Playthrough: School House Talk

Fire Emblem: Three Houses

Hello and welcome to The Starlight Megaphone’s playthrough of Fire Emblem: Three Houses, a Tactical RPG released exclusively for the Nintendo Switch worldwide on 26 July 2019. It was supplemented by a series of DLC expansions available with a purchaseable expansion pass on the Nintendo Switch e-Shop.

Fire Emblem: Three Houses is the sixteenth game in the Fire Emblem series, a franchise of games well known for their difficulty and permanent character death. Typically, characters who are defeated in battle cannot be resurrected, and their deaths are permanently incorporated into the storyline. Moreover, ‘normal’ difficulty is routinely considered challenging in a Fire Emblem game, with unlockable ‘hard’ mode providing a significant challenge for even seasoned veterans of the series.

However, Three Houses continues the development of the more recent titles in the series, reducing the overall difficulty, and offering “Casual” players the option to disable “Classic” permanent character death. Although, with the game’s inclusion of the ability to rewind the game mid-battle, there is little need to disable permanent character death, because it is usually faster and more beneficial to simply rewind the battle to an earlier point, and then to make new choices which avoid the character’s death (thereby ensuring the character continues to gain experience). In Casual mode, characters who are defeated in combat flee the battle, and earn no further benefits until they are recovered in the Monastery.

Edelgard is one of the three major characters with whom the main character can align.

The choices made by Byleth, the main character, affect the development of the storyline, ensuring that the main character will ally with one of the three houses in the game or with the Church. However, the Black Eagles (Edelgard’s house) has a secret, alternate storyline which can only be accessed by making precisely correct choices and raising Byleth’s affinity with Edelgard to a high level before a key point in the game. The result is that there are a total of five storylines in all, each with their own events and ending.

Character affinity can be raised by fighting together in battle, but far more practical is the building of affinity by participating in the game’s Persona-like social options, which take place in the gameplay hub of Garreg Mach Monastery. In the monastery, Byleth can dine, sing, garden, fish, train, argue, study, and talk with the students of all three houses. By reaching certain skill milestones and raising affinity to a substantial level, it is even possible for Byleth to lure students away from other houses. Higher affinity also translates into a much higher likelihood for skill combos during battle.

Time progresses through the game, resulting in significant changes to the characters based upon the player’s choices.

The game is divided into month-long segments, each of which allows Byleth a certain number of action points based on his Professor Level. The higher the level, the more actions that Byleth can undertake in a given month: actions such as fighting battles to level up or obtain money, or spending time in the monastery with the students or engaged in personal training. When the game is completed, a New Game+ mode allows the Professor Level to carry over, allowing Byleth to start from the beginning of the game but with substantially more actions available each month, allowing more social and character development than could ever be possible on a normal playthrough. In short, Fire Emblem: Three Houses is a game where player choices affect almost every aspect of the game experience, meaning that each person’s experience will be highly personalised and unique.

Use the comment thread below to discuss your approach to the game, challenges you have faced, strategies and content you have uncovered, and any aids you are using in your playthrough. Do you feel that Fire Emblem: Three Houses has benefitted from the inclusion of social elements? Or do you believe that earlier games in the series provided a more focused experience? Do you find the array of choices liberating, or would you prefer a more linear approach? What sorts of changes would you make to the game? What features would you add or remove? Tell us all about it and join in our discussion below! We will select some of the best comments, each week, for our podcast discussion.

If the main character builds sufficient affinity, marriage is even a possibility.

The aim in this playthrough is to complete the entirety of the game by mid-July. Instead of milestones, we encourage you to play at your own pace–but please keep us updated about your thoughts and progress as you play the game. This will help to sustain our discussion and encourage other players to complete the game. Please also make use of our official Discord channel, where we have an #events channel dedicated to playthrough chat.

Please join in with us and comment about your experience! The playthrough time frame is intended to allow anyone and everyone to participate, regardless of speed of play or familiarity with the series. Comment and tell your friends!

