Preview: Fire Emblem: Three Houses
We are still two weeks away from the release of Fire Emblem: Three Houses, but luckily we were provided with an early copy for review to let you know what we think of the game so far! In this preview, I can’t go into much detail story-wise (as we’re not allowed), but I can tell you what I think of the game so far.
First of all, I can confirm that my time with the game so far has been an absolute pleasure. It was actually the announcement of Three Houses that jump-started me into finally dusting off my 3DS and playing the more recent Fire Emblem games. My plan for the review in three weeks was to spend a week with each of the Three Houses, as I was most excited to join Edelgard’s house (The Black Eagles); the experiences I describe in this preview are based on my time in this arc.
The first impression that I had of the game was that the story itself moved at a methodical pace. The game shies away from the simple overhead map that allowed you to choose the next battle in the story or additional battles to gain experience for your troops. Instead, the developers chose to run the story through a calendar system. Battles in the story take place on certain calendar dates, and other events occur throughout each month as well.
Between battles, your protagonist (default name Byleth) has the opportunity to explore the Garegg Mach Monastery that he or she now calls home. In the monastery, Byleth is able to participate in activities with other characters such as sharing meals, choir practice and more. Most of these are done to increase Byleth’s own abilities, as well as building relationships with other characters that the Fire Emblem series is renowned for.
Another aspect that is very clear from the beginning of the game is the influence of Koei Tecmo Games. Having worked with Intelligent Systems on Fire Emblem Warriors, it was clear that the scale of Three Houses was ramped up moreso than previous mainline entry titles in order to come closer to what Koei Tecmo does best, grand scale battles.
Much like previous games, battles start from a top-down view. Units are selected and told what to do in essentially the same way they always have. The main difference is watching the animations unfold. Once a unit attacks another unit, the action pans immediately down to ground level and follows the actions of the units at hand. The attention to detail is fantastic and the character models in battle look great close up. They even kept the feet in!
There are a few aspects of Three Houses that I’m a little down on so far. The first one is accessing information on units. You can access a whole range of information on each of your units, right down to their interests and hobbies. However when purchasing weapons for your units, it’s difficult to keep track of who utilises which weapons the best without leaving the Armory entirely and going back to your roster of characters. I felt like I needed to write down my own notes for my characters just to stop having to go back and forth all the time.
The other aspect that kind of ties in with my first issue is the lack of ability to Auto-Optimise my characters items. I found this to be a useful tool in the 3DS games as it not only allowed me to be a little bit lazy in a game that is big on micromanagaing everything, but it also allowed me to easily recall what weapons benefit which of my units the best. This isn’t going to be a dealbreaker for most Fire Emblem fans, but for anyone trying to play casually, this won’t help very much.
Overall though, Fire Emblem is shaping up to be a fantastic game. I could rant about everything in the game, but I intend on saving most of it for the final review, where I am allowed to be a lot more in-depth with everything. Rest assured, this is the Fire Emblem we all know and love!