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Everything we know about Fire Emblem: Three Houses

From story to combat, here's what we know about Fire Emblem: Three Houses

Following the release of Fire Emblem: Awakening and Fire Emblem: Fates on 3DS, Intelligent Systems and Koei Tecmo are set to launch the series’ first turn-based tactical role-playing game on Nintendo Switch.


Fire Emblem: Three Houses brings back the same strategic gameplay and dramatic, character-driven storytelling the franchise has featured since the very beginning, but it also has a few new tricks up its sleeve to excite even the most dedicated Fire Emblem fans.

Location and Story

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Fire Emblem: Three Houses is set on the continent of Fódlan, and as the title would suggest, it is split into three distinct houses: The Adrestian Empire, Faerghus Kingdom, and Leicester Alliance. Each house is available for you to join

The Adrestian Empire is located in the southern part of the continent, and has been under the rule of its namesake dynasty for more than a millennium. Faerghus, a kingdom ruled by a royal family and protected by knights, lies to the north, while the ruler-free Leicester Alliance is located to the east. Despite previously beyond involved large-scale conflict, when Three Houses begins, the three nations are enjoying a period of peace. A powerful deity figure residing above could have played a role in this.

You begin the game much like Ike in Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance, working as a mercenary under the direction of your father, and are soon given the chance to teach at the Officer’s Academy located in the Garreg Mach Monastery. Nintendo has shared that this opportunity comes about after you defend a group of students against a bandit attack. As in the last few Fire Emblem games on 3DS, you will be able to choose your gender at the start of the adventure. Your default name is “Byleth,” but this can be changed to your name of choice.

The Monastery itself is located directly in the center of Fódlan, and aims to protect the peace. Students from all three nations can train there, each sporting a unique house name. The “Black Eagles” are from the Adrestian Empire, and is led by future emperor Edelgard. Faerghus’ house is the “Blue Lions” and is led by Prince Dimitri, while future Leicester Alliance leader Claude heads the “Golden Deer.” You are free to roam the Officer’s Academy, much like the system used in Fire Emblem: Fates and Fire Emblem Echoes.


The three house leaders will all use different weapons, potentially altering how your parties will look. Edelgard wields an axe, Dimitri uses a lance, and Claude is an archer. Byleth will use a sword, if the game’s story trailer is accurate, which should supplement your other units’ attacks.

The official Japanese Fire Emblem Twitter account has provided fans with introductions to several of the game’s characters.

  • Huberto — Serves Lady Edelgard, and is a calm and honest servant. He has been serving Edelgard’s family since he was young, and sports a dark, emo-style haircut.
  • Doudou — A strong and largely silent warrior who serves under Dimitri. Despite this, he is friendly, and Dimitri owes him his life. Doudou is a commoner from the Dascar region.
  • Bernadetta — A shy shut-in who is rarely seen outside of her dormitory except when attending lectures.
  • Raphael — The son of traders who accidentally killed his parents, yet remains optimistic and is interested in exercise in order to become a knight.
  • Mercedes — An older student who was once a noble for the empire. However, she now lives as a common citizen who is interested in helping those in need.
  • Ferdinand — Serves under Lady Edelgard and is the son of Aegir. He is proud and competitive, and maintains a “sense of rivalry” with Lady Edelgard despite serving her.
  • Kinka (or Hilda) — The daughter of nobles, and isn’t a fan of working but is capable of “sweetening” the mood. She is interested in fashion, and could possibly take the “dancer” role we typically see in Fire Emblem games.
  • Felix — A samurai-style student who prefers to work alone and possesses wit and sarcasm. He’s skilled with a sword, and his good looks haven’t gone unnoticed by the other students.
  • Lorentz — is a noble and member of the Watanabe family. Despite his nobility and wearing a giant rose on his jacket, he is relatively unsuccessful in wooing women.
  • Dorothea — A “diva” who previously sang opera. Despite her singing skills and disliking being a different age than others in the academy, she is an egalitarian who treats her fellow friends with respect. She is joined by fellow former diva Manuela, who works at the school as both a teacher and doctor, and wishes to meet a rich man.
  • Hanneman — A teacher as the academy rather than a student. He is interested in the emblem worn by the protagonist character, and he studies the Power Crest — these are normally only possessed by nobles, with Byleth being an exception.
  • Lea — The archbishop of the church, who can be kind and protective while also vicious toward those who question her. She invites only those of the best character to the academy.
  • Geralt — Byleth’s widowed father, and he serves as the leader of his mercenary group. After saving the academy students with Byleth, he becomes a member of the Knights once again.
Fire Emblem: Three Houses - Nintendo Direct 2.13.2019 - Nintendo Switch

Academy activities

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You will have several different activities to complete at the Officer’s Academy when you are not taking part in a battle. As shared by Famitsu (via RPG Site), Three Houses makes use of a 30-day, 12-month calendar system, and each month equals one chapter of the game. During weekdays, you will conduct tutoring, either automatically or with specific students, and can set goals. On the weekends, students can rest, train, or take their qualification exams for a chance at earning a new class.

Tutoring is tied both to your own “Education Conduct,” which determines how many can be tutored at once, while “Motivation” for each student determines how often they can be tutored. They can also further excel with “Talent Blooming” to get statistical advantages in areas they previously did not have any.

