Fire Emblem: Three Houses asks a variety of you. Every piece, from battle to friendships to coaching your models, have to be managed each individually and as half of a complete. It may be intimidating, however when all of it clicks collectively, it actually clicks. Mastering the artwork of considerate lesson planning as a professor improves your efficiency on the battlefield, the place success depends on calculated teamwork and deft execution. Cultivating relationships throughout battle in flip attracts you nearer to every of the characters, who you then wish to make investments much more time into within the classroom. Every piece feeds into the following in a rewarding, engrossing loop the place you get misplaced in the entire expertise, not simply within the trivia.Three Houses casts you as a mercenary who, whereas out on a mission with their father, runs into a gaggle of teenagers beneath assault. After a short introduction and battle tutorial–which you should not want, because you’re apparently already a longtime mercenary, however we’ll go together with it–you be taught that they’re college students at Garreg Mach monastery. Each of them leads one of many faculty’s three homes: Black Eagles, Blue Lions, or Golden Deer. At the behest of the church’s archbishop, who undoubtedly offers off nefarious vibes however can be a mild mother determine, you find yourself turning into a professor and should select which of the homes to steer. There is a variety of thriller to the setup, with constant hints that one thing shouldn’t be fairly proper, and it is simple to get absorbed in attempting to determine what the archbishop and varied different shady figures are as much as.Your principal function as professor is to instruct your college students in issues of fight and put together them for story battles on the finish of every month. Battles in Three Houses function the identical turn-based, tactical fight on the coronary heart of the collection, albeit with some adjustments. The traditional weapon triangle is downplayed fairly a bit in favor of Combat Arts, which have been altered considerably from their introduction in Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia. Combat Arts are assaults tied to a weapon sort and may increase a unit’s assault energy on the expense of weapon sturdiness; some are efficient in opposition to particular enemy varieties, like armored models. You also can unlock expertise exterior of Combat Arts that grant you higher stats with sure weapons, like a heftier increase for utilizing an axe in opposition to a lance consumer, much like the previous weapon triangle. It’s the identical complexity the collection is understood for however much less abstracted, making it a bit simpler to strategize with out sacrificing depth.One of the large fight additions is battalions, mini armies you possibly can equip that present varied advantages to a unit throughout battle. They additionally offer you a brand new sort of assault known as a Gambit, which varies based mostly on the kind of battalion–magic-focused, brute drive, and so on–and stuns the enemies it hits. Gambits are limited-use and may be extremely highly effective in opposition to the correct enemies. You can improve a Gambit’s effectiveness even additional if a number of of your different models are inside assault vary of the goal, a tried-and-true Fire Emblem idea that applies to all types of assaults. There’s additionally an anime-style splash display screen as you assault that exhibits every character concerned within the Gambit trying fierce, which provides a pleasant little bit of drama.How a lot you employ Combat Arts and Gambits will depend on what issue you are on. On Normal issue, well-trained models will doubtless be capable of dispatch most enemies in a single or two hits with out the assistance of Combat Arts or Gambits. On Hard, nonetheless, enemies hit more durable and face up to your assaults higher. You should suppose way more rigorously about unit placement, the perfect time to make use of a Gambit and benefit from its stun impact, and what number of Combat Arts you possibly can fireplace off earlier than your weapon breaks. This is the place issues get thrilling; after just a few turns of cautious setup, you (hopefully) get to knock out tons of enemies as your plans fall into place.Some of the early-game and non-compulsory battle maps are open areas that do not require you to suppose too onerous, particularly on Normal. But the story battles all through function quite a lot of map layouts–from pirate ships to what seems to be a lava-filled cavern–that problem you to contemplate the place your models have to be, each within the subsequent flip and a number of other turns down the road. Many of them have totally different routes, enemies coming at you from a number of angles, non-compulsory treasure to chase, and different quirks that require you to separate your occasion up or change their outfitted lessons to go well with the scenario. Thieves, for example, can open chests and doorways with out a key, whereas flying models do not take harm from floor that is on fireplace.The depth of technique in these parts actually shines on Hard issue, however particularly so when coupled with Divine Pulse, one other limited-use skill. Divine Pulse permits you to rewind time with the intention to redo all or a part of the battle, often if certainly one of your models dies. Rewinding with Divine Pulse exhibits simply how necessary unit placement and assault