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Fire Emblem: Three Houses, out now

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I've unlocked battalions, lectures and seminars now and that's added a whole load more of :huh:. I'm tempted to just take the 'auto' option with skills and goals (which, I think, are different things), but seeing as I'm playing on hard, I don't want to balls up my characters' progression.

 

I just want to fight battles and bone Dorothea, tbh.

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Skills are defo something you'll want to do manually to build your party to your preference, and certain characters do have innate abilities in different classes (which you'll be alerted to as they become available) so that's another layer to that side of things. The more mobile and magical options definitely change the combat dynamics for the better.

 

The actual teaching and stuff seems like you might as well automate it, from my experience. In your free time, you just want to build their motivation so they benefit more from lessons and stuff.

 

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I'm about 11 hours into this now but I really don't know if I can be arsed. The battles are the best part of the game, but even then, graphics aside (and the graphics aren't great, by any means), there's very little to differentiate them from the dozens of battles I fought in my playthroughs of Awakening and Fates. Most encounters, even on Hard, play out in almost exactly the same way each time, and after having played similar strategy games in the interim whose battles were always tense, varied and involving, like those in Into the Breach and XCOM, for example, the combat here feels bland and unengaging by comparison.

 

I'd probably be willing to overlook that and keep plugging away regardless, but the stuff between battles I find a lot harder to tolerate. I enjoyed the inter-battle support conversations in the previous FE games I played because they provided a light touch between fights and encouraged you to pair up your units mid-battle to improve their relationships. Here, though, having to cultivate the characters' relationships chiefly outside of battle by completing largely passive tasks, fetch quests and by 'exploring' the monastery (which actually means walking round the entire map, picking up items and talking to every single character 2-3 times each in-game month) takes far too long and is tedious to say the least.

 

in fact, I get the distinct impression that the monastery section of the game, which you spend far longer doing than actually fighting, has been created simply for the sake of it - the developers wanting to see what they could do with the extra technical power afforded to them by the Switch compared with the 3DS - and not to add to the benefit of the gameplay. It's good that they've tried to do something new to change the formula somewhat from previous entries, but they should have focused on making the battles themselves more interesting, not padding out the time between battles with this arbitrary bollocks. I mentioned it in the FFXII thread the other day, but the most important part of any JRPG is its battle system, and while the battles here are as decent as they've always been, the dross that's been layered on top occupies too much of the player's time.

 

I'll give it another hour tomorrow, but I've the feeling this will be Trading-bound before too long, unless anyone can convince me otherwise.

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The monastery stuff seems to come from intelligent systems being Atlus fanboys. If an Advance Wars were made today it'd probably be an Andy dating sim with lots of inconsequential stat-juggling with one battle starting every 45 minutes to an hour, where previously four would have taken place amidst good pacing and a difficulty curve in service of battles that follow on from one another.

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5 hours ago, Jamie John said:

I'll give it another hour tomorrow, but I've the feeling this will be Trading-bound before too long, unless anyone can convince me otherwise.

I wouldn't disagree with any of that, but it does improve. I stuck to exploring just once a month, talk to everyone once, done. And after a while the fetch quests are phased out. Also, the battles do get more interesting and challenging, especially the side quests based around specific characters.

 

Whether that's enough, I don't know. I don't think it ever quite flows together as it should.

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I think those who most enjoyed this are, like me, happy to go all in on the social stuff. For the first half of the game pretty much, I found the battles pretty repetitive and boring and it was the slow burn of the story and peeling back the layers of the characters. I've never enjoyed that kind of thing before and having gone back to Persona 5 in its wake, I don't know if I ever will again, either. This clicked, though. In the second half, I focused only on the characters I really liked and the combat was also much more interesting and the story moved through the gears much better. I'd mainline it, auto all the social stuff and follow the main story, just to see whether the improved combat and story beats bring you along. It is a very slow start. 

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1 hour ago, Stanshall said:

I'd mainline it, auto all the social stuff and follow the main story, just to see whether the improved combat and story beats bring you along. It is a very slow start. 

 

You can auto the seminar stuff, but there isn't any way to do the social stuff automatically, is there? You still have to use the 'Explore' option to travel round the monastery and talk to individuals/do choir practice/ take them on cringy tea parties, don't you?

