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Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes review: Don’t underestimate this Switch standout

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Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes review: Don’t underestimate this Switch standout

fire emblem warriors three hopes review switch art

Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes

MSRP $59.99

“As long as you’re OK with the usual Musou repetition, Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes is a worthy follow-up to Three Houses.”

Pros

  • Sequel-worthy presentation
  • More strong character work
  • Battles still feel tactical
  • Deep RPG systems
  • Flexible customization

Cons

  • Repetitive objectives
  • Lacking variety

Most Fire Emblem games revolve around some form of war, but Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes may be the series’ most convincing conflict yet. That’s partially due to the fact that it’s a loud and proud Musou game where players chop down thousands of troops. But it’s more so because it doesn’t throw away what makes Fire Emblem so engrossing while doing it.

While it would be accurate to call the game a spinoff of Fire Emblem: Three Houses, that’s selling it short; it’s a full-fledged sequel, just played in a different key. Three Hopes doesn’t have the series’ signature turn-based tactics, but just about everything else is there amid its flurry of Dynasty Warriors-sized action. With no expenses spared when it comes to the mainline series’ RPG hooks, developer Omega Force creates an action game that still makes players feel like a five-star general.

Though it’s still at the mercy of the inherent repetition that comes with the Musou territory, Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes is another victory in Nintendo’s hot spinoff streak.

A true sequel

If you played 2017’s Fire Emblem Warriors, your expectations might be low here. That was more of a Dynasty Warriors game wearing a costume than it was a Fire Emblem title. That’s not the case here. Just about every single aspect from Fire Emblem: Three Houses has been adapted in some form here, with the exception of fishing (a damning omission, I know). Players still train troops in classes, outfit them with abilities, forge weapons, cook meals, complete paralogue missions, and much more. It’s a high-effort project containing just as much depth as Three Houses.

Three Hopes goes well beyond the usual Musou call of duty.

As such, I feel confident calling it a full sequel that fans of the tactics game should play. It once again drops players into the land of Fódlan, which is embroiled in a complicated war between factions. Like Three Houses, players pick a path at the top and see the war unfold from that house’s perspective. For those who only played Three Houses once, it’s a great excuse to pick a new house and learn more about the game’s eclectic cast of characters without replaying a 50-plus hour tactics game. I went with Black Eagles this time and came out with a whole new batch of favorites (friendship with Ignatz over, now Bernadetta is my BFF).

What makes that work as well as it does is that Omega Force spares no expenses when it comes to building characters. Like Three Houses, there’s a full suite of fully voiced support conversations that deepen the relationships between heroes. Even after going through hours of chats with characters previously, I was fully engaged with the new sub-stories that emphasize how charming the cast is.

A knight smashes enemies in Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Houses.

Notably, Three Hopes still retains its predecessor’s entertaining social aspect. In-between battles, players explore a small camp and spend activity points to cook, do chores, or go on expeditions (tea time 2.0) with troops. In addition to that, though, players also collect resources that are used to upgrade facilities around the camp. With all those extra progression hooks, Three Hopes goes well beyond the usual Musou call of duty. The big battles are only one piece of a full RPG with lots of rewarding systems to sink into.

It’s a strong evolution for Nintendo’s newfound love of the genre. The company has found a smart way to expand its most beloved universes without dedicating resources to another mainline installment that just repeats its predecessors’ greatest hits. It worked for Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity, which digs deeper into the world of Breath of the Wild, and it might even work better here in some respects. For folks who played Three Houses, it’s like a new season of TV to watch. For those who didn’t, the extent to which it adapts the original game to a new form makes this a perfectly good standalone story.

Repetition comes with the territory

Of course, there’s one major difference between Three Houses and Three Hopes: The former is a turn-based tactics game and the latter is an action-packed hack-and-slash title. Whether or not you’ll click with it primarily depends on how much you already like Musou games, as the core gameplay of Three Hopes isn’t as complex as, say, Age of Calamity.

A war map with objectives. in Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes.

The basic idea is that players pick a few troops at the start of each battle and complete a set of objectives. Those usually involve slicing up hundreds of soldiers at once with combos while moving around a map and capturing strongholds. Missions are laid out in a board game-like map that’s filled with sidequests and opportunities to acquire resources. Each chapter builds to one long mission with major narrative implications.

It’s undoubtedly repetitive, with a lack of variety when it comes to both environments and objectives, though that comes with the territory. It’s a genre that’s built around excess and with a single campaign lasting 40 hours, you’re going to do and see the same things a lot.

I feel like a tactician directing traffic in battle, which is almost more fun than actually swinging a sword.

