When I played Fire Emblem: Three Houses, I was almost certain we’d get a Warriors game out of it given Koei Tecmo’s involvement. If you’ve never played a Warriors or Musou game before, they are hack-and-slash games that have you going up against hundreds of enemies on battlefields. Over the years, Koei Tecmo has collaborated with many brands for spin-off titles like Hyrule Warriors, One Piece Pirate Warriors, and even non-Warriors games like the excellent Persona 5 Strikers that brings in some elements of Warriors games, but still feels like a Persona 5 experience. Until last month, Fire Emblem Warriors and Samurai Warriors 5 were my favorite Warriors games. That changed with Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes which exceeded my expectations to become my new favorite Warriors game.
Before getting into why Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes is now my favorite Warriors game, this isn’t going to convert you if you aren’t a fan of Omega Force and Koei Tecmo’s hack-and-slash games. While many collaboration projects lean more towards being Warriors games, Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes is closer to Persona 5 Strikers than something like Hyrule Warriors in its blend of the source material with the Warriors gameplay. It is quite possibly the best Musou game in years as well with its presentation, story, music, and more. It does however have one key flaw compared to other traditional Warriors games. If you liked Fire Emblem: Three Houses, Three Hopes is an essential.
Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes adds to Three Houses rather than succeeding it when it comes to the story. Think of the routes here as alternate options for the already four main routes in the base Fire Emblem: Three Houses experience from back in 2019. The highlight here barring the well-written characters I love in Three Houses, is Shez. Shez is the protagonist of Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes, and one of the best protagonists in Fire Emblem games from the ones I’ve played. Shez begins as a mercenary, but soon gets involved with the houses and can set forth on different routes to see things through. I went with Edelgard first, just like I did in Three Houses here. I look forward to seeing the two endings I haven’t gotten yet, when I replay Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes later in the year.
When it comes to the gameplay, Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes perfectly incorporates the social aspects of Fire Emblem: Three Houses with its Warriors gameplay, but it cuts out the fluff. While I do adore, Fire Emblem: Three Houses, replaying it wasn’t much fun after two playthroughs. With Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes, I enjoy Warriors gameplay, and there isn’t much to waste your time here before you get into the action to see what you missed like in Three Houses. In fact, you will see so many quality of life improvements with how you can replay and see different things here, that you will hope Koei Tecmo keeps this up for a potential next mainline Fire Emblem if it is involved.
While Warriors games are about capturing outposts, forts, taking on tough enemies and bosses, and hacking and slashing through thousands of enemies, I love how Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes makes you strategize on the fly with its side missions and issuing orders. It feels like you have the most control over your AI companions here than other Warriors games. You can also swap characters on the fly while you plan for what class will help out. Different weapons give you an advantage or disadvantage in battle, and these are key if you’re playing on the classic mode where fallen units don’t come back.
Barring combat, the social aspects of Fire Emblem: Three Houses are back, but everything is streamlined. If you aren’t a fan of those aspects, you can avoid them or skip through cut-scenes. If you enjoy them, the implementation and character development here are excellent. It also helps that so many more characters are playable here or recruitable. This also leads into how you interact with the world map that gives you resources to build up facilities at your camp and interact with others. I love how Omega Force has made all these systems work together to always have you doing something in-game. There isn’t any real downtime, but Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes is accessible enough with its difficulty options to let you dig as deep as you want.
Visually, Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes is a bit of a mixed bag. Some of the environments are the typical ugly ones you see in Warriors games, but others look excellent. I love the character models and animations, but the image quality isn’t the best. Performance is much better than almost every Warriors game on the platform, but I would’ve preferred a 30fps cap option rather than playing uncapped and variable at all times. This is such a breath of fresh air even with its erratic performance after playing the technical mess that is Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity. While it isn’t as smooth as Fire Emblem Warriors, Three Hopes is one of the best performing Warriors games on Switch.
On the audio and music side, Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes is superb. I love the remixes for classic tunes, and adore the voice acting. The team did a great job once again with the voice direction and the script. I was constantly surprised at the production values of this release. All of this makes Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes feel like like a spin-off Warriors entry, and more like a proper Fire Emblem: Three Houses experience.
The original Fire Emblem Warriors was my favorite musou game. I say was, because Three Hopes has finally dethroned it with its amazing blend of Three Houses characters and Omega Forces’ tried and tested formula. This isn’t just a great musou experience, but a great Fire Emblem game. When I played the demo, I was blown away by how well the developers made it feel like a proper Three Houses experience, but the full game has me completely sold on Koei Tecmo working on future Fire Emblem entries. Three Hopes is that good, and I can’t wait to replay it later in the year after already having put in way too much time into it. If you aren’t sure if you will like a Warriors game, but enjoyed Three Houses, I’d definitely recommend trying the lengthy free demo available on the eShop.