I’ve been playing a lot of Fire Emblems Warriors: Three Hopes lately. It has been a lot of fun, since it combines one of my favorite entries in the Fire Emblem series with a style of game I’m fairly new to (at least in terms of the lifespan of the game type) but definitely enjoy. I was introduced to the Warriors style of game by the IP crossovers they have been doing lately (again, an incredibly subjective term), namely the previous Fire Emblem game and the two Legend of Zelda entries, but I’ve never really finished any of them. I think I’ve gotten through the plot on one of them (the original Hyrule Warriors game), but I also didn’t play that one alone. My roommate and I took turns playing through it and I doubt I’d have made it through to the end without a friend along for the ride. I genuinely enjoy the games since a relatively mindless beat’em’up style game appeals to me when I’m tired or not terribly interested in being challenged, but I’ll admit the previous games didn’t really catch my attention in a way that made me choose them over any other game.
After all, if the main appeal is running around killing a few hundred enemies in a couple minutes as I watch my “Hit” and “Damage” numbers get so high they become incredibly disconnected from reality in a way that feels both comical and satisfying, there’s no real sense of urgency or curiosity to keep me playing. Normally, the plot is what keeps me there (though there are a few exceptions, such as Death’s Door), but the plot in the previous games was not the most intriguing or compelling, which meant I was easily pulled away when something new came out. This time, though, things have changed. This time, I’ve put a solid sixty-plus hours into the game (when I wrote this a week ago, I had 60ish hours in it. there’s no telling how many I have now), stayed up way too late multiple nights in a row, and have only played one other game on my Switch, which barely counts because I play a single day of Stardew Valley every night before bed as my calm-down game. This time, I just want to keep playing.
The most basic reason for the change is that I’m fairly easily overwhelmed by having too many options. Any open-world game that makes every possible thing available to me without providing me with something to focus on will get set aside pretty much immediately because I don’t need that kind of decision-based stress in something that’s supposed to be fun. In past Warriors games, they’ve just accrued more and more stuff you can do, filling up various screens with an untold number of options that are difficult to sort through in a way that promotes following a plot, frequently interrupting all of that with things you can’t even attempt now due to the scarcity of various resources or some ability or character you will only unlock later. It makes it frustrating to go back to the game after a break because I’ve forgotten everything I was doing, what I had decided would need to wait for later, and what was actually relevant to the plot.
This game, though (Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes), parses all of that down into side missions that are tied to specific chapters, all of which can (and probably should) be done before you go to the main battle of each chapter. They provide resources, weapons, additional money, experience points, and “strategy points” you can spend on various benefits at the start of each chapter’s main mission, so there’s little point to ignoring them in favor of finishing the chapter unless you’re in a hurry for whatever reason. You can go back to try again, if you wanted a better ranking on a main mission or a side mission, but even that menu has things broken down by chapters so you can parse through things quickly. The neat organization of all of the side missions means that I never feel overwhelmed by options, and most of the time I don’t even have that many options because only one or two side mission are available on the world map. Sure, the order you do them in can change, but usually there’s a one-off extra mission or two on the map somewhere with a counter running down until it disappears, forcing you to move a specific way if you want that opportunity for extra experience points and money.
It is the most linear and tidy Warriors game I’ve ever played. To be entirely fair to the franchise, it is possible that the Legend of Zelda ones where just giant messes and all of the other versions where just as clean and tidy as this one is. Even if it was a giant mess, I’d probably still be playing it if I’m being honest. I have hundred of hours in Fire Emblems: Three Houses and I can’t get enough of this world and these characters. Three Hopes has done a great job of carrying over the characterization of Three Houses, even if Three Hopes doesn’t explore the charactes as deeply. To be entirely fair, that exploration is one of the main aspects of Three Houses and doesn’t really fit into a Warriors style game. That hasn’t stopped Three Hopes from doing an excellent job of including the detailed support system and one-on-one character moments that made Three Houses stand out from all other Fire Emblem games before it. Along with, of course, the varying paths you can take through the game. That got carried over as well and I’m pretty sure I’m going to need another three hundred hours to play through all of those paths unless the New Game+ mode lets me skip way more than I think it will [turns out it does].
In short, if you liked Fire Emblem: Three Houses and enjoy Warriors style games, then Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes is exactly the game for you. If you’re not into that specific Fire Emblem game at least a little bit or you genuinely don’t enjoy Warriors style games, then this is absolutely not the game for you. You need both of those things in some measure to enjoy this game. Otherwise I’m pretty sure most of this game would be an unbearable slog, given than about 50% of my current playtime has been spent on each major aspect of the game.