Fire Emblem: Three Houses' War Looks Even More Serious Than Usual

Fire Emblem: Three Houses' War Looks Even More Serious Than Usual

War is changing.

E3 2018 is finito, and now that the dust has settled, I can look back on the road we travelled together. Honestly, I feel like this E3 was a little subdued (or at least as subdued as the annual frenzy can possibly be): We have a good idea of what to expect for the rest of 2018 and into the start of 2019, and there aren't too many surprises.

I don't think that's a bad thing, as I'm not the least bit worried about having stuff to play through the rest of the year. In the unlikely event I run out of new stuff to play through the rest of 2018, Lord knows I have a monster backlog that always needs attention.

Maybe this year seems a little quieter because some of the big games we saw aren't due until 2019. This is especially true for Nintendo, which chose to funnel most of its show efforts into showing off Super Smash Bros Ultimate. We still got a sneak peek at what's over the 2019 horizon for the Switch, however, and the Nintendo game I'm currently most excited for in the new year is Fire Emblem: Three Houses.

Up until this year's show, we had no idea what Fire Emblem for Switch might look like. The trailer Nintendo previewed during its Direct presentation doesn't exactly reveal all, but it shines a light on important bits and pieces. Kat suggested the game's subtitle, "Three Houses," hints the new game might be Fire Emblem's take on The Romance of the Three Kingdoms—a classic Chinese novel Japan's adapted many times and in many ways.

Even if Three Houses isn't based around established history or mythology, the trailer leaves no doubt the game takes place during a vicious war. Nothing new there as far as Fire Emblem games are concerned, but the trailer also reveals a very interesting tidbit about this conflict: Your heroes and enemy generals are accompanied by troops on the battlefield. Though fights seem to be initiated in the traditional Fire Emblem way (edge toward an enemy until you're close enough to attack), we don't see the good guys going mano a mano with a single bad guy (or maybe two) like usual. Instead, they charge towards their target alongside a platoon of soldiers that immediately engage the enemy's own soldiers.

This war is my war, this war is your war.

These "supplementary" soldiers might just be window-dressing. Visually, they're nothing spectacular next to Three Houses' main characters (who can be identified by their unusual hair and individual wardrobe, as per anime hero tradition). Nevertheless, their inclusion already goes a long way to making Three Houses seem like the long, bloody campaign it touts itself as. It's a feeling I don't often get from Fire Emblem games, even though most of them are based around warfare.

I've been a Fire Emblem fan since its initial Western release on the Game Boy Advance but playing Fire Emblem after playing Advance Wars made me realize how lonely Fire Emblem feels by comparison. Even on Nintendo's tiny handheld, Advance Wars seems like a war thanks to its constant churn of troops. Fire Emblem tells us what's at stake, and it even references back-up troops and generic foot soldiers for story purposes, but ultimately a handful of fighters are what you see on the supposedly blood-soaked battlefield.

"No, no, I'm not cannon fodder. See? Special hair."

The soldiers in Fire Emblem: Three Houses might not have personalities worth writing home about, and they're unlikely to look spectacular when the final product is shipped. That's OK; they don't need to be anything or anyone special. They're just there to illustrate war between nations isn't about watching your favorite over-levelled horse-mounted soldier take down a handful of knights and wyvern riders.

Three Houses will probably remind us the war machine is an insatiable animal that swallows lives dozens at a time. That's how it should be, but still, get ready to feel bad. I'm still not over how my poor little nameless dudes got chewed up and spit out by the hundreds in Advance Wars.

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Nadia Oxford

Staff Writer

Nadia has been writing about games for so long, only the wind and the rain (or the digital facsimiles thereof) remember her true name. She's written for Nerve, About.com, Gamepro, IGN, 1UP, PlayStation Official Magazine, and other sites and magazines that sling words about video games. She co-hosts the Axe of the Blood God podcast, where she mostly screams about Dragon Quest.

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