Three Houses: February 2019 Direct Analysis

The wait for new Fire Emblem: Three Houses information has been painful for fans, but we can breathe a sigh of relief for now. During the February 2019 Nintendo Direct, we got our first look at the brand new Switch title since its E3 2018 debut.

The new trailer seems to open where the last one left off, with the mysterious young green-haired girl–presumably a dragon, because of her pointy ears–waking up from her slumber. Well, we’ve had dragons sleeping for centuries with Tiki, but 200+ days is quite a long time for us humans to wait!

As we suspected, this girl isn’t Tiki herself, but a brand new character that we later learn is called Sothis. She seems a bit surprised to see you here–and we’ll learn why later.

Right afterwards, we’re shown the game’s logo, which has been slightly updated. In particular, the “Three Houses” text now has a fancier, cursive font. The Japanese logo has been updated too, with the “moon” kanji (getsu) resembling a crescent moon.

It’s not just the logo that’s different, the world map of Fodlan has a few changes too. Most notably, the name of the three key nations–and the name of the continent itself–have been updated with their English translations.

To the south is the Adrestian Empire, which has existed for over 1,000 years. Its crest is a golden eagle with a red background.

Next, to the north is the Holy Kingdom of Faerghus, a cold land ruled by the royal family and its knights. Its crest is a silver griffon behind a blue background.

Finally, towards the east is the Leicester Alliance, a league of nobles ruled by no king or emperor. So like Agustria or Lycia. Its crest features numerous symbols including a moon, helm and what appear to be people. This is probably a reference to the many states that form the alliance.

Update 4: Lord_Grima had a look at Leicester’s national crest in depth. As pointed out in the E3 analysis, the Moon in the top-left corner corresponds to one of the crests on the Goddess’s mural. But there are actually three more crests that also appear on the mural. I’ve numbered them 2 to 4.

Curiously, crests 2 to 4 are located far from the moon crest, which seems to belong to the Leicester capital of Riegan. Instead, they’re huddled near the crest of Blaiddyd, the capital of Faerghus. That said, the order of the crests on the mural may simply be random, because later on, we can find the crests in a completely different order.

Unsurprisingly, the continent was once engulfed in war, but the three nations now exist in harmony. Although probably not for long, knowing how these games work!

By the way, some minor locations have slightly different names too. Váli is now “Varley”, although they’re pronounced the same. Others have simply been expanded, like Brionac, which is now “Brionac Plateau”. These changes seem to exist in the Japanese version as well, which is neat.

Update 3: I tried my best to transcribe all of the world map locations. Please note that some names might be slightly off, since they were hard to identify from the available footage.

By the way, the following locations were added to the map since E3: Arundel, Ordelia, Rhodos Coast, Grounder Field, Fodlan’s Fangs. One location was removed: Samhain, found between Garreg Mach and Leicester Alliance.

Fodlan’s Fangs and Fodlan’s Throat, found near the far west and far east of the continent respectively, may have a deeper meaning. If you look at where these locations are and then look at the whole map, you should notice the continent is shaped after a dragon’s head. Could the continent be a deceased dragon?

The next piece of info is something that was alluded to before: players will assume the role of the main character–in others, an Avatar. The character known as “Byleth” in the debut trailer is the Avatar in question. Like the previous three times, the Avatar can be female. Curiously, the game doesn’t ask for your gender, but your “form”.

Although technically an Avatar, you probably can’t fully customise their appearance since they’re shown head on during cutscenes, like the one below. So it may be that the game will refer to them as something else. But for now, I’ll call him/her the Avatar.

The Avatar starts off as a mercenary, in a group led by his/her father, Jeralt. Which is very similar to how Path of Radiance begins. Later, an “unexpected incident” reveals an “unknown power” hidden within him/her. They’re just going to kill of Jeralt, aren’t they…?

Anyway, we see the three key characters–Edelgard, Claude and Dimitri–are already with the Avatar by this point. Perhaps Jeralt’s mercenary group is escorting the three nobles?

Once this power has been discovered, the Avatar is relocated to the Garreg Mach Monastery, located at the heart of Fodlan, where he/she becomes a teacher within the officer’s academy. The monastery is the building that appears prominently in the debut trailer, where the Avatar is running around.

When the Avatar steps foot in the monastery, we can see Jeralt is still alive–along with the rest of the mercenary group. So whatever happened during that incident wasn’t too severe. Cool, you get to live for another day, Jeralt!

