First and foremost, the biggest question many Nintendo Switch owners may have lingering is, “Is Fire Emblem: Three Houses a good game to jump into the series for the first time?” My answer to that is a resounding yes! Make no mistake though — the game has incredibly deep mechanics. However, nothing is extremely overbearing. Three Houses does a decent job at easing you into its intricate gameplay systems. That said, if you’re brand new to grid-based, turn-based combat, then you might need to take some extra time to learn everything the game has to offer. But don’t let that deter you from giving it a shot. When you finally grasp every system Fire Emblem: Three Houses throws at you, it’s addicting, rewarding, and a pure joy to play.
Will the fun last?
My main concern before jumping into Three Houses was whether the combat would grow stale, as many JRPGs nowadays tend to overstay their welcome. At the time of writing this, I’m 40 hours into Fire Emblem: Three Houses and the thought of it overstaying its welcome hasn’t even crossed my mind. There’s so much to love about this game. So, finally, let me tell you why I can’t stop playing Fire Emblem: Three Houses.
Characters, stories, and the world of Three Houses
Fire Emblem: Three Houses leans more into characters, relationships, and side-stories than ever before. There are a lot of characters to interact with throughout the game’s free-roaming area called the Monastery. Surprisingly, all of them are equipped with their own in-depth, rich, and sometimes even heartbreaking backstory. (I mean like super deep, thought-provoking, “lying awake in the late hours of the night and can’t stop thinking about it” kinda heartbreaking.)
Somehow, developer Intelligent Systems excels at world-building through still text-bubble conversations. Not only is this portion of the game entertaining, but strong relationships offer perks on the battlefield. It’s much like in Persona, another famous Japanese role-playing game series. For me, the character interactions and side-stories are half the fun of Fire Emblem: Three Houses.
The praise doesn’t end there; the combat is a blast as well. There’s nothing more satisfying than building up your own unique roster of warriors and going full force into battle. It’s the Fire Emblem combat that series vets know and love with a few new features. However, how you get new recruits is slightly different. In the beginning, you’ll choose one of the three houses, the Black Eagles, the Blue Lions, or the Golden Deer.
While students from your chosen house are available for battle at the start, you have the ability to bring in new students and even professors that aren’t students of your house. To sum it up, you’ll need to build up certain stats like Faith, Strength, Authority, and many more to win them over. However, ever since I found a full team of my liking, I haven’t felt the need to change up my warriors. That could change down the line though. I’ll be sure to shed more light on this later this month in my full review of the game.
Weapon durability returns in Three Houses. You have a limited number of uses for a weapon before it breaks. Each has a set damage total, critical hit chance, and hit chance associated with it. Whatever character you’re using also affects the critical hit chance and hit chance. Even though I’m 40 hours in, the game is still throwing new things my way. As soon as I thought I knew everything I needed to for battle, the game brought in monster enemies. Then, later, Pegasus enemies fly into battle. I don’t know what else to expect in the second half of the game, and that’s really exciting.
How does it look?
Fire Emblem: Three Houses’ character models are absolutely gorgeous. Along with that, special attacks are bursting with vibrant colors that are straight-up eye candy. Sadly, those two aspects of the game are the best-looking parts of Three Houses. Otherwise, things don’t look great. I wasn’t expecting to be blown away by the game’s visuals, but there are some seriously ugly textures in Three Houses. Some textures look like they haven’t even fully loaded in… but they have.
The entire monastery area and the ground textures during battle stood out to me most with some seriously low-res texture work. The visuals are easily the most disappointing part of the game. I can’t help but think a few more months of texture polish would have gone a long way. I hope the next mainline installment offers a bit more graphically because I know the Switch is capable of more than what Three Houses is offering.
The plot will surprise you
I haven’t talked about the main story because I typically don’t like diving deep into story details for narrative-heavy games. And Fire Emblem: Three Houses is very story-heavy. I like to keep things vague, as (even small) spoilers could possibly hinder your enjoyment of the game. What I will say is this: Fire Emblem: Three Houses has had some really surprising moments so far that totally caught me off guard. To add to that, the game throws in some astonishing cutscenes with high-quality animations and performances. Things take a while to pick up, as with most RPGs, but the time investment only makes things more impactful. This is a video game story I wasn’t expecting to be enthralled with. I can’t wait to see it through to the end.
I have adored what I’ve played of Fire Emblem: Three Houses so far. You can look forward to our full review of the game later this month. Are you planning to pick up FE: Three Houses? If so, what house will you be choosing? Be sure to leave all of your thoughts in the comments section below, or join the discussion over on our Facebook page.
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