Fortunately, Three Hopes does have a few ways of counteracting that. Any character can be classed out in any way and outfitted with abilities, spells, and gear that tweak their utility. By the end of the game, I found myself frequently rotating characters in each battle as I anticipated what enemy weaknesses I should target. Pretty much every class plays the same from a mechanical perspective (spam X and Y for combos, A for a super move, etc.), but the satisfaction comes more so from how well you can prepare for any given battle.

In that way, Three Hopes actually retains the tactical DNA of the series despite being a real-time action game. While I can only ever rotate between four troops, some longer missions allow me to bring in more as NPCs. Using the map, I can issue commands to any character to have them defend positions or attack specific enemies. Playing side missions also lets players unlock strategic tactics that can be activated in main missions, like having troops construct a handy bridge or enacting a plan to recruit a key enemy. In those moments, I feel like a tactician directing traffic in battle, which is almost more fun than actually swinging a sword.

Hilda powers up an attack in Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes.

Though, as always, the simple pleasure of a Musou game is the power fantasy of slicing up an entire army with big, exaggerated animations. Three Hopes delivers on that front, especially when it comes to its flashier special spells and side powers that turn characters into human wrecking balls. But I still wish there was a little more brain power involved, as even the game’s big boss fights against humans don’t feel much different than taking down a lowly stronghold captain. It’s a somewhat flat experience that doesn’t offer up too many unique ways to test your troops.

Fire Emblem, through and through

What’s perhaps most surprising about Three Hopes is that it’s still a full RPG. Characters have stats that rise through leveling up and there’s several layers of customization on top of that. For instance, each weapon has its own stats and skills that can be raised via a blacksmith. For those who love tinkering with builds, Three Hopes offers a wealth of systems to toy around with.

This is a Fire Emblem game through and through — and a strong one at that.

In general, there’s an impressive level of flexibility to the game. That’s apparent right from the jump when it gives players the options to either play with or without permadeath turned on, a key feature of the Fire Emblem series that’s a welcome addition here. Permadeath ratchets the stakes sky-high, totally changing the tension inherent in the usually carefree genre. There’s also an option to make the game more fluid by reducing the number of pop-ups, an especially useful feature that better welcomes replays.

The more I played, the more I began to realize that Fire Emblem’s fine-tuned tactics aren’t what draw me to it. There are so many systems that make the series shine, all of which work in tandem with one another. You can see that at play in Three Hopes, as it still captures the spirit and energy of a Fire Emblem game perfectly despite being as polar opposite as can be when it comes to pace. Same battalion, different formation.

Shez causes a purple explosion in Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes.

At the moment, Nintendo is rumored to be working on its next mainline Fire Emblem game, which will move away from the world of Three Houses. Before playing Three Hopes, I might have been a little sad about that. Fódlan is such a rich setting and I was itching to spend more time in it with my old friends. With my first playthrough clocking in at 40 hours, Three Hopes allowed me to get that extra closure without it feeling like a rushed reskin of another game. This is a Fire Emblem game through and through — and a strong one at that.

Our take

Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Houses proves that Nintendo is serious about its Musou spinoffs. This is a high-effort hack-and-slash that convincingly functions as a full-fledged sequel to Fire Emblem: Three Houses. While its core action gets repetitive due to a lack of overall variety, there’s plenty of familiar RPG hooks around it that keep the adventure engaging. For those who want a good reason to revisit the land of Fódlan, Three Hopes is much deeper than a reunion special.

Is there a better alternative?

Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity ultimately has more variety and feels less repetitive. If you’ve never played Fire Emblem: Three Houses, I recommend starting there, though Three Hopes can be enjoyed independently.

How long will it last?

My Black Eagles run took 40 hours. Multiply that by three and you still won’t have seen everything there is to see between story beats, support conversations, and more.

Should you buy it?

Yes. Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes’ marketing is being oddly modest; this is a worthy sequel to Three Houses.

Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes was tested on a Nintendo Switch OLED in handheld mode and on a TCL 6-Series R635 when docked.

Editors’ Recommendations







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Google Pixel 7 and 7 Pro are getting a built-in VPN at no extra cost

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Google Pixel 7 and 7 Pro are getting a built-in VPN at no extra cost
Google Pixel 7 Pro hands on front Snow



(Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)

Users of the Google Pixel 7 and 7 Pro devices will be able to secure their data without the need to pay for an additional Android VPN after the company said it would be including its Google One VPN service at no extra cost. 

The move will make the Pixel 7 and 7 Pro the first smartphones to include a free VPN connection. 

