Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes arrives in 2 month’s time, give or take. Ahead of its release, Nintendo and Koei Tecmo shared a 2nd trailer, which offers new insight on the mysterious purple haired character featured in the key artwork.
Lo and behind, they pulled a fast one on us! Previously thought to be a potential rival and/or antagonist, this character–Shez–is actually the protagonist of the game! Meanwhile, Byleth, only referred to as the “Ashen Demon” (his/her title from Three Houses) is the antagonist (so far).
As promised, I’ll be providing an analysis of the trailer. That said, our resident Warriors expert is currently busy and I’m not very familiar with Warriors gameplay, so I won’t be able to comment much about that.
Firstly, let’s quickly go through what we know about the protagonist, Shez.
In case you missed it, here’s their bio (from here):
A solitary mercenary. They sought to become a famed swordsman, but faced Jeralt’s Mercenaries during a fateful mission. They were defeated by the Ashen Demon. While training to seek revenge for their defeat, they met the Officer’s Academy students in the woods.
Like Byleth in Three Houses, you can choose to play as male or female Shez. As we’ve previously seen, Shez dual wields swords, including that suspicious silver relic-like weapon.
We don’t know the name of their sword, but do know their apparent starting class: Fluegel. The meaning of this seems to be “wing” in German, but I doubt there’s too much significance, because FE likes to borrow fancy names all the time.
What’s also curious is the last part of Shez’s bio. It suggests that Shez may run into Edelgard, Dimitri and Claude in a similar (same?) manner as Byleth in Three Houses. If so, it would be quite poetic, since Shez has “taken over” as the protagonist here.
Update: According to the press release via DenFamiNicoGamer, Shez runs into Byleth in the imperial year 1179, a year before Three Houses begins. He/she then begins wandering Fodlan, honing their skills for a rematch. Eventually, they bump into the students chased by bandits (so it’s 99% the same event as Byleth originally meeting the students).
Update 3: Also in the press release, but I missed it the first time. As pointed out by 黒凧 BlackKite via Twitter, Shez will choose to join the Black Eagles, Blue Lions or Golden Deer as a student. So their role won’t be completely the same as Byleth. (It makes sense since Shez is probably completely unknown to Garreg Mach, whereas Byleth at least had Jeralt as a common link.)
Update 4: Looking back, there’s a scene from the first trailer that could be related to this. Previously, people suspected that Edelgard was speaking to Lorenz. But in hindsight, it makes more sense if it’s Shez. The hair colour and sideburns seem to match. (Thanks to Tannith for noticing this.)
Before I forget, there is something I’d like to point out about Shez’s sword. During multiple parts of the trailer, his sword glows red. Not dissimilar to Byleth’s Sword of the Creator. So if they’re trying to make Shez into a pseudo-Byleth, they’re absolutely on the right track!
Next, we have some info for Shez’s version of Sothis. On the Japanese website their name is “Arval”, although the Japanese reads Larva. At the time of writing, their official English name hasn’t been revealed (but I imagine it’ll be Arval).
Update 6: According to the official subtitles for the trailer, “Arval” will also be used in the English version.
You may notice that you can go from Arval to Larva if you move the L to the opposite side of the name.
Anyway, here’s their bio (from here):
A mysterious being that appeared in the protagonist’s dream. Rescued the protagonist before they were killed by the Ashen Demon and speaks to them as if living in their head. Occasionally acts as if something’s missing.
This is almost the same as Sothis’s profile, except Sothis saved Byleth from bandits. As expected from Arval’s position on the key art, facing opposite Sothis, Arval has a similar/same role as Sothis, but for Shez. There’s a decent chance the “missing piece” inferred in their bio will be important later on.
Moving on, we learn that Three Hopes will feature three paths, akin to Three Houses. So far, it’s hard to assess the scope of these paths. But knowing Koei Tecmo, we can probably expect something similar to Three Houses.
The three paths are Scarlet Blaze (Edelgard), Azure Gleam (Dimitri) and Golden Wildfire (Claude). All three paths reference “fire” in some way.
It’s not as obvious for Azure Gleam, but more noticeable when you look at the Japanese reading [青燐]. The second kanji (which literally translates to “phosphorus” and perhaps infers phosphorescence) has the kanji for 火 (fire) inside. (Likewise for the other two paths in Japanese).
Before this trailer dropped, fans were speculating that this game would follow a singular “golden” (ideal) path. However, contrary to expectations, it seems they’ll be going the way of Three Houses again! Hopefully they’ve learned their lessons though and don’t stretch themselves too thin…
Around this time, we’re also shown the new designs for Dedue and Hilda–Dimitri and Claude’s retainers (although maybe “honorary” retainer for Hilda). Hubert also appears, but we saw his design in the first trailer.
Update 2: Actually, although we’ve seen Hubert’s new design, there is something new in his footage. Towards the right, you can just about see somebody who resembles time-skip Ferdinand. I don’t know why Hubert is seemingly casting magic his way though (or is he aiming past him?).
Update: Thanks to DenFamiNicoGamer, here’s high-ish quality portraits for the leaders and their retainers:
Also, here’s Flayn for all you fans. She seems unchanged, although it makes sense. It’s implied the new designs are only for time-skip students and Flayn doesn’t have a time-skip design.
