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 Disord 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 Talke, our Fire Emblem: Three Houses playthrough!

24 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.

Post a Comment!