Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes, the musou-like spin-off of Three Houses, is released today. 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 villain? Well, it all comes down to exploring the character’s charm further.
Speaking to IGN, Three Hopes director Hayato Iwata said, “We also had the Three Houses screenwriter write for this title. So when I spoke to this writer, I discussed the following point: ‘While Byleth represents the player, they are also one of the appealing characters at the same time. So it’s a necessary development to make Byleth an antagonist to further bring out the character’s charm.”
Producer Yosuke Hayashi offered a different point of view, explaining that making Byleth an NPC rather than a playable character allowed them to have their own interesting conflicts.
“We felt that the main theme of Three Houses was ‘the conflicts that arise from the clashing beliefs of the characters,’ but among the characters, Byleth was the only one who had no such conflict,” he said. “This is very natural, as Byleth is the main character and a character for whom the selected route is always shown as the correct way.
“In Three Hopes, we decided to portray Byleth as the antagonist because we wanted to explore this theme further. By doing this, we thought we would allow players to experience “the conflicts that arise from the characters’ clashing beliefs” in both Three Houses and Three Hopes.
Fire Emblem Warriors Three Hopes Reveals Trailer Images
It might be easy to think that developer Omega Force was trying to pull the rug out from among players with this switch. 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 enter the exact same storyline that players had seen in Three Houses.
“Given that Fire Emblem: Three Houses is being 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 a lot of Three Houses players already have. experienced,” said Kusakihara. “It’s not like we’re trying to outsmart the players’ expectations. We’re just constantly trying to think about and create what we think can exceed the players’ expectations and bring great satisfaction.”
For more, check out our Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes review, or step 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.