018 fire emblem: three houses

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Fire Emblem: Three Houses
came out July 26, 2019. At the time I had not pre-ordered because I always found the game available on release day in the mall I would go to. Well this time that wasn't the case, so we tried everywhere from Target to Best Buy to get it. We visited several GameStop locations. We grabbed lunch afterwards, and made our way back as quickly as possible. He tethered his Switch to the television and I played mine handheld, because that's how I roll. (Probably thanks to the Nintendo 3DS XL I lugged around daily until the Switch came out...) ๐ŸŽฎ๐ŸŒˆ

The first Fire Emblem game I ever played and loved was Fire Emblem: Awakening. I was immediately hooked with gameplay, graphics, character designs, and story. Of course my favorite in the series is Tharja. ๐Ÿ’œ I have played many Fire Emblem games since then...

Fast forward to 2019, the first incarnation of the game for the Switch came out and I just had to have it. I painstakingly avoided spoilers to the best of my ability, and shut myself in the divided nation of Fรณdlan. The main character Byleth is struggling to remember their identity. So it goes... At the start of the game you can pledge your allegiance through one of the three houses to unlock different story lines.

I joined the Black Eagles and did not regret my decision. The color scheme, use of magic and team won me over very quickly. In true Fire Emblem fashion the twists of the game are very easy to relate to.

I found the game to be formulaic in terms of story development. In that sense it feels like most other installments. At times it feels like you are watching anime, because there are many many fmvs and they all look super stellar. The animation is really very good, pulling at your emotions or compelling you to laugh. There is a lot of dialogue going on between characters and it is interesting to watch how relationships change or improve based off the decisions the player makes.

I find the interface of the game to be very attractive. The design is amazing and it works in an intuitive way. I found it very easy to figure out which weapons needed fixing, and which characters would benefit from new weapons.

New (to me) features were the lessons, quests and tea time being integrated into one phase of the game. It is rather well organized in terms of letting the player decide if they want to go combat heavy, or if they want to savor the game and squeeze every last quest out of it. You can cook, fish, do some gardening, spend time with students, send them to tournament competitions, sing in the choir, deliver letters for NPCs and buy upgrades. There are many, many menus and maps to refer to so even though there is a lot going on, you can choose which activities you feel up to and the game will follow through. The difficulty of this game is fairly easy and allows for a few mistakes without punishing the player.

I liked pairing my recruits together to improve their statuses, and found I really enjoyed experimenting with their roles when they were learning. School made me think I was playing a Harry Potter game. Perhaps the one I wanted to play at the time I was feverishly reading through all the books... ๐Ÿ”ฎ✨

I found the characters to have lots of attitude. My favorite one was Hubert. I really enjoyed how the instructors were integrated into the game, and how useful they were in mentoring your recruits, as well as how different their tone is and their locations seemed generally more discrete than that of the students.

I got lost while trying to follow the map many times. I think some people are just really good art memorizing locations and where certain things are, while the rest of us waste a little extra time trying to find the location of the quest. ๐ŸŒš๐ŸŒš๐ŸŒš

I found the last level increased the difficulty by 30%. I only noticed a slight difference in the battle previous. That last fight is very difficult if you haven't figured out a strategy to preserve your units for a long time, while enduring pretty brutal attacks from strong enemies. I appreciated the challenge.

Overall I give Fire Emblem: Three Houses ★★★★☆.  I docked them a star because I found myself getting bored with the quests and with how I had to reserve grinding for certain calendar days that allowed it. In previous games I could revisit old map areas as many times as I wanted and that was very helpful when I wanted to grind EXP before looming bosses and difficult dungeons. I can appreciate the new features for their value, but the reason why I play this game is to strategize and to battle. I wasn't thrilled with having to hunt down ingredients to cook, or figuring out the gardening and its aid to the party.

As the pioneering Fire Emblem game for the Nintendo Switch, I think it set a high bar for future games. I would purchase future games while hanging onto the hope that they will have figured out a way to make the game a more seamless experience to allow the player to pick the adventure they want to have on a given day. I hope they'll continue to improve upon the calendar system. I loved the lessons as they were structured and look forward to doing more of that in the future.

I think that people who haven't enjoyed any Fire Emblem game in the past will still be able to adapt fairly easily. There are so many tutorials in-game that you don't need to take to the Internet for help. But online help is certainly in abundance if you want it.

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