As a guy who has spent roughly 500 hours playing Fire Emblem Three Houses, I am more than happy to have an opportunity to visit these characters I have come to love but in a new game experience. At the Nintendo Direct on February 9th I got my wish. Nintendo announced Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes, which appears to be an alternate story told in the world of Fodlan. Unable to stop geeking out about it, I thought it would be fun to scour the trailer for secrets and then to share some of my personal theories and hopes about the game.
The trailer opens on a group of soldiers marching. Two armies meet and clash at Garreg Mach. The armor worn by each group of soldiers is similar and none of it (at least to my ability to recognize) particularly matched any known force from Three Houses. The initial group of soldiers with their mighty shields put me in mind of Adrestia while the soldiers they are fighting with touches of blue on their gear suggest the Kingdom – but the colors may not be particularly significant in this case. As they fight, we see a single white flower growing from the ground next to the bare hand of an injured or slain soldier. The boot of a marcher crushes the flower. In my mind, the flower brings to mind Rhea, who always wears a flower of a similar style in her hair.
After the title card comes up, we get a look at Garreg Mach from a distance, this time with clear blue skies. A voiceover from someone begins – “the cycle of this world; I will not allow it to perish with you.” This voice would seem to be a new character as it is not one I recognize; it brings to mind Rhea but does not quite sound like her. While this is taking place, the camera is zooming in on the female form of Byleth, who slowly turns to face the viewer. The shot’s zoom destination is her eye, with the image transforming into a kaleidoscope of bright white before fading into an image of Edelgard, axe at the ready, standing on an empty battlefield.
The view then changes to gameplay and we change locations. Edelgard is on a narrow path in the wooded mountains of Fodlan. At the bottom left of the screen is her character portrait along with a green bar (likely her health bar) and two yellow bars (most likely for her special attacks as they are essentially identical to the ones in Hyrule Warriors; one of them even has an A button icon showing that it can be pressed to take an action). At the top right corner is the map of the area, showing a number of flashing blue and red points. The blue circles with upward arrows would appear to be friendly units while the red circles with crowns are probably enemy units tied to an objective. I say this because there are also very small red circles on other parts of the map which suggest either single enemy units of small clusters of mooks to be cleared out. There are a few keeps on the map as well, castle symbols indicating their location along with a colored background on the surrounding map tile to show whether the keep is under enemy or ally control. Finally, on a section at the top of the map where two paths are not connected, there is a small wing symbol on one side. Perhaps this indicates the ability to fly across with a winged unit? That would be an interesting mechanic to take advantage of the unique way that fliers move around.
We get to see Edelgard in motion here, making three standard swipes with her axe before the camera angle changes. She charges up a big attack and slams her weapon down, creating a vortex that scoops up all of the enemy units she is fighting. This appears to be a regular combo as neither of her special bars are spent, but it’s hard to say for certain. In a voiceover, Edelgard says “I seek to destroy the irrational power structure that shackles Fodlan.” This sentence makes perfect sense for Edelgard and is consistent with her motives in Three Houses. At the end of this sequence we see her turning to face another figure who is mostly obscured by the camera placement. It is very difficult to discern who this person might be as a result. I have two theories. It could potentially be Lorenz based on the bit of hair we can see, but that feels unlikely given that with the exception of Hubert, this trailer focuses exclusively on Byleth and the three lords. There is one other character who is unique to this trailer that I think might be our mystery person here. The other noticeable feature here is the sort of tassle-like things coming down from the puffy part at the shoulder on the character’s sleeve; this outfit is a Garreg Mach student uniform. If it is the new character, then that character is likely a student or at least masquerading as a student.
Next we see a cutscene of Dimitri holding up a sword outside of a building (again, presumably the monastery). The sword gleams brightly in the sunlight and then we cut to a scene of Dimitri fighting. This is pretty similar to the one with Edelgard with only a couple of notable exceptions. Dimitri has a lance icon next to his special bars whereas there was no weapon icon for Edelgard. This could suggest that Dimitri can switch weapons (particularly since he was just holding a sword in the preceding cutscene) but that mechanic isn’t necessarily unavailable to Edelgard. Mechanics unlock over time in games, after all, and the battle we see with Edelgard is probably very early game and could even be a tutorial. The other notable difference is that Dimitri is on a different map. More cliffs, no trees, and a number of wooden fortifications including fences close by and taller walls off in the distance. Dimitri performs a few basic attacks before transitioning into a lengthy combo involving multiple jabs with his spear and multiple changes to the camera angle. Again this doesn’t appear to consume a special bar but the combos feel too big and flashy to be standard attacks – it could be that this test footage isn’t accurately reflecting the resource management of battle or maybe there’s another type of special attack that uses a different resource. One final note: Dimitri is saying “if the Kingdom is ever to part ways with our bloody past, this is the path we must walk.” Similar to Edelgard, this reflects his themes from Three Houses.
