Fire Emblem Three Houses - Nintendo Switch GOTY Contender?

I didn’t see a thread for this and it one hundred percent deserves a dedicated place for discussion, tips, strategy, and (one can only assume) general griping. No spoilers though - let’s save that for a future thread, just in case.

For those not “in the know” Fire Emblem is a venerable franchise that features a long form campaign/story linked by field battles, much like a Final Fantasy Tactics or Ogre Battle. Like those games, death is permanent for your characters, though one should not despair as new Fire Emblem games (including Three Houses) feature options to make the game a bit more casual in several regards, including that one. But it is something the franchise is known for, and it’s all the more painful as your characters tend to really grow not just on you, but on other characters - often characters will grow fond of one another, working well in battle - and being utterly devastated when their ally/friend/lover falls.

I’ve played several Fire Emblem games, and the last dual release of Fates and Conquest was unique in that it told one story from a different POV depending on which game you were playing. Those games, and most of the previous games, were on 3DS and before that, DS systems. Three Houses (which will be the first Fire Emblem game on the Switch, and comes out July 26th) will give you three Points of View - all on one cart, and all depending on which of the Houses you choose to play with at the start of the game!

Each House has their own leader, characters, and goals/ambitions. How do you as the player fit into all this? Why, you are the instructor at the war academy! You spend your days deciding how (and whom) to instruct in war, group activities, focusing your students along a path, dining with them to learn more about them, while of course leveling yourself up both on the field as well as off the field by growing as a professor. You can choose Male or Female avatars at the start of the game, and early on you choose a House. Now, we know there are ways later in the game to recruit characters from other Houses as well, but that’s getting a little ahead of ourselves. Likely, there are tons of mechanics to get into as the thread gets rolling (including things like Crafting and Minor and Major Crests).

Let’s talk about the game at a bird’s eye level, instead. And one thing I should be totally up front about - I don’t know a lot of details about this game. There are many videos coming out that like to delve into the new details some preview or some gameplay movie showed off and I’ve seen some of them, but honestly once I saw the first half or so from the Tree House presentation at E3 (which I will link below) I was completely on board and pre-ordered immediately, and have largely avoided too much new info since. Well, not completely, every so often I can’t help myself.

Essentially, you spend your days deciding how to focus, train, test, and improve your class (which is also your roster of units - so it’s not really like Persona so much as a training ground to drive your characters into the class you want. Like a student for his Riding skill? Help him develop it, as well as lances, and when he’s read give him the test to become a Cavalry unit!).

Outside of training, you’ll be asked to conduct missions and skirmishes and that’s when the real meat of the game kicks in - combat. The battle system seems to be very robust, with each character even potentially having a battalion attached them (visible when you zoom in - they impart bonuses and can be assigned, for example you could attach a battalion of lancers to your Archer character to protect her from melee attacks - and battalions level up, too!) as well as their own stats, equipment, various bonuses unique to each character, and perhaps a Legendary Weapon. There seems to be a lot going on here, from quite a bit of animation variety (see this .gifv I captured from a video I saw this afternoon) to group tactics and character pairings. It sounds like they got rid of the Rock, Paper, Scissors approach to combat in favor of a deeper and more rewarding system, to boot.

(edit - may have to right-click and open in a new tab, I have to for some reason at any rate)

There will be events to deal with as the calendar advances, and choices to be made. Things can go wrong in battle and create a new path in the story, for instance. Lots of strategic freedom - for example, any character can learn to be any class, given the right tools and instruction.

At some point in the game, one of the big mechanics is the Time Jump. Time advances 5 years - this number is significant as it means there won’t be any children that need to grow up and be cultivated - you’ll still have the same characters, only 5 years have gone by and they will be much changed by the war. What war? I have no idea, it’s one of the things I want to know as little about as possible. But we know there is some sort of war, they talk about it on the product page.

As the story unfolds, your choice of house at the Officers Academy will greatly affect where you stand when the land becomes engulfed in war. After 5 years, former friends from the academy must now face each other on the battlefield as bitter enemies. Which house, and which path, will you choose?

From what I have seen, everything looks to be incredibly well polished and done brilliantly here. I was initially, when the game was first shown, a little leery of the War Academy stuff but from what I’ve been able to tell it’s a collection of honestly very interesting looking choices that will determine how the combats play out. Probably more than just combat.

