As someone who likes to keep his thumb on the pulse of what’s going on in the gaming sphere, I see a lot of prediction videos. People predicting what’s going to be in an upcoming Nintendo Direct, making bingo cards for E3 announcements, placing bets on Summer Game Fest, all of that sort of stuff. What I don’t see nearly as often is an evaluation of those predictions, a creator reflecting on their ideas saying “how well did I do at that, exactly?” In the spirit of putting out into the world what I want to see from it, with Three Hopes releasing today I thought it would be fun to look back at my predictions for what the game might play like and the fighting styles of the various student characters in the game. Did I get anything right? Was I totally off base across the board? Today, we’re gonna find out!
Note: if you really want to compare side by side, here’s the prediction article itself!
I started my predictions previously with a series of assumptions I was carrying into the discussion, some ground rules if you will. Since those base assumptions undergird every prediction in the rest of the article, I think it’s important to reflect on how I did with those first.
- My first assumption was that all the musuo basics like light attacks, strong attacks, warrior specials, and dodging would all be in play. WOW. Totally called it. I am an internet genius. Why aren’t people throwing money at me for this grade-A content?
- I also predicted that the awakening meter, unit vulnerabilities, and the submenu that managed potions and staves would also be present. What I didn’t specify in this bullet point that I think is important to clarify is that while I figured flying units and armored units would have their usual vulnerabilities, I did not anticipate the weapon triangle to come back! Or to be expanded! So that was a big surprise for me. Also the healing submenu was essentially split into two, with vulneraries on the same submenu as the awakening transformation and combat arts while there’s a new submenu for forming adjutants and checking your moves.
- Next was the prediction that the class system would persist. Again, I got the basics right here but played too conservative – each character doesn’t just have one class that evolves into an almost identical advanced class; rather, the whole Three Houses class system is back including the ability for any character to essentially be any class except for a few gender boundaries. Two characters of the same class do have the same basic combos, but they can learn different abilities, combat arts, or spells too, further differentiating two units of the same class beyond what I anticipated. And since any unit can be any class, some of my predictions which were very specific to them only playing a certain way could not possibly come true.
- The ability to dismount mid-combat – that one was spot on! The evidence in the trailer was pretty strong for this one but it feels good that on at least one thing, I can say I was totally right.
- I predicted that battalions and gambits wouldn’t be factors at all. While they aren’t available in the demo, battalions are definitely in the game, so here I wasn’t half-wrong or partially wrong – that’s a big ole mega-wrong.
- My prediction that unique abilities and unique character bars would come over from Age of Calamity was half-right. The unique abilities did come over, though not every character has an active ability you have to press a button for. Some characters do have unique bars to represent the cooldown for their unique abilities but the idea of having a “lightning meter” or something similar didn’t really carry over at all. Instead, there’s a class meter that has different effects for each class and usually interacts with whatever the class action is, such as the cavalier’s charge or Dimitri’s spear toss.
- My character predictions were WAY off, and let me tell you, this is the tastiest plate of crow I’ve had in a long time. Not only are multiple church members playable within the first four chapters depending on your route, but there are multiple new playable characters plus all the DLC students are in the game by default and not as DLC? Let me be wrong like this more often, please!
- “While Byleth will almost certainly be playable” well listen, there’s still a decent chance you can recruit her before the end of the game I think but she’s definitely not the protagonist, so even on this most basic of assumptions I find myself floundering. Again, happy to eat crow here because I’ve known Shez for twenty minutes and they are such a huge improvement on Byleth from both a design and a personality standpoint.
I didn’t do too terribly bad in the basic assumptions section, but I think enough damage was done that it will certainly affect my performance as we begin to look at individual characters. Ah well, here we go!
I’m going to go in the same order I used in the predictions article. That order was premised on the idea that characters would be grouped by class, which is…kinda relevant I suppose if you consider preferred classes but since anyone can be anything really can just be tossed out the window.
The empress herself, back to her old tricks again as early as chapter four. My prediction for Edelgard was that they would work in her budding talent for reason and give her magical spells to attack with at a range, as well as some magic-based axe attacks for getting around defenses. While you can run her as a magical unit because of the class system, Edelgard can’t cast spells as an armor lord. Instead, her unique action is that all of her attacks are automatically imbued with fire, dealing her targets chip damage over time as well as allowing them to explode and damage each other when they have been burned enough. While I did predict primarily fire spells would make up her magic attacks, I didn’t anticipate fire to play so prominently into her core fighting style. Her unique support ability allows her to still deal 50% damage when guarding, which is vaguely similar to what I said but again not even sort of justified in the same way. I think we can accurately call this prediction “a total flop.”
