Fire Emblem: Three Houses Release Date, Gameplay, And Reception

Fire Emblem: Three Houses: Developed by Intelligent Systems and Kou Shibusawa of Koei Tecmo, Fire Emblem: Three Houses was published by Nintendo for the Nintendo Switch. The worldwide release date is set for July 26, 2019. It’s the first Fire Emblem game for home consoles since 2007’s Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn, and the sixteenth overall in the series.

The continent of Fódlan, where Three Houses take place, is ruled by three separate but amicable houses. The Garreg Mach Monastery serves as a bridge between these countries; it is home to a church and an officer’s school attended by young men and women from all four kingdoms.

As the new professor at the academy, you’ll assume the role of Byleth, a former mercenary with a murky background, and it’ll be up to you to pick a class and lead your students through a series of conflicts. The game features a mixture of turn-based strategy, like previous Fire Emblem games, with social simulation and time management mechanics.

Intelligent Systems credited Koei Tecmo, with whom they had worked on Fire Emblem Warriors, for the game’s success and prompt release, despite the fact that the development of the game was difficult. The developers wanted to try something fresh with the series’ launch on HD consoles, so they implemented school-life aspects and added more room for combat.

The character designs and artwork were done by Chinatsu Kurahana. Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War served as inspiration for the game’s school system and a time jump in the middle of the plot.

The game was well received by critics, who praised its story, characters, soundtrack, and replay value, as well as its combination of the school system and battalion mechanics. Some minor complaints were raised about the game’s lighter difficulty compared to previous iterations, as well as some graphic and technical issues.

At The Game Awards 2019, the game took up two trophies: Best Strategy Game and Player’s Voice. With 3.82 million copies sold as of December 2021, it has become the best-selling game in the series. On June 24, 2022, Nintendo Switch owners could purchase Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes, a spin-off in the Warriors style.

Fire Emblem: Three Houses Release

In January 2017 during a Nintendo Direct dedicated to the series, Nintendo stated that a new mainline Fire Emblem game was in development for the Nintendo Switch, with a release date predicted for 2018. During its 2018 E3 presentation, Nintendo provided a wealth of new details, including gameplay footage and the game’s official name.

It did, however, reveal that the release date has been moved back to early 2019. The game was featured in another Nintendo Direct in February 2019, revealing more gameplay and plot details, including a second delay with the game’s release date falling on July 26, 2019, and the confirmation of Koei Tecmo as the co-developer.

At Nintendo’s E3 2019 Direct presentation, they showed off a brand new video for the game’s story, and later in the week, at Nintendo Treehouse Live, they showed off even more gameplay.

An Expansion Pass, containing additional content for the game, was announced in July by Nintendo and would be available from the game’s release date until April 2020. The initial batch of downloadable content included a new “Maddening” difficulty mode and other cosmetic additions in response to criticism that the game was too easy on “Hard” mode.

It also introduced a new voice actor for Byleth, Zach Aguilar, after Chris Niosi admitted to being emotionally and physically abusive to the character. Confessions included breaking a confidentiality agreement with Nintendo by discussing his role as Byleth outside of the game. Subsequent downloadable content updates expanded the roster of playable characters, expanded monastic exploration, and introduced the Cindered Shadows plot.

Fire Emblem: Three Houses Gameplay

In Fire Emblem: Three Houses, the player assumes command of a character whose gender and name they select before the game begins, making it a tactical role-playing experience. The Garreg Mach Monastery is the game’s nerve center, and the player character will spend the first few hours teaching there.

The story progresses differently depending on whatever house you decide to teach in. The player’s time is split between story-driven combat and time spent in Garreg Mach interacting with the school’s pupils and faculty. While the first half of the game centers on the educational system, the second half jumps ahead five years to focus more on the conflict while keeping the player tethered to the home they selected.

There are predetermined amounts of time between plot conflicts that the player can utilize to do things like teach lessons and run field drills, sow seeds in the greenhouse, or fish in the pond. During the player’s free time, they can participate in extracurricular activities where they can meet and get to know other students.

Fire Emblem Three Houses
Fire Emblem Three Houses

Actions and language choices affect a character’s Support level, which in turn affects the quality of their relationships. Depending on the strength of their feelings for one another, this could result in marriage after the timeline has been skipped over in the novel. Recruiting students from other houses, as well as other characters, is possible once the player has raised specific characteristics through acts in battle and within the Monastery.