Around this time, Sothis starts to appear exclusively in the Avatar’s mind. Hmm, how suspicious… Is Sothis somehow a part of the Avatar’s psyche and connected to his/her powers? Or is she simply communicating via dreams or telepathy, similar to Gunnthrá in Book II of Fire Emblem Heroes?

Anyway, we get to see a bit more Sothis’s design here. What’s intriguing is her lower chest guard, which has a crest engraved on it. This crest is the same as the one on the back of the cape of the man brandishing the chain sword in the debut trailer.

Furthermore, this crest features prominently in the limited editions for the game. Especially the North American one, shown above. No doubt it’s of great significance to the plot. Could this be the Fire Emblem we’re looking for? Well, at the least, it’s an emblem alright.

The rather odd-looking pose that the Avatar makes before he sees Sothis is quite noteworthy as well. Don’t forget about it…

Conveniently, the Garreg Mach Monastery is situated in the middle of not just Fodlan, but the three key nations. Judging from the map and the surroundings, it seems to be built atop a large mountain range. No doubt it would be a tricky place to invade.

The monastery is also the home base of the Church of Seiros, which we previously learned holds immense influence within Fodlan, as well as the Knights of Seiros. The Church upholds order within Fodlan and educates aspiring youth via the Officer’s Academy.

As we’re told about the church, we’re shown a green-haired woman who seems to be the figurehead of the church. Possibly the pontifex? She looks somewhat different to the green-haired woman in the debut trailer, standing calmly in the battlefield and, later, emotionally clutching a chain sword.

That said, it would be kind of odd to have two green-haired women with similar builds, so maybe they are just the same person? Both of them also have the same white flowers on both sides of their hand. If that’s the case, maybe it’s just different outfits–one for the church and one for fighting?

Perhaps more importantly, the woman’s headdress strongly resembles Sothis’s–specifically the part just above the forehead. No doubt the two are connected, but how?

One wild theory I have is that Sothis could be the younger version of this woman. Through some wibbly wobbly time wimey stuff, maybe the woman’s younger consciousness traveled back in time to save the Avatar.

Afterwards, the woman watches over the Avatar, unable to reveal her identity because it would cause a paradox. That would put a lot of weight to the “I’ll be waiting for you” talk at the end of the first trailer… But, like I said, it’s just a theory–and not one that I expect to come true.

Back to more concrete things! We see the green-haired woman again, this time surrounded by knights. Standing next to her is a man with dark-green hair and a goatee. There’s a flag in the backdrop with a gold griffon below a four-pointed star–most likely the banner of the Church of Seiros.

Next, we see some students in the monastery/academy grounds. Towards the left is an red-haired male and a blonde girl wielding a lance. To the right are two more students that we’ll get a proper look at soon. Near the middle appear to be Dimitri with a lance, a swordsman and a white-haired axe wielder. Are they learning the weapon triangle?

The two characters on the right are a short orange-haired girl and a grey-haired male holding a bow. We don’t get to learn their names before we’re taken inside the academy itself.

Three more characters appear before us–a mustached old teacher, a dark blue-haired student with long hair and another with short reddish hair. They seem to be studying magic.

Update: The old teacher may be the tome wielder seen in this battle in the debut trailer. The face does look very similar. If so, you can look forward to battling against other teachers, not just students!

The next scene features a mature female instructor in front of a full class. We only see the backs of the students, so it’s hard to match them up with anybody we know. But they don’t look particularly noteworthy for now.

Update: Similarly, this teacher also appeared in the debut trailer, raining fireballs on her foes. Without context, it’s hard to tell if she’s on your side or not. Her being on the opposite side of the screen suggests she’s a foe, but it could be the direction she triggered battle too.

 

The officer’s academy is divided into three houses, which is where the English subtitle comes from. The Black Eagles–with its red flag–consists of students from the Adrestian Empire, including the next Emperor, Edelgard as its House Leader.

In the background, Edelgard is showing off a magical-looking crest, which happens to be the symbol of Adrestia. Is this actual magic? Or something more exclusive to the heirs of each nation? As the scene progresses, it becomes apparent that Edelgard is in a classroom of students.

Of note is the orange-haired male standing towards the left. It’s hard to tell from a few frames, but the way he brushes his hair when talking suggests he has a vain personality. Not unlike Narcian from Binding Blade. We later learn he’s called Ferdinand.