alternative may be, as even a slight change could make or break the encounter. It’s additionally only a good quality-of-life function in the event you play on Classic mode, during which models who die in battle are misplaced perpetually and may’t combat or prepare anymore. You would possibly nonetheless mushy reset once in a while, nevertheless it’s nice to have the ability to rectify a mistake straight away and get a shot of instantaneous gratification for a job nicely re-done.Battling, after all, is just one a part of life on the monastery. The spine of Three Houses is the month-to-month faculty calendar, and in the event you like organizing issues, planning forward, or faculty on the whole, this may be essentially the most engrossing half. On Sundays, you’ve got free time you possibly can spend in certainly one of 4 methods: exploring the monastery, taking part in aspect battles, holding a seminar to enhance your college students’ expertise, or just taking the time off. Mondays are for instruction, which consists of choosing college students from an inventory and selecting just a few of their expertise to spice up. The remainder of the week goes by routinely, with a sprite of the professor working alongside the calendar and stopping often for random occasions or story cutscenes. It sounds a bit hands-off, however there’s rather a lot to consider as it’s, and the week-by-week reasonably than day-by-day construction retains issues transferring and ensures you by no means have to attend too lengthy to progress in any space.The predictable construction of every month–and the truth that you possibly can see the complete month’s schedule with occasions listed forward of time–gives you the inspiration to make efficient plans. All that point administration can undoubtedly be overwhelming, a minimum of at first. You should preserve tabs in your college students’ expertise and examine objectives, your individual expertise, everybody’s stock, and varied different meters and menus whereas planning for the teachings and battles to return. But you are handled to a near-constant stream of constructive reinforcement as these meters refill week by week and your college students enhance their expertise. You’re at all times transferring towards the following factor: the following stage up, the following talent that you must develop, the following month and what might unfold.To complement this, your actions when exploring the monastery (in addition to what number of battles you possibly can take part in, in the event you select to battle in your time off) are restricted by exercise factors. You get extra as your “professor level” will increase, which implies it’s a must to stability actions that increase your professor stage with ones that assist your college students develop. Activity factors additionally be certain that the month continues at a wholesome tempo, stopping you from lingering on anybody Sunday for too lengthy. Seminars and relaxation days simply eat up the entire day with out consideration for exercise factors, which might break up the extra concerned weeks and supply their very own advantages.How you select to spend your time additionally comes right down to how motivated your college students are to be taught. Each of your college students has a motivation gauge that is drained once you instruct them, they usually cannot be instructed once more till you work together with them and get their motivation again up. You can do that most successfully when exploring the monastery–where you get to speak to totally different characters, give them items, and share bonding time with them–whereas battle solely not often will increase motivation ranges. While you possibly can skip a variety of the varsity life bits and even automate instruction, you will not get the perfect outcomes. You’re straight at an obstacle in fight in the event you do not find time for your college students, which is by design.Like all current Fire Emblem video games, preserving you invested in your models and their relationships is the glue that binds the entire expertise collectively. It’s extremely efficient in Three Houses, the place your direct involvement in practically all points of a unit’s development trajectory offers you a particular stake of their success. After spending effort and time to assist a personality obtain their full potential, you are not simply happy once they win a fight–you’re proud. And the extra you put money into someone–both emotionally and thru months of lesson plans and instruction–the extra cautious you will be about placing them in hurt’s approach, and the extra you will work to give you a stable battle technique.Considering you are a instructor, it is good reasonably than disappointing that there is nearly no romance to talk of. Some college students are flirty, however primarily, you are fostering camaraderie reasonably than taking part in matchmaker or romancing them your self. As you unlock new help ranges with totally different characters–both by interacting with them on the monastery and by utilizing teamwork in battles–you get cutscenes that flesh them out extra. Some are charming, lighthearted conversations between two buddies, whereas lots of them offer you perception into extra critical matters–a father forcing his daughter into marriage, discrimination inside the monastery, the darkish purpose behind somebody’s lofty ambitions. For essentially the most half, every help dialog is only a piece of who a personality is, and as you slowly construct