Three Houses: Gamespot E3 Preview + Analysis & Treehouse Live Reminder

Following yesterday’s dramatic E3 trailer for Three Houses, a few media outlets had a chance to try out a demo build of the game. Among them were Gamespot, who posted an insightful gameplay preview.

In this roughly 8 minute video, they showed off various gameplay snippets and talked about the game flow. As we now know, the game is divided into two parts: the “school phase” and the “war phase” 5 years later. Apparently the school phase lasts a full year or 12 months.

According to Gamespot, the weapon triangle is no more. Also, children do not make a re-appearance and romance has yet to be confirmed, but you can definitely build relationships, at least during the school phase. Finally, you can recruit students from other houses for the war phase, although we don’t know the exact limitations.

That’s about all the important new details, but there’s actually a lot more if you study the video in depth. Fans may be interested to know that the legendary heroes of Fódlan, previously translated as the 10 Greats, are the 10 Elites. Also, Byleth’s mystery crest is the Crest of Flames and his/her sword is the Sword of the Creator.

Also, as a reminder, Three Houses will be featured in today’s Treehouse Live segment (which can be viewed here). Apparently it’ll be the first game featured, which kind of makes up for its absence yesterday. Treehouse Live starts at 9 am PT/12 pm ET, so at the same time as the Nintendo Direct.

Otherwise, please keep reading for a full analysis of the Gamespot video!

The first thing to pop up is a window showing Dorothea’s suggestion to switch her study goals from Sword and Reason to purely Sword. All suggestions come with a blurb from the student themselves. As we learned earlier, you can choose to accept or decline suggestions.

This seems to be related to the Set Goals option during weekday classes, where you can choose up to 2 Professor Levels (aptitudes or skills) for students to focus on. For those unaware, Professor Levels expand on traditional weapon levels. Increasing them lets you use better equipment, learn new skills and combat arts and access better classes.

Studying is just one facet of the monastery/academy. During weekends, you can explore the monastery grounds. In the footage, it’s currently the 8th month, the Verdant Rain Moon. I named it the Falling Rain Season, but I like their name better. This appears to be the 5th month assuming you start on the 4th one.

The male protagonist–Byleth–is standing near the Dormitory – 1st Floor. This is located towards the west side of the monastery. Later on, we learn he’s actually left his personal quarters. You can also see a dog, as well as an owl (a relative of Feh’s perhaps?) flying in the distance.

More importantly, his Stroll Gauge aka “actions points” has a maximum value of 4 when his Instructor Level is at D+. This means he can take 4 actions today. Also, the current mission is “Head to battle on Magdred Way”. Presumably this is related to the main story. Magdred is also a location you can visit during the 6th month.

The game doesn’t take place entirely in the school; you can engage in traditional Fire Emblem battles outside the academy as well. The above shot shows Dimitri as a Cavalier or Paladin triggering a powerful Gambit Boost. This occurs when you use a Battalion’s Gambit with allies nearby.

We see the calendar for the Verdant Rain season next. It seems most of the footage from the video comes from this month. There are at least two birthdays (on the 3rd and 21st), but otherwise not a lot going on. Maybe the player has already completed most of the tasks and side-activities.

Importantly, when starting a new teaching week, players have the option of completely skipping the teaching part (when you create a lesson plan, tutor, set goals, etc.). This may be helpful for those who are more interested in the battles. Of course, it’s hard to tell how effective the automatic tutoring will be…

Each week, you can assign two students a Group Task. Edelgard and Bernadetta are already assigned to “Sky Watch”, which we’ve seen before in Famitsu and the official site. From the looks of things, you can assign multiple group tasks, provided you have enough action points (4 right now) and students.

Next, we get a new glimpse of the Set Goals screen. As mentioned, you can select up to two Professor Levels for students to focus on. Looking at the list of foci, there’s nothing that looks crazy. Although I forget Dorothea has a strength in Sword. Huh, is there a Mage Knight or Fighter class waiting for her?