Without further adieu, we invite you to join The Starlight Megaphone’s staff members and readers in School House Talk, our Fire Emblem: Three Houses playthrough!

60 comments

  1. Attentive readers will notice that I have attempted to give equal column space to each of the potential storyline paths.

  2. I’ve completed this with Edelgard first (obviously), and started a New Game + with Claude some months ago, but only a few chapters in, so I’ll be continuing eith that.

    I chose Claude this time because he had 2 of my favorite characters that I poached from his class last time: Marianne who I made into a Holy Knight, and Lysithea who I made into a Gremory, and just destroys everything. I’ve been working on grabbing Mercedes from BL as the best healer, but I don’t plan on taking anyone back from BE, and I’m following mostly the same class choices as last time.

  3. Lysithea is brilliant.

    Another character I particularly liked is Bernadette, who has severe agoraphobia, anxiety, depression, and a variety of other crippling social and mental disorders. But, if you are very nice to her, she warms up to Byleth and eventually becomes a part of the whole group. It’s a great story arc and some of her lines are really hilarious.

  4. Ready to go!!! So looking forward to diving into this again! Love this game and maybe I will complete it this time even :D

    Probably going to play as a man and see if I can finally see all of Marianne’s scenes.

    Well I’m off to play!

  5. I’ve started up my playthrough and continued on from my NG+ run from launch. I originally finished Black Eagles with the church branch story route. This time I’ve started up a new game and I’m going with Dmitri and the Blue Lions.

    I love this game and forgot how much polish there is. The cutscenes are so nicely animated for one thing. I remember at launch this was such a breath of fresh air. There weren’t many other highly polished RPGs on switch at the time.

    This time I’m playing on Normal difficulty and Casual for the permadeath. In addition, I’ve also turned the battle speed up and all animations off to really speed it up. I find this game is great but later on it feels very bloated by the social and training aspects.

    One tip I would say for new players; plan ahead and look at the prerequisites for later on classes that you want your characters to develop into. It’s easy to get into dead ends and not have the correct Riding skills, flying skills and heavy armour. If I remember those are some early-mid skills that will become important. Change all of your guys to custom goals and start raising skills they are weak in.

    I’ve done about 3 or 4 hours so far and loving seeing all the numbers and ranks going up. So addictive and cathartic.

  6. My first playthrough ended at 97 hours, and I know a good portion of that time was spent between looking at the class training screen and my written notes on how I planned each character to grow en route to their ultimate class.

  7. ::shakes head at the prospect of playing on Normal-Casual:: Dear, oh dear, oh dear…

  8. I know I feel really bad doing it, but otherwise I know I won’t finish any routes during the playthrough.

    I went Normal/Classic for my first playthrough back at launch.

    So are the options for difficulty:
    Normal
    Hard

    Casual
    Classic
    Phoenix?

    I read about Maddening, or I think you said something about it on the podcast before Caspius.
    I didn’t see Maddening on the options when I started.

  9. Basically:

    1. Difficulty
    – Normal is equivalent to “Easy” in earlier Fire Emblem games.
    – Hard is equivalent to “Normal” in earlier Fire Emblem games.
    – Maddening is unlocked after you complete the game on Hard, and is the equivalent of “Hard” in earlier Fire Emblem games.

    2. Gameplay
    – Casual: When your characters die in battle, they are just KO’d until the end of the fight. You can rewind battles to prevent them dying at all, as well.
    – Classic: Normal Fire Emblem style in that characters die permanently. But still with the easy ‘you can rewind battles to any previous point in the fight’ ability. No one should ever be dying anyway. In my entire playthrough on Hard/Classic, no one ever died! And that was my first time playing through an FE game ever!
    – Phoenix: I *think* that this is the same as Classic, but you CANNOT rewind battles. So this is the real deal, like old school FE. I could be wrong, though, because I’ve never heard of it before!