The offer is restricted to just some countries, though – and what’s more, some data won’t be secured inside the VPN tunnel.  

Peace of mind when you connect online ✨Later this year, #Pixel7 and 7 Pro will be the only phones with a VPN by Google One—at no extra cost.¹#MadeByGoogle¹See image for more info pic.twitter.com/P7lzyoMdekOctober 6, 2022

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Google Pixel 7 VPN

Despite the aforementioned limits, the big tech giant assures that the VPN software won’t associate users’ app and browsing data with users’ accounts. 

Google One VPN typically costs around $10 per month as part of the company’s Premium One plan, which also comes with a 2TB of cloud storage on top. 

This decision is the latest move to bring Google’s mobile data security to the next level. Not too long ago, the company made Google One VPN available also for iOS devices, and also introduced the option of having an always-on VPN across its latest smartphones. 

Google promises that its secure VPN software will shield your phone against hackers on unsecure networks, like public Wi-Fi. It will also hide your IP address so that third parties won’t be able to track your location.

Shorter for virtual private network, a VPN is exactly the tool you want to shield your sensitive data as it masks your real location and encrypts all your data in transit. Beside privacy, it can allow you to bypass geo-restrictions and other online blocks. 

Chiara is a multimedia journalist, with a special eye for latest trends and issues in cybersecurity. She is a Staff Writer at Future with a focus on VPNs. She mainly writes news and features about data privacy, online censorship and digital rights for TechRadar, Tom’s Guide and T3. With a passion for digital storytelling in all its forms, she also loves photography, video making and podcasting. Originally from Milan in Italy, she is now based in Bristol, UK, since 2018.

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The Steam Deck dock is finally here and will ship faster than you think

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The Steam Deck dock is finally here and will ship faster than you think
a steam deck placed in a steam deck dock



(Image credit: Valve)

After months of waiting and delays, Valve has finally announced that the Steam Deck dock is available for purchase on its official site.

Not only that but, according to Valve, the dock will ship out in an incredibly fast one to two weeks, which pairs with the fact that the Steam Deck itself is now shipping with no wait time (not to mention that it’s incredibly easy to set up). The port selection is pretty solid as well, with the dock featuring three USB-A 3.1 gen 1 ports, one Ethernet port, a DisplayPort 1.4, and an HDMI 2.0 port. And for its power supply, it uses a USB-C passthrough delivery.

A Steam Deck dock will run you $90 (around £81 / AU$140), which is a bit steeper than most third-party options on the market right now. But for those waiting it out for an official product until now, price most likely will not be an issue.

Is it worth buying? 

Considering that even Steam Decks themselves are shipping without a queue and that the dock has such a quick turnaround to delivery, it seems that the supply chain issues that had been gripping Valve are loosening considerably.

However, the deck itself is far from perfect. Because of the fact that it uses USB-C for the display port, a third-party USB-C dock that uses its own power supply and video out will output the display of the official dock. 

And as mentioned before, the price of the official Steam Deck dock is steeper than many third-party options on the market, meaning that those who are on a budget might pass this product up in favor of a lower-priced one.

There are also some bugs that Valve is working on fixing at this time, including one involving compatibility with LG displays. According to the FAQ, if the “Docking Station is connected via HDMI, sleep/wake can result in visual noise.”

It might be worth waiting for Valve to work out the kinks of its dock before investing in one. And while you’re waiting, research other options that might better suit your needs.

Allisa has been freelancing at TechRadar for nine months before joining as a Computing Staff Writer. She mainly covers breaking news and rumors in the computing industry, and does reviews and featured articles for the site. In her spare time you can find her chatting it up on her two podcasts, Megaten Marathon and Combo Chain, as well as playing any JRPGs she can get her hands on.

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Why doesn’t Bash’s `set -e` do what I expected?

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Why doesn’t set -e (or set -o errexit, or trap ERR) do what I expected?

set -e was an attempt to add “automatic error detection” to the shell. Its goal was to cause the shell to abort any time an error occurred, so you don’t have to put || exit 1 after each important command. This does not work well in practice.

The goal of automatic error detection is a noble one, but it requires the ability to tell when an error actually occurred. In modern high-level languages, most tasks are performed by using the language’s builtin commands or features. The language knows whether (for example) you tried to divide by zero, or open a file that you can’t open, and so on. It can take action based on this knowledge.

But in the shell, most of the tasks you actually care about are done by external programs. The shell can’t tell whether an external program encountered something that it considers an error — and even if it could, it wouldn’t know whether the error is an important one, worthy of aborting the entire program, or whether it should carry on.

