Tobold's Blog
Thursday, September 26, 2019
Fire Emblem: Three, no four, houses

I finished my first playthrough of Fire Emblem: Three Houses, having chosen the Golden Deer house. During that game I realized that the different houses have different stories, at least for the second half of the game. And of course the different houses have different characters, so all the character interaction cut scenes are different. And as the battle system is varied enough for different approaches as well, this gives the game quite good replayability.

As an additional bonus Fire Emblem: Three Houses has a "New Game +" system, which carries over some stuff of your previous game into the next one, and allows you to spend renown on unlocking stuff you had already achieved in a previous game faster. That is great, because it does eliminate the few grindy elements the game has, like doing fishing to gain professor levels.

So I started a New Game + with the Black Eagles house. However with this second playthrough, two things went wrong: First I messed up the selection of difficulty by changing it in the options after having already started, and then was unable to change it back to hard. And then I hadn't looked up any spoilers on the story, and completely missed one important choice point: If you play the Black Eagle house, you *must* in chapter 11 on day 8 of Pegasus Moon choose the exploration option, and have a dialogue with Edelgard. If you choose another option like battle on that day, or explore and don't talk to Edelgard, you miss out on the option to join her, and end up opposing her. As playing any other house also ends up opposing Edelgard, this "fourth story route" of joining her would have been more interesting to me, and I only found out about it when I didn't even have a save game old enough to go back.

So now I am 100 hours into the game (the played time of New Game + doesn't reset the clock, so I'm at 100 hours total first + second playthrough), and wish I was on a different story route with a different difficulty level. But unfortunately it turns out that to carry over your achievements into a New Game +, you need to reach the end of the game. If I start a New Game + now, I'll be at the point where I was at the start of the second playthrough, with everything done in my second playthrough forgotten. So instead of starting over, I decided to play the Black Eagles / Church of Seiros route that I am on until the end. That will give me a New Game + with more options, and that one I will play on hard difficulty. The current game being on normal makes that fast enough.

Speaking of difficulty levels, there is a second choice to make when starting a game: Classic or Casual mode. In Classic mode your dead characters remain dead, in Casual mode you revive them after battle. Pretty much every gaming journalist snob out there will tell you to play Classic mode. Don't! Basically nobody ever lets his characters die, you invest too much time into them, and unless you spend far too much time and resources to recruit all the students from the other houses, you don't have enough characters to be able to afford losing one sometimes. Thus if you play in Classic mode and a character dies, you first use Divine Pulse to turn back time, and if that doesn't fix the problem, you reload a save game. Thus everybody really plays in Casual mode, you just have to replay stuff more often if you choose Classic mode. It's less of a hassle and more honest to say that you won't let characters die and just choose Casual mode.

I'm glad the classic permadeath options exists for the sake of the type of people who do Nuzlocke runs, but as far as I'm concerned, Casual is the real game.

One thing I've really enjoyed is the Twitter fan-art/mini-fanfic scene. The characters (or archetypes if you like) are so well-defined that it makes for easy, loving parody.
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