After the Dimitri sequence we move on to Claude, who has his bow drawn with an arrow nocked and ready to fire. This seems to be the cinematic tied to a finisher because it immediately transitions into combat, Claude firing into a crowd of enemies and then making some standard attacks. He appears to make melee attacks by swinging his bow at foes while his finishers and specials are more focused on flurries of arrows. One thing I noticed at this point is that Claude’s bow is the Failnaught, his signature Heroes Relic from the main game. This prompted me to go back and check the other character’s weapons; while Dimitri is definitely wielding Areadbhar, Edelgard is not carrying Aymr during her combat scene.
I want to hover on Claude’s battle scene for just a moment to point out a couple of things. Behind the group of enemies Claude is fighting there is a glowing blue apparatus of some type, a crystal hovering over a roughly arrow-shaped based floating above the ground. It’s hard to say if this is part of the world or just a UI element, but my hypothesis is the former due to the changes to the map. Notice how on Claude’s map there are not any circular crown enemy icons but instead there are a number of red diamonds. These diamonds might indicate a different type of objective, one which Claude is succeeding at by clearing out this group of enemies. Finally, towards the upper right corner of the map there is an icon on the map that looks something like a gate. Perhaps changing enough of the red diamonds to blue is the key to opening the gate? Another one is visible a short distance away behind Claude as well, only showing up in the shot when the camera rotates during his big attack. Like the other lords, Claude is speaking over his portion of the trailer. He says “I have ambitions Edelgard, real ones.” More vague than his companions but suitable given the secrecy he is known for.
Here we get a pretty significant change as the image switches to the world map of Fodlan. Edelgard is speaking over the map, but here we see a different character portrait than before. Her long hair is braided to the side and she is wearing a gold tiara with small but sharp spikes. As she says “our troops are preparing to advance from camp, which is located here,” a small fortress appears on the map at the edge of a zone that is highlighted red. She then says “and our destination, Garreg Mach, is over here,” and a golden chess piece appears at the opposite end of the red field. As we learn in the next screenshot, this map appears to be the mechanism through which missions are selected in the overworld.
In this image, we see the red highlighted area on the original map broken up into smaller zones, one of which is blue. There are four zones in total, three marked with silver chess pieces and one with the large gold chess piece that we know to be Garreg Mach Monastery. The icon hovers over a house in the red zone to the southwest of the blue zone. A dialogue box on the right says “a house belonging to refugees fleeing the town.” In a box within the dialogue box, there are rewards listed, which at this point consists only of a single icon that is unknown or at least previously undiscovered at this point in the game; my guess is that it is an ingredient or crafting material. At the very right edge of the image, you can see the fortress that represents the base camp Edelgard described prior to this image coming on screen. In the upper left corner, text reads “War Map” with smaller text beneath that reading “Battle of Garreg Mach.” My theory is that this is a chapter name; the silver chess pieces represent smaller battles that will not bring the chapter to an end while the gold chess piece would be the main battle of the chapter.
The cursor then moves over to the silver chess piece in the same zone as the house, and new mission info pops up. We can see that the missions will show an enemy level (in this case level 8) and a broad objective – “clear a path for the conquest of Garreg Mach by defeating the Church of Seiros army.” Whoa now, wait a minute! Defeating the church of Seiros army? If you’ve played Three Houses then you know that early in the game, your character is aligned with the church of Seiros. Yet the goal here is clearly to fight against them. Since you’re aligned with Edelgard at this point, that does make sense, but there are some broader story implications here that I want to explore later. In the reward description, we can see that there are mission ranks based on the quality of your performance as you can earn a bullion (a basic item exchanged for money) by clearing the mission on S rank. There’s also a capture reward (presumably for capturing the zone and turning it blue) and this one really gets my attention: activity points recovered (1). Another small detail with big implications. The presence of activity points suggests that at least some of the social systems from Three Houses like having meals or faculty training are going to be in play here.
