Since Fire Emblem Awakening released on the 3DS back in 2012, I have become all too familiar with how a Fire Emblem game plays. Fire Emblem Fates, Awakening, The Shadows of Valentia remake, all share so many things. The class structure, the leveling, the battles and combat systems, and even the story beats all relate to each other in some way shape or form. Fire Emblem Three Houses shakes things up a bit to say the least, and I am enamored with this new Fire Emblem experience.
Fire Emblem Three Houses revolves mostly around your main protagonist being a professor in a Monastary. You lead your house of choice through many battles and upgrades. Much of the beginning of this game is very calm and easy going. This seems to be because the story around the different characters is front and center this time around and makes for a welcome addition. I found myself sitting down to play the game and only playing 1 battle in a 4 hour gameplay session. This is not what expected in this Fire Emblem game. Spending a ton of time talking and teaching my students has made perma-death a hard thing to cope with. When I lose a character in this game I feel obligated to restart the battle and go at it differently to ensure I retain all of my wonderful students.
I personally chose the Black Eagle house, Edelgard is a great character and I have found the other students in this house to be very interesting as well. Each house favors certain combat mechanics to cater to various play styles. Speaking of combat mechanics, the weapon triangle of past Fire Emblem games is gone this time around. I haven’t noticed it making a huge impact in the way I approach my battles, but then again I’m still relatively early in the game, so I can’t say for certain as the majority of the battles I have made it through have been quite easy, and more introductory.
I’ve noticed that the quest structure has lead to trying to get to know the characters more, and I enjoy it very much. At first I was worried that it would feel like busy work but so far that hasn’t been the case. You get the option at the end of each week to do a variety of things and exploring the monastary allows you to do quests for individuals, not just in your house but for others as well. You are also able to recruit the majority of characters to your house and thus leaving the other houses with very little in terms of members.
This is an overall interesting approach to a Fire Emblem game and one that I was certain I would simulate through as the battles are always what drew me into the Fire Emblem games. It has actually been quite the opposite though. This has been the most involved I’ve been in a Fire Emblem game. I keep coming back to it, and sometimes I will be in the mood to explore and improve relationships while others I want to battle. This game caters to a variety of play styles perfectly and allows freedom in my approach to the way I wish to play the game.
There is a time jump in the game at some point, that changes things up quite a bit as I understand, but I haven’t made it to this point yet so I can’t speak of the way the game changes up when that happens. I’m intrigued that a game so deep in mechanics completely changes things up midway through. I’m definitely excited to see how they approach this and see if it grabs me the same way the first 15 hours or so have.