Fire Emblem: Three Houses has a hold on me all over again. Returning after quite some time away, I find myself getting reinvested inside the first hour of a new save. On the battlefield, I still delight in the satisfying strategy its grid-based combat system delivers, and off, I’m all in on getting to know the students of the Blue Lions house properly for the first time. Initially, I wanted to return to Intelligent Systems’ engrossing tactical RPG after rumors began circulating about a new mainline entry in the series. But even after 90 hours of playtime – with one complete playthrough under my belt and another one part way through – it doesn’t take long for me to become entwined in a different part of the story I’ve yet to experience. Revisiting the 2019 release serves as a reminder of how much Three Houses has to offer, how well executed it all is, and, most importantly, why the latest entry has me so excited about the future of the series.
Instructor, confidant, friend
Over the years, Fire Emblem has won me over time and again with its combat and engaging storylines, but its characters and the way it puts so much focus on their development and your bond with them keeps me coming back for more. The series has always excelled at making you care about its cast, but Fire Emblem: Three Houses is arguably even more effective in this regard thanks to the role you have as a professor. With the choice of teaching and working alongside one of three houses in Garrag Mach Monastery, each is home to a different group of students that all have their own distinctive personalities, likes and dislikes, and backstories.
You help the students develop their skills in combat, grow as individuals, and learn more about their hopes, fears, and dreams in the process as their bond with you or their peers deepens. The impact you have on those around you as a result of the professor role allows you to feel like you’re a part of the world. And if there is a new Fire Emblem entry in the works, I’m curious to see what kind of role we may have, and whether or not it will bring something new to the table that will draw us in as effectively as the professor position does in Three Houses.
With the three houses presenting you with different paths in the story, there’s already a draw for playing through the game again, but the chance to get to know another set of characters who are all uniquely different is an additional motivator. From the 3D units to the variety of paths and characters, almost everything about Fire Emblem: Three Houses feels bigger and grander, with so much added depth and replayability. While it was already building on very strong foundations with so many fantastic entries, the series has historically found a home on handhelds – but the Switch has allowed Three Houses to take a noticeable step up. When I first took on the role of Byleth back in 2019, it really did feel like this was the entry that heralded a new dawn for the strategy RPG, one which was paving the way for an exciting future full of so much possibility and potential.
Regardless of how big the next Fire Emblem instalment will be or how much variety it will bring on story terms, I really hope it follows in the footsteps of Three Houses regarding how easy it is to bond with and feel invested in the characters and their development. Outside of your influence as a professor, Fire Emblem: Three Houses encourages you to spend so much time with the students outside of the classroom. With the freedom to spend your time however you wish each calendar week, you can devote time to yourself and your students, with the chance of increasing bonds through side activities.
Having a tea party to increase your bond, for example, is one feature I would be quite happy to see become a mainstay fixture. With other touches like being able to cook or share a meal, there are plenty of opportunities to level up your bonds and earn the opportunity to learn more about every individual that makes up the house you’re tutoring. Given that characters and the bonds you can form with them have always been at the heart of the series, I’m already excited by the prospect of another entry that will undoubtedly feature a host of fresh faces. Three houses more than delivered with its many loveable heroes that you want to get to know and fight alongside, which has only heightened my sense of anticipation about the chance to get to know new characters.
We’re now closing in on almost three years since the release of Fire Emblem: Three Houses, and even after quite some time has passed, it continues to hook me right in. From its strategic battles to its characters, and the role it puts you in as a professor, it’s easily one of my favorite entries in the series so far. My fondness for Three Houses may be setting my expectations for what a new game could deliver too high, but I can’t wait to see where the series goes next and whether or not it will achieve new heights. As with any leak, we don’t yet know how authentic the screenshots supposedly said to be from a new Fire Emblem game are, but another mainline entry feels like an inevitability at this point. One thing’s for sure: If a new game does come our way in the future that’s as entertaining, engrossing, and well executed as Three Houses, we could be in for a real treat.
See where Fire Emblem: Three Houses ranks in our pick of the best Switch games you can play right now.