  10. I’m pretty sure Phoenix mode actually lets your K.O.’d character revive on the next turn. It’s ridiculous.
    I’ve played this, Awakening, and Fates on Casual, because I hate the idea of having to restart the battle if one of my characters dies. In exchange, I do not ever use the rewind feature, so I’d end up having less units to fight the battle with if that happens, and it could change my strategy significantly for the rest of the map. I think that’s a fair exchange.
    I’d rather have the permadeath happen after a few turns, or having to pay to revive them, or them being out of commision for the next battle, than immediate permadeath or no real consequence, but that’s Fire Emblem’s thing.
    I hope they don’t continue the time rewind in the next game, it’s a bit silly. I think they could have done without it in this game too; Sothis and what she means in the story can make sense without the mechanic.

  11. Phoenix mode does sound absurd. I wonder why I don’t have it as an option!

  12. Berserk followed up on Discord to let us know that Phoenix mode is only in FE: Fates, not Three Houses. No wonder I don’t see it as an option! 😆

  13. @Tanzenmatt:

    The time rewind mechanic almost completely obliterates the need for a ‘Casual’ mode to the same degree that it undermines ‘Classic’ mode. Unless they intend for this mechanic to eventually replace a mode selection entirely, I can’t imagine they’d do it again.

    Of course, the ability to rewind time is limited. It only has so many uses allowed, and so on. But even on Hard difficulty, my characters died so rarely that I hardly ever needed the rewind feature. Thus, when I used it, I had so many uses saved up that I never approached the limit.

    On the one hand, I appreciate them dealing with character death gameplay through an in-game mechanic rather than a menu on/off Classic/Casual toggle. They evidently want to keep it ‘Fire Emblem’-y, so no Phoenix Downs or Life/Raise spells–instead, one can rewind time a bit, if one so chooses. Okay, fair enough. But on the other hand, I’m not sure that this mechanic is the best way to do that. So I guess what I’m saying is that I like it better than the mode toggle, but I also think that they should come up with something else in the future.

  14. Chapter 3 so far and really enjoying it. Spending some time levelling up characters now in battles.

  15. I haven’t had a chance to play much as I’ve been trying to finish my latest Bloodstained playthrough, but I promise to get some in tonight or tomorrow before the podcast. Edelgard forever!!!!

  16. This is my fourth play-through. I did Blue Lions and Golden Deer when the game came out and then Black Eagles when the new expansion characters came out. I’m going to do Blue Lions again because I don’t want to do the church route and I did Blue Lions the longest amount of time ago. I am playing on hard classic. I really feel these games are balanced with the players losing condition considered to be having a unit die so casual would be too easy.

    I would like it if the rewind feature was something that you could only use a few times the whole game if it returns in the future. I would want it to be a big decision on when to use it like the Fire Emblem 4 staff you get that can bring someone back to life once. Although thinking about it, this would only carry weight on classic mode.

    The new game+ mode allows you to blaze through the game way faster than an initial run and I am moving at a quicker pace. I just finished the chapter 6 and have played for about 11 hours. About half the battles I’ve played I was able to just set to auto after making sure my less durable units were in safe positions and be perfectly fine. I’ve recruited a ton of characters because I want to get as much of the supports filled out as I can. This might to require me to use a lot of the non-student units eventually.

  17. Maybe it could be an option to have them make the rewind something you could turn on/off in settings in future games 🤔

  18. “I would like it if the rewind feature was something that you could only use a few times the whole game”
    I think this would work great while still fitting exactly within the game’s story. Alternatively, maybe only once per map.

    I don’t expect it to return in future games though. FE has had different mechanics they’ve dropped before – most notably marriage and children!

  19. @Berserk: “I would like it if the rewind feature was something that you could only use a few times the whole game if it returns in the future. I would want it to be a big decision on when to use it like the Fire Emblem 4 staff you get that can bring someone back to life once. Although thinking about it, this would only carry weight on classic mode.”

    Yes. Get rid of casual mode and replace it with a very rare option to revive people. Make it a big storyline deal (as it is in, for example, D&D/Pathfinder). I like that!

