Thanks to SatsumaFSoysoy, who’s translated a lot of Three Hopes (and Three Houses) info in the past, we now have an English translation of this interview.
You can check it out on Reddit, where it was originally posted, or right here.
 is me. If there are things written here you find questionable, assume it is my fault before jumping to conclusions about the devs.
Here is the link to the interview for convenient checking.
Yokoda Genki — Affiliated with Nintendo. Acted as Supervisor of this game.
Kusakihara Toshiyuki — Affiliated with Intelligent Systems. Acted as Character Designer and Supervisor of this game.
Hayashi Yousuke — Affiliated with Koei Tecmo. Producer of this game.
Iwata Hayato — Affiliated with Koei Tecmo. Director of this game.
A game that was only possible with these three companies
–We heard that FE Warriors is a game that Koei Tecmo proposed and brought to life. Please tell us how making a Warriors game from Fire Emblem Three Houses came to be decided.
Yokoda: When considering a sequel to FE Warriors with Koei Tecmo (KT) and Intelligent Systems, the three companies decided that it was best to use the game that KT and IS recently developed together, FE Three Houses, as the subject. FE Three Houses was born from the connection created with FE Warriors, and it feels like it has come full circle with FE Three Hopes. I feel that development began extremely quickly from that.
Hayashi: Actually, we had originally proposed a “FE Warriors 2” with completely different planned content from what we have now. But after KT developed FE Warriors, then went on to join the development of the original game of FE Three Houses. From this flow of events, the three companies thought about “a FE Warriors sequel that could only be possible with us”, and we ended up deciding on the direction of FE Three Hopes.
–This “Another Story” style of writing with content that differs from the original game feels similar to Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity. Did the response to that game have any part in helping decide to write a different story for this?
Hayashi: The end result may feel similar, but we were not conscious of that at all. FE Three Houses was a game with multiple stories for each individual route. If this game were to be based off of FE Three Houses, writing a “What-if” story was inevitable.
–The game mechanics follow that of FE Warriors, with changes and new additions. Were there any parts that were especially improved or given a lot of attention?
Iwata: I would say the most improved aspect that’s easy to see would be that we enhanced the “tactical” and “RPG” elements. There’s a lot to say about what was appealing about FE Three Houses, but I would point to that, compared to the mechanics of previous titles in the series, there was great freedom in training characters, and many ways of interacting with allies.
The Warriors series is known for the exhilaration of being a one-man army, and the central gameplay is the action in combat. Of course, while we did also improve that aspect, we thought that “improving gameplay outside of combat” would be key to the feel of FE Three Hopes. As a result, the gameplay cycle of Battle Prep, War Map and Battle, each part heavily influencing each other, was born.
Yokoda: FE Warriors didn’t have a hub like the Garreg Mach Monastery, but since this is a Warriors game of FE Three Houses, creating a hub was an important point. Because of how the story unfolds, Garreg Mach Monastery is no longer the hub, but we would like it if people could enjoy interacting with and strengthening allies at the Base Camp.
Another big thing was the War Map, because we have this, I think it has become easier to envision where and how the war is taking place on Fodlan. Also, since players are free to advance as they like, they can take a detour to strengthen allies, get some items, or just go straight to the objective. We’ve managed to add more “choices” here.
Iwata: Combat mechanics from FE Warriors such as the “Weapon Triangle”, the “Stun Gauge”, “Pair Up” and such have been adjusted to reflect the results of training and interacting with characters better. New mechanics that have been added have been adjusted in the same way as well. Creating a strong link between factors of the combat to gameplay outside of combat has given birth to a new FE Warriors, and we would like players to experience that.
–Tell us more about what you particularly paid attention to or focused on to recreate the feel of FE Three Houses.
Kusakihara: For me, the things that comes to mind when I think of FE Three Houses are such as how characters from various backgrounds move around dynamically and can be emphasized with a lot. You can experience their youth. Also, the land of Fodlan really feels like it could be a real place. The cruelty of people who once shared a classroom taking each other’s’ lives for the sake of things that can’t be compromised on, and the epicness of the story involving that… Things like that.
In the end, I think this game [3Hopes] quite resembles FE Three Houses. I heard early on that many staff who worked on the original game [3H?] joined this project as well. Therefore, it really seems like the staff that worked on FE Three Houses, who knew best the atmosphere of that game, created this one, is what I thought. In that sense, I looked on with great relief.
Yokoda: The basic impression of FE Three Houses that Kusakihara-san held was important, and I think it was big that KT accepted that impression, and were constantly thinking about what “the feel of FE Three Houses” was. And then there’s the theme of “Choice” from FE Three Houses. The inadvertent accumulation of actions born from “choices”, in other words freedom of gameplay was inlaid into the game by them.
Iwata: There, it’s by making the characters feel alive that the story can be emphasized with, and also creates dilemmas in the “choices” that are presented. In the new “tactical action” parts of FE Three Hopes, we put effort into making characters feel unique .