There’s also a shy-looking student hiding under a book. Plus a girl with wavy hair also standing by the left. Likewise, we eventually learn they are Bernadetta and Dorothea.

Next, the Blue Lions is home to students from Faerghus; its House Leader is Prince Dimitri. In the background, we see the scene from when it showed the students out in the academy grounds.

First, the white-haired axe wielder attacks Dimitri, who somehow knocks him back. Then the swordsman tries to hit Dimitri from behind, but fails.

Again, this is only a few frames, but it’s clear Dimitri is fairly competent in combat. His winsome expression also reminds me of Ephraim from The Sacred Stones. It would be funny if they shared the same love for battle and reckless tactics.

Last but not least, the Golden Deer is where the students from the Leicester Alliance gather. Leading them is Claude, who’s the heir of the noble family that leads the alliance–and thus their future leader.

In the background are multiple students gathered around Claude. Towards the right, there’s a short-haired girl holding a bow. Near her seems to be a boy wearing glasses. Behind Claude is a well-built man, perhaps an instructor or some other staff.

To the left of a Claude is a familiar face–it’s Hilda from the first trailer! She’s the pink-haired girl with pigtails. The other three characters are hard to make out right now. Claude is showing them a map of Fodlan. From his expression, he could be the brains of the three House Leaders.

Afterwards, we see some of the background characters a bit more clearly. The lad with glasses appears to have red eyes. Meanwhile the guy to the far left looks serious and pretty unamused. Finally, we see Hilda straight on, also looking a bit uninterested.

Our first dialogue scene next! Annette and what looks like a female instructor or staff, named Mercie, are talking to the Avatar. Annette refers to the Avatar as a mercenary, implying he hasn’t become a teacher yet. Annette’s also the girl with the grey-haired archer, from earlier. To the right could be the blonde-haired female lancer as well.

Update: Serea-chan suggests that “Mercie” could be a nickname for Mercedes, who briefly appeared in the debut trailer. Indeed, their appearances look similar.

Along the bottom, there are options to review the text log and auto-advance the text. Two must-haves for any talkative RPG!

Update 2: A few users noticed that all of the dialogue boxes featured in the trailer are fully voiced. It’s hard to tell with the narrator talking over the dialogue, but if you concentrate, you can definitely hear it. Could the game have full voice acting like Fire Emblem Echoes?

The next dialogue scene features one Sylvain Jose Gautier. Totally a noble and possibly the token hot-headed one too, given his fiery red hair. In the background, towards the top-left corner appears to be the grey-haired axe-man fighting Dimitri and possibly the grey-haired archer too.

Update 3: Sylvain’s surname “Gautier” is also the name of a location near the northern tip of Faerghus. Considering Edelgard, Dimitri and Claude’s surnames are also shared with world map locations, it’s highly likely the other students–presumably all nobility–will follow suit.

The third dialogue scene introduces us to Raphael. He’s the well-built man during Claude’s introduction. Likewise, the girl next to him, Leonie, was the one wielding the bow. You can just about see Hilda’s ponytails next to her head too. So this could be the Golden Deer’s homeroom.

As the narration tells us, players must choose one of the three houses to lead. This choice of allegiance is quite similar to the crucial choice made in Fire Emblem Fates, where players had to choose to follow Hoshido, Nohr or seek a third path.

Unlike Fates, only one game version has been announced so far, not three. So it’s hard to predict how much of an impact your choice of house will have. From the sound of things, your students may be determined by this at least. But perhaps the rest of the story follows a similar path?

Update 2: For your convenience, we’ve catalogued all the characters that appeared in the trailer, including all known house alignments in our Characters page. Many of the alignments are guesses based on two key assumptions.

The first is that each of the three houses includes eight students, at least at the start. Below, we see Byleth leading the Black Eagles and they seem to have eight members. The second is that students from each house will typically only interact or are seen with others from the same house (except for battles against each other).

These may seem like loose assumptions, but we can actually find exactly eight students for each of the three houses. (At the time of writing, only six students are listed for the Golden Deer, but we know of two more–we just can’t see their faces, so I didn’t bother listing them.)

Anyway, you won’t be stuck at the monastery all the time, as students must travel around to gain experience. This can mean dealing with local bandits or even helping to quell rebellions. Often, the Knights of Seiros may come to lend a help.

In the example scene, the Avatar is leading Edelgard and the Black Eagles. To the right of Edelgard are Bernadetta and Dorothea. Meanwhile the right-most male is Ferdinand. Also keep in mind the left-most female with purple hair.

