Today sees the release of Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes, the musou-style spin-off of Three Houses. But while much of the game will look very familiar to Fire Emblem veterans, one thing is very different; the previous hero of Three Houses, Byleth, is now the villain. So why did developer Omega Force turn the beloved jade-haired protagonist into a baddie? Well, it’s all down to further exploring the character’s charm.
Talking to IGN, Three Hopes director Hayato Iwata said: “We had the scenario writer of Three Houses also handle the writing for this title. So, when talking to this writer, I did discuss the following point: ‘Although Byleth is representing the player, they are simultaneously also one of the appealing characters. So making Byleth an antagonist is a necessary development in order to further bring out the character’s charm’.”
Producer Yosuke Hayashi offered another viewpoint, explaining that making Byleth an NPC rather than a playable character ensured that they could have their own interesting conflicts.
“We’d felt the main theme of Three Houses was ‘the conflicts that arise from the clashing beliefs of the characters’ but among the characters, the only one that had no such conflict was Byleth,” he said. “This is quite natural as Byleth is the main character and he is a character for which the selected route is always depicted as the correct way.
“In Three Hopes, we decided to portray Byleth as the antagonist as we wanted to further explore this theme. In doing so, we thought we could have players experience ‘the conflicts that arise from the clashing beliefs of the characters’ in both Three Houses and Three Hopes.”
Fire Emblem Warriors Three Hopes Reveal Trailer Images
It might be easy to think that developer Omega Force was attempting to pull the rug from under players with this switch-up. But character designer and supervisor at Three Houses’ developer Intelligent Systems, Toshiyuki Kusakihara, noted that it was important to the development team that Three Hopes was a new experience that didn’t tread the exact same story players had seen unfold in Three Houses.
“Considering the fact that Fire Emblem: Three Houses is being newly reborn as an action game and as part of a different genre, if we had used the same story, it wouldn’t have been exciting enough as this is something that many Three Houses players have already experienced,” said Kusakihara. “It isn’t that we are trying to outwit the players’ expectations. We are just constantly trying to think about and create what we believe can exceed players expectations and provide great satisfaction.”
For more, check out our review of Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes, or go back in time to read our review of the original Fire Emblem: Three Houses review.
Matt Purslow is IGN’s UK News and Features Editor.