Fire Emblem: Three Houses devs on the game’s origins, working with Koei Tecmo, Japanese title, Expansion Pass, more
Could you elaborate on that?
Yokota: We thoroughly changed the students’ faces and voices after the 5 year time skip because they were basically still kids growing up before then. That is but one of the many charms of this game. We’ve revealed what each of the heads of the 3 houses look like after the time-skip, but we haven’t shown what the other students are like. We really hope players will look forward to seeing this.
That almost seems like an entire extra game!
Kusakihara: If we’re talking just in terms of content, I’d say the volume is two or three games worth in “Three House” – a first for the series. We worked really hard to design the characters as adults, so we hope fans will appreciate it.
With the release getting closer, do you have any advice for those playing the game?
Yokota: In the beginning, the most important decision you have make is which house to go with. But even though there are specific attributes for each, as the difficulty of the game will not change either way, I think it is fine to just pick the one you think looks the coolest.
Kusakihara: Since you can also scout out students from other classes, we also want players to be able to recruit students they take a fancy to.
Is it possible to headhunt all the students of another class?
Yokota: It’s possible but I think it’s fairly difficult. There will be a lot of players who want to complete the game without suffering losses, but I think the first playthrough is pretty difficult, so I would recommend playing the game one step at a time.
There are now tea breaks the player can use to get to know their comrades better, and I get the impression that the mode has had a lot of time spent on it.
Kusakihara: We came up with the idea for that mid-way through development.
Yokota: I remember Kusakihara turning to me and saying, “Mr Yokota, I have a really evil idea.” When he showed it me, it really was quite evil! (laughs) While I thought that fans of the characters would probably be really happy with it, I knew it would make development extra tough…
There are different varieties of tea breaks. Do you have any hints as to the best ones?
Kusakihara: We designed each profile in the register so that it would act as a hint, so before you send out the invitations I think it’s best to look there first. Also different characters like different types of tea, so I think looking in the register will also give the players some hints for that too.
Seems like the register is pretty key. Also, when I was looking at the support list I noticed a section on there with an ‘S’ rank and I was wondering if this would be related to some sort of marriage possibility…
Kusakihara: You noticed that! (laughs) First off, I’m sorry to say that there is no system in this game for getting married or having kids. Once the game has been cleared it is possible to get an S rank compatibility with just one of your students though.
So there’ll be no way of passing on your abilities to a child?
Yokota: Children will not appear, but we’ve made sure to include plenty of extra action and drama from the academy and the battlefield. So while it’s sad that we won’t be able to bring forward a system that was present in Awakening and Fates, we’ve added that ability to reach an S with a support character for players to work towards.
I see. So there’s still something extra to do after the game has been cleared. There is also a system in this game for moving up the military ranks. Do you have any advice for that?
Kusakihara: There are probably times in other games when waiting until the rank meter to be maxed out before advancing in rank is best, but in this game I think it’s better to change as soon as possible.
Why is that?
Kusakihara: The set amount of bonus battle experience is higher for the high-ranking soldiers, so even though you are fighting the same number of opponents, the higher ranking will always improve more quickly. And besides that, the rate at which the skills of the higher ranked soldiers improves is also higher.
Yokota: Mr Kusakihara got really got into developing that rank up system at early on. Since this is an academy, the important things are ability increases and evaluations.
Kusakihara: Actually for the skill development I got a lot of ideas from Koei’s (at the time) game, Zill O’ll. I used bits of that as a guide and borrowed things like the names of the separate divisions of the army. I made sure to get permission from Koei Tecmo though! (laughs)
Basically speaking, is it best to focus on increasing lots of different specialist skills?
Yokota: Yes. It’s better to go for an all-rounder, and I think mixing and matching your skills will also make it easier to rise up the ranks.
Sometimes requests will come from students asking to change their focus. Does anything happen if they do?
Kusakihara: This is really intended as a way for the teacher to better understand their students, so nothing will really change within the game. This part was also intended to highlight the student’s ability path, so for those students who have yet to decide on their path, I think it’s worthwhile to listen to hear out requests.
Yokota: But if it just helps you to understand their character better we are good with that.
Do you have any tips for those coming to the series for the first time?
Kusakihara: Because you have some freedom in those opening moves, I recommend setting the formation of all your knights quickly to make the battle easier. And then, though this is more aimed at those with experience of the series, unlike in the games until now where you chose allies based on their compatible skills, it is better this time around to choose from those who you have a good relationship with. I think remembering that can be really useful in battle.
I’ll remember that. Changing the subject a little, I see that with the release of the game there is also an Expansion Pass available. I’m quite interested to hear about that…
Yokota: On the day of release there will be DLC available that makes it possible to change the school uniform of the main character. Initially that will only be for the main character, but eventually we plan to make it possible to change the uniforms of other students too.
What type of additional episodes will be included with the Expansion Pass?
Yokota: These will be spin-offs that won’t affect the main story or the post-game either. We’re also thinking about introducing some new characters. We’re talking something fairly big here, so I think fans might have to wait a while. Also, aside from the expansion pass there will be a free update post-launch to add a new ‘Lunatic’ difficulty. Again, there might be a bit of a wait for this, but I think skilled players can definitely look forward to it.
Seems like there will be a lot to play through. Finally, do you have a message for our readers?
Kusakihara: It’s been quite a long time since the initial reveal, but we’re finally able to bring this game to the world. I think it will meet all of your expectations, so please look forward to it.
Yokota: Whichever of the three houses you choose, there are lots of different ways to spend your time around the academy, and I think the player can rest assured that whatever choice they make will have its own merits. This is a game that can vary greatly depending on the playstyle of the player, so I think there will be a lot of players asking each other what they did in certain situations, and that’s great. Prepare to write your own name into the annals of history!!
Translation by provided by Oni Dino and Corks on behalf of Nintendo Everything
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