I finished my first playthrough of Three Hopes last night (Go, Black Eagles!). It took me about two weeks and 60 hours, which seems longer than it should — I may have left the game running while I was preoccupied doing other stuff a few times…
On the other hand, there were people posting online within a few days about having beat all three routes and I cannot for the life of me understand how it’s possible to beat it that fast.
Now, this is isn’t going to be a full recommendation. Three Hopes isn’t really distinct enough from either the larger Fire Emblem or Warriors series…es, though I suppose I could add a section to either or both of those reviews.
In terms of story, I think there’s a certain degree of “grass is greener” at play. If the story of Three Hopes had been in the main game and Three Houses was the spin-off, I think Three Houses would have been praised for transitioning Byleth from “aloof, badass recurring rival character” to “main character who single-handedly decides the fate of the world.”
On the other hand, Byleth has a lot more personality in Hopes, likely largely due to not having to function as a blank slate.
Similarly, the Officers Academy (which is apparently a plural and not a possessive…) is relevant for exactly one chapter in Hopes, so the fact that it’s actually central to the game in Houses would probably have been viewed as pretty cool.
Fundamentally, one doesn’t really have a better story than the other, and there’s probably some recency bias inevitable in the comparison, but Hopes does seem to make a deliberate attempt to flesh out some of the under-developed aspects of Houses.
At least superficially, Three Hopes does actually feel more like you’re actually on a battlefield than any previous Fire Emblem Game. Sure, it’s not a great representation of actual warfare, but it’s pretty good at capturing the feel of Fantasy genre warfare.
I won’t get into any spoiler territory, but the endings to Three Hopes are a lot more open-ended and probably less satisfying than those in Houses. Though at least the Black Eagles route has a last level that is absolutely phenomenal, even if it doesn’t stick the landing from a storytelling angle. The other routes have marginally less interesting final levels but similarly inconclusive but not entirely unsatisfactory endings.
Again, I won’t spoil any of the specific details, but each of the three routes in the game has two endings — less Good and Bad, and more so Normal and Slightly Better. It’s clear when that the route split occurs, but it isn’t necessarily clear what you have to do (at least without the benefit of hindsight or looking it up…) to determine which route you get.
Though, again, play Three Houses first, because several things that are massive spoilers are present pretty casually and as soon as literally the opening cutscene in Hopes.
Again, I think there’s a bit of recency bias here, Three Hopes isn’t necessarily the best Warriors games, but it did feel more immediately engaging than some of the other Warriors games.
If you’ve only played the demo, you haven’t got a full sense of the game. So much so that the demo’s actually a little misleading. The battles themselves get more interesting, the mid and top tier classes are so much more fun to play than the early classes, the story is a lot more engaging.
That being said, the demo is still a good thing to look into if you’re undecided on the Warriors gameplay. Three Hopes is probably one of the better Warriors games and it’s a good use of the Three Houses world, but it’s probably not going to win you over if you’re not into Warriors games.
In terms of the Nintendo-themed Warriors…es, it’s probably a toss-up between Three Hopes and Age of Calamity. The stories in the original Fire Emblem and Hyrule Warriors were pretty haphazard and basic. Age of Calamity had more attention paid to its storytelling and had characters with more interesting movesets than the original, but did have notable framerate issues — something I haven’t really seen (or at least been bothered by) in Three Hopes.
Three Hopes is definitely mechanically better than the first Fire Emblem Warriors — due in no small part to characters who have the same moveset (i.e. every character class has the same moves) all still having unique personal innate or useable abilities that differentiate between them — Edelgard has an innate ability that gives her attacks elemental Fire damage (plus, like the other two lords, a unique class), Hilda gets bonuses when paired up with a male character, Mercedes has an area-of-effect ability that damages enemies and heals allies, Ignatz lays down Splatoon–esque patches of paint that weaken enemies, Shez can teleport short distances.
It’s a small thing, but it does help to make it feel less like you’re playing as twelve of the same character like it did in the original Fire Emblem Warriors.
There are actually a few gameplay elements I hope the mainline Warriors games incorporate going forward.
In particular, every chapter has a little map full of territories you conquer through optional side battles. You always have to do at least a couple to unlock the main battle of the chapter, but there’s no obligation to do all of them, though each one unlocks a bonus that range from insignificant to something that can be utilised in the main battle with an appreciable effect like negating an enemy advantage or making it possible to recruit an enemy or neutral character onto your side.
In fairness, it doesn’t really do anything, but it’s a nice conceptual touch that does at least strengthen the illusion that you’re actually waging a war. Ultimately, it may just be padding, but I do kinda like that the game doesn’t just rush from setpiece battle to setpiece like that older Dynasty and Samurai Warriors games did.
So, again, maybe not all that comprehensive, but this is mostly just supposed to be some quick thoughts on the matter.
I’ve got a new chapter of Forward, the Lyte Brigade going live tomorrow, so be sure to come by for that.
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