© Nintendo / Intelligent Systems / Koei Tecmo Games Co., Ltd.

Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes – The development team speaks about returning to Fódlan Spezial Interview

Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes is releasing exclusively on the Nintendo Switch system today. Prior to its release we got the opportunity to send a few questions to the people over at Nintendo, Intelligent Systems and Koei Tecmo Games responsible for the new action title. Mr. Genki Yokota (Nintendo Co., Ltd. / Supervisor), Mr. Toshiyuki Kusakihara (Intelligent Systems / Character Design and Supervisor), Mr. Yosuke Hayashi (Koei Tecmo Games / Producer) and Mr. Hayato Iwata (Koei Tecmo Games / Director) kindly took their time to tell us more about how the game came to be. Please enjoy!


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From left to right: Mr. Yokota, Mr. Kusakihara, Mr. Hayashi and Mr. Iwata

© Nintendo / Intelligent Systems / Koei Tecmo Games Co., Ltd., Bildmontage: © ntower






ntower: Firstly, we would like everyone to introduce themselves to our audience. What was your role in the creation of Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes and when did you first cross paths with the Fire Emblem or Warriors series of games respectively?


Yokota:

I oversaw the development of this game as game supervisor. I worked to mainly ensure from Nintendo’s perspective that the game would properly encapsulate the essence of the Fire Emblem series as well as that of Three Houses. I’ve been involved since Fire Emblem Warriors.


Kusakihara:

For this installment, I was in charge of designing the characters and various items along with Kurahana-san who handled the design of the main characters. I also supervised the game content along with Yokota-san and others. Like Yokota-san, I’ve been involved since Fire Emblem Warriors, working on supervising content.


Hayashi:

I was the producer for this game, just as for Fire Emblem Warriors. I’m actually the one who came up with the original idea of making a “Warriors version” of Fire Emblem.


Iwata:

I led the overall development of this game as game director. I was, however, neither involved in the making of Fire Emblem Warriors, nor in that of Fire Emblem: Three Houses. This is the first project in which I’ve been involved as a director.






Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes mimics Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity in the sense that both are alternate stories set in the world of a Nintendo series mainline game. What encouraged you to make this new title? Has the team transitioned from one project to the next naturally or what other key factors led to the creation of the game?


Yokota:

After the development of Fire Emblem: Three Houses, KTG suggested the idea of making a sequel to Fire Emblem Warriors. That kicked off the discussion. We then came to the agreement that it seemed suitable to pick Fire Emblem: Three Houses, which had been developed by KTG, IS and Nintendo, as the next Warriors type game for the Fire Emblem series.


Hayashi:

Thanks to our involvement in the making of Fire Emblem Warriors, the developers at KTG got the opportunity to be part of the subsequent development for the main Fire Emblem game series, namely for Fire Emblem: Three Houses. We then considered how we could best leverage on this experience of our development team, and what would please players the most. Our answer was Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes.






Warriors crossover titles tend to include original characters that are new to that universe or story. Shez and Arval from Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes are the latest example of this. How difficult is it to make such changes to a preexisting plot and how do you make sure experienced players do not feel alienated by it?


Kusakihara:

It is my conviction that the experience of having played a game holds a uniquely important value for each player. As such, it was important to us that nothing in the game would either go contrary to that memory, namely that of having played Fire Emblem: Three Houses, or would disregard it, as if it never happened.


This game develops its own “what if” story based on a new perspective without the pretention that the preceding game never was. In Fire Emblem: Three Houses, the player would pick out of three school houses, then the story would branch out into four separate ways, with each path proposing its own “what if” plot.


In this game, in contrast, the branching starts from the beginning, and features three completely new paths.


Here's Shez, our new protagonist.

© Nintendo / Intelligent Systems / Koei Tecmo Games Co., Ltd.

Iwata:

As Kusakihara-san mentioned, all three parties involved in the game development were in complete agreement from the get-go that we would not do anything that would so-to-speak negate the experience of those who’ve played the “original game”.