    @Winter: “Maybe it could be an option to have them make the rewind something you could turn on/off in settings in future games “

    Why? Unlike Casual/Classic, it’s a function you use, not a change to the rules of the game. If you don’t want to make use of it, you can just choose not to use it. You wouldn’t need a toggle setting for that.

    @Tanzenmatt: “I think this would work great while still fitting exactly within the game’s story. Alternatively, maybe only once per map.”
    Once per map it good, too. Some sort of restriction is, I think, key. But yes, I don’t think we’ll see this in the next FE game, which will probably be YEARS from now. :(

  20. It was just an idea really, if maybe not the best one. You’re right, it’s not really needed. To me it doesn’t matter either way. I haven’t used it so I have forgotten it’s there really.

    Thinking about it more I think making it something you could only use a few times in the game would make it more meaningful. As long as they keep it optional to use it I’m happy.

  21. @Winter: I think whatever they do will be optional. Right now, they’ve given us so many options that they’re kind of counteracting each other!

  22. That’s true. And I’m sure whatever way they go they will do it in a way that satisfy both new fans and old. I love Three Houses, it’s so good. I played this morning and went into a hall and heard the sort of echo sound or what you will call it that you hear in a museum or a big hall and I thought wow that’s details!

    About to get into the mission in chapter 3 now. Spent a lot of time levelling up and taking exams this week.

  23. I’m at Chapter 9 now, finding it quite a slick game again. It’s so polished but I do find the more that you unlock in Garreg Mach, the more bloated the explore option is for the Monastery. It’s a lot of boring side quests and it can drag on. This time round I’ve tried to pick up on things I didn’t really do in my first playthrough. I’ve recruited quite a lot of the other house students.

    I’ve got quite a few characters up to the third tier of character classes and I’m trying to work on their skills as I go along. I remember it can be easy to be missing out on some skills like riding, flying and heavy armour as you go into the final tier of classes. My character levels are between 15 and early 20s now. I’ve still not decided where to go with Byleth. Similar to my first playthrough at launch, I’m mixed between swords and black magic spells so far.

    Any ideas of how to take on the Death Knight? Seems impossible even on NG+

  24. @Berserk: Dark Spikes hits the Death Knight hard since he’s on a horse. Lysithea gets it at Reason B and Hubert at Reason A. Hit him with other anti-horse skill units that might not die, then let Lysithea finish him off, because he’ll kill her if he’a able to follow up.

  25. I am going to re-start my game in Hard / Classic mode in FE One House since I am not very far in. I want that FFT level of challenge, if that is the rough equivalent. Also, whomever it was that suggested turning off animations in battle was spot on. Can’t remember who it was talking about that on this week’s show… Possibly Bup. You’ll just have to listen tomorrow to find out.

  26. I started my new game + file (Classic/Maddening) this evening, sort of, in that I went in and messed around with the journal, made some poor choices, and will need to restart!

    Does anyone have advice about the best way to spend renown? Is there any advantage to keeping it?

    There doesn’t seem to be a way to use the journal to unlock classes for the characters, so I suppose I will have to do that the regular way? I was sort of hoping to use renown to more or less make my party very powerful right from the beginning, but it looks like I can only use it on a few things:

    – Professor Level (obviously the MOST important thing to max out immediately)
    – Support levels
    – Skill levels
    – Buying some crests
    – Mastering already-unlocked jobs which the character had mastered in the previous game

    Raising skills to hit class pre-requisites seems like a good idea, and raising support levels to recruit other characters (Lysithea!). Is there anything else I should be doing?

    I’ll be starting afresh tomorrow to make more carefully-calculated choices about spending my renown, so any advice anyone can offer would be welcome!

  27. The only other use for renown, unless you have the expansion pack, is for the statue bonuses that carry over from play-through to play-through. I believe on maddening you only get half the experience you would otherwise so you might want to save some renown to get the experience boosting statue effects.

    If you have the expansion pack you can also use renown to buy some powerful weapons in the Abyss area.

