Fire Emblem: Three Houses (Switch) Review

Fire Emblem: Three Houses is one of the biggest
steps in series history. From open areas to a more dynamic battle system,
the franchise’s return to home console contains a lot to admire. When I last spoke about the title, I was over
the moon with every aspect. Interacting with the characters was charming
and the missions provided a back-to-form attitude that I sorely missed. In comparison, the second half of the game
sticks the landing with most of these elements, but also creates brand new problems along
the way. Three Houses is a highly entertaining game
that showcases its biggest faults only in the second half or in a secondary playthrough. Three Houses sees you traveling all across
the continent of Fódlan. In the first half, you will be mostly stuck
in Garreg Mach Monastery. At the holy space, students train at the Officer’s
Academy to figure out the rest of their lives. You see the children of nobles, kings, or
highly gifted commoners. The breadth and depth of the individuals is
staggering, and showcases the major thing this Fire Emblem gets right: character building. Every student and professor has their own
story arc that you can partake in, if you so desire. They are completely voiced, offer unique interactions,
and give you information that is only hinted at otherwise. What I love about support conversations is
that they have context and keep the point of the story in mind. Sadly the most important support conversation,
normally reserved for true friendship and marriage, has a far lessened role as only
the player character can achieve S-rank relationships. At the beginning, you choose the group that
you will lead at the Monastery. Does it really matter if you pick the Black
Eagles, Blue Lions, or Golden Deer? For the first half of the journey, your choice
really doesn’t play that big of a role. Outside of the different students, the monthly
missions from the Church are the same. There are a couple of different paralogues,
depending on what you pick, but the plot lines don’t really change. You see the same cutscenes, meet the same
people, and head towards the same endpoint. That makes a secondary playthrough go a bit
slower than anticipated. While the playthrough can still be enjoyed,
I did wish that the branching off point would be a bit later. Even on New Game+, you have to go through
the same tutorials and slow build up as before. Towards the end of the first half, the story
takes a turn and branches off in specific ways. A war is on the brink of starting, and depending
on the route you picked, you may have to pick yet again. In either case, the events throw you into
a time skip, kicking off the second half of Three Houses. While the strong character building continues,
the stories can leave you feeling a flat by the end. Not every final act is bad or disappointing,
but I was left confused mostly. In one of the routes, the story just ends
after a rather short second part. As that was the first route I ever picked,
it left me with a sour taste. To complicate all that, certain story beats
are only told in one line and not another. Despite those setbacks and disappointments,
I continued playing Fire Emblem: Three Houses like there was no tomorrow. The gameplay in Three Houses has been refined
to form a highly entertaining experience. I really enjoyed exploring the grounds of
Garreg Mach Monastery, where you can freely explore as you see fit. The space is massive with a variety of facilities
and characters to meet up with. You can build up relationships with different
characters, even if they’re not in your house, and maybe even convince them that they
should join your side. You can go fishing, try your hand at gardening,
or just interact with every single thing in the world. It is so refreshing to go off and do something
new every in-game Sunday. Battling is boosted by a number of improvements. It is still the strategy experience that Fire
Emblem fans know and love. You make moves on a grid-based board, making
those decisions carefully and forcing friend and foe alike to the frontlines. A lot of the basics still apply, but a lot
has changed under the hood. A strong example is the return of Weapon Durability,
allowing for a system with greater checks and balances. Unlike previous entries where you were left
defenseless though, the weapon still works with reduced statistics. In general, Three Houses allows you to think
more outside the box, which I appreciated. Another welcome element is Combat Arts, where
you learn special abilities by becoming proficient with a weapon type. Unlike in the Shadows of Valentia, where these
attacks would drain your HP, they now take up more of a weapon’s durability. The player is free to mix and match weapons
and arts as long as they are in the same category, which makes battling more engaging. They are more effective with more expensive
weaponry, which creates another matter that you have to keep in mind. The funds that you receive from battles and
the church isn’t unlimited, but you can always fish or grow fruit in the monastery for added
money. That offers more of a choice between building
your relationships with students or raising funds for their weaponry. Once I had the money, I adored making usage
of the Gambit option. By heading over to the Battalion Guild, you
can hire some men that can help you out in battle. By finishing quests or paralogues, you earn
brand new battalions to hire. Every group can only be used by one unit,
coming with one ability that can help out with offense or defense. A bunch of mages restore the health of multiple
units, warriors attack with a vicious stampede, and archers shoot arrows in a large group. If you are successful, you can stun an opponent
and force them to stay promptly in place. In addition, it is incredibly helpful to destroy
beasts as you can stun them for a limited time. The beasts have multiple health bars, vicious
attacks, and specific weak spots. The look of Fire Emblem: Three Houses is incredible
for the most part. The world and character models have a unique
design philosophy that I’ve never seen in a Fire Emblem game before. It was clearly the right call to change the
character design, just for the sake of creating something unique. With that being said, you can clearly see
that Koei Tecmo made this video game. Characters clipped through the environments
a few times, taking liberties where they could and should walk. In addition, while exploring the monastery,
not every movement seemed smooth. While the battle animations were quite lovely,
weird lighting make them look awkward now and again. That being said, all these small things don’t
take away from the overall grandeur of the graphics. On the other hand, the music left me more
puzzled.The songs themselves are absolutely fantastic, bringing some wonderful tunes to
the world of Three Houses. That being said, battle music repeats a lot
while event scenes usually get a unique piece. It seemed unbalanced. Fire Emblem: Three Houses is great in a lot
of respects. The game flies by with its various mechanics,
making for a highly entertaining adventure. That being said, I can’t shake off the feeling
that the final acts in the various routes could’ve been better. When I spent 60 hours on singular route, only
to be greeted with a bummer of an ending, it stung a lot. Combining the crapshoot of your ending with
a few technical problems drags the whole game down. The actual character arcs, complete with fully
voiced interactions, do a great job of accounting for the limitations, thankfully. Three Houses is certainly worth seeing through,
but it is way more about the journey than the end.

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10 thoughts on “Fire Emblem: Three Houses (Switch) Review

  1. Fire Emblem Awakening NWR review: 95

    FE: Three Houses NWR review: 80.

    Now we know that you are not serious.

  2. bummer of and ending? shit thats all i needed to hear ill pass i was hoping for like a xenoblade chronicles 2 lvl of experience this game looks good though but I dont think its my type cuz no open world stuff.

  3. i think there should be a option taht you can chage how the chars look in the class they have, i love edelgards timeskip outfit but she only wears this in battle as long as she has the class that fints this look my edlegard is swordmaster and i wish i could give her the chlothes she wears in every scene

  4. Actually different routes get a few different cutscenes before the time skip from what I can tell. Also it seems the endings change on which route you take and some of the choices you make. I definitely was very satisfied from the ending I got.

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