I predicted Dedue to be a tank character who would have abilities for managing aggro and pushing enemies back with wide blasts in order to create distance around a unit he was protecting. That…didn’t quite turn out as I expected. His unique ability is to hold the strong attack button during combo finishers in order to add a blast that does additional damage to enemies in an area around the attack. However, it doesn’t inherently function to create more distance, so I was off there. His unique support has nothing to do with aggro and instead gives him a bonus when guarding, allowing him to more quickly fill the warrior gauge – especially if he does a perfect guard. Dedue’s build is more aggressive than I anticipated, so this is another character who I think falls into the “got this totally wrong” category. But maybe if I consistently get almost everything wrong we can circle back to this one and call it a partial win since he does have the ability to blast opponents back, kinda.
The swordswoman from Brigid. My prediction for Petra was that she would have a unique “stealth meter” she could use to get a free weak point meter hit on enemies that filled by earning kills. I also thought her unique action would involve firing a series of bow shots despite being a sword unit, emphasizing her role as an assassin and huntress. This may be the most wrong I have been so far. Petra’s actual unique action is an enhanced dodge which travels farther and deals wind damage to anyone standing in the path; I’m a huge fan of this ability so I am happy to be wrong. Her unique support gives her boosts to her awakening meter when she gets critical hits. This connects back to her personal ability in Three Houses, which I tried to do in a more thematic way in my predictions while the outcome in Three Hopes is much more literal. Overall, I like how she turned out compared to what I predicted, so I am happy to be wrong there.
A gruff swordsman from Faergus. My predictions for Felix were based on Yusuke’s playstyle in Persona 5 Strikers, specifically the ability to perform a counterattack with his unique action. That has not turned out to be the case. I did predict that Felix’s other ability would be related to his dash, allowing him to execute a special guard, counter, or attack right at the end of a dash. The only part of this whole thing I got right was the dash. Felix gets faster when he interrupts attack chains to dash, up to a factor of 7. This can makes him significantly faster during combat and allow him to execute a lot more combos compared to a different unit in the same class. His unique support is essentially identical to his personal ability in Three Houses, giving him a damage bonus when he doesn’t have a battalion equipped. I’m starting the think counting Dedue as a “partially correct” is looking more and more appealing!
A nobleman of Adrestia, and one of the many magicians loyal to Edelgard. I predicted that Lindhardt would be able to enter an airborne state to increase his mobility and shoot rapid-fire orbs of flame. The idea was to make him the most magic-focused bishop character as I thought Mercie and Marianne would have weapons to work with. That certainly led me astray a bit but even if it didn’t, I would have been way off. Linhardt’s unique action is to create a pair of wind orbs when he does a full light attack combo, but they aren’t for floating on – they’re for dealing additional damage as he executes subsequent combos. As for his support ability? He recovers faster inside allied strongholds. I didn’t know it was possible for me to be more wrong than I already have been up to this point…I guess I can give myself credit for including the word “wind” in my description? Maybe?
So here’s the thing. Remember how I was assuming that most characters would only have one class? I assumed there would be no way for Mercie to wield a weapon, which would mean that working in her relic weapon would require working it into her unique actions. So I suggested a style where she had an arrow spread for one move and an arrow blast for the other. Naturally, if Mercie really wants to use a bow she can just change to the archer class. So instead her unique action is a huge burst of light that damages enemies while healing allies who are in the range of the blast. Much more useful than my own proposition. Mercedes also has Live to Serve as her unique support, so just like in Three Houses she can heal herself when she heals other people. I seriously underestimated just how many characters would bring over their personal abilities from the original game as passives in this one – it has already bitten me a couple of times now and will continue to do so before this whole thing is over.
