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'Fire Emblem: Three Houses' Doubles Down on Relationships (And It Rules)

'Fire Emblem: Three Houses' focuses on the best part of the Fire Emblem formula: its character growth.

by Ricardo Contreras
Jul 16 2019, 1:00pm

Image courtesy of Nintendo

There's a certain feeling that seems specific to modern Fire Emblem games, a sense of pride when you go into battle with your carefully leveled squad. You've come to know these characters intimately, watched their relationships with each other mature, and come to think of them as family. However, amongst the expansive cast of characters in Fire Emblem: Awakening, one particular character sticks out for having a great arc, and that's Donnel.

A farm boy wearing a pot on his head, he starts out so weak most people might ditch him for some of the game's heartier characters. The people that stick with him though get to watch their good good farm boy grow up to be an absolute killing machine. His arc becomes the best example of the way you come to feel pride for these characters, and Fire Emblem: Three Houses, is doubling down on this feeling with its totally new structure. We discuss the new Fire Emblem game, the noir narrative game Night Call, and new deck building roguelike Nowhere Prophet on this episode of Waypoint Radio. You can read and excerpt and listen to the full episode below:

Austin: So I have this character who's like a soft-spoken, very faith driven character who is someone who is like very apologetic, she's she's like very soft-spoken, and very just like afraid of everything. So she's like a mage or monk or whatever is where she supposed to go, but she gets a really dope spear ability very early if you spend the time teaching her lances and spears. And that is really cool!

You'll get a scene where she comes up to you and she's like "Professor. Can I can I please just study the Bible? Please just let me be the faith character," and I'm like "Nah, you know what? Go back to your seat. You're you're going to keep learning that spear. You can learn faith too, I'm not saying don't learn faith! Your two goals: Faith and Spears. That's it."

Patrick: Have faith in spears!

Austin: Totally!

Patrick: This sounds very similar to my Donnel, like, when you're trying to get him in Awakening.

Austin: Yes! Yes, yes, yes.

Patrick: So for people who like didn't like recruit this farm boy with a stick and a pot on his head: he was so weak and the way you gain experience in Fire Emblem games, if you haven't played those before, is by attacking and you get the most XP through a kill. And Donnel could do no damage, like nothing, just a pittance. So what you'd have to do was pair him up next to like a knight that was strong against the weak enemy, and get their HP all the way down

Austin: But not kill them!

Patrick: Not kill them, so that Donnel can just come up and push them over. Like someone is holding them over and Donnel just goes [descending slidewhistle noise] and you just do that for a couple of hours. And then Donnel by the end of Awakening is just a fucking killing machine!

Austin: So the thing that this game is doing is one: It's doing that with every character, that feeling of like "oh, my precious baby"

Patrick: Which is cool 'cause that was such a fun, it was my favorite arc of Awakening. I don't remember anything that happened in the story of that game. But I remember

Austin: Yo, Donnel became dope!

Patrick: The journey of turning him into a tank.

Austin: So that's already happening. I have a character who idolizes my character's father, wants to be a mercenary herself. She's like "I want to grow up to be a mercenary. I used to train with your dad. Maybe I even know your dad more than you, actually." Whoa, ok slow down, go back to your seat "actually." You have 3 homework assignments now.

She has already grown up to be like, whoa. There are times when someone hits her and she just takes no damage, and like a strong enemy does. I'm just like "yes, fucking killing it right now!" And I know that in five levels other people and enemies will have caught up to her. I don't think she's going to remain the undefeatable tank for the whole game. But the game kind of like moves those characters in these cycles where like, okay they are at their height compared to the types of enemies you're fighting against right now. So you get that the great like jolt of of like enthusiasm and pride in in the characters you brought up.

Discussed: Fire Emblem: Three Houses, Night Call, Steamworld Quest, Super Mario Maker 2, Slay the Spire, Nowhere Prophet

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