 

Also, how do I increase the students' motivation beyond using the Rest option each week, which seems like a waste? Sometimes I get to a lecture day but have more activity points than I do motivated students.

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@Jamie John Yeah, you can't auto it all but you could just do a seminar each week or even choose to do weekend battles instead. Have you unlocked them yet? That boosts their stats plenty as well. I believe if you do individual tutoring, that actually uses up their motivation so they don't learn as much from the week's teaching. I might be wrong. Either way, the stats stuff will really take care of itself. I realised after a while that it's largely redundant. All you need to decide is their skills focus, leave it alone and get them to do the exams to get to the next specialism, etc.

 

Dont forget to work on your skills with the seminars too because building your character and professor level is probably more important than anything else.

 

Typically, in the second half of the game, I would just do a seminar for two weekends each month, and for the other either do some battles or quickly eat lunch with as many as possible to build motivation. I would also sometimes spend a bit of time with the odd one I wanted to 'get to know better', getting them tea drunk and hammering 'X - Banter'. 

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After my rant the other night (I think I was just tired, and a bit pissed) I've stuck with this and think it's alright again now :rolleyes:

 

The social stuff is still needlessly padded out and I'm not really bothering with any characters beyond my own house, but the core battles are still fun, even if they do seem very similar to those in the previous games. I've unlocked a few more battalions now which I'm deploying when I remember to.

 

Am I right in thinking that I can marry any character who I reach an S level relationship with? What about the other characters - do they just need to get to an A level relationship to marry each other?

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1 hour ago, Jamie John said:

After my rant the other night (I think I was just tired, and a bit pissed) I've stuck with this and think it's alright again now :rolleyes:

 

The social stuff is still needlessly padded out and I'm not really bothering with any characters beyond my own house, but the core battles are still fun, even if they do seem very similar to those in the previous games. I've unlocked a few more battalions now which I'm deploying when I remember to.

 

Am I right in thinking that I can marry any character who I reach an S level relationship with? What about the other characters - do they just need to get to an A level relationship to marry each other?

 

You do, other characters however don't marry in this one. So it's whoever you want to pair your character off with only.

 

It's worth pursuing other characters on the tougher difficulties as the boosted stats of some of them are really useful.

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14 minutes ago, Luseth said:

It's worth pursuing other characters on the tougher difficulties as the boosted stats of some of them are really useful.

 

Do you mean the characters from the other houses? I find it hard to raise my support level with them. At the moment I've 'recruited' Raphael, although he's a bit crap and the exp that the characters in my house could be earning is wasted on him. With my 9 house members and 1 recruit, however, that's a full party roster, so I wouldn't be able to recruit anyone else, unless I made them adjutants. Can you do that with recruited members? The party roster might increase beyond 10 later in the game.

 

There's quite a lot which seems poorly explained. The online stuff, in particular, has gone straight over my head. It sounds like you have to play hide and seek around the monastery :huh:

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31 minutes ago, Jamie John said:

 

Do you mean the characters from the other houses? I find it hard to raise my support level with them. At the moment I've 'recruited' Raphael, although he's a bit crap and the exp that the characters in my house could be earning is wasted on him. With my 9 house members and 1 recruit, however, that's a full party roster, so I wouldn't be able to recruit anyone else, unless I made them adjutants. Can you do that with recruited members? The party roster might increase beyond 10 later in the game.

 

There's quite a lot which seems poorly explained. The online stuff, in particular, has gone straight over my head. It sounds like you have to play hide and seek around the monastery :huh:

 

You can recruit them all, you can only use a set number of them in each battle though so you would pick your best 10 or rotate depending on difficulty / preference etc.

 

Support isn't the be all and end all, they respond to your skills as well. So imagine you have sword at max ranking, then you would be seen more favourably by the sword types like Felix and would require less support with him to recruit. There will be others who appreciate riding or your magic ranking as well.

 

In addition you can temporarily recruit a member from another house for a month. Each battle they take part in you can utilize their positions i.e. sit them by your character when they attack etc to improve their support level. (Note they don't take up one of your 10 spaces either so you get an extra fighter).

 

Have tea parties, cook with them and eat dinner with them are all ways to improve support too ^_^

 

Also you can make your recruited members adjutants, they essentially become part of your house :)

 

If i'm honest I ignored the online bit!

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The recruiting is a bit of an odd one, from a game design perspective.