This title takes after FE Three Houses, in that any character can freely choose their Class, but that gave us the concern of “Wouldn’t that weaken individuality on the action side?” Of course, there are differences born from growth tendencies such as stats or skills, but in a game where you control characters, having just numbers as characters’ quirks would be a shame, you know. That’s where we introduced “Personal Skills” as a factor to create variety in the action. I would like if it people tried every character, and felt their personality shine through in combat!
–Personal Skills seem to quite inspired by components from FE Three Houses, what was the approach for adding flair to them?
Iwata: Since the Warriors series are action games, we thought that the difference between classes or characters should be easy to grasp in gameplay too. For that, we implemented “Class Actions” that symbolize the quirks of a Class, and “Personal Skills” that differentiate characters.
Both of these were based on the important premise of aligning with the impression of the Classes or characters. There were occasionally some debates about Personal Skills that got wild. For example, there was staff who went, “Hubert wouldn’t do that in my opinion”, and such (laughs). Also, there were things like the class leaders, who were made stronger on purpose. That being said, we tried not to make extreme differences in strength between characters based on feel. Also, we made every character synergize with their assigned speciality Classes. Besides that, there were many other constraints that were set, which made suggesting ideas quite difficult, but it was a fun job.
–This game gave every character new “2 years later” appearances. The original game already had looks for the characters before and after the five-year time skip, so was there any trouble in coming up with designs for the characters that are meant to be between this period?
Kusakihara: As a rule of thumb, we kept in mind that the characters’ ages should be in-between their student days and the five-year time skip, and while we kept the general image for clothing and colours from the time skip designs, we redid the designs from the ground up. Since this game’s story differs from the original work, many characters circumstances or positions have changed, so we put effort into reflecting that in parts of their design such as hairstyle or accessories.
And we were very conscious of the underpinning fact that this was a two year time skip in a world where they didn’t meet the protagonist of the original game, the Professor. For example I think you can see that direction reflected in Marianne or Bernadetta, and such. What do you think, readers?
Iwata: This game’s design was handled by Kurahana Chinatsu-san and Kusakihara-san, so they deeply understood the changes to characters’ backgrounds, and managed to apply that to the designs. Purely as a fan, I look forward to every time the designs are shared to me.
For example, Raphael is wearing pauldrons handmade from pot lids, and the variations from the creative process were very much worth seeing (laughs). Also, to be honest, when I first saw Bernadetta’s hairstyle I was confused, like, “What’s this?!” But now, I think it was inevitable. I love it.
–Unlike the original game, this is a story about the new protagonist Shez. There must have been a new story written from the perspective of Byleth as well. Please tell us the reasoning behind not only purposely creating a new protagonist, but also turning the previous protagonist into the rival character.
Hayashi: I think the foundation of FE Three Houses that Kusakihara-san cherished was the theme of “actually experiencing the dilemma of having a different world-view based on your point of view”. The way each class leader was portrayed varied greatly based on the route played. The only thing devoid of dilemma was Byleth. It was natural since they were the protagonist, but they were always a neutral existence no matter the route.
Since this game’s story is a what-if story, we wanted to dig deeper into this theme from FE Three Houses, and give that experience to the players. To that end, we wrote Byleth as the third-party character “Ashen Demon”, an enemy that this game’s protagonist, Shez, had to defeat.
It’s people who have emphasized with Byleth that can feel the dilemma behind this, and I think we added an extra dimension to the theme of “dilemma based on point of view” from FE Three Houses by having the two titles, FE Three Houses and FE Three Hopes.
Yokoda: When it was decided that it was going to be a what-if story, I had the hunch that “If there was a different protagonist, wouldn’t I be able to see things from a different side, and observe different kinds of relationships?”, and so I thought this proposal was interesting. I was especially excited to see Byleth from an outside perspective. They were a mysterious figure even in the original game, after all!
Kusakihara: Personally, I felt that if we were to reincarnate FE Three Houses as a Warriors game, it would be better to give players who had already played the original game something fresh instead of using the same story again.
And in the original game, I feel that the depiction of the scary side of Sothis as a goddess with absolute power, the sort of primal fear humans feel when faced with a storm or natural disaster, was something that wasn’t done, so I hoped that would be delved into deeper.
–We felt that the protagonist, as well as the personal Class Fluegel, were quite powerful and beginner friendly. Was ease of play considered with fans of tactical games in mind?
Iwata: Exactly. Since the original game was a tactical game, we considered that there would be many players who are not good at action games playing this game, so there was a lot of tuning done in that direction everywhere.
For example, the protagonist’s personal Class, Fluegel, is one of those things. Since they’re the protagonist, we designed it to be less quirky than other Classes and easy to handle, on the basis that they will be controlled for the longest throughout the game. This is a bit of trivia, but during development the Class was much more powerful, and many in the development team raised the sentiment that “this Class is so strong I don’t feel like using anything else”, so we have already made adjustments to keep it in check (laughs).