Here we get another cutscene with Edelgard speaking. At first we see her brandishing her weapon (again, not Aymr) and then it cuts to this shot of her marching alongside Hubert. Uh, Hubert, you okay dude? You may notice that her design is different than the one we saw earlier, which was her standard design as a student at the monastery. Both Edelgard and Hubert’s designs are evocative of yet distinct from their timeskip designs in Three Houses. Will this game also feature a similar timeskip? Given that the enemy levels for the mission we saw earlier were only 8, I have to imagine that this is still somewhat early game. It is possible that if there is a timeskip, it happens very early and the time preceding the skip is essentially the game’s tutorial. Edelgard’s voice line while this plays out says “you sit around and wait for a miracle? Or will you help me seize control of my fate?” Towards the end of this line we get quick shots of the new designs for the other two lords, both Dimitri and Claude popping up on screen for brief moments. These shots are small but action packed and there is a particular frame I want to focus on.
Prior to this shot, we see Dimitri whirl his lance about and then stab it downward, where it meets another weapon. For only a brief moment, the camera pulls back and we see an indistinct figure holding the weapon in question. Notice her hair? Bright pink. You can also just see the silhouette of the weapon in her hand, and it appears to be an axe. Finally, above her is a wyvern which is currently being ridden by Claude (it’s hard to see him in this shot but it is clearly him in the next frame). A pink haired axe wielder closely affiliated with Claude? It is very likely that the figure Dimitri is attacking in this scene is Hilda. This isn’t the only time in the trailer we’re going to see our students at odds with one another, either. We get some more of Claude on his wyvern and notice that he hasn’t grown out his facial hair similar to his timeskip design in Three Houses. Perhaps the new designs are indicative of a much shorter amount of time passing than in Three Houses? Or maybe these clothes simply represent the characters outside of their standard student garb and there is no time jump involved?
Next we see the Immaculate One, a “holy dragon” who veterans of Three Houses will know packs some serious destructive power. It rears back and unleashes flame breath on the area below, the moon gleaming ominously in the background. But hang on…is that…a person? There on the Immaculate One’s head. It’s hard to see because of the image quality in a frame by frame but it definitely looks like a figure is actually riding the Immaculate One in this scene. They are perhaps blond but there isn’t much more to go off of there. Still, it’s interesting to think of the possibility of the Immaculate One potentially being manipulated by somebody for their own ends.
The explosion from the flame breath of the dragon transforms into the explosion from a fire spell and we get a shot of a magician holding a fireball running towards an elaborate set of doors. The figure is dressed in white and their face is largely obscured by the camera angle and their clothes. It is very difficult to even see the figure’s hair, which is normally one of the biggest hints as to who a character could be. However, I *think* we get a look at this figure from the front in the next frame, where we see a red haired figure (perhaps a woman) with black earrings. She is not recognizable to me and is probably a new character; the only possible existing character she could be is Monica, who admittedly could be a convincing option if this is a redesign. I’ll include her picture as a comparison:
Next we get a series of shots with the Three Lords with more voiceover. I’m like…pretty sure the person speaking here is supposed to be Dimitri, but he kinda sounds weird? I’m not 100% sure it is him. At any rate, the character is saying “we shall fight, we shall survive, and we shall win a glorious future for Fodlan!” The next few shots go by pretty fast – two gauntleted hands clasping each other, Dimitri blocking a projectile with his lance, Edelgard lowering her axe as Claude flies before her on his wyvern, Claude and Dimitri on foot standing back to back as a battle rages on behind them; the sequence ends with Dimitri and Edelgard face to face with an arrow flying between them, and the camera turns to reveal that the arrow was fired from Claude’s bow. Is Claude breaking up a fight or a truce? As this plays we hear him speak: “and now that I know, I won’t make the same mistake again.” After this we get a series of action scenes from gameplay.
A couple things of note here. Edelgard has a shield now and she is able to use it to block; prior to this frame her attacker hit the shield and that is what is causing her to recoil. Also, notice who her enemy is: that’s Judith, a character who we know is loyal to Claude and at no point in any of the routes of Three Houses aligns with the Empire. Odds are good that at this moment, Edelgard and Claude are enemies. I also think it is worth noticing that the map on this screen is so big that the edges don’t fit; this map looks like it would scroll as you move further to the east or west. Off in the distance we can see one of the glowing mechanisms we saw with Claude and there are diamonds on this map, strengthening the possibility that the mechanisms are represented by diamonds. Finally, one of the diamonds is green, traditionally used to represent neutral or ally units in Three Houses. If the prior scene is any indication, that could represent Dimitri and the Kingdom forces. That’s total speculation, though. As this fight scene goes on, we get a shot of one of Edelgard’s combos in which the Crest of Flames is clearly visible, confirming that she at least has that crest and likely has both crests she has in Three Houses.
