Fire Emblem: Three Houses is a massive game. Between three different houses of students, plenty of missions, and hours of story, there's a lot to parse. But hackers are already picking through Three Houses and finding not only what's on the surface, but also what's hidden away.
YouTuber DeathChaos has been digging into Fire Emblem: Three Houses for the last few days, looking for data that didn't make the final cut. The trick, they tell me, is that you need a first-generation with stock firmware, anything prior to a certain patch. From there you can use a hardware exploit to dive into the files.
What hackers like DeathChaos are finding can be fairly benign, such as the expected growth rates for various classes. There are also more novel tricks, like swapping models. Most recently, DeathChaos and friends found a way to access characters you otherwise wouldn't be able to recruit and use them in battle. (A note: I'll try to avoid spoilers, but if you're sensitive to early plot points, you might want to bounce out now.)
DeathChaos found that Sothis, the mysterious young girl assisting protagonist Byleth, was not only accessible as characters, but had voice lines for combat and leveling up, and was available for classes and activities like normal students. It's enough to speculate that some units like Sothis might be waiting away, either planned to be playable at some point or left in waiting for future DLC.
Some characters they took control of, like Jeralt and Kostas appear in the course of the campaign as computer-controlled fighters, so those make some sense. Still others, like Monica for example, are never playable and have no regular combat assets aside from their model. But while the discovery is really centered on Sothis, DeathChaos seems optimistic.
"So far Sothis seems to be the only unique discovery in Three Houses, but that's not to say more like her don't exist since there exist literally thousands of character entries that we have not yet figured out who they belong to," DeathChaos wrote in an email to USgamer.
It turns out that the internal structure of Fire Emblem: Three Houses differs significantly from previous Fire Emblem games,which is due in large part to Koei Tecmo handling a lot of Three Houses' development. DeathChaos tells me that when they first cracked open the seal on Three Houses, they had "basically thousands of unnamed files, all mostly binary data," and little direction on where to start looking.
The romhacking community quickly devised a method to do bulk searches however, and then it became much more straightforward. First came character data, then class data—the latter of which is very important for those looking to min-max their army—and then DeathChaos started stumbling into surprisingly familiar territory.
"We then found out that some data was structured very similarly to the previous Fire Emblem game (Echoes: Shadows of Valentia), mainly in how the character data is stored and how classes behave, such as how bonus stats are added when a character promotes," DreamChaos says.
Koei Tecmo's work was plainly evident, though. One interesting tidbit: Koei Tecmo's model format for Three Houses is similar to previous games like Fire Emblem Warriors and even Hyrule Warriors Definitive Edition. It makes sense that design suiting a Nintendo Switch game would transfer over, but this model was also used in another Koei Tecmo game on PlayStation 4: Dissidia Final Fantasy NT. Neat!
This isn't quite cause for hype just yet, of course. Fire Emblem file divers uncovered something similar when digging through Fire Emblem Echoes, and while one of the characters (Fernand) did eventually become DLC, that Fernand was very different from what they found in the initial files. He even had different quotes and voiced lines.
But DeathChaos seems determined to keep picking apart Three Houses. They've done a lot of work on previous Fire Emblem games, as well as the Persona series, and while for some it might be a way to crack or break a game, for DeathChaos it seems more about the joy of discovery.
"Progress has been a bit slow, but the game has been out for barely a few days, so it's not like I can find absolutely everything so fast," DeathChaos says. "Koei Tecmo developing the game in their standard way certainly didn't help, but regardless, I'll still be here poking at anything and everything to see what other neat little things I can find."
If you're playing Fire Emblem: Three Houses, be sure to check out our guides section, including outlines for each house, how romance works, and who to give all those lost items to.