(Setting a Group Task)

(Days later…)

It sounds like the choice of the House will be a really huge deal as well. Some events will determine the story, and this is likely the biggest one. And while the overall tale may be similar depending on many factors, everything from the antagonist to the narrative itself will be different based on your choice of House as well as the choices you make as you play. We’ll know more of the impact of this stuff once the game is out (and reviewed, one imagines) but the possibilities are really impressive, I think.

Here are the official features, from the e-shop product page:

  • The Officers Academy is home to three houses: The Black Eagles with house leader Edelgard, The Blue Lions with house leader Dimitri, and The Golden Deer with house leader Claude… Which house will you choose?
  • As a professor, lead students in their academic lives and on the battlefield
  • A turn-based, tactical RPG that puts new twists on strategic battling
  • Freely roam Garreg Mach Monastery and interact with students in a variety of ways to bond with them. In the classroom, tutor your students to help them grow in the skill sets required to become specific classes
  • Fortify your units with battalions for the first time, utilize new Combat Arts to strategize your moves, and also, face a new type of giant enemy—the Demonic Beasts

Here is the Tree House E3 video that sold me on the game:

So, which House is everyone going with from the start? Black Eagles, right? They are the best!

The thing I’m most interested in is it allowing for more character customization than previous Fire Emblems. Selecting classes and training for your soldiers sounds great. I’m a little less keen on the academy setting. It seems a bit too anime tropey for my liking, but maybe the time jump means it won’t be so bad. I see comparisons to Persona and I liked Persona 4, anime tropes and all, so it’s not a deal breaker for me. I’m a little skeptical of getting rid of the weapons triangle. I always appreciated Fire Emblem for its relative elegance and how clear-cut the math was. The triangle was part of that, so I’m kind of loathe to see it go. However, if it makes for a more compelling system rather than complexity-for-the-sake-of-complexity I’m all for it.

Still, this is a wait-and-see for me. The more recent Fire Emblems put me off with their creepy face rubbing and quasi-incest. I’ve read this one let’s you date your students, which is not something I’m interested in in the least. Mostly, I just want to be able to play a Fire Emblem without it making me feel like a pervert. I don’t think that’s too much to ask of a game, especially a Nintendo title.

My house would be the Yellow Deer, since they’re more like a merchant republic and everyone knows that the only good place for an aristocrat or monarch is a guillotine.

I felt the same way when I first read it, but the person that reported on it pointed out the problems inherent with the weapon triangle and I’m a lot more okay with it now. The issue I remember most about the discussion was the weapon triangle inherently stamps out choice - think about it this way, if you have an Axe and a Sword in your inventory and you go to attack something weak to axes, would you ever choose the sword? No, of course not. Not really “strategy” there.

I’m not exactly sure what “replaces” the concept but I think it might have to do with how you can learn powerful weapon skills that reduce durability of your equipped weapon to use, but are quite potent. That’s the risk/reward system instead. Normal attacks don’t seem to reduce durability, and weapons can be repaired somehow, so it’s a system designed (it would seem) to limit powerful abilities sort of like Mana or MP would - you have to decide when it’s best to use such powerful skills.

EDIT: I found the discussion on the removal of the Weapon Triangle and how it’s a Good Thing.

I wonder if removal of the RPS mechanics will also force them to design enemies and AI that is actually trying to win the battle instead of trolling permadeath players with weakpoint sniping.

I like y’all a bunch so I’m gonna be real with you. I really enjoyed the Fire Emblem games but somewhere along the line they lost their way. Incest. Marrying a “thousand year old dragon” who looked like a child. The haremesque quality of a million big titty anime women whose narrative purposes are to indulge your (blessedly pg rated) dating sim fantasies.

I can’t do it anymore.

The Fire emblem durability system was always just tedious garbage. I can’t imagine anyone will miss it.

The multiple weapon types were rewards for upgrading classes typically, and the strategy came not from “do I use an axe or sword against this axe guy” (sword obv), but “if I move over here and sword this guy, will that lance user hit me in the enemy turn when I’m vulnerable due to having a sword equipped”. But it was never a great system. Langrisser Mobile does the rock paper scissors better, I think. The ability to mix types between commander and troop gives more tactical flexibility (at the cost of being more powerful/more vulnerable).