    You have the right idea in maxing professor level and then raising supports on characters you want to recruit being the top priorities.

    If you want to save renown you could wait to raise skill levels until your leveled enough to access the classes. This is because because every level raised with renown requires 500 units but it takes significantly less skill experience to level from a D to a D+ than a B to a B+ for example. Why waste 500 renown when you could teach someone 3 times instead for the level up. You can use that 500 renown later when it takes 15 lessons to get to the next level.

    I think the crests and skills are nice but less important. That said it can be pretty useful to unlock one of the more useful late-game skills right away for maddening. The first few chapters were the hardest from my experience so any advantage on those maps is useful.

  28. @LC11: “If you want to save renown you could wait to raise skill levels until you’re leveled enough to access the classes.”

    This is exactly the reason why I am quickly restarting. Because I cannot reclass anyone straight away, there’s no point using renown on skills that I can level up in the first few battles. I’m going to save it for boosting them when it becomes harder to level.

    Maxing statue level also matters, particularly for the exp statue if Maddening really does reduce exp earned (oof!).

  29. Restarted to play Dmitri’s storyline. I figure I should at least *see* it!

    Also messed around playing the battles zoomed into 3rd person mode. It’s very weird!

  30. On my first day in the monastery, I recruited every single student from Edelgard’s house (except Hubert, of course). I felt a bit crap about this, but my plan is to get all of the characters available, or nearly, in this second playthrough so that when I finally return to Edelgard in a later game, she’ll have every single receuitable character in her house.

    I had 20,000 renown, and nothing else to spend it on really, because my statues were already maxed from my first playthrough. So I maxed out my support rank with every available character and they all joined up immediately!

    With that said, I’m not really using any of them this time, because I want to build my support rank with new characters, so I can get them next time, too.

  31. I had a fair amount of renown left to go to get the statues maxed out, so I focused on that after getting professor rank back up, then to get a couple skills and support ranks up.
    Since I had max support with all Black Eagles from the first playthrough, I’m working on it for the rest of Golden Deer, and recruiting to max out a few more Blue Lions, by the time I ever want to do a third playthrough with the Lions I’ll have everyone I want supporting me.
    I’m in chapter 8 now. I don’t really trust Claude yet though, he’s always scheming and lately he’s been inventing poisons. Edelgard had secret schemes too but they were in the best interests of Fodlan.

  32. I’m in the second part of he game now. I forgot how violent Dimitri’s dialogue gets. He’s talking about things like wanting to smash peoples heads between his hands. It’s fun though, I like it.

    I like how in the second half you can learn from students and the teaching section in you sitting with everyone around a large table. I think it reflects well the evolution in relationship from student and professor into equals.

    I’m even seeing new paralogues. Caspar and Ferdinand have paralogues you can only see when not on the Crimson Flower route. It’s unlikely I’ll finish Caspar’s though because It seems to require him to survive a round with the death knight and I haven’t been using him at all.

  33. @LC11: Thanks for the heads-up re. Caspar. I haven’t been using him either, and I’ll want to see his paralogue, so it looks like I’ll be levelling him up a bit so that he’s ready!

  34. Caspar’s a decent powerhouse, I made him into a whatever-it-is that uses both axes and gauntlets. You could go Fortress Knight too. He just moved so much slower on the map than everyone else at that point it was hard to get him to an enemy that someone else couldn’t fight first. There’s an item called I think March Ring that adds an extra space towards movement, but depends on if you’d rather use that slot for a shield.

    Also my tip is to keep an Iron+ weapon as a backup for each character, at least until Silver weapons. They can sometimes get you a 2nd hit where a Steel weapon only gets one, so it does more damage.

  35. Chapter 6 now. Definitely not on track even though I have almost only been playing this game. Having a blast though! Only lost Leoni so far. She’s not a favorite and when I discuss FE with a friend we just call her meat shield because I throw her in front of Marianne the first part of the game and she’s often lost.

