. There is so much plot to cover, so many questions to answer, and yet in some chapters the characters bide their time unnecessarily. The pacing slows to a crawl with the war against the Empire, and then it rushes to its ending. And the ending is, honestly, disappointing. It’s missing that crucial final battle or epilogue that wraps up everyone’s development. I remember seeing the credits roll and exclaiming, “Wait, that’s it?! But how does the war end?” I researched online just to check, and it seems like that’s all there is. The other routes don’t necessarily offer a much better resolution, either. It’s like listening to an epic concert only to hear a clarinet squeak out of tune right as the last note plays. In the end it’s only a small mistake, but you can’t help but keep it as your final impression.

More props to the writers for making even more charming support conversations without feeling like you’re treading too much familiar ground.

While the plot leaves something to be desired, Three Hopes remains a delightful character study. I’m beyond impressed that the writers can throw these 30+ characters into entirely different situations and make them react in ways that still feel genuine to them. All of the voice actors for Three Houses take up their respective roles again, and the voice quality is the best of any Nintendo game thus far. They even gave voice lines to Shez and Byleth, a welcome improvement over Three Houses. And thankfully the Supports balance humorous conversations with serious ones so that everyone can grow and develop in their own way.

Our babies are just as precious as they’ve always been.

This is knife-through-butter-Warriors gameplay at it’s finest.

The Best Warriors Gameplay Yet

I’ve taken a shine to Warriors games ever since I played Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity in late 2020. In 2021 I went back to the original Hyrule Warriors, the original Fire Emblem Warriors, and this year I even played the 3DS launch game Samurai Warriors Chronicles. As of this review, this is the best Warriors gameplay I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing.

Combat is fluid and fast. You sweep through hordes of enemies as you ping-pong around the map from objective to objective. Sometimes you need to take out an enemy commander, sometimes you need to defend a certain position. Every character has their own strengths and weaknesses, so you need to use them thoughtfully. If you play your cards right, you’ll be one step ahead of the enemy. I love the way the strategic nature of Fire Emblem translates seamlessly into the Warriors’ hack-and-slash gameplay.

Preparing for battle and managing your units is half the fun as well. Just like in Three Houses, every person can be assigned a class, from Swordmaster to Pegasus Knight, with its own moveset and abilities. Mastering a class will land you permanent upgrades, so it’s in your best interest to change classes often. In addition, every character has their own unique skills that add flair to every battle. For example, Lorenz will build up a shield of roses that will deflect one attack from an enemy, while Ignatz splatters paint across the battlefield, dealing elemental damage to enemies that walk through it. If you combine the right skills together, you can create some absolute monsters of war. I put Hilda into the Wyvern Rider class, and she ended up being my MVP, zipping across the battlefield and one-shotting armored enemies. They wouldn’t even get to finish their voice lines before she defeated them.

The army camp offers a more streamlined experience than the Monastery while also providing many more options for customizing characters.

If you liked the Monastery from Three Houses, then I have good news for you: the Army Camp in Three Hopes is even better. You have all sorts of facilities to improve your units, including a kitchen for cooking meals together and building up Support, and a Tactical Academy for making your skills even stronger. You can go off on fancy picnics that serve as this game’s tea time, and they’re just as cute if not even cuter. You can upgrade facilities and level up your camp as well. And thankfully the more detailed fast-travel system within this camp made that management all the easier. It’s essentially a more streamlined Monastery, and I want this to be a part of every Fire Emblem game moving forward. My partner became a Supports machine, graphing out who has conversations with who and optimized these activities even better than I did. I feel like a noob at doing Supports compared to her.

Don’t worry you have adorable tea time conversations like before.

For those wondering, my partner has never played a Warriors game before, and she took to it rather well. The tutorial is good at its job. With some additional coaching from me, she was soon sweeping through battles with ease. She picked Edelgard for her first playthrough, because let’s be honest, right now we all need to channel the energy of an angry lady revolting against an oppressive church. If this is your first Warriors game, it’s a good starting point.

More than any other Warriors game, I want to complete all of Three Hope’s side content.

All Warriors games grade your performance to motivate you to replay maps and do better. Achieving an S rank usually rewards you with rare items. In past Warriors games I’d sometimes go back and get some of these, but never all of them. However, the camp system and character customization in Three Hopes give me a compelling reason to go back and replay these maps. I want to unlock every perk of the camp and every ability for my characters. This game is getting me to dive deeper and play better, and you bet your bottom gold coin I’ll be going through the other routes on New Game+ soon.

Classic Rafael.

Overall, Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes earns a solid recommendation from me. If you liked Three Houses, then there’s even more to love with this game. I appreciated the small improvements, and the Action/Strategy elements are the most compelling of its genre so far. Unfortunately, the game tripped up with its plot one too many times, especially with the ending, and that stopped it from pulling ahead of its Three Houses counterpart. Still, it’s the best Warriors game on the Switch, and unless Persona 5 Strikers absolutely wows me, it will likely remain there.

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