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.
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.
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.
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!