The only information conveyed to the shell by the external program is an exit status — by convention, 0 for success, and non-zero for “some kind of error”. The developers of the original Bourne shell decided that they would create a feature that would allow the shell to check the exit status of every command that it runs, and abort if one of them returns non-zero. Thus, set -e was born.

But many commands return non-zero even when there wasn’t an error. For example,

if [ -d /foo ]; then ...; else ...; fi

If the directory doesn’t exist, the [ command returns non-zero. Clearly we don’t want to abort when that happens — our script wants to handle that in the else part. So the shell implementors made a bunch of special rules, like “commands that are part of an if test are immune”, and “commands in a pipeline, other than the last one, are immune”.

These rules are extremely convoluted, and they still fail to catch even some remarkably simple cases. Even worse, the rules change from one Bash version to another, as Bash attempts to track the extremely slippery POSIX definition of this “feature”. When a SubShell is involved, it gets worse still — the behavior changes depending on whether Bash is invoked in POSIX mode. Another wiki has a page that covers this in more detail. Be sure to check the caveats.

A reference comparing behavior across various historical shells also exists.

Story time

Consider this allegory, originally posted to bug-bash:

Once upon a time, a man with a dirty lab coat and long, uncombed hair
showed up at the town police station, demanding to see the chief of
police.  "I've done it!" he exclaimed.  "I've built the perfect
criminal-catching robot!"

The police chief was skeptical, but decided that it might be worth
the time to see what the man had invented.  Also, he secretly thought,
it might be a somewhat unwise move to completely alienate the mad
scientist and his army of hunter robots.

So, the man explained to the police chief how his invention could tell
the difference between a criminal and law-abiding citizen using a
series of heuristics.  "It's especially good at spotting recently
escaped prisoners!" he said.  "Guaranteed non-lethal restraints!"

Frowning and increasingly skeptical, the police chief nevertheless
allowed the man to demonstrate one robot for a week.  They decided that
the robot should patrol around the jail.  Sure enough, there was a
jailbreak a few days later, and an inmate digging up through the
ground outside of the prison facility was grabbed by the robot and
carried back inside the prison.

The surprised police chief allowed the robot to patrol a wider area.
The next day, the chief received an angry call from the zookeeper.
It seems the robot had cut through the bars of one of the animal cages,
grabbed the animal, and delivered it to the prison.

The chief confronted the robot's inventor, who asked what animal it
was.  "A zebra," replied the police chief.  The man slapped his head and
exclaimed, "Curses!  It was fooled by the black and white stripes!
I shall have to recalibrate!"  And so the man set about rewriting the
robot's code.  Black and white stripes would indicate an escaped
inmate UNLESS the inmate had more than two legs.  Then it should be
left alone.

The robot was redeployed with the updated code, and seemed to be
operating well enough for a few days.  Then on Saturday, a mob of
children in soccer clothing, followed by their parents, descended
on the police station.  After the chaos subsided, the chief was told
that the robot had absconded with the referee right in the middle of
a soccer game.

Scowling, the chief reported this to the scientist, who performed a
second calibration.  Black and white stripes would indicate an escaped
inmate UNLESS the inmate had more than two legs OR had a whistle on
a necklace.

Despite the second calibration, the police chief declared that the robot
would no longer be allowed to operate in his town.  However, the news
of the robot had spread, and requests from many larger cities were
pouring in.  The inventor made dozens more robots, and shipped them off
to eager police stations around the nation.  Every time a robot grabbed
something that wasn't an escaped inmate, the scientist was consulted,
and the robot was recalibrated.

Unfortunately, the inventor was just one man, and he didn't have the
time or the resources to recalibrate EVERY robot whenever one of them
went awry.  The robot in Shangri-La was recalibrated not to grab a
grave-digger working on a cold winter night while wearing a ski mask,
and the robot in Xanadu was recalibrated not to capture a black and
white television set that showed a movie about a prison break, and so
on.  But the robot in Xanadu would still grab grave-diggers with ski
masks (which it turns out was not common due to Xanadu's warmer climate),
and the robot in Shangri-La was still a menace to old televisions (of
which there were very few, the people of Shangri-La being on the average
more wealthy than those of Xanadu).

So, after a few years, there were different revisions of the
criminal-catching robot in most of the major cities.  In some places,
a clever criminal could avoid capture by wearing a whistle on a string
around the neck.  In others, one would be well-advised not to wear orange
clothing in certain rural areas, no matter how close to the Harvest
Festival it was, unless one also wore the traditional black triangular
eye-paint of the Pumpkin King.