For a brief moment, the location (Entrance Hall) and time of day (Day) are shown near the top-left corner. The latter in particular informs us there’s a schedule element. Perhaps classes are held during the morning, day and afternoon. Meanwhile evening and night could be for other things.

The red bars above and below the screen may also be indicative of the house you’re leading. In this scenario, red could be for the Black Eagles since it has a red background. That said, we haven’t seen any other coloured bars, so it’s early to say.

Eventually, we reach our first battle map in this trailer: a rocky landscape with ruins dotted around. The enemy on this map are the aforementioned bandits, led by a rugged-looking fella called Kostas. For a brief second, a shiny chest can be seen near the bottom-left corner.

The next scene shows the Avatar and the Black Eagles facing off against axe wielders. It seems a bit far off, but this could be the same map as Kostas. If so, this would have to be near the far south-eastern corner. Or it’s a different map altogether, but the enemies do seem similar.

The units include from right to left, then bottom to top: the Avatar (Sword), Dorothea (black tome, later known as Reason), purple haired girl with mini-skirt (Sword), guy/girl with dark-green hair (white tome, later known as Faith), cyan-haired guy (Axe), guy hiding an eye (diamond tome, also Reason), Bernadetta (Bow), Ferdinand (Lance) and finally Edelgard (Axe).

Several characters have a triforce (three triangles) icon to the bottom-left of their map model. This is likely related to the troop formations, briefly seen near the end of the first trailer. In this case, it’s the triangle-shaped formation.

The cursor highlights the shy kid, who’s called Bernadetta. She can move 4 squares, which seems on the low side. But there could be a reason for that. Her commands include Attack, Arts (Combat Arts), Gambit, Items, Trade and Wait. She selects Attack.

Next, we see her mini status to the left. She’s a Level 2 Noble, from the Black Eagles and using the triangle formation. Noble is the exact same class as Aristocrat (which Edelgard belonged to) from the first trailer. But translated differently. Her items include an Iron Bow and Mini Bow. Plus a Vulnerary in the Japanese trailer.

Towards the bottom-right corner are the standard combat stats: Attack, Hit rate, Critical rate, Attack Speed, Defence, Resilience (Resistance), Avoid and Attack Range. Oddly, only the Iron Bow seems to be effective versus flying units. Weapons and items also have uses again. Vulneraries have 3 uses, by the way.

Update 2: Also, if you directly compare the above screenshots, it seems the English and Japanese trailers are taken from different builds of the game. The English screenshot has improved rock textures and more shadows. This makes sense since the English translation has to follow afterwards,

Bernadetta then picks a fight with an axe-wielding Thief. The Thief seems to have 5 Defence and 4 critical avoid–the latter seems kind of high. But his Avoid can’t be more than 8. Along the top, Bernadetta has Level 1 Lances and Bows, plus access to some fiery-looking skill.

During the battle, Bernadetta uses the Curved Shot Combat Art. This previously appeared in Echoes, as a Combat Art learned from the Iron Bow. Huh, Bernadetta is also using an Iron Bow here.

Update: Ayra noticed that Curved Shot boosts Bernadetta’s attack range by 1 when selected. This effect didn’t appear in Echoes, although bows had naturally high range in that game.

Update 2: You may have noticed the number 3 after Curved Shot in the battle forecast. This is presumably its cost, but it’s not clear what currency is used. In Echoes, HP was consumed, but Bernadetta doesn’t seem to lose HP. Meanwhile, this number is directly above the Iron Bow’s number of uses…

Another battle plays between Petra, the purple-haired girl, and another Thief. This time, Petra triggers a critical hit, complete with cut-in. For reference, cut-ins don’t seem to trigger for Combat Arts (instead, the character glows). Also, critical hits deal 3x damage.

Update 2: Multiple users have pointed out that Petra has 100% critical rate. Which is very unusual, especially for an early battle. This definitely isn’t from a Combat Art, as none is visible. But it could be from a skill, perhaps. That or the developers rigged a guaranteed critical hit for the trailer!

Both battles appear to be from the same map–in other words, we’ve still been looking at the map with Kostas. Besides the similar floor textures, the background is a dead giveaway. In both, you can see a large rocky structure towards the top-left corner. The ruins are missing in the second battle, but it could be the result of far clipping.

