Main Gameplay/Black Eagles Play-through
Reviewing a monster game such as Fire Emblem: Three Houses is quite difficult. With so much content, I am torn between giving a lack of information or a 10 page article no one will want to read. In order to fix this problem, I am going to go ahead and write a series of reviews, each one will cover one of the game’s four main play-throughs. Today we will go ahead and focus on the Black Eagle’s House play-through.
The main story of Three Houses is focused on your character, Byleth, who is recruited as a Professor at Garreg Moch Monastery. The Monastery is the main base for the Church of Seiros, a powerful group that keeps the peace throughout the continent of Fodland. This monastery acts as a training school for the three ruling powers of Fodland’s future nobles and soldiers. It is set up almost similar to Harry Potter’s Hogwarts, where each Kingdom’s house (Black Eagles, Blue Lions, Golden Deer) train, learn, and compete. As I said before this article is going to focus on the Black Eagles play-through.
First let’s discuss the gameplay for Three Houses. While in many ways it is just like any other Fire Emblem entry, a tactical role-playing game where you move your units across a battlefield. The Black Eagle House starts out with 8 characters. Predominantly, 2 axe wielders, 3 mages, 1 knight, 1 archer, and 1 swordsman. Although it is important to note that as their professor, you can change each characters goals and training. This means that Linhardt may come in as a mage, but with plenty of training, I could turn him into a powerful knight. This feature is completely different from any other Fire Emblem game, and it works great.
While half of the gameplay will consist of you leading your students into battle, the other half revolves around life at the Monastery. Here you will be in charge of training, teaching, and building camaraderie with your students. During the week you are in charge of setting up a teaching schedule for each student. On the games version of Sunday, you get to choose whether you want to lead them into battle, explore the monastery to do quests, or send students to other lectures. Three Houses paints the picture of being a professor beautifully, and the many choices on how to spend your day require strategy as much as battle does.
Black Eagle’s Play-through:
Now that we have most of the main gameplay covered let’s go ahead and discuss the Black Eagles House Story. You access this play-through by choosing to lead the Adrestian Empire’s house, the Black Eagle’s, at the beginning of the game. Their house leader is the future Empress, Edelgard, who is a blunt leader whose determination for success is unwavering. Her house consists of seven other students who range from the overly proud noble, an anti social shut in, to an overly protective bodyguard.
While through certain steps you can recruit just about any character to join your house, the starting cast of characters is fantastic in my opinion. Each one has their own interesting back stories you learn from engaging support conversations. I really enjoyed this group of characters growth as a house because all of their personalities were so diverse. It was truly fun to watch and interact with them. You begin to quickly grow attached to each of them, and will want to do everything in your power to keep them alive. For you non-Fire Emblem regulars, it is important to note that this game has Permadeath. This means that if a character dies in battle, they stay dead dead.
BLACK EAGLE SPOILERS:
(if you wish to skip spoilers scroll down)
While the strange events at the Monastery are played out the same by every house (no matter what play-through you go through). The story building around these events are different throughout. It becomes apparent very quickly that Edelgard, and her close bodyguard Hubert. Do not trust the ArchBishop of the Church of Seiros, Rhea. You also discover that a lot of the problems that have befallen the Monastery (Which was under siege by an unknown knight called the Flame Emperor) was orchestrated by Edelgard.
While over half of the game (Part 1) is being the Black Eagle’s professor, Part 2 occurs after the cliche Fire Emblem timeskip. In order to stick with the Black Eagle’s play-through, you are faced with two game changing decisions toward Part 1’s end. The first is that Edelgard will ask you to sneak out of the Monastery with her for a few days to return to the Adrestian Empire. If you say yes, you will act as witness to her coronation as the new Empress of the Empire.
Soon afterwards Edelgard and Hubert will seemingly betray you, and the rest of the Monastery. They lead a group of Empire soldiers into the Monastery to steal some of its relics. After a brief battle, you will be faced with the decision to side with Rhea and kill Edelgard (starting the fourth play-through). Or to betray the ArchBishop, and help the young empress escape.
Choosing the Black Eagle’s will basically lead you into a war against the world. Edelgard takes control of the Empire’s army, and wages war against the continent of Fodland. While this may sound terrible, you will see that Edelgard’s intentions for this are just (in my opinion at least). She fights to rid the world of the caste system, nobility, and the church. Considering it is revealed that the Archbishop is actually an evil dragon (Wow Fire Emblem, realllll surprising). These are all good things.
In a pretty lame way to be honest, Byleth, falls into a coma after the final battle of Part 1. You eventually wake up 5 years later to a brutal war stuck in a stalemate. After rejoining your old group of students, who are now experienced battle hardened Empire Soldiers. You lead them to victory in the conquest of Fodland.
SPOILERS OVER: Final Thoughts
I loved the Black Eagle’s play-through finding it both moving, and fun. Although it is important to note that lore wise, this would probably be the most disappointing play-through. You learn nothing about the origin of your character, and are left without answers to any of the crazy things that happened to the Monastery during Part 1. (This is mostly due to Edelgard crushing anyone who stands in her way before speaking to them)
Despite this, it has been my favorite play-through so far. As I said before each character in the Black Eagle House is so unique, and I found myself invested in their stories/wellbeing. If this game were to be purely linear, and only have one play-through. I would choose this one. The next article on the Golden Deer should be out shortly, stay tuned!