Koei Tecmo is well known for its Warriors games, Musou titles that form the backbone of the hack-and-slash subgenre of 3D action games. So it was somewhat surprising to see them teamed up with Intelligent systems on Fire Emblem Three Houses. Of course, we’re no stranger to seeing them collaborate, as they did with Fire Emblem Warriors, but it seems with Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes, Koei Tecmo is making the game they originally wanted to make.
A quick look at the systems of Three Hopes, a focus on larger-scale combat with a smattering of named characters and battalions behind every unit. That’s just Musou map design. Anyway, I quite enjoyed Fire Emblem Three Houses, so why wouldn’t I be interested in a follow-up?
In Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes, you play as the wandering mercenary Shez, who is immediately a step up from Byleth, despite the create-a-character purple hair, because they can speak. Thus, making their performances with the mysterious new dragon boy Arval extremely fun within just these opening chapters. Not that the game has at this point confirmed Arval is a dragon boy; it’s just that this is a Fire Emblem game, so you know what happens.
Shez opens this story by interrupting the opening to Three Houses by getting into a fight with Byleth, losing horribly, being rescued by Arval, and then running into the other main characters before Jeralt’s Mercenaries do. This way, Shez ends up fighting the bandits and ends up going to the Monastery instead of Byleth, as a student instead of a teacher.
And that’s not the only difference because it takes only the prologue from the original story to go off the rails. After all, Shez wants revenge on Byleth and gets themselves involved in their House leader’s own plots. Knowledge of three houses is assumed, and Three Hopes spoils everything from the start. Hell, the opening cutscene spoils stuff that was only implied in a side quest in the original game.
The other significant difference Three Hopes has is the combat, which as a Musou game, is much more in line with Fire Emblem Warriors, with some terminology changed for consistency, such as pair-ups becoming adjuncts. As a result, you run around big rooms making weapon swings that strike 20 enemies at once, with combos that have massive areas of effect. And somehow, this doesn’t make the game a pushover since there are a lot of powerful units that don’t immediately get swept off their feet.
Koei Tecmo is more used to this kind of narrative, so mechanics like base control and directing your allies slide right into a Fire Emblem game. Characters don’t have specified move pools, but each has individual specials within their designated class line. If you switch them out, they’ll use the class-specific specials, many of which seem to be quite fun early on. As well as that, each unit has its own unique skill to keep them unique even without, such as Marianne’s ice orbs and Hubert’s dark lances. Will these continue to the advanced classes unlocked later on? I hope so.
Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes offers an alternate universe adventure set in the Three Houses world where everything goes off the rails. This demo is chunky enough to get me far more invested than I was before, with its addictive combat systems and a cast of characters who already have my attention. I can’t wait to learn what Shez, Arvel, and Byleth’s deals are and how the three different narratives will play out this time.
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