Update 4: Something I skipped over earlier. Moments after Flayn’s appearance, there’s a quick scene where numerous magic circles appear underneath soldiers. I won’t guess who or what created these circles. However, you’ve probably noticed the pattern of the circles are similar to those of standard magic circles.
Besides the ominous colour, the main difference is that there are 6 large runes versus 3. Like the standard magic circle, the runes are based on astrological symbols (the Sun, Neptune and, I think, ascending node are visible). Of course, there’s also that creepy eye symbol in the centre. (Thanks to QueenOfRice for spotting this.)
Update 5: Alternatively, as Red Devil pointed out in the comments, the big runes may be letters from the Greek alphabet. In which case, they could be ψ (psi), Ω (capital omega), ξ (xi), χ (chi), hard to see–maybe δ (delta) and Θ (capital theta).
Now for some gameplay!
The game follows a 3-part cycle. First, you have the Preparation part, where you can get ready for battle by exploring your base camp. This mirrors the Garreg Mach Monastery part in Three Houses, where you can freely roam around, shop for supplies and socialise with your allies etc.
At the Training Grounds, you can choose two allies to train. Although there seems to be a lot of extra space, so maybe you can unlock more slots. This can be used to level up and master your classes.
Shez can be seen class-changing to presumably Myrmidon, Dark Mage and Cavalier. So it seems like class options will be extremely flexible, just like in Three Houses.
During this segment, Mercedes and Lorenz make an appearance.
Of note, the Mercedes screenshot appeared on Amazon Japan before the 2nd trailer was published, but it was quickly taken down. If you look opposite the table, you can see Shez. So presumably they didn’t want people to figure out Shez was playable…
The second part is the War Map part. This is pretty self-explanatory. You’ll be presented with a portion of the Fodlan map and you’ll make choices to affect the flow of battle.
From the looks of things, you will choose different zones to liberate, which will then send you to the corresponding battlefield. There are also map events, like the appearance of Merchant Anna, plus “extra quests”. One of these events has you exchanging gold for Advanced Seals.
Combat Arts and Battalions for Three Houses make a return.
Combat Arts have a Cooldown time (presumably in seconds) and a Durability cost. At least two Combat Arts/Magic can be equipped, to the R + Y and R + X slots.
Meanwhile, Battalions seem to grant passive abilities, like reducing damage from axes.
The third and final part is the Battle part. Y’know, the hack and slash Warriors gameplay.
Similar to the original FE Warriors, you can issue orders on the map. At this time, there are two noteworthy discoveries. First, it seems Edelgard’s new sacred axe is called Labraunda. Secondly, the red-haired female is indeed Monica.
Not only that, but she has a sacred tome: Wind Caller’s Genesis, likely linked to Macuil. This is a long shot, but perhaps Monica has the Crest of Macuil in this history; in Three Houses, no human bore the Crest of Macuil.
Update 5: It was brought to my attention by ptWolv022 that bearers of the Crest of Macuil do/did exist in the Adrestian Empire. Edelgard mentions this in her B support with Constance. So more accurately, no known humans had the crest in Three Houses. But it could be possible that Monica had it, since she’s from a noble family (Ochs).
Update 4: I kind of skipped over this, but I figured I should mention it. When the player is selecting Edelgard, there’s a female archer near the bottom of the war map. Given this is the Black Eagles, there’s a high chance it’s Bernadetta. The hair style is different (not too surprising), but the shade seems to match.
Another mechanic from Three Houses is back: Adjutants, where you can pair up with allies for benefits.
Like before, adjutants can provide assist attacks or defend you from harm. Originally, adjutants could only do one or the other, but they can do both here. There’s a separate gauge for assist attacks and assist guards, which depletes after they trigger (and presumably builds back up).
Somehow, you can trigger “Partner Specials” with your adjutant. These are reminiscent of Gambit Boosts, but with only two characters.
Towards the end, we have various dramatic scenes. One of them is very quick, but catches the eye. On the left, could that be Hilda’s brother, THE Holst? If the hair colour wasn’t a clue, his cape features the Crest of Goneril.
Meanwhile, who is his foe on the right? That hair colour and brawler-type class… Some people speculate it could be Count Bergliez–Caspar’s father. I’d probably have to agree!
There’s also another mystery character who briefly appears. Perhaps somebody from Almyra–maybe even a relative of Claude’s?
Update 2: Fans have pointed out that a character’s hand that greatly resembles Rodrigue’s can be seen in one of the brief scenes. The white gloves and buttoned sleeves are very telling. Here’s an amusing (hacked) reference from Three Houses.
The final piece of the puzzle: In addition to selecting male or female Shez, you can also choose male or female Byleth (although they’re again simply called the “Ashen Demon”)! So if you were worried about male Byleth skipping this game, you’ve nothing to fear!
The Japanese trailer has one more thing: the limited edition of the game (still not announced for North America…) has been updated slightly. The 2 previously unknown acrylic figures are of male and female Shez. Previously it was assumed to be Shez and Byleth.
One last thing. The eShop listing for the game puts the download size at 13.6 GB for the North American and Europe version or 14.6 GB for the Japanese version. Previously, it was listed as 15.6 GB.
I don’t think there’s any cause for concern though; sometimes games go through graphical and/or audio optimisation near the end.
If you’ve noticed anything I’ve missed, please do share in the comments, on Facebook, Twitter, etc.