Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes preview – Hack and slash with heart

Lloyd Coombes
Fire Emblem Three Hopes screenshot showing Edelgard in combat

Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes brings Musou action back to the strategy franchise, and it might just be one of the genre’s best.

If you’ve spent any time in a Dynasty Warriors title since the PS2 generation, you’ll likely know all about the Musou subgenre. You’ll charge headfirst into combat against not just a small group of enemies, but entire armies, sending them flying with KO after KO to keep your combo going.

It’s a hell of a rush, often bookended by standoffs against other mighty warriors, while each character brings their own unique abilities and moves to each battle. Why the Musou history lesson? Because at the start of this preview it’s worth noting that if the genre didn’t hold your interest before, Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes may not be the thing to convert you.

While Nintendo and Omega Force’s collaboration doesn’t stray too far from what the genre has offered until this point, it does make smart changes through the lens of the Fire Emblem franchise that makes this possibly the best Warriors title yet.

The Ashen Demon

Fire Emblem Three Hopes screenshot showing Edelgard
Three Hopes will reintroduce players to familiar faces from Three Houses.

Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes picks up with your character, a mercenary, preparing to go to war against Jeralt from the Fire Emblem: Three Houses title before the events of that game. Your forces routed and you yourself defeated by Byleth (that game’s protagonist and Super Smash Bros alumni), you’re imbued with surprising new power.

It’d be fair to say that, other than adding an interesting wrinkle to the mythology of Byleth, Three Hopes doesn’t put its best foot forward. Combat feels fun, if simplistic, with moves mapped to the Switch’s face buttons and a rush attack reserved for bosses. While we found the frame rate to be steady throughout, enemies just sort of appear in front of players as if stepping out of the mist. It’s a little distracting, but we suppose it’s better than the alternative of them popping up all at once.

It’s not long before a chance encounter sees you cross paths with everyone’s favorite primary color wearing trifecta of Claude, Dimitri, and Edelgard. You team up with the young triumvirate to take on bandits, and it’s here that Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes starts to get its hooks into players.

You’ve got a friend in me

Fire Emblem Three Hopes screenshot showing Claude
Get used to causing an insane amount of carnage.

Once you’ve assembled your team, players can switch between them at any point just like in Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity. Not only does that mean that there are more, incredibly flashy moves, but each comes with its own specialism, too.

For example, some characters will naturally be at a disadvantage if an enemy is wielding a certain weapon type, meaning you’ll mix and match your team to send them to various fights. It’s nowhere near as complex as it is in the core Fire Emblem franchise, of course, but it’s another thing to consider when entering a battle.

As you can imagine, there’s plenty of crossover here with Three Houses that’ll make fans of the strategy RPG very happy to be reunited with such a huge cast of characters. For one, permadeath is an option, but you can remove that if you’d prefer. Then there are the reams of new dialogue from each character, right down to fun battle cries like Raphael screaming “my muscles can’t be contained!” as he punches his way through scores of troops.

The UI even takes cues from Three Houses, and players that have spent time leveling any of the three camps will no doubt feel at home here — spellcasters still create huge explosions, while archers are still lethal at range.

Fire Emblem Three Hopes screenshot showing Dmitri
Which house will you side with?

Final thoughts

We’ve still got to spend some time with our house of choice ahead of our review in the coming days, but Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes completely blindsided us with its commitment to Three Houses’ excellent characters and more tactical considerations.

While it doesn’t break away from what makes the Musou genre so popular, Three Hopes may just be the pinnacle of it.

Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes launches on June 24, 2022, for Nintendo Switch.

For more previews of upcoming releases, be sure to check out the following:

Two Point Campus preview | Lord of the Rings: Gollum preview | Saints Row preview

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