We get a couple of interesting shots with Dimitri in just a matter of moments. In this first one I want to draw attention again to the bottom left, where there is still a lance icon near the special bars that has not been visible for any of the other characters in play so far. The fact that we’ve seen Edelgard now in two different combat scenes at two seemingly different parts of the game and yet no weapon icon suggests to me that this might point to a unique ability for Dimitri; maybe he can swap weapons as a “stance change” mechanic of sorts, similar to Rhoam in Age of Calamity. The other thing I want to draw attention to is Dimitri’s opponent. Look familiar? That’s Randolph, one of Edelgard’s imperial captains in Three Houses. So in this scene, Dimitri is fighting against the Empire, which goes against my previous theory that they were perhaps allied in the previous scene. No matter which way you slice it, our three factions from the first game can certainly be scene in conflict with one another over the course of this trailer.
In the next set of scenes we see my dear friend Claude in combat against some demonic beasts. There are some interesting things to consider here. I originally thought these scenes might take place at two different times/locations. In the first shot, Claude has a long special bar underneath his normal one (it is very hard to see under the YouTube bar, I apologize) as well as two icons that kinda look like fireballs? If we’re going with my Dimitri weapon change theory then these could be connected to a unique special for Claude. Anyway, I thought these were different scenes because in the second picture, that second longer bar is gone and so are the fireball icons. Oh, and of course the fact that in the first picture Claude is flying on his wyvern and in the second shot he is on foot. However, look at the map. Notice how the map is the same shape in both screenshots. This is definitely the same battlefield, but could it be the same battle? I think it is possible that this is the case. A new mechanic to Three Houses was the ability to dismount for mounted units, and I could see that carrying over into this game. Based on the number of red keeps in the second picture and blue keeps in the first, I think the second shot may take place at the beginning of the fight whereas the first shot is deeper into that same battle. Perhaps Claude built up the energy/resource he needed to mount his wyvern and store some special moves as he captured keeps? I can’t say for sure but I think it is definitely possible that Claude will be able to shift from flying to running.
Things switch gears in the next bit as we view a strange chamber through what appears to be a pool of water. The chambers sharp geometric patterns and glowing lines along the floor bring to mind the hidden lair of Those Who Slither in the Dark, Shambhala. Over this scene we begin to hear a new voice speak, the voice of Sothis. As she talks the empty floor cuts away to reveal Jeralt, Byleth’s father, who looks to be in a combative stance. Appropriately, the line spoken here is “revenge is not a thing you take for someone else.” This is followed by some quick shots of all three lords as well as the Immaculate One all in states of distress before we finally get to see Byleth again for the first time since like, the beginning of this trailer.
The first thing that jumps out to me in this shot is that Byleth is in her transformed state, with lighter green hair rather than the dark blue of her normal form. The Byleth was saw at the beginning of the trailer was in the normal form, so she definitely undergoes her transformation over the course of this game (but perhaps in different circumstances?). Also, both times we see Byleth here she is in her female form – is that simply a choice for the trailer, or will Byleth by canon be female in this game? But I guess we should really pay attention to the other figure in this shot. After hair, that purple-ish hair kinda looks familiar…oh yeah, remember the student whose hair we could barely see like ten screenshots ago? The one who was talking to Edelgard? I think there is a pretty good chance that this is that person. Let’s see a front view:
A dual wielder? Really? Why do the bad guys always get the cool powers? Anyway this guy and Byleth exchange a series of blows with their weapons while Sothis continues her monologue over top of the scene. It’s hard to tell in the above frame which I’ve chosen to highlight the mysterious opposition, but I’ll point out that the sword Byleth is wielding is not the Sword of the Creator. Sothis’s line here is “you seek revenge to slake your rage and heal your wounded heart.” It’s very evocative of Byleth’s state of mind after her father’s death in Three Houses, the situation which ultimately leads to her transformation. At any rate, her battle with the strange figure rages on and the man manages to break her sword. We get a closer look at the young opponent’s face and he (I believe it is a man but can’t say for sure of course) has metallic pieces on his face. As the scene fades and the release date appears on screen, Sothis finishes by saying “I know that you are prepared to do whatever that you must.” At the end of the trailer, we get the box art as our parting gift:
This final image shows Byleth in combat against the strange man, with the three lords set below and behind them and holding their gear. As we’ve noticed in the trailer itself, Dimitri and Claude have their Hero’s Relics while Edelgard and Byleth do not. Above Byleth we see an image of Sothis, and above the strange man? A small, white-haired figure clad almost fully in silvery metal, including what appears to be a metal mask on their face. Their positioning above the purple-haired man – mirroring that of Sothis – suggests that this figure is connected to this man in a similar manner to the connection between Sothis and Byleth. This is supported by the man’s transformation apparently involving bits of metal on his face. As to the identity of the silvery figure – an antithesis to Sothis? If Sothis is the progenitor god, is this figure some sort of god of destruction?