 

I recruited nearly every single student to my house. I think there were only about two I could have recruited that I didn't.  I had the idea in my head that I would make future battles easier if potential late-game enemies were on my side.  I'm not sure if that made any difference, I suspect not.  With an almost completely full roster, the game became all about keeping everyone motivated, and picking different squads each battle to share out the exp and keep everyone's levels up, and ultimately it was an extra stress I didn't need, that made the game a bit worse for me. I think I would have had a bit more fun with a smaller squad that I stuck with for all battles, and also less faffing about in the monastery to keep them all motivated.

 

I guess part of the idea is to have a bigger squad with 'spares' to replace people who permanently die, but that was much less of a big deal than in previous games, with the rewind feature (I only lost one character).

 

So it was odd in the that in the early part of the game I felt like I was being incentivised to recruit as many students as I could, which I did (at the cost of loads of time and effort), and then in the second part of the game I felt like having so many students was actually a real drag (costing me extra time and effort) that made the game less fun than it should have been.

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If you've got a full roster of recruits it's probably still best to pick a main team with a few reserves and focus on them. There's plenty of time in the second half of the game for increasing relationship levels in exploration mode, otherwise I gave up on a lot of the recruits. The only issue was when a side quest came around based on one of those characters and they were under-levelled. But that's just a bit of extra challenge.

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Recruiting characters from the other houses doesn’t feel right. I prefer to see each house fight its own battles so only recruit members of the Church of Seiros to make up the numbers. Once I made Hanneman 1v1 the Death Knight because I could no longer tolerate his obsession with crests.

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No, not bumped because of THAT news but the other news which surely puts the final nail in the coffin of a January Direct.

 

 

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Just done, Golden Deer route. Hugely enjoyable but I don't think they quite 100% nailed. 

 

First mistake was I went Normal / Casual. Permadeath stresses me, but I didn't appreciate how fundamentally your tactics change as a result of it. Death Knight? Fuck it, plough through. That said I was diligent about side quests and the life sim, so it still would have mattered about four times in total. Nearly every unit could one hit kill. 

 

This led to some perverse effects. Skills don't care, double attack one shots. Battalions, don't care except occasionally on beasts, double attack out performs it. Gambit? Why bother, double attack outperforms it. Occasionally I'd hit a unit someone needed two goes at, so just weaken with a range and dead. Lythisea when you get the staff is just fundamentally broken. 

 

The life sim stuff is fun enough but really only for part one; part two needed to fundamentally change the monastery and add new things and didn't. I wonder if less routes would have helped here and a bit more focus. The monastery was nice enough as setting, but given what's been pulled off on the Switch I suspect its capable of something nicer and more dense .

 

Plot sort of tapers off to in the second half, at on the route I was on. The war threads that tie into the Three Houses is strong, but all the additional stuff is a bit weak. It teases mysteries without particularly strong resolutions, and goes a bit generic anime without much in the lick of sense. The characters were pretty good, if not particularly deep and I stuck mostly with my initial house and few recruitments and you get to know them all by the end. 

 

Which leads to... 

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What the fuck is a Waifu simulator doing in a Fire Emblem game? The last one I played was Path of Radiance, which I recall being very straight laced fantasy. There didn't seem to be full on Persona objectification (boo, look if you're going to do it, go all in) but still all these things are essentially psychopath simulators:

 

1. Cold, dead eyed protagonist

2. The game pushes you to be superficially charming and always give the "right" response

3. Really you are using them for their patronage - access to special gear, loot, skills or stats

4. Main character gets to a point where they control what they do, including how they dress 

5. You have no need to maintain the relationship 

 

Sometimes clocking the relationship gets you some sort of little memento. Look the game isnt making explicit, but you are definitely murdering those people when the game ends and keeping the trophy in your special room. 

 

I'd like to see someone make the whole thing rock hard for the craic. The game randomises who likes you. There's just one, maybe two in the cast. Some of the others will get to a certain level and then dump you. It doesn't matter how many trinkets you give them, they just aren't into you. 80% of choices will fuck things up, and can lead to a toxic breakdown for the relationships in your team. If you keep messing uo, it'll change the dialogue so you feel like you aren't sure if anyone likes you. The rewards are great, but need constant work to maintain, and a deeper set of rewards if you do. Good luck.

 

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