With this in mind, we were particularly careful about how the new protagonist Shez is featured in the game. With regards to Byleth as well, we were very mindful of their overwhelming popularity, and that they also represent the players themselves. We needed to make sure that neither the story nor the character conception in the new game would go contrary to that.


In this game we’ve depicted the dark side of Byleth as the “Ashen Demon” from the perspective of the new protagonist. We are confident that by playing the game you’ll discover in this dark take a whole new appeal of this character. Furthermore, the new protagonist’s existence in Fódlan is depicted with genuine authenticity while having a distinct role compared with that of Byleth in the original work.


We hope that you’ll come to appreciate them just as much as you may have come to like the characters featured in the original game.






Can you talk about how the portrayal of the three house leaders and of other characters differs from Fire Emblem: Three Houses? How did you decide on which characters and story bits to tackle differently?


Iwata:

In the original game, the encounter with Byleth marked a major event in the lives of the three house leaders, which subsequently led them to make certain choices and to evolve in certain ways. In contrast, the protagonist for the latest game doesn’t have such a major influence on the house leaders. As such, their lives take a completely different path compared to the original work.


Kusakihara:

The three house leaders are the same exact characters as those featured in Fire Emblem: Three Houses. However, as their initial encounter is different in this game, their subsequent lives take on a different course, naturally leading them to a different future from that of Three Houses. As they don’t meet their teacher, and their lives at the academy are different, there is no need for the five years of waiting for their teacher’s return. Instead, there are the two years until the beginning of the war. I believe that all these situational variances have created subtle changes in their way of thinking as well as their relationships and attitudes toward others.


Iwata:

This game features new designs depicting the characters two years after their time in the Officers Academy. Just as for Fire Emblem: Three Houses, Chinatsu Kurahana-san and Kusakihara-san were in charge of the character design. We’ve asked them to also draw on the changes they’ve experienced in their own lives and in their surroundings in coming up with their respective designs. It may also be interesting to decipher the new aesthetics of the game from that perspective.






By carrying over many systems and elements from Fire Emblem: Three Houses, this title seems to offer even more depth and strategy than your regular Warriors game. Was it a focal point during development to give players this amount of agency? Was there anything in particular the team really wanted to add, maybe due to player feedback?


Yokota:

The progression of the latest game is based on Fire Emblem: Three Houses rather than that of Fire Emblem Warriors. As such, I believe there’s naturally a greater amount of freedom. Obviously, if the frame of action was identical to that of Fire Emblem: Three Houses, it’d be repetitive, so we’ve asked KTG to make sure they changed things up as they deemed suitable while also simplifying certain elements.


You can utilize many social features which will strengthen your units in the long term.

© Nintendo / Intelligent Systems / Koei Tecmo Games Co., Ltd.

Kusakihara:

The development team at KTG was particularly passionate about this game, and they eagerly and actively contributed to making the game what it is today. Mechanics and ideas never seen in the Warriors series before kept coming up and were implemented pretty much non-stop. It was truly exciting to witness this creative process in action.


Iwata:

One of the major particularities and appeals of the original game was the high degree of freedom players had in leveling up their characters, as well as the wide range of possibilities they had with regards to character interactions. I believe this sense of freedom was a decisive factor in making the characters in the original game so endearing to our fans.


When we decided to base the game on Fire Emblem: Three Houses, omitting this quality was out of question. That said, Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes is an action game, and in the end, it needs to be enjoyable as an action game. We’ve thus built the game by taking certain elements directly from Fire Emblem: Three Houses, while adapting certain other components to better fit this game, and combining the whole with the newly conceived elements. The new game cycle is the outcome of this process.


It was very challenging, but we took on the challenge without any intention to compromise as we felt it was a great opportunity for us to take the Warriors series to the next level.






With Warriors-style games, one big fear amongst players is having a lot of characters that are too similar in playing style. In Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes, however, the liberal class change system allows units to have many diverse movesets. With that in mind, do you think this feature answers these concerns and how else have you tried to make characters distinct from one another?


