Through the rest of December and into early January, we're going into hibernation. But every day, we'll have a new podcast for you to listen to, and sometimes, an article to read. You can keep track of everything we're talking about to look back on the past year (and decade) right here.
There are a lot of video games released every year, and even though we’ve tried to make Waypoint the kind of place where people can spend part of their work days playing games, there’s still not enough time. And so part of the value in game of the year discussions is a chance for us, as a group, to come together and talk though games the others didn’t play, because it’s usually the case that people are splintering off into the own favorite niches.
In the case of Fire Emblem: Three Houses, however, there was incredible crossover. We even managed to convince Rob to give the game a shot. Less because of the franchise’s strategic history, more because it promised a lineup of incredible characters. Three Houses delivered on the latter, but the rest? Well, that’s what we get into throughout our discussion of Three Houses during the second half of our game of the year roundtable.
In case you’ve forgotten, the structure for this specific conversations was to have everyone start sketching out their personal top 10 list, and allowing different games to guide our chat.
In this second half, we work through the back half of the year’s releases.
Austin: The big one in July, that I think we all did put time into is…wait, am I wrong? Fire Emblem! I’m curious if it’s making lists. Yes? Maybe.
Patrick: I severely disliked the second half of that game. I feel like that's a game that disguises like a pretty shitty plot with incredible characters.
Austin: I think he played the wrong house, which I think which is the fault of the game. But when…
Patrick: I also think it’s way too long. If what you’re saying is true, the fact that I can play 70 hours or whatever it was, come to the conclusion that “ah, maybe I would have enjoyed this story from a different angle,” [is bad]. But I'm not going to go put another 70 hours.
Austin: You can't jump to the second half of the game. I wish that there was there has to be another way, there has to be another way. There's got to be a better way.
Rob: [commercial voice] Has this ever happened to you?
Austin: Yeah, exactly.
Patrick: I still think there's a version of you pick a path and that game could have found ways to give you the perspectives of other things that were happening. What I found so profoundly unsatisfying in the second half was the character turns that occurred, I found no justification for.
Austin: Just do there to be clear, it is not you get a different angle. Different things happen.
Patrick: Different things happen, but also, the reason characters end up in places that they do make no sense to me from my singular perspective. So then when I'm going up against X character, I'm like, “Why the fuck?” The game doesn't give me “Hey, by the way, like, here's a little bit of what was going on.” I the singular focus, I didn't like as a storytelling structure. And I soured on that as it when along, even though my students are precious, they are my children. And if it makes it on the list, it'll be purely on the back of that because they nailed that part of it. I loved my house. I just feel like the storytelling structure just really undercut it for me.
Rob: I think it makes my list on the strength of the visual novel stuff.
Austin: You would die Dedue.
Rob: I would die for Dedue. I might kill for Edelgard. It becomes so ponderous as you just scale outside of the possibility of any of these levels giving you any challenge. It's just moving my characters forward through the level and like, “All right time, to nuke that character.”
Patrick: I switched to auto battle. I just let it just funnel through. The final battle you can't do—mostly. I was just so irritated at the lack of difficulty that I got myself in a position where almost all my characters died because I was just like I don't give a shit, just move those chess pieces forward. The difficulty on that game is just not tuned properly.
Austin: The core thing that it doesn’t let you do is make it more difficult in the middle of play. I didn't have that problem, and remember, the reason I didn't is because I purposely handicapped myself there. I purposely like started using worse characters to make sure my whole bench was leveled up all the way. I was going into battles with underleveled as best as I could.
Rob: I could not get under level enough. I was late to recruit Cyril.
Austin: That’s the thing, I recruited as many people as I could, and everyone who came in was like five levels under.
Patrick: I recruited no one. I said, “You don’t want to be in my house? Don’t come to my house.”
Austin: That’s the most Edelgard thing.
Rob: All the things I love about the game that hooked me early, eventually became negative feedback loops as the game went on where I was like, “I don't like the battles anymore.
Austin: And there's so many of them.
Rob: And they’re tied to side plots, so I stopped enjoying the side plots as much.
Patrick: You didn’t finish it, did you?
Rob: I’m in the very last sprint.
Austin: I hear Blue Lions wraps up bad.
Rob: Well, yeah. Blue Lions is gonna wrap up tragically no matter what. My guy is called the Boar Prince. What if the boar, an animal renowned for running up a spear to kill the person who killed it?
Austin: And yet, still probably going to make your list.
Rob: It does a really great job of laying out the politics of space and the way this intersect with personal identity. And so when these characters begin to splinter and turn against each other doesn't feel like, “Oh, I could never seen this coming.” Character’s motivations may have been so obscure that there were some shocking things revealed midway through that game. But in terms of “Oh, as these characters enter a revolutionary period, these differences between them will become irreconcilable, like blood feuds. And that's going to be the way it goes.” It sets it up so well, and the characters are so sympathetic, and so well drawn. I love all of that stuff. And so even though it kind of crumbles a little bit and turns to ash, there's so many good hours leading up to the point.
This excerpt was edited for clarity and length.
Discussed: Life is Strange 2 8:21, Total War: Three Kingdoms 10:14, FI 2019 29:24, Fire Emblem: Three Houses 47:39, Control 1:03:10, Daemon X Machina 1:23:22, Destiny 2: Shadowkeep 1:44:02, Ghost Recon: Breakpoint 1:47:03, Indivisible 1:52:05, The Outer Worlds1:57:37, The Outer Worlds Spoilers 1:58:45, Death Stranding 2:10:20, Pokemon Sword and Shield 2:18:50, Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order 2:21:00, Phoenix Point 2:33:10, Mechwarrior 5 2:35:01
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