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)
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!