Meanwhile, in the second battle, behind the enemies, you can see the same kind of ruined walls that appear in the scene with Kostas. Plus for the purposes of flow, it makes sense that all these scenes are from the same place, around the same time.

Even though these tasks are part of the curriculum, it’s not all fun and games. From the sound of things, death is a possibility. You’ll have to keep on your toes if you want to keep your students alive. No pressure there then, teacher…

When characters fight and defeat enemies, they gain various points on top of the usual experience points to Level Up.

Professor Levels appear to be the new term for weapons levels. Later on we see that, in addition to weapons, Professor Levels encompass more general skills like leadership and even horse riding. You can think of them as aptitudes.

Below that is the character’s Class Mastery. Once enough points have been earned, a class is considered “mastered”. Perhaps mastering classes lets you learn new skills and/or become stronger in the class?

At the very bottom is the Battalion Level. This likely refers to the soldiers following each character around. In Petra’s case, she has “Empire Infantry” under her command. Presumably there will be cavalry and fliers too, and possibly different tiers (like “Civilian”, “Noble”, “Royal”).

Update: A minor observation. In the Japanese version, the Battalion Level is referred to as the “Knights Level”. That likely means that the troops/battalions fighting with you and and the students are literally the Knights of Seiros mentioned by the narrator.

Update 3: A couple of users pointed out that Petra requires 110 experience to Level Up. In every other mainline game, you need exactly 100 experience for all Levels. This could suggest the game is following a more tradition form of Level progression–similar to Heroes.

Not all battles are life and death matters though. Back at the academy, students can apparently train against each other, wielding training weapons. We see Ferdinand, the vain guy from Black Eagle, versus Sylvain. Ferdinand has Sword, Lance and Axe skills, while Sylvain has Lance and Axe only.

This kind of training looks to be an arena of sorts. There are multiple rounds and you can earn gold and items such as an Intermediate Seal. You can even opt to withdraw if you think you won’t win. Presumably failure doesn’t result in death, but maybe you lose gold and/or your character has to rest for a while?

As your house’s teacher, you can choose a Lesson Plan for your student(s). The available options are Tutorial (consumes 1 point), Auto-Tutor (consumes 3 points), Group Task and Set Goals. In the example shown, 3 points are available for use. Edelgard can be seen, suggesting this is Black Eagle’s homeroom.

The player opts to tutor Dorothea, the wavy-haired girl, to train her Professor Levels. “Reason” is selected, which is the same thing as Anima or elemental magic from the GBA games. A total of 6 EXP is gained, 4 from the base value and 2 from her innate strength.

In the list of Professor Levels, Sword and Reason have coloured ranks, indicating they’re active. They also have a boosted arrow indicating a strength, while Faith has a lowered arrow, indicating a weakness.

Additionally, there’s a finger icon next to Sword, Axe and Authority. In the Japanese trailer, this icon is a teacher bonus–yours, perhaps–and it grands 2 additional EXP.

To the far right of the Faith level is a triple star icon, whose purpose is unknown. Its one of Dorothea’s weakest aptitudes too, so it could be a coincidence. In the top-right corner is the number of times you can train that character. For Dorothea, is seems to start at 3.

Lastly, in the bottom-right corner is the “Growth Goals”, featuring Sword and Reason. Now these align with Dorothea’s strengths, but this is most probably a coincidence.

After selecting Reason, Dorothea gains 9 EXP thanks to a 1.5x bonus. I think this bonus comes from the selected Sword and Reason focus.

Towards the left of her dialogue box, there’s an icon with a heart and an up arrow, suggesting improved relationships. I imagine this is related to a support system of sorts. Who’s ready for those controversial teacher-student relationships…?

Update 2: Going back a bit, you may have noticed Dorothea has a rank of E+ in Sword (and Authority in the Japanese screenshot). Judging from the EXP required, it seems rank progression goes from E (40 to rank up), E+ (60 to rank up) and D (80 to rank up). Presumably there’s D+ after that.

Right now, I’m unsure what’s the benefit of spreading out the progression. Assuming there’s at least A+ rank, that’s 10 ranks in total. Also assuming it takes 20 additional EXP for each rank, you’re looking at around 1080 EXP to go from E to A+, which is a crazy amount for Fire Emblem.

Earlier, we saw that Petra gained 3 EXP for Sword and 2 EXP for Authority after defeating a foe. So the rate you gain EXP is roughly the same as earlier games. But now you may need to earn four times the amount. This could mean Three Houses is a really long game or you’d better work on those Lesson Plans!