Iwata:

Warriors-type games do have a character-centric side to it, whereby many fans naturally come to find great pleasure just through their interactions with their favourite characters. This time, through the class change ability and such, we’ve expanded the range in which the players can grow a single character.


I believe we’ve managed to achieve a great degree of depth in the game as to also meet the expectations of players seeking to enjoy the full range of possibilities surrounding their favourite characters.


Yokota:

I believe we’ve managed to offer a wider range of options in terms of character growth even in comparison with Fire Emblem: Three Houses. Generally speaking, when there is a great degree of freedom, the characters tend to become fairly similar to one another as they grow stronger.


In order to avoid this type of scenario, KTG made sure that each character was imbued with a unique quality which would remain discernible in battle. Along with the staff members at Intelligent Systems, we really enjoyed reviewing the proposals which were submitted to us regarding the kind of characteristics which were tentatively attributed to this or that character. I think Bernadetta is a good example of a character with a very distinctive ability.


Iwata:

When we decided on introducing the ability to change classes, we immediately considered the potential risk that it could weaken the uniqueness of the respective characters. Each of these characters from Fire Emblem: Three Houses are well-loved by fans, and it was an immutable goal of ours to ensure that their uniqueness would be felt even in the dynamism of an action game. For this, we implemented Unique Abilities. Coming up with ideas to properly concretize these abilities required a lot of work, but we also had a lot of fun with it.






When playing through the game's story, players engage in a variety of battles and events by navigating on the map of Fódlan. This reminds me of exploration and story progression in Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia for Nintendo 3DS. What inspired you to implement such a system?


This is how the map feature looks like in the game.

© Nintendo / Intelligent Systems / Koei Tecmo Games Co., Ltd.

Kusakihara:

“Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia” was designed with an RPG-type game experience in mind whereby the players would immerse themselves in the adventure as they would discover themselves the game’s world. I believe the aim of Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes is somewhat different.


In case of Fire Emblem games, many of the “strategy game” elements are focused on the tactical dimension of the game, while the long-term, more strategic elements are centered around the character growth. In the present game, we’ve decided to add long term strategic dimensions which would permeate more widely through the game cycle. We originally suggested the idea because we felt that this could potentially produce a new Warriors experience based on the “strategy game” qualities at the heart of the Fire Emblem series.


Iwata:

When the project was initially proposed, the gameplay based on the map of Fódlan didn’t yet exist. The impetus for the idea came from Kusakihara-san who asked if it would be possible to add an element akin to a territorial turf war. That got us to dig deeper into the question of what would be the suitable strategic element for the game.


That’s how we came up with the current Battle Prep component, which also had the added effect of allowing players to locate wherein Fódlan the battle at hand was being waged, and for what. Thanks to this, the players can better immerse themselves in the story.






Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes is based on Fire Emblem: Three Houses, which Koei Tecmo Games has also worked on. We can imagine, this made things somewhat easier compared to Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity, where there was a constant back-and-forth between Koei Tecmo Games and the Zelda team at Nintendo. Has this familiarity been beneficial to the creative process or made communication between teams simpler?


Iwata:

Although the project was based on a collaboration regarding an external IP, just the fact that we had members on our side who had been involved in the original game already facilitated the cooperation. We actually got several core members of the original work to join the development team.


In addition to that, we could count on the in-depth support from Nintendo and Intelligent Systems in supervising the project. We thus had the comforting assurance that we’d remain strictly in line with regards to the core elements concerning the story, the characters and the IP. I imagine that the presence of developers with whom they’ve worked with in the original game also provided Nintendo and Intelligent Systems with a level of trust in our team.


As for the gameplay aspect of the game, once we agreed on the broad direction, they allowed us to work very freely. We’d periodically share the ROM, and get their feedback, which was always constructive. It was also helpful in keeping our motivation high, and we’re very thankful for that.



We want to wholeheartedly thank everyone involved for their time!


You can find a German version of this interview here.

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  • Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes

    Systeme: Nintendo Switch

    Genre: Action, 3D

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    Cover von Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes