Fire Emblem: Three Houses is the sixteenth installment in Intelligent Systems' strategy series making its Nintendo Switch debut.
It was from the days of Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn, released on Nintendo Wii in 2008, that the saga was not playable on a fixed console and now on the Nintendo hybrid it will be possible to play it both on TV and in portable mode like its most recent chapters released on Nintendo 3DS.
The plot of the title
In the game we will take on the role of Byleth, which will function as our avatar within the game and of which we will be able to select the gender and change the name, but not theappearance come su Fire Emblem: Awakening o Fates.
Our protagonist is a itinerant mercenary who finds himself by pure chance saving three boys from the attack of a group of bandits, aided by the powers of a little girl who, for some mysterious reason, is inside him.
At the end of the fight we will discover that the three young men, Edelgard, Dimitri e Claude, others are but the principal heirs of the three nations of the continent Fodlan and who are students at the Official Academy of the Monastery of Gareg March.
Rhea, leader of the Church of Seiros and head of the Academy, will personally thank us for our undertaking and offer us the opportunity to become a professor within the renowned school.
The Officers Academy divides its students into three houses, Black Eagles led by Edelgard, Blue lions under the command of Dimitri ei Golden Deer by Claude. The new teacher is therefore asked to choose one of the three classes and to take care of training his new students to prepare them for the battlefield.
This choice will be very important because, not only will it modify the characters that we can use during the game, but it will also change history, allowing us to observe different developments and greatly extending longevity.
A comparison with the rest of the series
We are very satisfied with the plot of this game, much better in our opinion than that of some of its predecessors, especially for the more serious tones that have been adopted and for the excellent characterization of some of the protagonists and how the stories complement each other.
We appreciated how the motivations of the various characters are also explained by the dialogues of the Supports, which we also found useful to better understand some of them and the background on some events in the history of Fódlan.
Aside from Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia, the work done with Awakening and Fates had certainly disappointed longtime fans.
In particular, Fates it could have taken a very similar approach to that of Three Houses and the result would have certainly been better!
It can be said that this title dusts off some of the best elements of the series and manages to combine them in a harmonious way.
The right challenge
As usual within the series starting with Awakening, it will be possible to select different game difficulties and the possibility to choose between the mode Beginner is that classical.
One of the features of Fire Emblem, kept in Classic mode, is that our units that fall in combat come killed and we will no longer be able to use them for the rest of the current game.
Beginner mode will only do them retire allowing us to use them also in future battles, useful for helping novice players with strategic.
However, we advise you to start from the Classic mode as it is more faithful to the series and because it encourages the player to think about strategies that do not involve the loss of characters, making the various fights more interesting.
Among other things, the possibility of going back in time during the battles encourages and justifies the choice of the Classic mode even more.
Lunatic difficulty will also be added via an update later, offering a higher level of challenge and aimed at more experienced players.
Despite this, the difficulty of the game is still satisfying at the moment, and there will certainly be times when you use the Divine Impulse to go back a few turns and reconsider your moves!
Not just battles and weapons!
The game will organize the events of the story according to a calendar and each chapter will correspond to a month, the last day of which will be dedicated to the main fight.
Every Monday will be used to organize the lessons to be given to our students for the duration of the week.
Byleth's classes will be used to increase the level of competence of the students in the use of various weapons, spells, riding and qualities such as command.
We can establish on which characteristics we want to focus the studies of the various characters and give short extra lessons based on their level of Motivation, indicated by a colored face that shows how much the various characters are willing to give their best.
Sundays or Free Days are the days in which we will be able to focus Byleth on different activities.
For example, we will be able to explore the Monastery, participate in Seminars to increase Skills, train in free battles or take promotion exams.
These particular exams allow you to unlock the classes for the characters, as we will explain shortly.
Alternatively, we can also rest to restore the duration of some special weapons.
Exploring the Monastery
Taking up and improving the Castle introduced in Fates, in Three Houses we will find the Monastery, a place where we will really spend a lot of time between one chapter and another of the story.
It will in fact be possible to train and forge bonds with our students, giving them objects and carrying out the missions they will assign us.
Given the size of this campus, we will have one map with different zoom levels to facilitate exploration and the ability to "teleport" instantly between the various areas, a very useful function to save time.
Numerous facilities will be available such as the Refettorio, where we can share a meal with two characters or others like the Greenhouse, where we will find materials to be used for the most diverse purposes.
It will also be possible to fish in the Pond to kick off a short minigame that breaks up the sometimes solemn atmosphere of the game a little.
We will be able to freely explore the Monastery only in days off of the game calendar and for each session we will be assigned gods Action Points, which can be used to carry out the most complex operations such as receiving extra lessons from our fellow professors or inviting one of the many characters to have a tea.
At the beginning we will have only 3 points, which will increase with the raising of the Teaching Level of Byleth, allowing in the advanced phases of the game to carry out more operations in the same exploratory session.
Inside the Monastery we will also find a Mercato where we will be able to find the various merchants of the game, fromArmaiolor atEmporio, useful for stocking up on items and equipment, to visiting merchants from various parts of the game world who will sell us gifts, tea or ingredients.
No less important is the Forge, where we will be able to repair and upgrade game weapons in exchange for money and materials.
As mentioned before, the various characters that we will be able to meet will also be able to assign us secondary missions which, if completed, successfully completing the various requests that will be made to us, will give us rewards such as Fame points.
These points can be spent inside the Monastery Cathedral to restore the statues of the gods Four Saints. The more fame points we invest in improving them, the more passive skills we will receive in return. All this obviously will facilitate the task of enhancing the various characters, for example by improving the speed with which they learn the use of certain weapons.
We have previously mentioned the possibility of increasing the Support between Byleth and his students with gifts and items.
There are different levels of support ranging from C to S and at each new degree, we will see a dialogue of Support that shows the progress of the relationship between the characters.
Taking up the system introduced in Awakening, also in Three Houses there will be the possibility of establishing love relationships between our avatar and the other characters once we reach rank S.
We will also be able to manage relationships between students, remembering that the higher the Support between the various characters, the more bonuses we will have when the two units are on adjacent spaces during the fight.
A totally renewed gameplay
Fire Emblem: Three Houses has brought countless new features to gameplay of the series, starting with Battalions toDivine impulse, from the new classroom system to our teaching assignment.
The Battalions will be groups of soldiers that we will hand over to the most skilled characters in the Command category. When we attack we can decide to use the Battalion through the "Stratagem" item in the actions menu.
Attacking with the battalions will allow us to send in state of Panic our opponent, limiting his next movements.
Additionally, the battalion and the character will level together, although the Battalion will not make any changes to the stats of the character it is assigned to.
The divine Impulse given to us by Sothis it's not exactly a completely new mechanic to the series.
In fact, it takes up the Wheel of Mila present in Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadow of Valentia and it has the same usefulness as it, that is to set back time so as to avoid mistakes that would have cost the lives of our characters.
Instead, what is maintained is the organization of the various game maps on one orthogonal grid, where each of the characters can move from square to square and attack members of the opposing army.
The combat will alternate the turns in which we will be able to move our units to those in which our opponent will do so.
Usually the aim of the battles will be to eliminate all the members of the opposing teams or to defeat their leader, and depending on the difficulty we have selected, the power of the enemy troops will increase.
The new class system
One of the real strengths of this new Fire Emblem: Three Houses is precisely the great variety with which we will be able to organize our team.
In fact, every character will be able to access every class in the game (actually not always) and use every weapon, which also led to the elimination of the historic Triangle of weapons.
This does not apply to magic which is only related to magical classes. Each character will be able to switch between classes before a battle as needed.
One of the classic mechanics that have been turned upside down in this new chapter is about changing the classes of the various characters.
By staying consistent with the game's school setting, to unlock more powerful classes Byleth and his students will have to take exams, the outcome of which will depend on the level of skills that have been achieved with the character to be upgraded.
It is possible to take tests for more advanced classes every ten levels, and as usual for the series it will be necessary to use the Seals, which will be available in different versions for each grade of the Classes.
The game will give us the opportunity to take these exams even when the required parameters are slightly lower than those required.
The Gremory class, for example, will require that the character has reached rank A with both Reason and Faith, but in case we decide to try when the character has one of the two Skills at B, he could fail the exam, not unlocking the new class accordingly and consuming a Seal.
Each character can take only one exam per free day and if it fails we will not be allowed to try again until the following Sunday.
Another mechanic related to character growth is the one that involves learning skills. By improving the skills of the characters in the use of the same weapon, they will learn new passives and special moves to use in the course of the fight.
Each character can equip up to 5 passive skills. Another way in which we can get them is to make a character use the same class for a long time allowing him to master it to the maximum.
A further difference is the leveling system. Although as usual, you will earn experience points by defeating enemies and taking actions during the fights, this time we will not be subjected to frequent level caps.
In the previous games of the series, in fact, the characters could go up to a maximum of level 20 and once this level was reached the only way to continue increasing the parameters was to change classes.
This operation returned the character to level 1 and required the player to carefully choose when to upgrade the characters.
Now the character level will go well beyond 20 and will not reset when changing class, which we found excellent given the game's calendar system that would otherwise have limited the ability to experiment.
Technical sector to improve
Unfortunately, the game does not enjoy good graphics, resulting a bit dated from this point of view.
There are also many slowdowns that we have been able to encounter, both in fixed and portable mode, in particular in the areas of the monastery where there are numerous characters or sporadic drops in framerate within the fights.
Of course, they are not defects that demean the game too much, but we hope that in future chapters this aspect will also improve, allowing the series to reach levels that make the most of the capabilities of Nintendo Switch.
The soundtrack is excellent as always, especially the game's main music theme, The Edge of Dawn.
A breathtaking experience
Fire Emblem: Three Houses certainly has a lot to tell and to give to the player, also thanks to a well thought-out system of alternatives.
The possibility of being able to choose between 3 different Houses without the aid of DLC or other (unlike Fates) is certainly one of the strengths of this title.
The characters and the plot are also excellent and able to capture the attention of the player between one battle and another, but also during!
We can fully believe in this Fire Emblem, which turns out to be one of the high points of the entire series.
We also have diverse guide about this splendid title, which you can consult from our summary article.