Many people thought, "This is lunacy!"  But others thought the robots
did more good than harm, all things considered, and so in some places
the robots are used, while in other places they are shunned.

The end.

Exercises

Or, “so you think set -e is OK, huh?”

Exercise 1: why doesn’t this example print anything?

   1 
   2 set -e
   3 i=0
   4 let i++
   5 echo "i is $i"

Exercise 2: why does this one sometimes appear to work? In which versions of bash does it work, and in which versions does it fail?

   1 
   2 set -e
   3 i=0
   4 ((i++))
   5 echo "i is $i"

Exercise 3: why aren’t these two scripts identical?

   1 
   2 set -e
   3 test -d nosuchdir && echo no dir
   4 echo survived
   1 
   2 set -e
   3 f() { test -d nosuchdir && echo no dir; }
   4 f
   5 echo survived

Exercise 4: why aren’t these two scripts identical?

   1 set -e
   2 f() { test -d nosuchdir && echo no dir; }
   3 f
   4 echo survived
   1 set -e
   2 f() { if test -d nosuchdir; then echo no dir; fi; }
   3 f
   4 echo survived

Exercise 5: under what conditions will this fail?

   1 set -e
   2 read -r foo < configfile

(Answers)

But wait, there’s more!

Even if you use expr(1) (which we do not recommend — use arithmetic expressions instead), you still run into the same problem:

   1 set -e
   2 foo=$(expr 1 - 1)
   3 
   4 echo survived

Subshells from command substitution unset set -e, however (unless inherit_errexit is set with Bash 4.4):

   1 set -e
   2 foo=$(expr 1 - 1; true)
   3 
   4 echo survived

Note that set -e is not unset for commands that are run asynchronously, for example with process substitution:

   1 set -e
   2 mapfile foo < <(true; echo foo)
   3 echo ${foo[-1]} 
   4 mapfile foo < <(false; echo foo)
   5 echo ${foo[-1]} 

Another pitfall associated with set -e occurs when you use commands that look like assignments but aren’t, such as export, declare, typeset or local.

   1 set -e
   2 f() { local var=$(somecommand that fails); }
   3 f    
   4 
   5 g() { local var; var=$(somecommand that fails); }
   6 g    

In function f, the exit status of somecommand is discarded. It won’t trigger the set -e because the exit status of local masks it (the assignment to the variable succeeds, so local returns status 0). In function g, the set -e is triggered because it uses a real assignment which returns the exit status of somecommand.

A particularly dangerous pitfall with set -e is combining functions with conditionals. The following snippets will not behave the same way:

   1 set -e
   2 f() { false; echo "This won't run, right?"; }
   3 f
   4 echo survived
   1 set -e
   2 f() { false; echo "This won't run, right?"; }
   3 if f; then  
   4     echo survived
   5 fi

As soon as a function is used as a conditional (in a list or with a conditional test or loop) set -e stops being applied within the function. This may not only cause code to unexpectedly start executing in the function but also change its return status!

Using Process substitution, the exit code is also discarded as it is not visible from the main script:

   1 set -e
   2 cat <(somecommand that fails)
   3 echo survived

Using a pipe makes no difference, as only the rightmost process is considered:

   1 set -e
   2 somecommand that fails | cat -
   3 echo survived

set -o pipefail is a workaround by returning the exit code of the first failed process:

   1 set -e -o pipefail
   2 failcmd1 | failcmd2 | cat -
   3 
   4 echo survived

though with pipefail in effect, code like this will sometimes cause an error, depending on whether the output of somecmd exceeds the size of the pipe buffer or not:

   1 set -e -o pipefail
   2 somecmd | head -n1
   3 
   4 echo survived

So-called strict mode

In the mid 2010s, some people decided that the combination of set -e, set -u and set -o pipefail should be used by default in all new shell scripts. They call this unofficial bash strict mode, and they claim that it “makes many classes of subtle bugs impossible” and that if you follow this policy, you will “spend much less time debugging, and also avoid having unexpected complications in production”.

As we’ve already seen in the exercises above, these claims are dubious at best. The behavior of set -e is quite unpredictable. If you choose to use it, you will have to be hyper-aware of all the false positives that can cause it to trigger, and work around them by “marking” every line that’s allowed to fail with something like ||true.

Conclusions

GreyCat‘s personal recommendation is simple: don’t use set -e. Add your own error checking instead.

rking’s personal recommendation is to go ahead and use set -e, but beware of possible gotchas. It has useful semantics, so to exclude it from the toolbox is to give into FUD.

geirha’s personal recommendation is to handle errors properly and not rely on the unreliable set -e.

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