If you go to Set Goals, you can choose what skills to focus on. The currently available skills are Sword, Lance, Axe, Bow, Fighting, Reason, Faith, Authority, Heavy Armour, Riding and Flying. It seems anybody can learn any skill.

Currently equipped is “Reason & Faith Focus”, which obviously improves Reason and Faith. But you can set your own custom focus too, by picking any two aptitudes. The player chooses Faith and Riding for their custom focus.

On the right, Linhardt, the guy/girl with dark green-hair has the teacher’s attention. Geez, when did Lyn and Reinhardt combine into an even greater monstrosity when I wasn’t looking?

Like Bernadetta, Linhardt is a Noble. In fact, Noble may be the default starting class for all students, akin to Villager in past games. Essentially, they are villagers, but with noble blood, hence Noble. This could also explain the low Movement. Anyway, Linhardt can use Reason and Faith right now.

Update: In the Japanese trailer, after selecting Faith and Riding as Linhardt’s custom focus, the screen remains for a few split seconds longer. Enough time to see that Linhardt doesn’t have an up arrow (strength) in Riding. This is further evidence that the up and down arrows aren’t related to the focus.

Immediately afterwards, we see Byleth–the teacher–together with Linhardt in battle. Both characters are blue and Linhardt is using Heal to restore Byleth’s HP. This appears to be connected to the Faith focus that the player set just beforehand. In other words, Faith encompasses healing magic.

The magic circle when casting seems to have a mixture of glyphs and plain old English. Near the Avatar’s face, you can probably make out “support of all”. The big glyph near the centre matches one of the crests in the goddess’s mural. The others seem unrelated.

Moving on, Caspar, the cyan-haired male, is fighting some Western Church Soliders with a pair of Iron Gauntlets. From the weapon icon, this is a demonstration of the Fighting focus. The foes here hail from the Western Church between Faerghus and Adrestia. The battlefield looks sort of creepy too.

Update: MagikarpFestival pointed out that Caspar can deal 2 attacks before the foe, so this could be an intrinsic property of Fighting weapons. It’s not because of a Combat Art, as none is shown and probably not because the weapon is special, since it’s a basic Iron one. But it could be from a skill etc.

Update 4: The magic user that Caspar is fighting counter-attacks with magic and invokes the same magic circle seen earlier. Because of the contrast, it’s easier to see the text on the magic circle, although it’s still difficult to make everything out. Above, I’ve flipped the image and labelled the text that’s easiest to see.

Lord_Grima discovered that text #1 says “The Goddess always lives in heaven and Fodlan”. This is a reference to the fable from the E3 trailer that said the Goddess watches Fodlan from above. Text #2 seems to say “living beings. As support of all m______ things”. Text #3 looks like “__ __ ___ning over us. As the mother of all”.

Judging by the capitalisation in texts #2 and #3, it appears text #3 flows straight into text #2. So it should be “…over us. As the mother of all living beings”. If that’s the case, perhaps text #1 flows straight into text #3. Especially since the beginning of text #3 doesn’t fully make sense by itself.

So we end up with “The Goddess always lives in heaven and Fodlan. __ __ ___ning over us. As the mother of all living beings. As support of all m______ things.” That’s probably the best we’ll get until we get a better zoom in of the circle.

Update 5: Nope, we can do better than that–or rather, Cirne4 can. It appears the text is based on the description of the Goddess in the Japanese version of the E3 trailer. Therefore it probably reads “The Goddess always lives in heaven and Fodlan. She is watching over us. As the mother of all living beings. As support of all mindful things.”

Next in the spotlight is the game’s Reclass system, also given a military school makeover. Edelgard can choose between Mercenary, Thief, Knight, Cavalier, Brigand, Archer, Mage and Priest. Which is quite the selection–and close to what Shadow Dragon offered.

However, characters must now pass an exam before they’re qualified for that class. In Edelgard’s case, she attempts the Brigand exam, which requires an Intermediate Seal (presumably similar to a Second Seal) and seeks an Axe rank of C or higher.

We then cut to Edelgard diligently studying with her books before finally passing her exam. Good job! Fortunately, Edelgard has a 100% pass rate, but I wonder what could happen if it’s below that…

Anyone who’s been to school knows that there are plenty of light-hearted moments too, in-between all the hard work. Students can interact with each other, possibly like the Barracks in Awakening, when two random characters talk to one another. We see Ashe, the grey-haired archer, talking to the blonde lance chick.