The quiet, sad priestess from Leicester. My prediction for Marianne involved having access to a horse, which would make her unique amongst the other bishop characters as I envisioned them, as well as having ice incorporated into her light spells. I figured she could leave bits of ice around the battlefield as she attacked and then press a button to explode them all at once. While this prediction would have been spot on for a different spellcaster in the game except for the element at play, Marianne’s ice powers work a bit differently. When she reaches 300 hits, snow begins filling onto the battlefield around her and freezes any enemies who are hit by it. This is a really useful ability as freezing enemies is a potent elemental effect in this game. Additionally, Marianne’s unique support causes her to heal steadily when she, her adjutant, or a nearby ally are mounted. While I was obviously still wrong about Marianne’s abilities, the fact that the fighting style I described does exist and the fact that I predicted an ice-based playstyle for Marianne means this is probably the closest I have been to having something right so far. The bar is in hell.
Head intelligencer of the Adrestian Empire. So I anticipated that Hubert’s dark magic spells would be focused on debilitation in two key ways. One would wrap enemies in tendrils to slow them down while the other would not do damage directly but instead increase the damage of his attacks, as well as adding a dark explosion when the unit was defeated. Wait a second…a dark explosion? Hubert actually does that! I mean, the explosion is activated by a button press instead of by defeating the enemy, and the “seal” that allows it to happen is just placed normally by attacking instead of with a special ability, but this is honest to god the closest thing I have so far to a correct prediction. Hubert does have an ability that allows him to cause explosions of darkness. Yay! Just ignore how the whole seal thing as well as the whole tendrils thing was completely off base and we’re great.
The child prodigy of Leicester. My prediction for Lysithea was a fighting style that had dark magic basic combos but light magic abilities for her class action and unique action. I imagined that she could plant columns of light around the battlefield with huge light spells, which she could then warp to with her unique action button. While the trailers have shown Lysithea blending dark and light magic, this is an aspect of the gremory class and is not unique to Lysithea herself. Instead, her unique action allows her to draw enemies inflicted with the dark magic spellbound status towards her. Passively, enemies tossed by her combos explode with dark magic, helping to spread out that spellbound status more, and she also gets restoration of her warrior and awakening gauges when her crests activate. And since she has two, that happens more for her than most. It’s a good thing I was wrong about her abilities, because this version of Lysithea is significantly more busted.
Son of the leader of Adrestia’s military. I predicted Caspar to be a stance change character (ugh) on the basis that every character in the game would have one class (UGH) so the idea was that allowing him to completely switch weapons would make him more unique (UGH!!!). Obviously, that was highly incorrect. Caspar’s actual unique action is to increase the range and power of his combo finishers by holding the strong attack button to charge them up. While I did use the word “charge” to describe his unique grappling attack in my predictions, I don’t quite think that’s enough evidence to think that this particular prediction was anything except a complete and utter failure.
A commoner from Leicester who takes care of his younger sister. My prediction for Raphael was that he would be a joke character who powered up by eating meat, took more damage because of the meat sweats, and then regained health using the drain punch combat art. Sort of a mix of Link’s heavy weapon fighting style in Age of Calamity as well as one of the new characters in Persona 5 Strikers. Turns out I was wrong about the joke part but right about the buffing part! Raphael’s unique action charges up his power to put him into a state where he deals increased damage for a time. It doesn’t make him more vulnerable to damage nor does he have a special healing state, but honestly at this rate this is probably one of my better predictions. The food thing did come into play too, it’s just that Raphael gets a damage boost after recovering HP after picking up healing items. Overall I could have done way worse with this one.
The prince of the kingdom of Faergus. My predictions for Dimitri involved giving him additional defensive maneuvers – one an attack that interrupted enemy attacks and the other a backward dodge that was then immediately followed up with a slash of his lance. Turns out that maneuvering has absolutely nothing to do with Dimitri’s abilities. His unique action is a passive that imbues all of his attacks with lightning by default, allowing him to shock enemies and damage them in shock explosions when the status builds up enough. His support ability allows him to deal more damage and lower stun gauges (what I referred to in my previous article as weak point gauges) faster when the enemy has been sent flying. So just like Dedue, my version of the character was built more defensively while what actually came out was an offensive powerhouse.
