Claude von Riegan, I can’t do this again. Three years ago, you, the roguish leader of the Golden Deer house, came into my life when I picked up Fire Emblem: Three Houses on my Switch. And despite your unsubtle advances on my protagonist, a male Byleth, I had to accept that Intelligent Systems didn’t consider you a bisexual character, and I would not be able to pursue you romantically. It took a while, but I was at peace with this. I figured that when Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes launched, everyone involved would have learned their lesson but, goddammit, you’re still flirting with me.
Three Hopes, Omega Force’s alternate timeline musou game, doesn’t star Byleth. Instead it stars a new, voiced protagonist named Shez. I chose a male version of the mercenary, and just like in Three Houses, I joined Claude’s house. In retrospect, I was setting myself up for failure. Claude is my favorite character in Fire Emblem: Three Houses, so I wanted to not only be part of his house, but to ignore Shez entirely and play as him in Three Hopes’ large-scale battles, similar to how I played Ryuji throughout Persona 5 Strikers instead of main character Joker. But my desire to play as the suave archer made me drop my guard when Claude decided he would once again play with my heart. Because this man is just as casually flirtatious toward Shez as he was to Byleth back in the day.
To be clear, Three Hopes doesn’t replicate Three Houses’ romance mechanics 1:1. There are still social elements where you can give gifts and spend time with your classmates, but Shez is not out here to get married. There is no S Rank support level for Shez and Claude (or anyone, for that matter) to aspire to. So why does Claude keep making sly comments about how interested he is in me, while I’m just here to swing my sword and strike through dozens of enemies?
More Fire Emblem:
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- Fire Emblem: Three Houses Is All About Power, But Doesn’t Understand It
Look, I already wrote a lengthy diatribe on how Fire Emblem: Three Houses’ desire to create a uniform experience for both a male and female Byleth up until romance was a larger, queer-baity problem with its writing. While Claude was holding my hand and walking me to the dance floor, my gay ass could only pursue Lindhart, the guy whose only personality trait is sleeping. Which, like, get your rest, king. But it was a laughably bad consolation prize for queer men when Claude was right there, clearly bisexual, and queer women were able to romance Edelgard, one of the leaders of the other houses. Gay men eventually got two other romance options through DLC, including Yuri, a new house leader in the Ashen Wolves DLC. But Claude remained relegated to a supposedly heterosexual but still incredibly flirty archer who shot me through the heart. So while I could get on my soapbox and talk about how this issue is only perpetuated in Three Hopes’ writing, I am simply too tired to do so.
I thought I left all of the pain and heartache behind when I jumped from Byleth to Shez. And yet, here I am three years later, still dealing with Claude constantly winking at me, being aggressively supportive of my merc activities, and saying that our fated meeting in the woods beyond the walls of Garreg Mach Monastery was proof we “had a thing.” “But Kenneth,” you say. “What if he’s just a kind person and you just need to get better at discerning platonic support from romantic interest?” Fuck you. He knows what he’s doing.
The more things change from a strategy RPG to an action game, the more they stay the same. Just leave me alone, Claude. I can’t go through another game of pain as Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes insists you are capital S Straight while my very gay protagonist is just trying to exist without being bombarded by your clear bisexuality. I am tired and don’t have the energy to be angry with you and your creators again. So go away. But also stay, because you’re the only reason I play these games, and Three Hopes’ musou stylings are most bearable when I’m playing as you.