help ranges over time, you start to uncover the complete image of every individual. As a outcome, studying extra about every of the characters and their place within the monastery is as a lot a reward for progress as the extent bars that tick perpetually upward as you go.Every NPC is totally voiced in each English and Japanese, which brings a variety of life to the temporary help conversations. Disappointingly, although, the professor is silent. They do have a voice–they’ll often say a line when leveling up or enhancing a skill–but in cutscenes and when speaking to college students and college, they simply nod or shake their head flatly. There are temporary dialogue choices throughout conversations, however the place they may give strategy to a full, subtitled sentence or two from the professor, you are simply left with the opposite character’s response. Characters do, nonetheless, seek advice from the professor’s character and the way they arrive throughout all through the sport, which is odd contemplating they principally nod at issues. This places distance between you and the characters you are bonding with, and it is a missed alternative in a recreation the place the protagonist has an in any other case set look, character, and backstory.It’s not onerous to love a variety of the characters, although. They draw you in with anime archetypes–the girls’ man, the bratty prince, the clumsy however well-meaning girl–and shock you with way more nuance beneath the floor. Some of the funniest scenes early on contain Bernadetta, a shut-in with excessive reactions to regular social conditions, however her inside life is rather a lot darker and extra difficult than these early conversations let on. You would possibly uncover a personality you thought was a jerk is definitely certainly one of your favorites or slowly cease utilizing a less-than-favorite character in battle. You even have the choice of getting tea with somebody, throughout which it’s a must to select dialog subjects in line with what you recognize about them, relationship sim-style. Knowing what subjects they will like is definitely rather a lot more durable than it sounds, and efficiently speaking to a favourite character–even if the tea setup generally is a little awkward in practice–is a small victory.Each home’s marketing campaign feels distinct however not so totally different that one appears approach higher than the opposite. Every home has a mixture of personalities and expertise, they usually all have their very own benefits and drawbacks. Students from totally different homes can type friendships with one another, too, and you’ll ultimately recruit college students from different homes to hitch yours. Rather than being repetitive, on a second playthrough, recruiting offers you entry to totally different relationship combos; you possibly can see a unique aspect to a personality via a unique set of help conversations. And whereas the general setup of the sport is basically the identical throughout the three homes, every has its personal net of B plots, and the second half of the sport will look very totally different relying on who you are with and the alternatives you’ve got made.The first half issues the church, its secrets and techniques, and the truth that the professor is aware of little or no about their very own identification. As the fundamental loop of every month pulls you ahead, so too does the promise of studying the reality about one thing, whether or not it is why the archbishop wished you to be a instructor within the first place or who a suspicious masked particular person is. These threads stay fairly open, although, a minimum of after one and 1 / 4 playthroughs. You get totally different particulars in every route, and up to now it has been an extended course of to piece every part collectively.Learning extra about every of the characters and their place within the monastery is as a lot a reward for progress as the extent bars that tick perpetually upward as you go.After a five-year time skip, you enter the “war phase” of the sport. While the construction of the sport is the same–you even instruct your models, since you continue to want to coach for battle–the focus shifts to the house-specific tales. They contain a variety of onerous choices, with previous buddies turning into enemies, folks you want you did not have to kill, and college students who’ve modified both in spite or due to your steerage. Late-game battles are particularly difficult, with increased stakes and multi-lane layouts that require a variety of forethought. Success in these battles is extremely rewarding, as you are seeing dozens of hours of funding in your college students attain a crescendo, however they’re bittersweet in context.When all was stated and achieved, all I might take into consideration was beginning one other playthrough. I used to be curious in regards to the mysteries left unsolved, after all, however I additionally hoped to undo my errors. There have been characters I did not speak to sufficient, college students I did not recruit, and much simpler methods to coach my models. A second playthrough treads acquainted floor at first, however after studying and rising a lot within the first, it feels recent, too. That speaks to Three Houses’ mechanical complexity and depth in addition to the connections it fosters with its characters–and whether or not you are managing inventories or battlefields, it is the type of recreation that is onerous to place down, even when it is over.