Besides that, we made allies’ performance with the “Issue Orders” mechanic much more effective compared to FE Warriors or other Warriors games. If one raises allies properly in Battle Prep, and gives out appropriate orders in battle, one can tackle stages like in a tactical game. Also, for people who excel at action games, they can experience tougher combat by selecting the Hard difficulty, so please give it a try.
–Please tell us if Nintendo and IS gave particular instructions to KT about anything, such as “Please do this” or “Please don’t do that”.
Yokoda: To players who played FE Three Houses, I think that Byleth, the relationship with allies, and the bond between allies are very important things. Therefore, it was decided early on with IS and KT that having Shez as the new protagonist shouldn’t create anything that negates relationships that have been built up.
Next, if this game were to be like FE Three Houses and advance the plot using a calendar system, or keep the same training and growth systems from FE Three Houses, we thought that would be terrible for players who have played through FE Three Houses multiple times already, and so the three companies decided to maintain the strengths of these aspects while changing the mechanics entirely.
Kusakihara: As Yokoda-san said, the story was the part that was given the most thought. If the result was something like “Even though the Professor tried so hard, the students were better off without them…” it would be too sad of an experience for players…
Also, when I heard about the plans for this project, I got a strong impression that unlike the original game which had a high proportion of it be life at the Officer’s Academy, the war would be the main focus. Therefore I made the suggestion that, “If we had tactical-like gameplay based on stealing others’ land like in territory-stealing games [he refers to the Kunitori genre of games, similar to Civ], wouldn’t that be an interesting way to represent FE Three Houses as a Warriors game?”.
Iwata: In terms of formulating the story, as Yokoda-san and Kusakihara-san said, we made sure to not include developments or factors that would negate FE Three Houses. The story and characters remained in the hands of the writing team that worked on FE Three Houses, so as soon as the direction was decided the details were left to them entirely. Thus, my position was more like that of a fan, and I was excited every time progress was made on the plot (laughs).
In terms of game mechanics, the Battle Map where one could see territory expansion on a map of Fodlan didn’t actually exist in our proposal to Nintendo and IS. As said earlier, we received feedback from Kusakihara-san of “I want that territory-stealing feel”, so we added that. To be honest, I thought, “Here comes a tough order…” (laughs). We happened to be considering elements for game progression in lieu of the calendar from FE Three Houses, so we fit it there. In the end, I think it was a good suggestion that made the game’s progression more immersive.
Also, as a game that has gameplay from various genres such as tactical, RPG, and action all packed in, it became a game with lots of explanation needed, so we received a lot of ideas on how the tutorials should be structured. I remember that every time we shared a new version, the structure was revamped. Thanks to that, we created a flow that is easy to get into, understandable by just playing naturally. You can experience the flow of the tutorials by playing the demo.
–It seems assets were not reused from FE Three Houses, and are instead newly made for this game, so what kind of work did KT have to do?
Iwata: KT was responsible for creating the CG resources for FE Three Houses. Because of that, the documents and resources needed for asset creation were all organized in an environment where they could be referenced. But, we did not just reuse those resources.
This game was created on the latest version of KT’s proprietary “Katana Engine”, and we tried to greatly improve the visual presentation. As a title created three years after the release of FE Three Houses, we wanted to put out something that has been powered up visually as well. This put a huge burden on staff such as the CG artists or programmers, which I feel bad about (laughs). But, I think you can experience the results in game!
–Finally, a message to the fans who have been waiting for this game, please.
Yokoda: This may be a what-if story on the land of Fodlan, but is also a story that may or may not exist. Which story is the official version is up for everyone playing to decide. The three companies have made sure that this game is enjoyable to those who have played FE Three Houses, so we would like for you to relax and play this game.
Also, I of course hope that people who have not played FE Three Houses would give this a try as well, and I think it will be enjoyable to even them. Playing FE Three Houses after FE Three Hopes may lead to some new discoveries too. Please see for yourself the alternate growth of the characters through FE Three Hopes. By the way, when KT suggested the “Expeditions”, I thought it was very interesting as a Warriors version of Tea Parties. I would be pleased if you could enjoy Expeditions elegantly as well!
Kusakihara: Through the fiery passion of many people, another version of FE Three Houses has been completed. I believe it is something people who didn’t play the original game can enjoy as well. For those who have played through the original game, while this is positioned as an alternate story, I think you will be able to interact with this world with a fresh state of mind, with the fate of the students who have lead a different life, or the supplementation of parts that were not shown in the original, and so I would be pleased if you would play this and see for yourself the fate of this Fodlan.
Hayashi: FE is a series of “strategy RPGs”, and the Warriors series games are “tactical action”, both genres created from the combination of two types of gameplay. And if we were to name the genre for this game, I think it would be “strategy role-playing tactical action”. …That’s quite long (wry smile). But, you really can experience all four types of gameplay. We managed to complete a game like that. One might think “That’s impossible”, but they should think “Truly!” after experiencing it. No matter if you’re someone who likes the Warriors series, someone who likes the FE series, or someone who likes FE Three Houses, it is a game that everyone can enjoy. Please experience it.