There are more things to do in the academy portion than there are time points in a day, as each action costs a certain number of points. As a result of the player’s decisions, some events may not be available to them. Players may also use the online network to check out one other’s monasteries, and those with Fire Emblem-themed Amiibo can scan them for exclusive content and music.

Like previous Fire Emblem games, battles in Three Houses are turn-based, with players commanding a small army of specially designed soldiers. After moving over a grid, the vision switches to a third-person perspective, and a fight ensues. Battalions, extra troops that can back up a chosen unit, are now available for rent, a first for the series.

A battalion’s passive abilities improve the character’s stats, while the unit’s active skills, known as Gambits, can do everything from heal many allies to stun powerful foes. Players can even hone in on specific battalions on the map for a closer look. Like previous editions, “Casual” mode allows for the resuscitation of fallen characters after every battle, whereas “Classic” mode subjects them to permanent death if they die during combat. Once the plot allows it, the “Divine Pulse” ability allows players to go back in time and undo a fixed number of turn acts per battle.

Character classes are flexible and can be adjusted for each unit. Characters are assigned to a class based on their inherent abilities, although these classes can be changed through the acquisition of new skills. During the school periods, students can switch classes based on their “certification,” with some qualifications required to increase the likelihood of success on the relevant certification exam.

Lesson plans can be set up in advance of the start of the school week to passively train the class using the “auto-instruct” feature, actively manage the growth of a unit, or establish support between two classmates through group tasks. In place of the Weapon Triangle from previous Fire Emblem games, individual units now have access to a set of weapon-based talents called Combat Arts, which they can learn during the game’s school segments.

You can only use a weapon so many times before it begins to lose effectiveness. When a person becomes skilled with a certain weapon, they gain access to its unique Combat Art, which deals significantly more damage than regular attacks at the expense of a significant amount of the weapon’s durability.

Fire Emblem: Three Houses Reception

Fire Emblem: Three Houses has a Metacritic score of 89 out of 100, which indicates “generally acceptable” reviews. It’s the highest-rated Switch exclusive and the fourth-best Switch game of the year, according says the site.

One of the four reviewers for the Japanese game magazine Famitsu gave it a perfect score of 10 while the other three all gave it a 9. To paraphrase Martin Robinson of Eurogamer: “It really is a game of two halves, but they come together to produce one wonderful whole.”

After finishing the campaign, Game Informer reviewer Kimberley Wallace was startled by how eager she was to start a new game, praising the game’s ambition and willingness to take risks with the series formula. GamesRadar’s Aron Garst gave Three Houses a perfect score and praised the game’s ability to keep him engrossed in its characters despite its relatively easy gameplay.

The plot and gameplay were well received by GameSpot‘s Kallie Plagge, who termed it “the kind of game that’s hard to put down, even when it’s over,” despite her dislike of the requirement for many playthroughs to see the complete narrative. IGN’s Brendan Graeber praised the game’s narrative as being superior to Fire Emblem Fates and said that the game’s depth of characters and tactical possibilities more than justified several playthroughs.

Reviewer Daan Koopman from Nintendo World Report remarked that while the endings of some acts were disappointing, he was still engaged with the game due to its compelling story and enjoyable gameplay.

There was a lot of positive feedback for the scenario, with many players praising the challenging choices offered when choosing a side in the first part of the campaign and calling it a mature and ambitious narrative with good character relationships. The social components were praised as a welcome tactical addition, and the two gaming types interacting were also well welcomed.

The game’s visuals were met with mixed reactions, with some publications criticizing their low quality despite the game’s impressive artistic direction. Both the soundtrack and the voice performances were very well received.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is 3 Houses the Best Fire Emblem?

My own favorite JRPG is Fire Emblem: Three Houses. The game’s story, characters, fighting, and customization options are all superb. The stories of most Fire Emblem games have been solid, but the one in Three Houses is the best of the series.

Is Fire Emblem: Three Houses a Long Game?

To which house and down which road will you travel? Fire Emblem: Three Houses lasts roughly 49 and a half hours if you stick to the main storyline. If you’re the type of gamer that likes to see everything, it’ll probably take you about 206 hours to reach 100%.

Can You Marry Characters in Fire Emblem: Three Houses?

For the first time in the Fire Emblem series, marriage is postponed until the end of the main story, after the war has ended, in Three Houses. Before the time leap, the father of the player character, Jeralt, will call. Once you’ve finished the book, you can decide who to present it to.

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