I will pick this up since they’re moving off the handhelds again finally.

It sounds like this has been a complaint for many games now that has been addressed in previous versions. To be fair, it didn’t “feel” like anything gross when I was playing Awakening, though I suppose when you put it out in black and white like that it can read as pretty nasty. I assume, I really don’t remember having any actual problems along those lines with Awakening and I’m pretty sensitive to that stuff.

There aren’t any kids in this game though - everyone is an adult. I usually ignore the romance stuff in my games, from Baldur’s Gate and Pillars of Eternity to games such as Fire Emblem though, so I rarely noticed anything going on, most like.

The more recent Fates is the bigger culprit in these regards than Awakening.

And Three Houses does seem to have another 1000-year-old dragon girl that looks 12, or at least a similar character.

I want to be clear that I am absolutely not hating on anyone for continuing to enjoy these games. It’s just for me, this stuff looms large. It sucks, because I really enjoy the gameplay. C’est la vie.

Am all about Fire Emblem. Have fond memories of Path of Radiance and Radiant Dawn. Ironman FTW.

I really like this map animation.

Thanks for the heads up. I am not a fan of fire emblem’s puzzle like nature from some previous iterations but I have to say the house system and new advancement paths look really interesting. Gonna pick this up for sure.

Then you should play the Inkle Sorcery! games because the map looks a lot like that (and the games are great).

I have loved those games! I actually was obsessed with the books years ago when I was in Jr. High.

As we get closer to release (three weeks away) there is more and more media and previews dropping. A few streamers got to sit in on a 10 minute demo, but I found it to be more annoying to watch those than informative, and the stuff I was learning (this seems to be what everyone cares about) was the personalities of the characters, where as I’m just wondering what unique skills and weapon preferences they have. Who cares who looks like what after the time jump? Man, Fire Emblem fans do! I guess I’m more a strategy guy than an RPG guy.

In any event, we’ve got a 9 minute look at the features of the game. It’s a JP trailer, but it has English sub-titles (you have to turn sub-titles on by hand, FYI).

If you want to find out what this game is all about, this is the guy. If you want to see something specific here is an over view of what is shown:

In the first third of the video, we get the story setup very briefly, describing the three houses in summary, and then it goes into the gameplay mechanics from battalions and weapon arts to even the ability to roll back time (which sounds like the excellent system used in Ogre Battle Let Us Cling Together, one of my all time favorite strategy games).

The middle of the video shows off the activities you can do outside of combat, from training your students to assigning group activities and even … fishing? Huh. Okay, so fishing is a thing in this game. I just hate the way the main character doesn’t use his sleeves so they flop around when he walks. It’s the one thing so far I just hate about this game, it’s driving me mad and I haven’t even played it yet!

The last third of the video talks about class changes and mechanics, shows off some of the beginner (Archer), intermediate (Dark Mage), and advanced classes (including Wyvern Rider and Warrior), and then goes into some of the details regarding the time jump.

I"m going in blind. Love the series, been looking forward to this one!

Absolutely on the same boat. I understand the recent addition of the option to turn off permadeath alleviated some of those problems, but I am curious to see how this new game turns out.

Seems like a huuuuge game. According to the game director, his latest play through (no skipping cut scenes) it took him 80 hours to complete one of the house paths (we don’t know how many side quests or additional content he played). Even if you cut that in half to account for hyperbole/leaving the game running when you aren’t playing it that’s a lot of content. That’s almost too much content/game imo, right? 80 hours? Good grief.

And we were told that playing the game from other houses is NOT just the same story from a different perspective - it’s a very different experience and story in general, somehow. So that’s a LOT of potential gameplay for the money.

Additionally, they have given us all the special perks of each standard/central character for the individual houses, and I jotted them down during a video that walked through them.

I don’t know what all of this means, the numbers don’t mean a lot (is +5 a lot?) but I think it helps show off what different characters will start off good at, a little. I also found I really liked a lot of the characters from Blue Lions and may end up going with them after all.

The recent SGDQ had a FE: Fates speedrun that was just over an hour.

It was a weird thing to watch.