Schemin’. My predictions for Claude involves a more technical playstyle than the other lords which would focus more on combining his abilities together to set up a particularly dangerous combo when executed well. I suggested that one ability would be encloser, allowing him to bind a foe in place, while the other would fire an arrow upward that caused a rain of arrows to come down on enemies from above. What really bugs me about this prediction is that I was right about this attack existing – but instead of it being unique to Claude, it it the class action for the archer class broadly so any of the archers can use it. There’s also a similar effect from the archer’s YYYX combo. Damn it! Claude’s real ability, similar to the other lords, makes all of his attacks elemental. In this case they are all wind attacks, which explode into wind blades that damage and inflict windblown status on even more enemies.
Pegasus knight in service of Dimitri. My prediction for Ingrid was that she would have a buff that made her move and attack faster in combination with an ability which did increased damage when executing her combos with good timing. You know what sucks? BOTH those abilities do exist in this game, but they are on other characters. Ingrid herself actually has a unique ability based on her frozen lance combat art: enemies she sends flying explode with ice on impact. This allows her to freeze targets, and since she also increases her warrior gauge faster when attacking enemies in the air, you definitely want her sending enemies flying as much as possible. I got Ingrid completely wrong while also saying this that did in fact turn out to be true for other characters in the game…the worst kind of incorrect prediction.
“I am Ferdinand von Aegir!” My prediction for Ferdinand was premised on the idea that he would lean into his budding talent for armor and be built as more of a great knight type of character. I imagined him having the Ward spell as a shield which he could throw up to block enemy attacks, as well as having a literal shield he could throw at enemies as a ranged attack. The only thing I sort of got right there is the idea that Ferdinand’s build would reference his potential as a faith spellcaster: holy knight is one of his preferred classes. Ferdinand’s actual unique action is absolutely busted, allowing him to increase his movement and attack speed proportional to his hit count when above 300 hits. Watching him get faster and faster as you pummel more and more enemies into a pulp is immensely satisfying, and has made Ferdinand one of my favorite characters to play in the game.
A pickup artist. Blech. I anticipated Sylvain to be the most balanced paladin with the others leaning into defense, magic, and speed based on their proficiencies. I predicted he would have a ranged axe throw in the form of a bolt axe, and then an ability that allowed him to execute additional hits during a combo finisher by mashing the strong attack button. Instead, Sylvain has a similar ability to Ferdinand with a different effect: at 300+ hits, the range and damage of his weapon increases. As Sylvain’s hit count increases his weapon glows brighter and he can hit larger swaths of enemies with more powerful attacks – imagine Kuwabara’s “sword get long!” from Yu Yu Hakusho but in Three Hopes instead. I definitely did not predict Sylvain’s ability correctly nor do I think that the whole “most balanced paladin” thing is necessarily correct either, so this one is a loss all around.
Haircut. I predicted that Lorenz would be built more like a dark knight and that all of his specials would be magic spells to compliment the lance combat of his basic combos. I figured he might have Saggitae to send out a scattered blast of magic and Agnea’s Arrow for a huge, focused blast that would need to recharge. What Lorenz actually gets is a passive boost to his awakening gauge rate when he has a battalion equipped as well as Rondo of Roses, an ability which allows him to pull enemies in closer in a whirlwind of roses. It’s a weird ability in the sense that it is the only one I’ve seen so far which has a condition for decreasing it other than spending the ability: the gauge goes down when Lorenz nullifies enemy attacks.
An aspiring mercenary from Leicester. I predicted that Leonie would be a bow knight with the ability to launch off of her horse while firing arrows down at foes (or jump back onto her horse while doing the same if not mounted). I also thought she’d have a charging lance attack that did more damage the more momentum she built up. It would have been nice if I had better leaned into a particular aspect of my prediction: “looking at her combat arts and seeing that they are focused on speed and dealing multiple attacks.” I mention this in my description but don’t actually make it part of her moveset and as it turns out, Leonie’s ability is to string together light attack combos that are twice as long, with the power of her finishers being increased based on how many light attacks she has strung together. I briefly flirted with the idea of being on the right track here but ultimately fumbled the ball.
F E A R. My predictions for Bernie involved making her persecution complex personal ability into an active mode that could be turned on or off, allowing her to take more damage in order to deal more damage. Sure messed that up. Bernie does still have persecution complex but it is a passive, allowing her to deal increased damage after taking damage…sometimes. Ah well. I also predicted a “fighting retreat” attack for her that would allow her to jump away from enemies while firing arrows at them. While this idea came from a good place – the concept of Bernie trying to stay away from people does play into her moveset – ultimately the way Three Hopes goes about it is different. Bernie’s unique action freezes all of the enemies in a circle around her, binding them in place so she has an opportunity to run away or deal some free damage while they are trapped helplessly in ice.
