Koei Tecmo has been releasing the Dynasty Warriors franchise since 1997 and back in 2014 expanded their franchise the Hyrule Warriors, a Legend of Zelda spin off which has spawned two titles and now the same for Fire Emblem.
For those not familiar with Dynasty Warriors or the Nintendo spin off, they are a hack and slash, RPG tactical style of game which puts you on a battlefield with hundreds of enemies to chop your way through until you reach the map’s final goal.
Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes starts off in the same fashion that both series always seem to do, in the heat of battle setting up the games story. You start off as an either male or female character whose default name is Shez, this can of course be changed to any name you desire as it has no real consequence on the story, in the heat of battle. It is here where you will spend roughly half your time in the game as this area serves as the tutorial teaching you the basics of combat, Simple combos from the start. These are simple to pull off and oh so satisfying to see in action when pulled off. Considering the power of the Nintendo Switch, its great to see the framerate generally keep up with all the action
It is here where you come face to face with a character only known as ‘The Ashen Demon’ and their band of mercenaries lead by Jeralt (The main characters from Three Houses) and proceed to play out in a ‘What If?’ scenario spin off of the games last title. Instead of Jeralt and your own named character (If you played Three Houses) being the good guys so to speak, they are simple mercenaries for hire to the highest bidder, who happens to be the bad guys in this game. It is there on the battlefield that in this tutorial are left defeated and swearing for vengeance on Jeralt and his Ashen Demon. This is then where the story takes off and 6 months later while you are searching for your enemies, you run into the Three Houses of the Church of Seiros, speak with the 3 heads of said houses and decide who you will partner up with for the next 2 years as a merc searching for a common enemy.
It is for these first few chapters that the game really slows down and lets you explore the relationships between your new comrades, almost too slow for my liking. It’s not uncommon throughout the game to spend 1-2 hours relationship building, talking, making meals, doing chores and going on expeditions with characters throughout your camp. Now while you can fast forward through this, it is the main story plots that I recommend you pay close attention to, as the relationship building, while getting to know everyone can take you away from the fun of battle, occasionally does have its payoffs, so I would suggest paying somewhat attention to these, particularly when it comes to your relationships, if its other people in the camp talking, there are no multiple questions, so I can only recommend going off and getting a drink or take a trip to the toilet as these conversations and revelations will all be mostly covered in your own conversations with them.
When it comes to the conversations between your character and the merry band of companions, these are dealt with mostly a selection of 2 answers and depending on your response will sometimes increase your bonds which will help on the battlefield. Just know that weather it be your going for a long walk in the fields, taking two mates to dinner or training together, it all contributes to your characters bonds with yourself and each other, always comminating to a support conversation. I do also appreciate that the game has a quick travel feature to all the characters and areas in the camp, time spent here running around would have surely doubled the time required to be spent here in-between battles. So while all these long walks and intimate chats do serve a purpose to the overall game, you don’t need to give 100% of your attention to it.
If you are familiar with mediaeval stories or shows such as Game of Thrones, this will remind you of the many ins and outs of the story telling of this game. With the 3 houses and the church at the forefront of the story you will learn of betrayal, allies becoming enemies, enemies becoming allies and triple backstabbing. It really has it all when it comes to the story. There were also many occasions when I thought the story was coming to a conclusion, only for someone or something coming up to steal your attention and start a new chapter and new region to explore. It does as the game goes on, drag a bit too much on. My personal opinion is that a game like this has no business going as long as it does. This is what will then bring me to the best part of the game – The gameplay.
Part of what made me feel after putting well over 30 hours into the game that the story was wearing thin was the true joy that I experienced playing the games maps and fighting areas, never a dull moment and always had me feeling like an overpowered being. While there were occasions where the difficulty ramped up, rarely was it the game’s fault as I may have assigned the wrong troops to the battlefield and put myself at a disadvantage.
Like the simple game of Rock, Paper & Scissors. At the start of the battle you are shown the map along with the enemies on it, so you are able to pick from your characters and it will display with an arrow up or down if they are weak to the board. Each different unit has a special fighting style which can be upgraded by seals collected throughout the game or purchased from the shops at your camp. When upgraded the character can use higher graded weapons along with delivering devastating combos to take down the enemies.
Throughout the map there are a bunch of simple tasks that must be achieved for victory such as guarding a weak unit across the battlefield, capturing strongholds or stopping units from attacking characters or civilians, this list goes on and will always keep you on your toes. It’s a good thing too that when one of these important missions comes up that you have the option to press the start button and go to the menu to organize your team whilst pausing the game so you can change up the tactics on the fly.
After completing a battle you are taken back to the map where you can visit the surrounding areas of the map to collect resources for building, money, enemy intel (which can be used in the final battles of the area) and even open up smaller missions with huge beasts to take down that are attacking the area. The enemy intel you receive can be used to enhance your forces, know where to send your troops or even recruit enemies to your cause and have them as a playable hero in your army. I can honestly say that if this was just the game, I would have enjoyed it just as much.
The well over 40 hours that I spent in this game was a hell of a ride and definitely made me a fan of this musou style of game as I really haven’t given any of the previous Zelda or Fire Emblem spin offs a fair go. If you’re willing to take in the time and get past Chapter 4 of the game you’re in for a hell of a ride. I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys the Fire Emblem franchise or the musou style games too.
If you’re in for a bit of mindless hacking and slashing and want to skip the story, that’s ok, you can do that too as the story does feel like it drags on at around the 25 hr mark. Just be warned that you will be missing out on empowering your teammates on the battlefield as they perform better the more friendly you are. Also let it be known that I went with the Golden Deer School and am not sure if and how much the story changes depending on the different schools you pick.
I’ve been playing this for weeks now and there’s no end in sight – if you like Game of Thrones and its drama, you will get a sure fire hoot outta this one, but make sure you clear your schedule first.