Fire Emblem: Three Houses devs on the game’s difficulty, why there wasn’t a Revelation-like route, Cindered Shadows, more
Last week, Famitsu spoke with Fire Emblem: Three Houses co-directors Toshiyuki Kusakihara and Genki Yokota. The two discussed fan reactions, the game’s difficulty, the new Cindered Shadows DLC, and more. Famitsu also asked why we didn’t end up seeing an all-encompassing route similar to Revelation in Fire Emblem Fates.
We have a full translation of the interview below. Note that if you haven’t completed the game yet, you may want to hold off on reading the discussion until later.
Lunatic Mode was Even Difficult for the Developers!?
It’s been about half a year since Three Houses was released; having gotten feedback from fans, how are you feeling right now?
Yokota: Three Houses was, for us, a challenge that we took upon ourselves to make something considerably new, so we’re pretty grateful for how the game has been received. There also seems to be a good number of people that’ve cleared multiple routes, so that makes me incredibly happy.
In a survey we held in a previous issue, the results indicated there was a great deal of players that had played through the game more than four times.
Kusakihara: We had thought that everybody would play around with one of the routes and then enjoy asking each other about their respective routes. It was surprising, though; more people ended up playing all of the routes than we had originally expected.
The number of people who responded to the survey that had played through Maddening mode was also pretty impressive.
Kusakihara: After the game was initially released, we heard that a lot of people weren’t satisfied with the game’s difficulty – Maddening mode seemed to be pretty well received with that crowd. Nevertheless, fine tuning the mode was actually incredibly difficult. The characters’ strength can vary greatly from player to player depending on how they spend their time at the monastery. We were mostly concerned with keeping everybody playing even in more challenging situations – that was pretty difficult.
Yokota: Maddening mode was revealed after the release of the main game for this entry, which, I think ended up being a good thing. The mode’s release was timed pretty well: people who had already completed the game’s main story could say “well, why don’t I go through it again,” and have another playthrough.
Lunatic mode is a series staple, but Maddening mode feels particularly difficult – even in the early chapters – doesn’t it?
Yokota: I think it’s pretty difficult if you’re not playing in New Game+, yes.
The beginning of the story’s second part could vary pretty intensely difficulty-wise, depending on their playstyle and the route they chose.
Yokota: Right. There was some discussion about that, and we concluded that some people would probably get stuck on a certain part, but since it’s Maddening mode there’s not much we could do about it. That’s how we came to how the game is currently balanced.
Fire Emblem appeals to a lot of core gamers, but there are a lot of casual fans who are interested in the characters and lore as well. The fact that the game has so much variety in terms of difficulty is pretty indicative of the wide range of fans, and that especially shines through in Three Houses.
Yokota: The game is comprised of a lot of “training” elements, so that even players that tend to shy away from strategy games can pick it up easily. I think that because of those elements, even players that aren’t really good at strategy games can tank their way through it pretty easily. In reality, I’m just really happy that a lot of people have been playing through it.
I’d like to switch over to talking about the story a bit. In all four routes the player can go through, each story ends with Fódlan at peace, yet somehow there’s still this air of sadness. In Fire Emblem Fates, Revelation served as the all-encompassing “route” that wrapped up the games’ story. Was there any reason you didn’t make something like Revelation again?
Kusakihara: If we had created a route for Three Houses like Revelation was to Fates, that route would have definitely ended up being perceived as the “correct” route. In Three Houses, each route is its own history, and we wanted players to be able to decide that for themselves. In this game, the leaders of the three houses have their own unwavering beliefs and worldviews that are unique to themselves. We wanted to model the story and its themes after a dilemma that was grounded in reality, so from the beginning there were never any plans to make something like Revelation.
Yokota: I actually really love the big all-encompassing finales, but Kusakihara-san was so passionate about not including it we decided not to go with it. I also felt like we might just end up doing the same thing we did in Fates… I was pretty worried about it, so from the beginning I had decided I’d just go along with Kusakihara-san’s decision.