Inverse Gaming Interviews

Fire Emblem devs reveal the surprisingly honest reason they made Three Hopes

An unexpected sequel.

Gaming is filled with perfect partnerships that once seemed incredibly unlikely.

Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes shows that Nintendo and Koei Tecmo have landed on a winning combination, fusing together the Dragon Warriors and Fire Emblem franchises for a second time into an experience that feels completely unique. Three Hopes is a thoughtful expansion on 2019’s critically acclaimed fandom obsession Fire Emblem: Three Houses, to the extent that it feels like a full-on sequel at times. Yet, surprisingly, Three Hopes came together relatively quickly.

“The reason that all three companies agreed to develop this title is because of the overwhelming enthusiasm we received from the fans who played Fire Emblem: Three Houses. This title became a reality because of the fans and their support,” producer Yosuke Hayashi tells Inverse.

It’s not uncommon for a developer to turn out a rapid-fire follow-up to a popular game, but it’s extremely uncommon for such a follow-up to be so darn good. To mark Three Hopes’ recent release on Nintendo Switch, Inverse spoke with some of the core development team behind the game, including Nintendo supervisor Genki Yokata, character designer at Intelligent Systems Toshiyuki Kusakihara, producer at Team Ninja Yosuke Hayashi, and director at Koei Tecmo Hayato Iwata.

This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.

Nintendo

Why did you decide to have players select a house again?

Yokata - The Fire Emblem games have interesting choices to make, such as which characters to use and how you will use them, and one of the major appeals of Fire Emblem: Three Houses is how your decisions tie into the story itself when you choose your house.

Therefore, the three companies – Koei Tecmo Games, Intelligent Systems and Nintendo – all had the same thought, that we should leverage this appeal when creating a Warriors game themed around Fire Emblem: Three Houses. The different perspective of the main character and getting to revisit these choices keeps the experience enjoyable.

Kusakihara - The core of Fire Emblem: Three Houses was the telling of a dramatic story about what happens when people with strong, uncompromising beliefs collide, so I think it was inevitable that we would create three routes for this game. One of the taglines of the previous game (*text used in a Japanese trailer for Fire Emblem: Three Houses) was “Whom will you live with and whom will you fight?” We thought those words represented the nature of the game very well. This game follows that same concept.

Iwata - Because we chose Fire Emblem: Three Houses as our theme, we couldn’t avoid having the player experience the story from three different perspectives. We had concerns about the amount of development required, but somehow, we never got to the point of discussing how we would have players experience that in just one story. We only ever discussed how we could proceed with development in a way that would allow us to complete all three routes.

The new “Strategies” system adds a lot of depth and control. How did this system develop over time?

Iwata - As Mr. Yokota mentioned, the player must make choices during various parts of the game. We aimed to make the strategies system in this game a part of that. For example, a straightforward choice where the player chooses what Strategy to use given the limited Strategy Resources.

This also leads to choosing what kind of play style to adopt. Strategy Resources are earned by completing side quests so you can complete as many side quests as possible to prepare for the main quest, or you may choose to complete the bare minimum and move on.

Nintendo

How did the story and gameplay elements of Dynasty Warriors influence Three Hopes?

Hayashi - We weren’t really paying much attention to that. But I do think our collaboration with Koei Tecmo helped bring about the world of Fire Emblem: Three Houses with its three warring nations. That setting taps into what makes their Dynasty Warriors and Romance of the Three Kingdoms series appealing. For this game, I feel that we were able to create a story that fully encapsulates the appeal of three nations fighting against one another.

Three Hopes has a lot of similar elements to Three Houses. What have you done to make sure that the experience feels different and fresh to returning players?

Yokata - Having conversations with other characters or training units at your base camp were part of the fun of Fire Emblem: Three Houses as well. So, while you still have a base, the team at Koei Tecmo focused on introducing some differences to the conversations and training aspects. Another important part I want to point out is that the story is quite different!

Kusakihara - Byleth, who was the main protagonist and the user’s avatar in the previous installment, becomes an antagonist this time, making the story fresh and unpredictable. I hope everyone makes it to the end to see where these characters end up.

Iwata - I’d like to call out the changes due to the main protagonist being in a different position. The original story depicted a hierarchical relationship with the teacher Byleth above the students, but this time the protagonist and students are on the same level.

Due to this change in relationship dynamic, you will notice subtle differences that reveal a new side of these characters, such as how they talk to each other, and I think this will lead to fans seeing these characters in a different light.

Nintendo

How important was it for Shez and Byleth to be fully voiced?

Iwata - As we designed the new protagonist of this game, we knew that there wouldn’t be much difference in game experience if the protagonist only spoke when necessary, as Byleth did in Fire Emblem: Three Houses, so we decided that this time the protagonist will have a strong sense of self and be proactive in speech and action.

Additionally, Byleth in this game speaks considerably more than they did in the original story, but this was inevitable because players are now looking at them from a third-person point of view as one of the characters rather than as their avatar, and we also wanted to dig deeper into the character of Byleth.

Did you already have a Warriors-style game in mind when Three Houses was being developed?

Hayashi - Believe it or not, we had none of this in mind. The reason that all three companies agreed to set out to develop this title is because of the overwhelming enthusiasm we received from the fans who played Fire Emblem: Three Houses. This title became a reality because of the fans and their support.

Are there any elements or new ideas in Three Hopes that you think will influence future Warriors games?

Hayashi - As we worked on developing this game, we wanted this to be the newest and most enjoyable Warriors game. Of course, that all depends on what reactions we get after people play the game, but if a particular element or idea receives high praise, I believe that is something that can influence future Warriors games and spinoffs.

Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes is currently available exclusively on Nintendo Switch.

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