If you’re wondering who the target audience is for Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes—a madcap mash-up of Fire Emblem lore and Dynasty Warriors hack-and-slash gameplay—allow me to introduce myself. Not only is Fire Emblem one of my favorite franchises (with Three Houses being my most beloved entry), but mowing down countless enemies in free-roaming, over-the-top, Musou-style combat is equally my jam.
Each new Warriors spin-off seems to expand this formerly niche genre further, broadening it into deeper stories with more nuanced play. I mean, 2017’s original Fire Emblem Warriors was a blast, and 2020’s Zelda-inspired Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity was even better.
While I’ve only been able to spend a few days immersed in this new take on the world of Fódlan, I’m already prepared to say that Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes is yet another high-water mark.
While the continent itself, with its three mighty kingdoms and their shaky alliances, arrives more or less intact, the story is quite a departure from that of the acclaimed turn-based strategy title. This time, you take on the role of Shez, a young mercenary on a collision course with Byleth, the protagonist of Three Houses.
This alternate retelling colors Fódlan’s growing conflict with shades of revenge, as you seek to settle an old score with big, bad Byleth (aka the Ashen Demon). Along the way, you are met by a number of other familiar faces.
Three different storylines play out depending on which house of students from Garreg Mach Monastery you elect to join: Azure Gleam (with the Blue Lions), Scarlet Blaze (working alongside the Black Eagles), and Golden Wildfire (should you make the clearly superior choice and ally with Golden Deer). You’ll be able to control and direct your chosen allies in typical Warriors fashion, capturing outposts and adjusting your attack plans on the fly as battlefield conditions warrant, but that’s not all.
Many of Fire Emblem‘s oldest and most cherished elements also make their way into the game. You’ll learn to exploit weapon-type weaknesses against your foes, level up and re-class troops to bolster your ranks, purchase and discover special items and gear, and even build relationships with your favorite fighters.
In short, it adds a beautiful tactical sheen atop the brute-force combat for which the Warriors titles are famous.
I could go on, but I still have hours of gameplay left ahead of me—not to mention the multiple play-throughs it’ll take to really get to the heart of the Three Hopes experience. Plus, right now you can download a Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes demo from the Nintendo eShop and experience this masterful mix of deliberate thought and mindless button-mashing for yourself!
If you download the demo before August 1, My Nintendo members can earn a cool 100 Platinum Points, and, yes, your progress will carry over to the full game. So charge up your Nintendo Switch, pick your path, and make your triumphant return to the lands of the Leicester Alliance, the Holy Kingdom of Faerghus, the Adrestian Empire, and beyond!
Oh, and Nintendo of America recently released a new trailer that Fire Emblem: Three Houses fans will surely find illuminating…