When students improve their bonds, they can participate in powerful Gambit Boosts, where up to four characters can assist one another. It looks like characters must be nearby for it to work–within 2 squares or so. Gambit boosts seems to power up the character leading the charge, shown as a “Co-ordinated Gambit” above Edelgard’s name.

As for the specific battle, Edelgard has an “Assault Troop” battalion supporting her, which is made up of cavalry. Her opponent is a ominously named “Black Beast”, which looks like some kind of monster. It wields a Fighting weapon, a “Crest Stone of Gautier”.

You may recall Sylvain’s surname is Gautier. Combined with the “crest” in the weapon’s name, it seems like family crests can be weaponised. Uh oh. For some reason, the Black Beast can’t counter, which could be because of the Gambit or because of its weapon attack range.

On the map, the Black Beast occupies a space of 2 x 2. It’s likely there will be more foes that take up more than 1 square too. Although these foes can be menacing, they are usually more open to attack. Which is good if you’re trying to fight them with the power of friendship!

Also, notice the Avatar wielding a golden sword to the left of Edelgard. Blink and you’ll miss it! We’ll talk about this near the end.

Update: Yayatou noticed that the Japanese trailer has slightly different colours and/or poses for the characters in the Gambit Boost. Above is the English footage overlayed with the Japanese footage (you’ll need to click it). To make things easier, I changed the order of characters in the Japanese trailer so they’re the same.

Of note, the guy hiding one of his eyes and Edelgard have the same pose, but the guy’s clothes are a different colour. Meanwhile, the Avatar and Ferdinand have different poses and colours. This could be because they’re in different classes, but it doesn’t explain the guy in-between them who clearly has the same costume.

Perhaps you can modify the colour of a character’s costume? Alternatively, it could simply be because the footage is from different builds of the game. We do have evidence of that after all. Notice how Edelgard has the exact same costume, but her face–especially her eyes and fringe–are noticeably different.

After learning about some of the school life, we’re shown an eerie blue-draped scene with the male Avatar struck by an enemy’s axe. The colour then abruptly returns and time seems to rewind, with the Avatar now blocking the axe attack. Edelgard is standing behind the Avatar, possibly saved by him.

I’m guessing this scene is showing off the Avatar’s unique power–something related to foreseeing the future and preventing it (ala Xenoblade). Or perhaps the Avatar is a time traveler and can physically rewind time when he/she is in mortal danger? Either way, it’s something to take note of.

Speaking of taking notes, do you remember the pose the Avatar made when he first saw Sothis in his dreams? That’s the same pose as when he suffered the axe blow. In typical RPG fashion, when the Avatar takes the fatal blow is probably the moment he first sees Sothis–and she grants or somehow unlocks his power.

Once the trouble has cleared, Claude and Dimitri rush to the scene and everyone looks happy. Hmm, could this be the unexpected incident mentioned near the beginning? Perhaps Jeralt’s mercenaries were escorting the trio, when something bad happens and the Avatar ends up unleashing his/her time-bending power.

Update: Or maybe not? Mason Klaus rightfully points out that the axe wielder attacking the Avatar is Kostas, the boss of the first map shown in the trailer. So this scene probably occurs after the Avatar has become a teacher, since he’s leading the Black Eagles.

If that’s the case, this contradicts the timing of the Avatar’s awakening and meeting Sothis. Unless the Avatar hadn’t “fully” awakened during the incident before he became a teacher. Or the scene with Kostas attacking at night occurred prior to the Avatar becoming a teacher–and isn’t part of the same map.

Actually, the latter could be plausible, considering Claude and Dimitri are there–and not the rest of the Black Eagles. That could mean Kostas survived the Avatar’s counter-attack and you have to fight him again when you’re a teacher. Or maybe I’m thinking too hard!

But this happiness may not last long. At some point, Edelgard’s army raises the Church of Seiros’s flag and march out following their leader’s orders. In the same battlefield, Claude and Dimitri direct their forces to go forth as well. Are they working together or against each other? Only time will tell.

Next, Sothis briefly reappears in the dreamscape, stepping closer towards (presumably) the Avatar. This is probably the same scene where you first encounter Sothis.

We then see a hand surrounded by darkness. This hand seems to belong to a a man with pale hair and white eyes. However because of the way the scene is cut, it’s hard to say whose hand it is. Either way, this guy totally looks like a villain.

