'Fire Emblem: Three Houses' Is the Reinvention the Series Needed

About 40 hours into my time with Fire Emblem: Three Houses, as the game’s first half was coming to a climactic conclusion, I swelled with pride. Playing as the mysterious mercenary-turned-professor Byleth, I had spent dozens of hours training a motley crew of young, misfit students into a roaring company of knights, ready to face down a terrifying foe. Once, they’d struggled against a raggedy batch of bandits in some cramped and bloody canyon. Now they were squaring off with a massive army, flinging magical blasts and ballistae bolts across rooftops.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/j5ww4g/fire-emblem-three-houses-review
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Oh hey, there’s finally an official thread for Austin’s review!

This game is great so far, I’m only in the third month but I’m loving pretty much every part of it. The rewind mechanic is probably my favorite addition, I’ve always been one of those people who hard reset if anyone dies.

Black Eagles forever.

Each [student] was a success story in their own right…

I think this is the game’s biggest draw for me. Turning pedagogical considerations into a game system is already cool on its own, but the way FE:3H uses that to facilitate respective development arcs for characters alongside their myriad support stories is such an awesome way to get me invested in everyone. I love tactics games, but so often does my investment in specific characters feel like its solely on me to give them individual life. Here though, I can point to any one of my kids and tell you something about how they’ve grown that left me proud of them.

Marianne? I encouraged her to lean into what she loves, and now she’s well on her way to being an invaluable holy knight.

Lorenz? While starting out as a Solider/Cavalier seemed okay at first, he really started to shine once he got accustomed to using magic instead of lances.

Hilda? While she may be lazy and manipulative to a fault, that personality trait has also proven to be a boon alongside her axe and heavy armor prowess – making her the perfect tank to stand in the middle of an enemy army and invite everyone else to attack first.

I never thought micro managing lesson plans and mentor sessions could feel so rewarding. (Well, in a video game, at least)

I’ll have more to say later but, on Hilda:

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I’m so glad this game turned out so strong. I’ve been enjoying every moment of it so far. I liked most of the kids once I met them, and a great deal of them have continued to grow on me. I haven’t had this good of a time with a Fire Emblem game since Radiant Dawn.

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so yeah, I love it. I’ve done basically nothing but play Fire Emblem since Saturday morning.

The characters are all very good - I picked Team Claude and fell in love with half the house instantly and the others have soon grown on me.

The class system of ‘any class can wield any weapon but only spellcasting classes can cast spells’ does mean like half my team have ended up mages whoops.

Something I was commenting on yesterday - I really like the way information is delivered to you. In the sense that, a lot of the time the information is not actually delivered to you, characters just behave in certain ways, and then later you learn slightly more about them and go ‘oh that’s why’.
Example: Dedue told me I shouldn’t be seen hanging around him because there’d be rumours. I later find out his people were the ones who assassinated the king or whatever. Rather than him outright stating ‘oh don’t hang out with me because XYZ reasons’, you learn why yourself later. That’s good!

And I adore poring over menus to teach my students. It’s a joy. Honestly. No you will learn the lance and you will like it, young lady.

It’s good. thank.

This has been the only part of the combat that bugs me. Everything else is so freeform that this aspect just feels archaic.

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If you’d asked me before this review if I was interested in Fire Emblem, I’d have said nope. The way Austin talks about this game: I’m super interested now.

What I’m curious about now is how much you can nope out of romantic/flirting subplots (nothing against them, it’s just my damage). Is anyone far enough to have an idea of how that plays out?

You can’t really “nope” out of it, but if you do not pick the highest level of commitment (S-rank) it won’t happen.

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They’re pretty dependent on the player for the most part. Some characters are more flirtatious than others, but you can usually do the “Ummm…I’m your teacher” response. There is one story scene in the first part where you need to have a kinda sorta flirty encounter with someone of your choosing (and if you don’t pick someone, the game will choose for you), however that seems to be pretty stand alone, and it seems you can ignore S-Rank supports (i.e. the romantic ones) if you want to.

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So, in the podcast today the crew mentioned the text being really small in handheld mode. As someone who exclusively uses the Switch handheld (I’ve not once docked it), how big a problem is it? I tend to hold it pretty close anyway, but if it’s a significant problem, that’s probably enough to sway me against getting this game.

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Thanks @ligeti and @BeeKane. I think that gives me enough information to carve out a way to play this. Appreciate it!

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I found it less of a problem in handheld mode than in docked mode. It’s pretty small, yet still legible handheld. On my TV, however, I have to be sitting fairly close by or else I need to squint to make anything out. (I’m extremely near-sighted though, so YMMV.) If you’re already holding the screen fairly close, you shouldn’t have too much of an issue.

I am also super nearsighted (I can hold my Switch far enough from my face to need my glasses), and that sounds good enough for me. So I guess I’m getting this game!

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I play mostly docked. Over the weekend I was playing handheld and I definitely noticed that everything felt smaller. It’s not horrible and if you play primarily in handheld I’m sure you’ll adapt quickly. But it was noticably different.

Oh yeah, fun fact: on loading screens, the Byleth sprite runs along the progress bar according to how your controller is tilted and jumps when you press B.

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Hey, uhhh, what’s the first mission after the bandit-slaying for the Black Eagles and Golden Deer? Because I just had to murder the adoptive father of one of my students.

It’s the same mission. I’m playing Black Eagles but enlisted Ashe’s help for that, which seems kinda fucked up in retrospect.

Ooooh so I was wondering that. Does he have any special dialogue? I was very much hoping to enlist some students to kill their friends.

He does plead to come to a peaceful resolution. Unsuccessfully, naturally. I just didn’t expect it to get so dark so quickly.

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