If you’ve played it once, you’ve technically played them all, and in video games, this applies to any and every Musou game out there. That signature 1 vs 1000 gameplay from Omega Force has not changed in decades, and while it is not for everyone, there are still some of us who enjoy that power trip. But add to that the benefit of familiar characters and settings, and Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes elevates the whole experience with a true commitment beyond its action roots.
Although the Fire Emblem series has cut its teeth on strategic affairs, putting players in the driving seat when it comes to fighting wars and battles makes sense, and Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes has that in spades. A sequel to 2017’s Fire Emblem Warriors, this new entry flips the story of Fire Emblem: Three Houses, casting Byleth as a villain, with mercenary Shez taking the spotlight as the new protagonist, pledging their allegiance to one of the three Houses and kicking things off.
The narrative in this action-heavy spinoff will catch players off guard if they were expecting a bare minimum, as Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes dives heavily into weaving tales of intrigue and drama, and are enhanced further by plenty of fully voiced cutscenes and banter between the many different characters, a level above the usual Musou affair.
Of course, a war is nothing without battles, and progression is rightfully driven by conflict. Each chapter brings with it optional areas of conquest with one key battle, players may choose to engage everything they see for more bonuses in the form of equipment or resources, or blaze a path towards the main objective to gain more Renown that can be used to exchange for other powerful items. Regardless, a battle begins with an overview of the map, where units are situated, and the objectives.
Armies of warriors, archers, mages, knights and more go head to head in different environments, with various objectives and side quests to keep you busy. The weapon system makes a welcome return, denoting strengths and weaknesses between types that add just that smidge of tactical nous.
By providing a variety of scenarios and situations that require smart decisions, Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes is not exactly forcing players out of their comfort zones when selecting the right units, but it does incentivise the process with clear combat advantages that can turn even the biggest of armies into an afterthought. Unit classes also determine the moves that they can pull off, together with their own progression system.
The combat itself has also seen some improvements since Warriors, with the breaking of stun meters now leading to the opportunity for Critical Rushes, flashy moves that deliver plenty of hurt to named enemies and anyone unfortunate to be around the vicinity. Together with Awakening and Warrior Specials, every battle is a chance to dive even deeper into the power fantasy.
Progress even further, and Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes spices things up with the introduction of Tactical Resources that can be spent on a selection of strategies that play into the unique key battles. Having healers to accompany your units might make a big difference, as will persuading a key general to switch sides and become a playable character.
However, missions do get more predictable and repetitive over time, and at its core, the fighting never changes up too much other than the march towards mastery of your chosen classes. And if you are planning to play all three campaigns, best be prepared for familiarity to set in, even if it is a more improved experience.
As players ease into their role as a newly hired mercenary embroiled in the journey of their respective houses, between battles, Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes echoes the mainline series with a fully realised camp environment, complete with conversations and activities to get up to.
There is always someone to talk to and things to do, and this creates another layer of progression for those that want to get deep. Training opens up new classes and abilities, chores help characters get closer and gain Support Points, and cooking a good meal grants extra bonuses that can help in battles. It all works toward bettering your forces when the time comes to take up arms, but it is also fun to see all the different relationships blossom.
While the game doesn’t feature romance, the effort made to illustrate all the various characters and their growing friendships is definitely a pleasant surprise, which may go unseen if players focus mainly on the combat aspect. It is also a nice break to go on expeditions every once in a while with your favourite characters.
Between shoring up things on the combat front and bringing a whole other focus on relationships and camaraderie, Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes has taken the best things about the Musou genre and added more welcomed layers to the whole experience. It may feel overstuffed with the repetition, but each of the game’s campaigns feels unique and fleshed out, with the game heading in the right direction. Needless to say, our thirst for conquest has never been higher.
Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes is available now on the Nintendo Switch.
GEEK REVIEW SCORE
Whether you are kicking it back at camp or battling it out in the war, Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes is a satisfying Musou game that might just be the best of them all.
Gameplay - 8/10
Story - 8.5/10
Presentation - 8.5/10
Value - 7.5/10