Watching this scene appears to be someone with shocked, orange eyes. Due to how close their face is, it’s nigh impossible to tell who this is. Although it could perhaps be Ferdinand or maybe even Sylvain, depending on the lighting.

We then see the back of someone. My first instinct was that it’s the evil guy with white eyes, but the collar looks like it’s missing the black fur. Still, the sky in the background seems to match the hand grasping the darkness. So the scenes may be related somehow. Maybe it’s just the angle throwing me off?

Things get even weirder as a mage with a plague doctor’s mask unleashes a fireball forward. Confronting this mage is a swordsman with blonde hair and white clothes, wielding a flaming sword, leaping through the air. Or it could be two different scenes. That said, the lighting looks consistent.

Update: Calico pointed out that the flying swordsman is in fact a swordswoman, if you look at her, well, chest. Because the scene is so fast and blurry, I totally missed it the first time!

The weirdness continues as a strange, patterned sphere seems to be expelling darkness. This could be related to the hand moments early. Hopefully the game doesn’t become Kingdom Hearts

We then see the gentle face of the church figurehead. If this is the same scene with the sphere, this has complicated implications… However, the lighting doesn’t match and this appears to follow from the welcoming scene near the start. Even still, showing her face here is extremely suspicious.

Moving on, a red-eyed, four-legged creature can be seen in a dark dungeon. This looks like the Black Beast that Edelgard was fighting

In the final scene, the Avatar himself is shrouded in darkness. Dun dun dun! To make things more confusing, he’s wielding the chain sword from the debut trailer. But it seems to be missing the jewel in the centre. What could this mean? Hang on a second…

The strange patterned sphere before… is that the jewel in the sword? If so, that gives even more significance to it expunging darkness. Maybe the jewel was corrupted somehow and had to be removed? Is this the Fire Emblem?

Update 2: Enduin noticed that this stone features one of the crests in the Goddess’s mural. In which case, this would be a crest stone. Wait, is this the Crest Stone of Gautier equipped by the Black Beast? If so, perhaps the darkness surrounding the stone summoned the Black Beast? Or is the beast drawing power from the stone?

The last piece of information is that the game releases on 26th July 2019. That’s not Spring, but apparently the game needed a bit more time to reach the desired quality. Well, if we’ve been waiting that long already, we can probably wait a bit longer.

Actually, I lied. The game will have a limited edition, which varies slightly depending on the region.

North America gets the “Seasons of Warfare Edition”, a sly nod to the game’s Japanese subtitle (“Four Seasons”). Meanwhile Nintendo of Europe is offering a straight to the point “Limited Edition”.

Both special editions include an artbook and steelbook, while the North American version has a calendar and soundtrack CD, and the European version has a USB soundtrack and Three Houses pin set.

Update 2: A minor observation. The soundtrack CD has the crests from the Goddess’s mural. Not only that, but all the crests are clearly visible–even the crests that are worn out on the mural. As such, I was able to recreate all four of the worn out crests (and fix up a barely affected crest).

Update 5: Crystallescent noticed that the product image for the Australian “Seasons of Warfare” edition shows two different portraits on the calendar. These belong to the unnamed man standing next to the woman who’s presumably the Church leader, plus the blonde-haired girl with Ashe at the dining table.

Strangely Japan looks to be be getting the short end of the stick. They get the cool-sounding “Fodlan Collection”, which also has the steelbook and artbook. Plus the soundtrack CD, which we’re told has 33 tracks. But no calendar or pin set, it seems.

I’m still lying. The real last piece of information is that the game is co-developed by Koei Tecmo, who worked on Fire Emblem Warriors. This can be found within the credits featured at the bottom of each limited edition. That explains a lot, especially the troops mechanic!

Update: Unrelated to the Direct itself, the Nintendo Japan website added an article discussing the trailer. Towards the bottom, it confirms that Chinatsu Kurahana is the character designer and artist.

Anyway, I think I covered most of the important things. If you’ve noticed anything special or you think I got something wrong, please let me know in the comments etc. Right now it’s well past 5 am and I’ve been awake since 11 pm. Yay!

About the Author: VincentASM
Fire Emblem fan since 2002 and webmaster of Serenes Forest. Occasionally an online content editor or brand ambassador. Is a sucker for mage girls and has an unhealthy stash of Sylveon plushies.
Author Website: http://serenesforest.net