Fire Emblem Three Houses - Nintendo Switch GOTY Contender?

Season pass are usually bs, but this one takes the cake: it’s the part of the game you can most sense Koei’s touch (that and the tea groping).

Thanks, please keep me posted. The difficulty has been the one thing keeping me away from the game.

Maddening difficulty. I started it, and decided I’d rather finish my 4th playthrough on hard before I tried it. I want to get all 4 stories first.

It is significantly harder, at least in the beginning which is all the farther I got. Experience gains are heavily slashed, you’re going to be well behind the curve in levels in the beginning and will probably have to stick to a small crew because you can’t spread out the xp. Because you don’t have the levels you miss a lot more often and the enemy hits more often, and harder.

I’m not sure if you get caught up towards the end or not as I only did perhaps 5 or 6 months before I decided I wanted to see the stories play out first and then got distracted by other games. From what I played though this was exactly what I wanted out of the difficulty bump so I will eventually get to it.

Thanks Outlandish! It feels more like the issue is leveling up too quickly and the game getting easier as you go. Would it be best for me to start on Hard/Classic allowing NPC’s to die?

Damn that sounds great.
I’m stuck after a dozen hours in my stupidly boring playthrough, with basically a cast of demi-gods taking on civilians.
Only once someone had been remotely in danger, and that might have been during the tutorial.
To add insult to injury, there is a difficulty option in the options which only states “nope, can’t change it!”.

Hard/Classic is what I played, but I still found it terribly easy. I’d never played the series before and the only person I lost was in the first tutorial because I didn’t know magic would hit so much harder than an arrow ;P And since it was the tutorial deaths weren’t permanent so I didn’t fully lose them either.

The game gives you so many of the rewinds that it just doesn’t really matter. Maddening seems to be aptly named, but if you’re good at the game and want a challenge it’s probably the only choice unless you make some house rules and stick to them.

I found the last three levels of the Black Eagles on Hard/Classic really challenging. I think that route is 4 months shorter, and I didn’t do non-story battles, so I reached the end severely under leveled.

Yeah, the slower leveling makes a huge difference. I used to like to rotate different units in and out per month, but now I mostly stick with the default house units. For me—doing my second playthrough after doing the first on hard—the difficulty in maddening is a bit erratic, ranging from easy to impossible without losing some units (I play casual, so the biggest thing here is that they miss out on valuable exp). For example, the first mission after the time skip I found exceedingly difficult without losing people. On the other hand, the battles against the black knight have been a bit easy. The latter could be because I’m playing as Blue Lions and Dimitri with the knight-killer lance one hits most anything mounted. I have been avoiding doing the auxiliary missions though, so spamming them could soften the difficult curve a bit.

For a first playthrough would hard/classic without aux missions be a good way to avoid the lack of difficulty?

Are the aux missions important for the story?

I don’t do auxiliary missions, haven’t managed to recruit much people either, and just taking the normal team on one makes them really strong. I think you’d need to “disperse” to make it challenging. As for what you lose not playing side missions, it all depends on your attachment to those characters. I can’t suffer them, so it makes it easy to skip all the side stuff.

edit: not using the superfluous rewind could make it challenging in a way, but there are somevery occasional cheap shot you probably won’t see coming on a first play.

There’s a difference between the auxiliary missions (which are generic beat-the-bad-guys type stuff on a rotating selection of mostly bland maps) and character-based side missions that are called paralogues. I recommend skipping the former, but some of the better (and more challenging) battles are paralogues. They’re not important to the main story, but they do flesh out the characters a bit more. I always try and do the paralogues, time permitting.

Also, you’ll notice on the mission selection screen that the end-of-the-month story battle always has a recommended level. You’ll want to make sure not to let your characters exceed that if you’re looking for a challenge. In fact, staying a few below might be better. However, if you’re playing with permadeath, there’s probably a limit to how low you can go here if you don’t want to lose all your students. Definitely keep multiple save files so you don’t get stuck at the end of the month under-leveled and unable to grind for more, which I don’t think would be a problem, but just in case.

Sounds like a lot of work somebody at Koei or Nintendo should have been paid to do :O

You can’t actually get stuck underlevelled. Unless they disable it for the new difficulty, you always have the option to restart the battle while keeping XP, so you can always grind out of it if you need to.

