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Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes

Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes

Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes gives you exactly what you would expect: A mindless and action-packed Warriors game in Fire Emblem wrapping.

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Omega Force, which is a division of Koei Tecmo, has done a good job over the last couple of years combining their characteristic Warriors (or Musou) formula with different well-known franchises. Anime fans have received games like the One Piece: Pirate Warriors series and A.O.T. 2 (based on Attack on Titan), but their greatest success has been uniting their forces with Nintendo to introduce their Warriors formula to a greater audience. Many will be familiar with the two Warriors games based on The Legend of Zelda, and Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity in particular was a positive surprise, which managed to build upon the setting and background story from The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.

Another popular Nintendo franchise which has been given the Warriors treatment is Fire Emblem. The 2017 game Fire Emblem Warriors proved to be a decent combo where you were given the intense Warriors combat system on one hand and the strategic weapon and class choices from Fire Emblem on the other hand. Omega Force is launching another Fire Emblem Warriors game, and they have added another element which makes this a good match on paper, since the setting from Fire Emblem: Three Houses shares some similarities to the Chinese Three Kingdoms period, which the Dynasty Warriors franchise is based upon. In reality, however, the game suffers from several issues which prevents it from living up to its potential.

Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes

The main setting here is the same as Fire Emblem: Three Houses. Our story takes place on the continent of Fódlan, where three nations live together in a fragile peace. In the middle of the continent stands the Garreg Mach, a monastery and war academy where students from all three nations come together to study. The biggest difference this time is that you are no longer playing as Byleth, the fresh professor of Garreg Mach which served as your main character in Three Houses, but a mercenary who meets the three future leaders of Fódlan's nations in the woods and has to decide which house to align with. Having new and powerful friends serves our mercenary character well, because their band was recently destroyed by none other than Byleth, who is better know this time as the Ashen Demon.

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Contrary to both Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity and Persona 5 Strikers, this Warriors title does not serve as a continuation of the story from the game it is spinning off from. Instead, we are treated to an alternate storyline in the same world, a "what if" scenario where our main character from Three Houses serves as the villain. This could have worked, but it also means we have to get to know all of the same characters again from scratch, which means there is no real character development or new information compared to our last encounter with them. Since this game mainly aims to please fans of Three Houses this will be an even bigger disappointment to many players, because as soon as the joy of reunion settles down you will notice that the storytelling is neither sharp nor efficient. On the contrary, we are served a story way too pompous and bloated for its own good, and it is hard even for a fan to keep track of all the random places and houses that are thrown in an attempt to mimic Game of Thrones. The worst part is that the story is too long, and the order is just too tall when the game wants to you play through the perspective of all three factions. Compared to Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity and Persona 5 Strikers, where the developer Omega Force worked closely with the creators at Nintendo and Atlus respectively, Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes feels like it is walking backwards into the future, at least from a narrative perspective.

Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes

The story may disappoint, but most players do not pick up a Warriors game expecting a narrative masterpiece, but rather an entertaining combat system. This is a part where the game succeeds serving you exactly what you would expect. Like all previous Warriors games, your job is to run around on a battlefield and beat up hundreds of enemies at a time, take over enemy strongholds, fight any reinforcements that arrive during the battle, and defeat bosses. If you strike strong enemies long enough they will lose their guard, which opens up for some fancy finishers. This core Warriors gameplay is combined with the weapon triangle system from Fire Emblem, where all weapons and classes have their strengths and weaknesses: Sword beats axe; axe beats lance; lance beats sword. This adds a strategic element to the game, forcing you to study the battle map carefully before deploying your warriors of choice. Another extra element this time is the ability to choose strategies before the battle begins, such as reinforcing your strongholds or persuading enemy soldiers to join your side.

It would not be a Warriors game if the battles were not fast and intense, where hundreds of characters and a bunch of fancy effects are juggled on your screen at the same time. This is of course a technical challenge for the Switch, something we could not help but notice in Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity where the frame rate constantly dropped under 30 frames per second. This is less of an issue this time, at least during the combat sequences. In fact, it is almost surprising how well the game runs during the most intense battles, especially when spellcasters start doing their flashy magic. This may have something to do with the 'purer' art style of Fire Emblem compared to Breath of the Wild, or it may be because Koei Tecmo (the parent company of Omega Force) helped develop Three Houses and therefore is more familiar with its graphics engine. The resolution takes a hit compared to what the Switch is capable of, but in a game where flow is more important than appearances, we will take a better frame rate over resolution any day. We are still not treated to a stable 30 frames per second, mind you, and the drops are even more noticeable during handheld play, but the game performs well enough during combat to be approved.

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Fire Emblem Warriors: Three HopesFire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes

Which is why it is even more surprising that the game underperforms technically outside of combat. During all dialogue and cinematics, the performance tanks considerably, with a much lower frame rate and plenty of frame issues. Considering how much time the game forces you to spend in your base talking to your squad mates, this quickly turns into an uncomfortable experience. At least there is more to do at your base than you would expect, such as running around doing chores, engaging in supporting conversations, training your characters or increasing the bond between them. Alas, the choppy performance turns it all into all work and no play.

The fun factor is even more drained the more time you spend on the game, as the battles lack any form of variation necessary for a game of this length. The bland design of the battlefields does not help either, and while Three Houses at least offered some strategic challenges to compensate for this, Three Hopes does not have the same advantage. A lack of variation is also noticeable in the audio department, and the music is honestly disappointing. Previous Warriors games have given us cool reinterpretations of familiar classics or even great new tracks (Persona 5 Strikers being a case for the latter), but this time the audio simply does not shine.

Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes

Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes gives you exactly what you would expect when hearing the title. You get a Warriors game with the setting and characters from Fire Emblem: Three Houses: Nothing more, nothing less. It is a combination with some great potential, but the lack of variation, technical issues and the length of the game will make you tired of it long before the first playthrough is done. It is rather like a video game equivalent to fast food: There is nothing wrong with enjoying a good burger occasionally, but you will grow tired of eating the same burger over and over again for forty days.

06 Gamereactor UK
6 / 10
+
The Fire Emblem weapon system works well with the Warriors formula; nice to revisit familiar characters and locations; an expanded Base system between combat; decent technical performance during combat.
-
Too little variation; the story is too pompous and lacks the final quality touch; dull music; several issues with performance outside of combat.
overall score
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