More Fire Emblem: Three Houses Details from E3
The Fire Emblem series is finally returning to home consoles this summer with Fire Emblem: Three Houses, and we got our first real taste of the story this week at E3. I’ll admit that I had some concerns after Three Houses was revealed during this year’s earlier Nintendo Direct, as it seemed like the narrative might revolve around a “10 points to Gryffindor” style school rivalry. I’m pleased to report that the E3 trailer has proved me wrong!
In Fire Emblem: Three Houses, you play as Byleth, a professor at the prestigious Officer’s Academy in the land of Fódlan. The heirs of the three major political powers of the realm are enrolled at this school, and like Fire Emblem: Fates, the player must choose which faction to side with. Judging from the latest trailer, this isn’t a frivolous choice to decide who wins homecoming. We now know there is a five-year timeskip, during which this schoolyard rivalry turns into all-out war. It would seem that Sothis, who appears to be a Divine Dragon similar to Tiki or Naga from earlier games, allows Byleth a glimpse at this darker future, and perhaps the power to go back and change things for the better (or maybe for the worse).
I’ll admit, I’m a huge sucker for these time travel/butterfly effect-type stories, and with at least three different paths to choose from, Three Houses should have a ton of replayability. Unlike Fates, it looks like you only have to buy one game to experience the three divergent tales. I do wonder if there will be a fourth path, like Fates’ Revelations, which allows you to unite all three groups to take down the true enemy. If there is, I suspect it will be DLC.
While the trailer focused on story, we got some gameplay details during Nintendo Direct’s second stream. Combat will continue to be in the turn-based, grid style synonymous with the franchise, but the system is being revamped. Weapon durability, removed from Fates, is returning, along with most of the standard Fire Emblem classes such as Cavalier, Myrmidon, and Priest. There will be a large, free roaming area (the Monastery) similar to ‘My Castle’ in Fates where the player can interact with NPCs and take part in myriad side activities, all of which will have an effect on your team’s capability in battle. An in-game calendar will progress day-to-day alongside the narrative, with events and activities tied to certain dates. Similar to the Persona series, there will be a limit to the amount of things you can do each day.
Perhaps the most notable difference from previous installments is that characters can change into any class you wish (barring certain gender restrictions), but will have innate proficiencies and weaknesses that make them most suitable to certain skillsets. If you really want a character with an affinity for magic to be a knight, you can train their martial skills to befit your preference.
And while there hasn’t been much mention of combat supports, romance, and children, these components are so integral to the Fire Emblem series (not to mention beloved by the fanbase!), that it would be difficult to see them not returning in some capacity.
Oh, and did I mention that there’s apparently a fishing mini-game? The E3 trailer might have me intrigued for Fire Emblem: Three Houses’ story, but I think we can all guess what I’m really looking forward to the most.
Fire Emblem: Three Houses comes out on July 26 for Nintendo Switch.