Cinnamon roll of Faerghus. Have I been spelling Faerghus wrong this whole article? Whatever. For Ashe I predicted two different area attacks, one an explosive arrow against foes at a long distance while the other would be a circular wave of arrows in the immediate vicinity. Neither of these are true. Instead, Ashe has what I specifically predicted he would not have: Locktouch. Ashe doesn’t need chest keys to open chests. Again, I’m happy to eat crow here – I specifically predicted that this ability would be less useful in Three Hopes than Three Houses and I am actually pretty sure I have used it more often in this demo than I ever did in the original game. Ashe can also create a localized area of wind that blows enemies into the air, trapping them in a vulnerable position for Ashe to take out with his arrows. He’s actually a lot more effective mechanically in this game than in the original, in my opinion.
Horny for god. Looking back my Ignatz prediction is honestly wild – a sniper shot that also changes you to an allied character close to the attack automatically? More unlikely than you think! I also imagined that Ignatz would have silencing arrows that prevented enemies from attacking briefly and caused them to take more damage from attacks as well. None of that is true. Instead, when Ignatz sends an enemy flying with his attacks, he splatters the battlefield with paint which then does elemental damage to anyone covered in it based on the paint color. I anticipated Raphael to be more of a gimmick while Ignatz would be more serious and ended up getting the two backwards – working in paint for Ignatz feels a bit weird but it does look cool to see an area he has recently cleared covered in bright patches of color.
Music and hats. I predicted that Dorothea would be a lightning specialist, focusing on electrical spells as well as having a levin sword as a backup weapon. The thought was that she might have a lightning meter similar to Urbosa in Age of Calamity. That is not the case. Instead, when Dorothea attacks her enemies are left covered in little music notes. When you attack a music note enemy, it bursts and deals elemental damage based on the type of spell you used in order to break the note. Dorothea’s unique support grants some healing to nearby allies whenever she uses a warrior special. While the mage warrior special does involve casting Thoron, this would be different for a different class so I think we can safely say that I missed the mark a bit on Dorothea.
Tiny, girl me. I predicted that there was absolutely no way Annette would be brought into this game without some way to access her relic weapon Crusher, so I predicted her strong attack would utilize it to deal a huge attack that would also launch her into the air for a few moments. Her unique ability, I said, would be a buff that rallied both herself and nearby allies to increase their stats. And damn it, adventurers, I finally got one right! Not the Crusher part, unfortunately, but the rallying ability! Annette builds up her unique action meter as she does damage and once it fills up, she can make herself and allies in the area of effect more powerful for a short time. While I only got one of the two ability concepts that I tossed out correct, this is probably the most right I have been about something during this entire article.
The best for last. I predicted that Hilda would have a massive axe smash that sent out diamonds in a radius around her to do extra damage, as well as a jumping attack for hitting enemies directly in the head to expose their stun gauge. Similar to Claude’s rain of arrows that I pitched, Hilda can do the big axe smash I described but it is a class action rather than an ability that is unique to her. Instead, what makes Hilda stand out is that holding the strong attack button during finishers draws enemies towards her and imbues her attacks with lightning. This allows her to inflict the shocked status on targets she hits with her finishers as well as making it easier for her to take out a bunch of foes at once by drawing them in.
So how did I do, adventurers? While I did have one actually correct prediction (Annette) as well as one adjacent to being correct (Hubert) and a couple of correct ideas that I simply assigned to the wrong characters (Marianne and Ingrid), ultimately most of the ideas I pitched for these characters in Three Hopes didn’t come to fruition. And you know what? That’s great! I made this list of predictions pretty fresh off of the first FE Warriors and I was feeling down about the amount of love and care I thought would be put into this game. Based on what I have seen in the demo, I am pleasantly surprised that it seems a ton of energy was put into making this game capture as much of the Three Houses spirit as possible, and to include as many characters as possible while still helping them to feel a bit unique from one another. I’m eager to see the rest of Three Hopes starting today, and if you’re interested in reading more about it, you can definitely look forward to more coverage here on Adventure Rules!