I’ve had a fantastic time returning to Fódlan. Three years since we first visited this warring continent, Nintendo’s brought us back to the world of Fire Emblem: Three Houses once more. Unlike the original Warriors spin-off, though, this isn’t another “Best of Fire Emblem” mashup. What you’ll find is a faster paced take on the Fódlan war, revisiting familiar story beats with fresh twists in a way that’ll likely please Three Houses fans. Playing the original isn’t required, though you’d undeniably get more from this. Honestly, I’ve never had this much fun with a musou game before.
Set in an alternate timeline, we’re not controlling Byleth this time around, though they aren’t exactly absent. Playing a new mercenary called Shez, a surprise encounter leads to you enrolling as a student at Garreg Mach Monastery and like before, your choice of student house determines your storyline. That’s split between Edelgard’s Black Eagles, Dimitri’s Blue Lions, and Claude’s Golden Deer, and I chose Claude. You won’t get the entire story without playing each route, so I’m thankful they don’t take as long to complete by comparison – Golden Deer for instance took me 35 hours, and I felt completely invested throughout. Don’t get too comfy in academy life, though; our student days prove brief before jumping two years ahead.
Away from combat, Shez spends their free time in a war camp, travelling between facilities on foot. There are no side tasks and fishing is tragically missing, but you’ll otherwise find a faithful recreation of Three Houses’ social mechanics that have been slightly trimmed down. Beyond camp conversations, you can invite allies to camp meals, go on expeditions together, carry out camp chores, offer allies gifts, and plenty more. Just don’t expect romance this time, as support levels cap at A-rank. Still, even if your relationships aren’t always front and centre, I appreciated how Three Hopes ensures everyone gets their moment in this new setting, never forgetting what we loved about these characters. It’s worth noting that you can’t recruit characters from different houses before the timeskip, though select battles provide the option.