    Apart from that they are all blooming even though Hilda is constantly trying to sneak off from the battlefield and let any and all she can find do her duties 🤔

  36. I am not making fast progress (Ch. 3), but I did complete the game just a few months ago, so it’s a bit fresh in the mind still!

  37. Chapter 7!! Trying to push it this weekend. Any reason you’re ending it 9th instead of 15th?

  38. @Winter: We always have a short break between playthroughs to allow one to end (so we can wrap it up on the podcast) before the next begins, otherwise we’d be reporting on two in one week (and I also need time to write a new post).

  39. I’m on chapter 12 now, enjoying it for the most part. One thing I’m wondering, is, how much difference is there between the different routes?
    On Blue Lions, at least up til the point I’m at before the timeskip, it seems very much the same story as my Black Eagles playthrough. Maybe I’m not remembering it well, but it seems more or less identical.

    I have recruited quite a lot of others from other houses. Some of my standout characters: I’ve got Dedue as a tank, Fortress Knight. Mainly strongest in Axe and Heavy armour, but I’m trying to get his sword and Lance skills up.
    I have a few female Mages, Dorothea, Annette as Warlocks. Hopefully will get both magic skills up and get them to Gremory class by the end. Flayn, Linhardt, and a few others are a bit behind in levels. The teachers I find are a bit lower level but have a lot of potential. Catherine is super broken as always with Thunderbrand.
    Ingrid is my Pegasus Knight and I have a few of each class. Bernadetta and Petra are snipers along with Shamir. Sniper is a really good class. I remember bow knight becoming super broken in end game for the reaching across the whole stage with ease. Some classes that I don’t know so well are Warrior, Hero, Brawler and Assassin. I side-promoted one of my horseback knights into warrior to see what it was like. That’s something I didn’t think would be worth doing. I would always assume promoting to the next level would be best. And if nothing unlocks just wait. But by changing to another class in the same tier, I could work on skills I might be missing. So that’s one thing I’ve just recently thought to try.

    Does anyone have any experience of changing characters to classes that wouldn’t be the obvious first choices? I bet there are some nice hidden combinations to find. What does everyone do with their MC, Byleth? Currently I’m trying to work on magic and then swords as well. I think that’s exactly what I did in my first playthrough… Boring but effective

  40. One thing I forgot to say is that the game doesn’t really have balance. Characters either deal no damage or enough to one shot enemies. It’s easy. Perhaps down to my difficulty option that I chose. But what I found frustrating is that you might go the whole stage in the late game and then lose some characters towards the end of the battle. Then needing to rewind or restart the stage becomes a bit annoying. Some stages take a long time.
    Next playthrough will definitely be on Hard and then hopefully unlock Maddening.

    Any good guides that you guys have been using? I couldn’t quite figure out prerequisites for unlocking paralogues and other things like recruitment or levels for class exams

  41. Swords for Byleth for me. That said that is what I tend to be drawn to in all rpgs. Definitely a get close and strike hard sort of person. Usually to the detriment of focusing in armor lol.

    Up to chapter 8 now and there’s still lots left of Sunday :) Can’t believe I have put almost 30 hours into this playthrough so far! Total that’s now 100 hours of this game!! I find it a game it’s easy just pour hours into.

  42. I usually just do the typical sword/magic build with Byleth with additional healing magic in later play-throughs.

    I have built Sylvain and Lorenz In the direction of dark knights before and they were pretty fantastic with magic. I sent Ingrid down the armor knight path once and her natural speed and res nicely patched up the natural weaknesses of the class. I also always build Felix aiming for mortal savant and it always pays of in spades.

  43. I’m close to the end now. I have two or three chapters left. I enjoy how the game pulls off the themes of revenge and forgiveness in the Blue Lions route. That said, it lacks any real resolution regarding Those Who Slither in the Dark unless you pair Dimitri up with DLC character Hapi. I’ve also completely filled out the support log except for Claude/Balthus and most the S supports. I really don’t feel like playing through 2-3 maps over and over to get those supports.

