Three Friends Review Fire Emblem: Three Houses Part Two – Strategy Happened

We got down to business in our latest installment of our Fire Emblem: Three Houses review!

Hey folks! It’s time for the second installment of our wonderful Fire Emblem: Three Houses review. Last time we talked about how much we loved our respective kids (i.e. child soldiers). This time, our three intrepid reviewers have decided to tackle the oldest element of Fire Emblem: the combat. Strategy is an important part of this game, of course, but will we be able to separate our emotional investments from our strategic needs? Most certainly not.

Just a reminder: Each of us (merritt, Steven, and John) picked one of the three different houses in Fire Emblem: Three Houses. Now we’re seeing the game through those very different eyes. And now that we’ve had time to see those routes through, we’re going to talk about our different experiences every day this week. Below are our latest round of thoughts (based on about 30 hours with the game) about the strategic portion of Fire Emblem: Three Houses. Take a look, and then stick with us for the rest of the week as we address things like the main plot and day-to-day life at Garreg Mach Monastery!

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Steven Strom, Bad (but Proud and Supportive) Black Eagles Bitch:

Hey John and merritt,

I think I need to talk about Bernadetta. Yesterday we talked about how much we love our kids in Fire Emblem: Three Houses. That’s still true, but I keep finding myself using one of my least favorite units. That’s Bernadetta: the one that looks like Rei from Evangelion and is scared of her own shadow.

I’ve been trying not to focus on her, because she’s such an obvious cliche, but holy crap does she rip in battle. I’ve been building her up as an archer. And now she has the Close Counter passive, which lets her attack and defend at point blank range. Except she keeps the super high attack speed and evasion of a ranged solider. What I’m saying is that Bernadetta knows Gun Kata, but with bows and arrows. She just dodges axes and fireballs, shoots guys once in each eye, then moves on like it’s nothing.

Are any of your units really standing out as must-have serial killers? Am I doomed to use this purple-haired fan art bait forever? And how are you finding the strategy portion of Three Houses so far, in general?

Fire Emblem Three Houses Ashe

merritt k, King of Blue Lions:

One of my kids, Ashe, started off being the killedest guy of all time, but he went through a similar transformation as Bernadetta and now he’s an adorable Sniper.

I tend to hit a point in Fire Emblem games where I realize my Avatar unit and main character (here, Dimitri) are way over-leveled and everyone else is lagging. So what I usually do is then field far fewer than the number of units you’re allowed for a battle so my weaker kids can catch up. Doing that, I’ve kept everyone more or less around the same power.

The rhythm of combat in this game feels very similar to the other titles in the series that I’ve played. There’s no weapon triangle this time around, but I’m much less aware of that than I thought I would be. I like the use of Combat Arts as equippable skills you can use to specialize your units for certain situations. Like, there’s an anti-monster attack that’s useful when you start fighting big lizards.

Speaking of, the monster stuff is pretty neat. I like the idea of weakening their shields and drawing their attention with Gambits — almost like mini-MMO raid bosses. Now that I’ve fought a few, though, they’re not all that exciting. Maybe it’s because I’m on Easy or because I’m familiar with these games, but they’re not all that much of a threat.

Honestly though, that’s how I like my Fire Emblem — the combat is a nice palate cleanser between support conversations. I know some people like brutal difficulty with these games, but that’s just not me.

Fire Emblem Three Houses Lorenz

John Warren, Duke Buckworthy of Golden Deer:

Hi buds. My battle children are healthy and strong with the exception of Ignatz, the most stabbed boy in the land. Ignatz will probably be a world-beater if I invested the time and effort in developing his skills, but not only is he a bad fighter but he’s kind of a boring kid. Sorry Ignatz. Maybe I’ll warm up to him, but so far he’s not showing me his best.

Wait. Am I just a bad teacher? Oh wow now I feel motivated to do right by Ignatz.

I can’t say enough about Hilda. Hilda continues to cut fools in twain and be the MVP of 85 percent of my battles. I bet she’s going to hit a wall of usefulness, but in the meantime she’s a total star. I really love the incremental units by which my kids are improving. The grind is really satisfying for me. Claude slowly becoming a better archer has been a joy to see. Gaining one extra space of range at my last level up was unbelievably cool. These small improvements build and show their utility in exhilarating ways.

Lorenz has been a joy to level. From getting wrecked by shield and armor units to being the person dispatching these units with budding magic skills, Lorenz’s progression is everything I love about the versatility of Fire Emblem. If only I can teach him not to be such a jerk to women. He and Sylvain are friends, of course. Creeps of a feather…

Fire Emblem Three Houses Bernadetta

Steven: Overall, it definitely feels like Three Houses is super duper similar to previous installments on the battlefield. Which is to say it’s pretty good! I agree with you, merritt, that the appeal has never been getting my eyelids peeled off by zombies. If I was here for the challenge, rather than investing a lot of time and emotion into my units progression and their stories, I’d play XCOM. Which is why I do play XCOM! They give me different things.

Playing on normal, though, I’m getting the desire to push my kids into new and interesting fields — just like you, John. I just unlocked a feature that gives my units an XP boost from (I think) every source. So now I should be able to really rip into new classes and certification exams (which unlock those aforementioned new classes).

The one thing I’m not thrilled about, so far, is how those more advanced roles look. The basic soldier-y armor is just so boring compared to the killer kids’ personalized uniforms. I’m holding out hope that they saved the more interesting costume design for the highest-level classes, which are locked at first, and the post-time skip character designs. God, there is so much to this game! I might actually go back for a New Game Plus run and dip into Lunatic (ugh) difficulty). If I can play as a different house, it might be worth it to see how deep the strategic layer really gets.

Later duders!


This concludes part two of our Fire Emblem: Three Houses review letters! Stay tuned this week for even more of our thoughts on the game. And check out our very many guides elsewhere on the site!

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Steven Strom

An obsessive writer broadcasting to you live from the middle of nowhere. Thinks cute things are good, actually.

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