“Three Hopes” is ready earlier than and through the occasions of 2019′s “Fireplace Emblem: Three Homes.” As in “Three Homes,” you play a mercenary, this time by the title of Shez, who occurs to have the identical sorts of darkish magic skills that the principle villains of “Three Homes” had. (It’s most likely only a coincidence, although.) Shez fights alongside one of many three homes of the participant’s selecting within the fantasy land of Fódlan. The three homes are pitted towards one another in an exhausting conflict fought with magic, melee weapons and shape-shifting skills. Identical to within the authentic sport, Shez must earn the belief of their friends and degree up their bonds by finishing chores collectively, cooking scrumptious meals, coaching numerous hours and teaming up in battle.
How precisely Shez and “Three Hopes” match into the grander lore of “Three Homes” is a complicated thriller that solely will get considerably clearer the extra hours you sink into the sport. Shez typically faces off towards the protagonist of “Three Homes,” Byleth, now known as “Empress” or “the Ashen Demon,” who all the time aides an enemy home.
The sport clocks in at roughly 40 hours for one playthrough, however can simply span the course of 100 hours for completionists trying to expertise every storyline and max out relationships. I began my journey about three weeks in the past with Dimitri’s Blue Lions military, who look simply as emo as they did within the authentic “Three Homes,” and had sufficient time to complete up most of Edelgard’s Black Eagles storyline. (I saved Claude and the Golden Deer for final, as I spent over 140 hours with them within the authentic sport and figured I knew that storyline the perfect.)
At instances, enjoying “Three Hopes” is much like enjoying chess. You order round soldier models on the battlefield, telling them to grab the benefit and defend weak factors. As soon as arriving at their locations, the place the participant takes the reins to combat alongside different characters, these models can ship dozens of enemies flying into the sky in what are sometimes absurd-looking animations, frequent within the Musou style. My private favourite is preventing because the Dying Knight, Jeritza, who will inform his enemies in a booming voice, “Stand, coward. Your life is forfeit.” It’s additionally clear that Shez and the leaders of the three homes have the perfect fight design and most satisfying expertise to spam. Dimitri’s assaults ship him leaping into the air continually, permitting him to dodge most landlocked enemies.
The sport’s many, many battles are interspersed with the identical heartwarming character tales that made “Fireplace Emblem: Three Homes” so compelling, and helped spawn a plethora of fan artwork and fan fiction. For the previous few years, I had heard a lot concerning the Blue Lions’ unhappy boy, Dimitri Alexandre Blaiddyd, that I used to be excited to see what he was as much as in “Three Hopes.” Spoiler alert: He’s simply as forlorn and despondent as ever. The characters’ tales are stored in keeping with the unique sport, which makes it really feel like revisiting outdated mates. Dimitri and Dedue’s bromance was as shifting as ever. And solely by ordering Petra and Caspar within the Black Eagles military to wash horse stalls collectively did they degree up their bond to some extent the place Petra reveals she needed Caspar’s father useless.
“Three Hopes” leans into this bizarre distinction between specializing in armies of cherished characters the place anybody can die, and idyllic scenes the place you may assist Felix apply first help or hear Dorothea sing operatically. It sort of works, as scenes the place characters spend their downtime are much more treasured and heart-rending when the brevity of their lives is underscored by the conflict raged throughout Fódlan.
The sport by no means fails to remind you of the tolls of this conflict. Even when you play Edelgard’s home, simply probably the most warmongering of the three, she nonetheless ultimately admits that her trigger has price too many lives and she or he’s made errors. Because the participant, you may assist her make fewer errors, selecting to recruit allies as a substitute of killing them. Typically meaning ready round in battle as a substitute of instantly destroying all enemies, after which slowly enacting methods to pressure the opponent to give up. It’s an intriguing concept in a style that’s largely about killing — why not cease, and add one other buddy to the roster as a substitute?
Usually, a brand new ally is added so late into the sport that you just’d must exit of your strategy to degree up their bonds with different characters. However since all of the characters’ ranges and powers get carried over to future playthroughs, you can begin again up the place you left off on one other playthrough. That may make for amusing conditions. I recruited the Blue Lions’ Ashe to the Black Eagles on my second run, and he was hilariously degree 49 amongst different degree two peasants on the workforce.
Whereas scripting this evaluate, I had the “Fireplace Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes” soundtrack enjoying on repeat. The rock, orchestral choir music is the right pairing with the sport’s repetitive fight, the place every enemy is downed by mashing Y-Y-Y-Y, X-X-X or, often, the A button. The builders included a number of variations of songs, reminiscent of a vocal observe with further guitar and drums, and a pared down rendition for when the battle is paused and also you’re sending orders to models throughout a map. The soundtrack makes you are feeling such as you’re within the opening track of an anime, and it’s the motivation I wanted to energy by way of all these chapters of the sport.
As a result of, once more, it is a lengthy, repetitive sport. Fortunately, it will get simpler and extra satisfying the extra hours that you just’ve invested, and a few storylines are extra attention-grabbing than others. A number of the dialogue within the Blue Lions route felt predictable and unimportant. However siding with the Black Eagles home, which the opposite homes revile, means getting extra behind-the-scenes entry to world domination plans and plotting towards traitors.
A number of the fight is clearly extra suited to the Musou style, too. Lessons with swords, lances and axes really feel hefty and impactful while you’re spamming their expertise. Mages, archers and thieves, much less so. Petra and Felix, who I skilled into the trickster class, spring onto enemies so shortly it was simple to lose observe of them, making it tougher to intention. Preventing taller enemies, like in uncommon encounters with golems and big wolves, feels extra significant and enjoyable than the common band of troopers. And flying on dragons, which can also be potential to do, is an unwieldy expertise that might’ve been improved.
If you’re not preventing or speaking, the sport has numerous busywork for you — upgrading services with assets, upgrading models with higher gear, sending allies to wash the camp grounds — along with many facet missions and facet quests, that are non-compulsory however grant such a big energy enhance that you just may as properly do them. Sadly, “Three Hopes” has fewer perks that made such busywork enjoyable than the unique sport. There’s no fishing; fish simply magically seem in your stock. There’s no rising of herbs. There’s no marriage or romantic endings, although you may ask characters out on dates and so they could even flirt. And the setting of continually being on a battleground will be draining, in comparison with the attractive and comfortable backdrop of Garreg Mach Monastery within the authentic sport.
There are a couple of options I want may very well be added to the sport, which might make it barely much less tedious. I’d love to have the ability to examine what assets I have to improve services immediately from the Provide Grasp non-playable character, quite than must double again every time, however a information might care for that. The sport has no indicator for which facet missions you’ve accomplished and which of them you may have but to.
For what the sport is — a sequel to “Three Homes” with real-time Musou fight — it delivers what it promised. There’s a thriller to “Three Hopes” that may solely be unraveled with dozens of hours of fight and cutscenes, and the sport assumes substantial preexisting data of “Three Homes.” Followers will take pleasure in reuniting with their favourite characters, however the spinoff plot and built-in grind make it a harder promote to anybody else.