    I was wrong that Caspar has to fight the Death Knight in that map. That said, he does start on the other side of the map from your main party with Mercedes and you need to keep them alive until you can get to them or teleport them. So it’s still worth leveling him up a bit and you do get the Death Knights weapon if you can land the killing blow on him with Caspar which is nice to have.

  44. So fast!!

    I’m in chapter ten now. Feel like I go at snails pace despite having put in almost 40 hours lol. Well I guess that’s how I play xD

  45. You can go through the game much faster on new game+.

    The resolution in Blue Lions is just some text in the shared ending card for Dimitri/Hapi talking about how with info Hapi gave him he went and hunted the evils down. It really isn’t that much.

  46. Ah that makes sense. I’m not towards the end of chapter 12. Hoping to make it to 13 today.

  47. @LC11: I am very disappointed to read of the skimpy attention paid in Blue Lions to the real storyline. It looks like what I said partially in jest was in fact wholly the truth: Edelgard’s secret path is the ‘real’ storyline.

  48. This might be my last comment of the playthrough, so it’s been fun! Need more of you staff guys to take part in these more 😜 Caspius should take up the Vampire Killer and whip things into the dictatorial internet frontier the site used to be.
    I’ve noticed I get bogged down and don’t get to play very much of any games through the week at all, so I understand it’s hard to get time to take part in these things.
    As for my progress, I am on chapter 17! So still a fair bit remaining I think. I might have time to finish this before the playthrough ends. I realise now I’ve been making a big mistake all along. I’ve not been reading the support conversations between other characters. So it seems most of them aren’t past their first or second scenes. This goes back to my first playthrough as well, unfortunately. I think I just didn’t realise how I had to watch them in that particular menu. It might mean I have to do a 5th playthrough at some point later on down the line if I want to Max everything out.

    As for the game so far, I’m liking Dmitri’s post timeskip story. It feels a much grittier darker game in the second half and the characters have personalities and their own opinions. They disagree and fall out. They feel like they have matured and could feasibly splinter off and take their own routes. It would be a good addition if characters could leave if they don’t agree with your choices. It reminds a bit of the old Fire Emblem games on the GBA or the military and battalion stuff you would see in the Berserk manga, one of my favourites.
    There are a few aspects I do feel drag on.
    It’s quite bland and generic and really feels bloated. Some of the game is great but the few flaws mean I’d probably rate it a 4.0/5.0 on a good day but 3.5/5.0 on a bad day. I’ve gone back and done 2/3 of the stories in FE: Fates so will maybe go back and do more of the routes in this game after the playthrough finishes.

  49. @Caspius: The path really ignores the bigger picture to focus on Dimitri’s redemption. That and his shared history and connection with Edelgard that she seems to have completely forgotten because of the experimentation on her. If I remember correctly the only path you actually go and deal with Those Who Slither in the Dark is Golden Deer because Claude cares more about figuring out who is behind everything than focusing on the war. The Church route might deal with them also, I don’t know.

    I beat the game. The final Blue Lions map had way more magic enemies than I remembered and all these magic enemies had top level magic spells. I had to hold choke points with Mercedes and Byleth to survive. After playing through Edelgard’s route her exchange with Byleth if you have them fight was way more hard-hitting. Hapi’s single ending made me laugh because it says she singlehandedly went and killed Those Who Slither in the Dark. It seems her purpose in the game is to assure the players that the secret evils won’t ruin the happy ending.

  50. Congrats!

    I’m now in chapter 15. I think progress will be too slow to make it in time. I just can’t seem to go through the chapters fast enough. But I’m enjoying it and hoping to finish this playthrough if I don’t loose all my chars lol. The last couple of days I have lost a few suddenly. Got too cocky and forgot to actually check if they were in danger. Almost lost Marianne once and that woke me up!

  51. I’m really behind on the playthrough. Part of this is because I have very little gaming time, and I’ve been using it with Imitanis and Borderlands. The other part is that my sons don’t understand strategy RPGs just yet, so they find it a bit boring (they much prefer Super Metroid). And the OTHER part of it is that I’ve been doing a lot of work, which eats up a lot of my other free time.