Group tasks can also be performed by students. Taking the form of chores, they are actually useful for improving their battle readiness, raising statistics in key areas based on the work performed.

Something wicked this way comes

As you being your work, you also begin seeing visions of a girl named Sothis, who no one around you seems to be aware of. It appears she will be a central part of the story, but Nintendo has thus far been quiet regarding the game’s catalyst for conflict. It appears the three house leaders will form some degree of alliance, as they are seen assisting the protagonist as a group in one of the game’s trailers. With the Church of Seiros serving as the religion for the continent and wielding great power, it’s likely it will play a role, as well.


Fire Emblem: Three Houses will use the same grid-based tactical gameplay of the other titles in the franchise, but you will gather units for battle slightly differently. You will be able to recruit students from your chosen house to accompany you in “class assignments” that are, in fact, real-life battles intended to give them crucial experience.

Weapon durability is back, with a limited number of uses for a particular weapon before it breaks, and each has a set damage total, critical hit chance, and hit chance associated with it based on your character. If you wish for a particular student to master a particular weapon or to learn how to use magic, you can do so by having them undergo tutoring back at the academy.

Because of this mechanic, it appears there will be much greater flexibility when it comes to crafting your ideal army, and you can even teach a unit how to ride a horse for added mobility and effectiveness in combat. There will be advanced-level classes once a unit levels up enough, and they will be able to take an exam in order to change to a new class.

The rock-paper-scissors combat system could be making a return after its absence in Fire Emblem Echoes. In the game’s E3 2018 trailer, we see a unit use an axe against a sword-wielding enemy, and the enemy is given a slight advantage. Should the system work as it did in previous games, swords will be powerful against axes, which will be powerful against lances, which are in turn powerful against swords. Previous games also used a similar system for magic based on spell type, and made bows particularly effective against flying units. Weapon weight will also return, which will limit who can use it based on their corresponding strength statistic. A shop will be available in order to purchase additional weapons, but supplies will be limited.

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There will be several different “skills” based on the character and weapons you are using, according to a translated information original found in Famitsu. Characters will have different ranks for each of these skills. These are:

  • Sword
  • Spear
  • Axe
  • Bow
  • Black and dark magic
  • Faith
  • Flying
  • Heavy armor
  • Horseriding

Most units appear to be starting as one of two classes — Commoner or Noble — and once they hit a certain level early in their training, they’ll have the choice to advance to Myrmidon, Soldier, Warrior, or Monk.

Classes known thus far include:

  • Commoner/Noble — Starting class, upgrades to one of those below.
  • Myrmidon — Uses swords and critical hits to deal damage.
  • Soldier — Uses lances and has a high hit rate.
  • Fighter — Uses axes and bows, deals high damage.
  • Monk — Uses magic.

In the next stage of class progression at level 10, they’ll have several different classes to “evolve” into. These include:

  • Mercenary — Uses swords and axes, powerful and fast.
  • Mage — Uses magic with a high hit rate.
  • Dark Mage — Uses curses, only available to males and requires extra exam.
  • Gladiator – Uses gauntlet attacks and only available to males.
  • Brigand  —  Uses gauntlet attacks and axes, has high health and damage.
  • Cavalier — Uses horses, high mobility.

We’ve seen a greater focus on characters’ relationships and how it relates to battle in the most recent Fire Emblem games, and this will continue in Three Houses. Based on the strength of your units’ bonds, they will be able to perform powerful support actions in combat.

New tricks

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Not every unit you command in Fire Emblem: Three Houses will have a name, however. New to the series is a battalion support mechanic, allowing you to assign a squad of unnamed grunts to assist an individual unit during a battle. If a character raises their  “Command” ability, they can use stronger units and abilities. New abilities seen thus far include:

  • Simultaneous Fire — Commands all archers in a group to fire their shots at once.
  • Simultaneous Lance Strike — Similar to Simultaneous Fire, but with lances hitting targets on left and right.
  • Group Magic: Flame — Appears to cause magic-users to coordinate on a large flame attack.
  • Inducement Ploy — Forces enemies to move to the other side of a unit.
  • Fire Ploy — Sets terrain ablaze after attacking.
  • Godspeed Provision — Temporarily increase allied unit movement distance.

According to Famitsu and Gematsu, Three Houses will also include a time-rewinding mechanic intended to make the series less frustrating for new players. It’s called “Heaven-Time Pulse,” and allows you to go back one move in order to choose a different action. This feature is in addition to the game’s difficulty modes. Once again, you can choose between normal and hard, as well as casual and classic. Casual revives your fallen units at the end of a chapter, while classic implements permanent death.

Pre-orders and special editions

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A “Seasons of Warfare Edition” will be released at the same time as the standard edition, and comes bundled with a sound selection CD, steelbook case, 2020 calendar, and art book. Unlike the Pokémon-like split release used for Fates, one copy of Three Houses should give you access to all available without having to purchase additional DLC or a second copy of the game. There are no bonuses for pre-ordering the game on Nintendo’s end, but you can get a pin set at GameStop,

Release date

Fire Emblem: Three Houses will release exclusively for Nintendo Switch on July 26.

Gabe Gurwin
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Gabe Gurwin has been playing games since 1997, beginning with the N64 and the Super Nintendo. He began his journalism career…
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