It’s been a really really long time coming, but we’re finally getting to see what Fire Emblem: Three Houses looks like in today’s Nintendo Direct. It was originally supposed to release by now, but that clearly didn’t happen and we are now sitting at a Spring 2019 release window. Despite taking so long, I still have a lot of hope for Fire Emblem on a console that’s so much more powerful than the 3DS, which has housed the last few games in the franchise. There’s a lot that Nintendo could do with the upcoming game, both good and bad, and while I’m far from an expert on the series, here are a few things that I think Nintendo should and shouldn’t do to make Fire Emblem’s return to the big screen a success.
- Give us full voice acting. Shadows of Valentia, the most recent Fire Emblem game, was the first game in the series to feature full voice acting and absolutely nailed it. While Fire Emblem games have had voice acted cut scenes since Path of Radiance, Shadows of Valentia was the first time we got voice acting for all dialogue in the game and it really added a lot to the game. It would seem logical that after making the jump to full voice acting and receiving a good amount of positive feedback for it that Nintendo would continue down this path in future games, but until Nintendo actually confirms it there’s no telling if that’s the case or not.
- Add side quests. Fire Emblem games have always been very linear , following a main story and that’s basically it. Awakening and Fates branched out a bit by adding paralogue maps, but it would be really nice to see additional small side stories, ideally to add more character development to members of your team. While Fire Emblem as a franchise has a wide variety of beloved characters, I do think Nintendo could do a better job of developing these characters in their games and I would love to see them use side quests as a way to make you appreciate the characters more and make them feel like a more integral part of the story.
- Make bigger and more creative maps. While Fire Emblem Fates wasn’t the greatest title in the series, one thing it did do very well was map design. Conquest, in particular, featured varied map objectives and interesting level design that often required your movement strategy to take in more than just enemy positions and strength. If they can keep this kind of unique and challenging level design that will go a very long way to making Three Houses an excellent game. Additionally, having played a lot of Fire Emblem Heroes over the past couple years has me hoping for some very good sized maps in the upcoming game. While I enjoy Heroes quite a bit, I don’t enjoy how small the maps are at all and it just keeps me wishing for larger armies and maps in a full Fire Emblem game. In the E3 trailer, a few battle clips showed you commanding teams of soldiers to fight rather than pitting two characters in a duel like we’ve always seen in the past. This gives a much larger sense of scale to the game and it really makes me hope that the maps match that scale.
- Bring back free roam. Another thing that I enjoyed quite a bit in Shadows of Valentia was the free roam sections. While the free roam sections in SoV were largely optional and didn’t have any major effect on the rest of the game, I thought they were a nice attempt at adding something new to the game even if they didn’t serve a very important purpose. The idea to only bring in a limited set of characters and have fatigue grow the more battles you fight in these sections was interesting too. If Nintendo can find a way to integrate these sections into the game well enough that it doesn’t feel awkward or like it’s interrupting the rest of the game I would love to see it come back in some form.
- Add cut scenes. Cut scenes have been around since Path of Radiance on the GameCube, but the Switch offers Fire Emblem a chance to finally show some HD cut scenes on the big screen. While not a normal Fire Emblem game, many of the characters in Fire Emblem Warriors looked great and I’m excited to see that come over to Three Houses. Additionally, while cut scenes have been around for awhile, a good amount of dialogue in the Fire Emblem games still takes place with text boxes that you read through with images in the background rather than actual cut scenes. Shadows of Valentia made this more tolerable with full voice acting, but I’d like to see Three Houses take advantage of being on the most powerful system yet for a Fire Emblem game and deliver as much of the game’s story as possible through cut scenes.
- Push Heroes integration too much. I doubt we’ll be able to bring characters from our Heroes accounts into our Three Houses playthroughs for a couple of reasons, primarily because Nintendo would either have to write support conversations for every possible combination of characters or skip them altogether and also because I really want to see an effort made to make each new character in Three Houses play a more important role in the game as I mentioned earlier. On the other hand, with how Heroes’ primary money-maker has orbs which people use to summon heroes, I don’t expect you to be able to bring characters from your Three Houses game into Heroes as that would deprive them as a chance to make money off the new game. If there is any integration between the two games, I would hope they keep it to letting you bringing a small number of characters from Heroes to Three Houses and getting to use them in a limited capacity.
- Make too much DLC. I know all three 3DS Fire Emblem games and Warriors have gotten DLC packs but I honestly would really like to see Nintendo either do away with it this time around or change what the DLC entails. A lot of the 3DS DLC packs are extra battles that offer an array of rewards include EXP, money, powerful weapons, skills, and even new classes for your characters to promote to. Many of these packs can allow you to progress through the main story easier but don’t offer much else. Some do add to the main story, including Awakening’s Future Past packs and Fates’ Heirs of Fate packs, but in general I really want to see Nintendo move away from the kinds of DLC packs we’ve seen from Fire Emblem in the past and either give us something more worth the money (SoV’s season pass was $45, more than the actual game itself) or skip it entirely.
- Make fan service characters. I know well-endowed anime girls can draw a lot of attention and get people talking, and Nintendo might even be tempted to try it again with how popular and well known Camilla has been since Fates’ release, but I would really rather see Nintendo focus on who characters are internally and developing their personalities rather than their outward appearances. Fates also had the somewhat controversial “face petting” censorship which drew a good amount of attention at the time. While I don’t think there’s anything too wrong with trying to make Fire Emblem appeal to a wider audience and I certainly don’t have a problem with cute anime girls myself, I do hope that the Camilla level fan service is kept to a minimum.
- Play it safe. While Fire Emblem has grown drastically in popularity ever since the success of Awakening, which revived the practically dead franchise at the time, this is the franchise’s first time back on the big screen in 12 years and a chance to expand its popularity even further. While trying to play it safe and not change things up too much might be tempting out of a fear of doing something too crazy and turning people against the franchise again, I would actually love to see Nintendo take this chance to evolve the franchise even more. I don’t know what exactly that would look like, whether it’s overhauling free roam sections or even changing the fundamentals of how battles work, but I do want to see them surprise us in some ways.
- Go the FE: Fates route. More than anything else I’ve talked about, this is the one thing I really really don’t want to happen. Releasing the game in three separate parts and making one of them DLC only unless you managed to buy the incredibly rare limited edition was an awful idea. You were required to pay $100 to get Fates’ full story which wasn’t even great in the first place and even more if you wanted the DLC as well. My biggest fear is that Nintendo will try the same thing again and the Three Houses title refers to three different kingdoms you’ll play as in each part of the full game. One the other hand, it was nice to have so many maps to play. Between Birthright, Conquest, and Revelations, Fates gave us the most battles we’ve ever gotten in a Fire Emblem and some of them were actually really well-done battles. I just don’t think it’s a good route for Fire Emblem to go and it would take a much better story and overall presentation to justify paying that much money for the full game. Especially since Switch games are more expensive than 3DS games.
All in all, I’m incredibly excited to see what’s coming in Three Houses. It’s been a long time but we finally get to find out what it’s really like. Let’s just hope the Direct doesn’t start with them pulling another Prime 4 on us.
Chris started loving video games at a young age, playing Super Mario World and Star Fox on his parents’ SNES. Although Nintendo (the Switch in particular these days) is still front and center for him, he also spends a fair amount of time on his PS4 and PC. He is also a huge fan of the Fire Emblem and Star Fox franchises. Chris enjoys watching basketball as well and is a huge fan of the Portland Trail Blazers.
Plays: Switch, PS4, PC.