Even so, I think they biased towards overlevelling the player on the original difficulty settings because they were scared that players messing up the time management would cause them to bail on the game, no matter how much it was their own fault.

I mean, you’re not wrong, but I think Nintendo really wanted this to be a crossover success rather than appealing to the weird mix of grognardy tactical-types and JRPG/anime fans that Fire Emblem usually appeals to.

That’s good to hear, but also sounds a bit tedious to play through should it happen.

I will say another reason to consider playing casual over classic is that it lets you experiment with different difficulty-adjusting house rules without much consequence.

I’m sorry, what? I Play on Hard and have lost one battle (A paralogue) and it just booted me to the start screen? Did I miss something?

Anyways - This is damn fun! I’m at…47 hours or so, Black Eagle house and really enjoying the game, tea parties aside. Its everything a tactical game should be! I am very unfamiliar with the japanese games which this seems to be, but are there others as good as this one?

It’s possible it only works for main story battles or that it only can be manually selected by using the menu option to give up, not if you actually lose. I never actually lost outright so I don’t know.

Most of the other games in this series don’t have the rewind, which for me at least is the killer feature that took it from “frustrating and tedious” to “really fun” even if they did get a little too generous with it later in the game.

I’m going to say probably not. Having played all the localized Fire Emblems sans Conquest, I think this is clearly the best game in the series. If you want more of it, some of those are worth seeking out. Path of Radiance on the GameCube and Awakening on the 3DS are likely the standouts. But, going from Three Houses to those might make the others feel somewhat incomplete. The previous entries are comparatively barebones. Some have a point-to-point overworld map (Awakening does), but most are a procession of linear battles with a break in between for a cutscene and for party maintenance. There’s also far less character customization. Three Houses generally feels more like a strategy game and less like a puzzle than previous entries, in part because of the customization aspects it has that the others lack. Plus, all the general quality-of-life stuff added over the years. Path of Radiance had some great battles though, probably on balance better in that regard than Three Houses.

Outside of FE, Disgaea 5 on Switch is pretty good, but leans heavily into anime tropes. I don’t care for that, but still enjoyed the game. I still think of Final Fantasy Tactics (not on Switch as far as I know, but on lots of other platforms) as being the pinnacle of the Japanese tactical RPG genre, but it would be hard for me to earnestly recommend it over Three Houses. In fact, there’s a high chance that’s mostly nostalgia talking. I liked Tactics a lot back in the day and sought out other games in the same genre, which is how I discovered Fire Emblem on the GBA, but none of the others really connected with me. Tactics Ogre came closest, but none of them were ever quite up to standard. The PSP remake of some absurdly titled SNES-era Tactics Ogre came closest, but was more good than great in my mind.

If you want something with a similar feel but with more unique mechanics, Valkyria Chronicles on PC is (mostly) great. One of the sequels is on Switch, but I haven’t played it and have heard negative things about the port. It’s on PC as well.

The first Valkyrie Chronicles is on the Switch as well, and it plays nicely, although the game becomes a grindfest in its later half. At least it is quite unique and enjoyable for the first half.
FE Three houses, for better or worse, doesn’t require any grinding, quite the contrary, so there isn’t much to recommend besides it, as grinding is pretty much the pillar of Japanese “tactical” games.
Some series do without, like Super Robot Taisen (super repetitive and all about getting stronger than death, the same sort of school of thought on display Disgaea, but Disgaea adds the grinding, yay).
Final Fantasy Tactics is an interesting case since it’s probably one of the smartest games that ever made it out of Japan, be it in its story or systems, but the gameplay itself doesn’t escape the obligatory grinding.
The first Shining Force and Warsong probably are the only ones I can think of that respect the player’s time, but they are very old.

That game is simultaneously one of the most surprising and disappointing games I’ve ever played. It’s amazing for quite a while, but then, as you say, the latter part of it is anything but. I wish it were more influential because I’d love to see someone else use its mechanics.

I remember magazine ads for Warsong basically just being the cover with some inspirational text if that, and damn if that image alone didn’t make me want to play that game so bad, but I didn’t have a Genesis. Stuck with me all those years, those!