A couple of final details. Nintendo’s website has almost no additional information about the game except for one mechanical feature. That feature? Owl feathers. “Purchase the digital version of the game to receive regular visits from a friendly messenger owl outside of your personal quarters. It’ll gift you Owl Feathers that can be used to boost your support level with other characters!” Now this is interesting because it tells us one more thing that we couldn’t tell from the trailer – support levels will exist in this game. Now as to whether or not support conversations will exist, that’s hard to say. But at the very least we know that characters will be able to build their bonds, even if it is in less detail than in Three Houses. Finally, remember how I pointed out that Edelgard never has her Relic? Serenes Forest pointed out on their website that Edelgard’s relic is originally given to her by Those Who Slither in the Dark. Are they potentially not a factor in this game? Other than Monica and a very brief shot of what might be the floor of Shambhala, we see no sign of them. And if Monica is the real Monica rather than Kronya…this factors somewhat into my theory about the game.
We get a lot of teases in this trailer but little in the form of concrete information. Mechanically the game looks pretty standard for what we know from other musuo titles and apparently borrows at least a couple of elements from Three Houses like dismountable mounts and swappable weapons. There are missions on an overworld map with rewards and a resource for the game called “activity points” that imply some of the social systems from Three Houses but no confirmation of how that all might work. In terms of characters, we know for sure we can play as the three main lords, and probably Byleth although we have seen none of her gameplay yet. Multiple side characters are confirmed like Randalph, Judith, and probably Monica, as well as a couple of significant retainers like Hubert and Hilda. How many of the students of the Three Houses will return for this game? What about members of the church?
From a story perspective, we see the three houses in conflict with one another at what seems to be an earlier time than in the previous game. We also know that Byleth transforms at some point and she apparently has a rivalry with this agent of a mysterious being, implied to be similar to and in opposition of Sothis. Thematically the three lords speak the way we have known them to speak and stand for what we know them to stand for, and Sothis’s dialogue about vengeance suggests that in this game Byleth will either lose her father again or that the game takes place in a time where Jeralt’s death has already occurred.
Personally, my theory here is that this game is an alternate timeline, but one grounded in the existing lore of the story. I believe that our Byleth is a Byleth who has experienced the events of Three Houses and, using her powers, is attempting to find a solution in which all of her precious students survive. After throwing herself backward in time with all of her knowledge of the future, she stops Those Who Slither in the Dark early, before they can manipulate Edelgard and cause the events of Three Houses. This unwittingly awakens a force determined to keep time on its original, bloodier course. The actions of this entity bring about the great war earlier than it occurred in her original timeline, and now Byleth has to find a way to unite the three houses and turn them against a new enemy. But that’s just what I personally would like to see, and elements of that are probably off. Either way, similar to Age of Calamity I don’t think we should approach this game expecting it to be exactly what we already know about Three Houses. It is clear that key elements will play out differently and I think it’ll be interesting to see where that goes. My biggest hope is that if they are actually going to tell a story where all three houses unite and thrive together, they really earn it.
What did you think about the trailer, adventurers? I’d be curious to hear your own theories or any details you noticed that I might have missed here!
Great analysis! I need to rewatch the trailer for sure. Looking at the altered character designs for Edelgard, Dimitri and (not really) Claude (if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, lol!), I wonder if part of this game will also take place in between the 5 year time skip, and show the three struggling without Byleth? That could be really cool! This might be a great excuse to revisit Three Houses and finish my Dimitri run proper. 🙂
LikeLiked by 1 person
Yeah they knew they struck gold with Claude already, haha. That is an interesting idea that a portion of this game might involve the chunk of time where Byleth is missing – it definitely could be possible given that we don’t see Byleth in action at all! I’ll be looking forward to getting more information about the game, I am particularly eager to see how the supports and the camp activities work.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Exactly, hah hah! I’m excited to learn more about this game – I remember the previous FE Warriors game being a disappointment, and this seems to be a much, much better step in the right direction! Excited for more Supports as well since they were really well-written in Three Houses. 😀 Can’t wait to learn more! Keeping my eye on this one. The Direct had all sorts of solid announcements that I’m pretty excited for. It’s a good time to be a Switch owner/Nintendo fan! 😀
LikeLiked by 1 person