The next installment in Intelligent Systems Fire Emblem series has arrived and it doesn’t disappoint.

Fire Emblem: Three Houses, which was released July 26, is the sixteenth game in the series, although not all follow the same continuity.

This game is a major depart from the usual tactician roles in the game with the player becoming a professor at the Officer’s Academy at a monastery, the Church of Seiros, that trains young students to become knights.

The player character, Byleth, is a traveling mercenary with their father, Jeralt. During a chance encounter with three students from the academy being pursued by bandits, Byleth is brought to the church with Jeralt, who apparently has a history with them.

Jeralt is forced to return to being a knight while the player character is made a professor. Upon arriving, Byleth has the option of choosing which house to take charge of teaching. They then give the player the opportunity to learn more about each of the students before making the final choice.

There is The Black Eagles, The Blue Lions and the Golden Deer, each headed by Edelgard, Dimitri and Claude respectively, the next in line to take charge of their countries.

Even after choosing a house, there are still opportunities to recruit students from other houses not including the house leaders. Their personal requirements will need to be met by having a certain level in a skill they are interested in, such as archery.

Also, in this game is a mysterious girl named Sothis who Byleth has a connection to. She doesn’t remember her past or even her name until meeting Byleth. She allows you to turn back time thrice per battle, allowing you to fix tactical mistakes.

Another interesting aspect is the crests that some students have. Crests are a magical power that grant various abilities and are passed down from generation to generation, though it is not guaranteed when it will show up in a bloodline.

They occasionally activate in combat and can grant bonuses like allowing for a follow-up attack or doubling the damage of a hit. This also allows people to wield certain magical weapons such as Catherine and her legendary sword, Thunderbrand.

The biggest difference in the game is that, while other Fire Emblem games focused primarily on battles after battle, Three Houses allows for more time to spend with the various other characters. It comes off more like a slice-of-life game, but still manages to maintain the feel of battle.

Another feature is that, as the professor, the player will train students in various abilities such swordplay or archery. Any character can focus on any skill, but each has their own favorites and skills.

The support system has changed somewhat as well. There are no S supports in the game for characters other than Byleth. So, the player can reach a romantic rank with other characters but they can not do so with each other. This hasn’t taken away from anything and the writing this time around has been spectacular.

Weapon grade has returned, meaning that weapons will eventually break after use. Abilities also use up more weapon grade. Magic has changed so that spells can only be used a certain number of times each battle, but the high variety makes up for the low quantity.

This is also the first traditional Fire Emblem game made for the Nintendo Switch. The graphics upgrade is tremendous. This also allows for diverse combat but still maintains the traditional turn-based, tactical RPG battles players are accustomed to.

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