    @Berserk: “Need more of you staff guys to take part in these more…”

    I agree! And as my comment above indicates, I’m guilty too. It’s been a very busy (unpleasantly so) Summer so far. A lot of employment uncertainty means a lot of extra work trying to get work. And so on and so forth. But I’ve also cracked the whip with staff, who made an unpleasant whining noise. But then Imitanis picked up FE again, so…!

  52. As we approach the end of the playthrough this coming weekend, I’m going to pull out all the stops on Thurs/Fri evening in a desperate attempt to rush through and beat the game again.

    Wish me luck!

  53. Our playthrough of FIRE EMBLEM THREE HOUSES ends tomorrow at NOON site time. Post your last comments for inclusion in the podcast!

  54. Well, I didn’t complete Claude’s story, or even get to the time skip. It’s hard to feel motivated to play when you know you’ll be fighting against Edelgard.
    I remember when this game came out, there was one other guy at work who was really into it, and he was trying to convince me to play Claude or Dimitri but not Edelgard. I went with my true feelings instead. Great guy, but totally wrong.
    Really, I think the problem with a second playthrough is there’s too much work building up characters and doing battles against how much I wanted to see the other storylines. It’s still a great game that I will revisit occasionally for years to come.

  55. I finished Dmitri’s storyline now, a few days late for the playthrough. Had to restart the final battle once because of the guy launching top level dark magic and putting my guys to 1HP only to be finished off. It’s a hard stage, but I was careful on the second attempt. Warped Byleth and then moved him up on turn 1 to take out that Mage that was the problem.
    Story wise it didn’t really explain a few things. Edelgard turned into a giant mecha?
    Great game but I feel a lot of it is padded and unintuitive. I don’t think there are many other games I’ve played for 100hrs and still don’t fully understand, or maybe appreciate. It feels like 100 hours I’ve not been fully happy with. Begrudgingly played it so much I suppose.

  56. @Berserk: Better late than never!

    It is definitely not a perfect game. It is a very, very good game, though. I think I would still give it an A on review: the essential gameplay is exceptional, as is the storyline, design, and so on. But there is a lot that is not well explained.

    Today, we tend to be harder on games that are not explicitly clear about their mechanics. But it is worth remembering that that expectation is actually relatively recent. Playing old NES games with my son reminds me that virtually nothing is explained in those games, and the instruction manuals, whilst helpful, were hardly comprehensive. Stuff that we take entirely for granted is completely opaque to people who are not familiar with classic games: where, in Super Mario Bros, does it tell you that you have to jump on Goombas? Or how to jump at all? Or that items are hidden in blocks? And that some blocks are invisible? And that you must not jump on a piranha plant or a spiny?

    These things seem obvious to us just looking at it (and I think they should be!) but games cater to and infantilise gamers to such a degree that many people who play games are incapable of *reasoning* out what to do. They are so used to being told what to do at every step of the way that they have become incapable of figuring things out for themselves, even when it is obvious.

    Admittedly, FE:TH is a very different kettle of fish. It is a very complicated game even for people who are familiar with the genre, a genre in which every game operates differently and has a different system which needs to be learnt. This makes me inclined to be more forgiving, not less, because it can be difficult to explain every single little thing in a way that makes sense for every possible player. And I do think that some of it should be left up to personal exploration rather than explicit tutorial. I would rather they err in that direction rather than in the direction of infantilisation and handholding.

    The last thing I’ll say is that this particular game represents quite a bit of experimentation on the part of the developers. It is not a traditional FIRE EMBLEM game in the sense that previous entries have been. It is clear that the developers were thinking about the success of Persona, and that they tried to implement some of those elements in their own game. I think, to the degree that they have succeeded, it has paradoxically been to the detriment of the Fire Emblem-ishness Of the whole game. That doesn’t necessarily mean that it is good or bad, only that they were trying something new at which they has less experience, which may explain why it is patchy in some aspects.

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