Here’s a quick screenshot of Caspar wanting to take an exam to promote from a Noble to a Soldier class. The exam asks for D or higher in Lance and it seems he’s achieved that, allowing for a 100% pass rate. After Noble/Commoner, everyone has access to the four Beginner classes: Myrmidon, Soldier, Fighter and Monk.

We saw the calendar earlier, but here’s a better look with all the menus available. The options available are, with the older translations in brackets: Explore (Stroll), Seminar (Class), Battle (Venture), Rest (not many ways to translate this!), Marketplace (Shop), Certifications (Examination) and Skip.

Explore is exploring the monastery, Seminar lets you give weekend lessons or take them yourself, Battle involves optional skirmishes and paralogues, Rest restores motivation, Marketplace refers to shopping for weapons and supplies, Certifications is for taking exams and Skip is to skip to certain days or side-activities.

Here’s your Personal Quarters! This looks like the top-most room along the western dormitories. There’s a Bulletin Board in your room, which you can use to quickly check Quests. Nearby to the east is the Officer’s Academy containing the three classrooms belonging each of the three houses.

Are you feeling hungry? Well, it’s around dinner-time for me. In the Mess Hall, you can enjoy Today’s Special or the Full Menu. Both options let you share a meal with others. After choosing, you can pick from a list of dishes. Each dish requires certain ingredients. Also, you can see who enjoys this dish.

To save you the hassle, here’s all the highlighted dishes:

You may have noticed that the people who enjoy a particular dish can include students from different houses–and even teachers. So far, we’re not sure if you can recruit other students or teachers during the school phase; this simply allows you to interact and gain support points with them.

Also, when selecting the Pickled Rabbit Skewers, there’s a young boy in the bottom-right corner of the list, below Claude, who we’ve never seen before. We don’t know if he’s a student–although this is probably unlikely since Lysithea is said to be the youngest and he looks way younger than her.

I have a feeling he may become a playable character during the war phase, once he’s all grown up. It’d be funny if he was kind of like the Donnel or Mozu. Although by that time, you’re probably halfway through the game.

Moving on, we get to see the English version of the monastery map. To the east of the Officer’s Academy is the Reception Hall, then the Knight’s Hall further east from there. You can use the map to fast-travel to landmarks and check the locations of students and teachers, etc.

Of note, it’s confirmed that “Lysithea” is the proper spelling for the mage prodigy from the Golden Deer. Likewise, “Catherine” is the tough-looking lady who was seen flying through the air with a sword. But there’s one more: a new character called Rodrigue in the Knight’s Hall.

The map also indicates instructors you can speak to, to undergo Faculty Training. In the footage, these are Catherine and Jeralt, indicated by the hourglass icon. You can spend action points to boost the protagonist’s Professor Levels, which we’ll also see much later on. It’s cool that you can receive training from your father, Jeralt, too.

Now for something quite different. This screenshot shows the classes that your students can progress towards. I believe this screen can be accessed via the Lesson Plans menu. We can see all the (male) Beginner, Intermediate and even Advanced classes! Also, the scroll bar suggests there may be a higher tier below Advanced…

For those who haven’t been keeping up (or need a refresher), the Intermediate classes are: Mercenary, Thief, Armored Knight, Cavalier, Brigand, Archer, Brawler, Mage, Dark Mage and Priest. See this page for more info.

This is the first time we’ve seen the Advanced classes, so I’m just gonna guess them: Hero, Swordmaster, Rogue, General, Paladin, Wyvern Rider, Warrior, Sniper, Gladiator (completely made this up; it’s the Gauntlet/Fist class), Sage and Bishop.

By the way, the class system is quite different in this game. When you class-change, your Level isn’t reset. Also, you can wield pretty much any weapon in any class, but Magic is restricted, and Gauntlets are for foot-based classes only. Also, there isn’t a predefined class tree; you can hop to any class provided you meet the exam conditions.

Speaking of exams, here’s Edelgard trying to become a Cavalier. The exam demands C or higher in Lance and D or higher in Riding. She doesn’t meet either and has a 0% success rate. Ouch, better get back to studying… Interestingly, Knight is now called “Armored Knight” like in the Japanese releases. Finally!

Also, we’ll come back to this menu later.

It’s the same calendar again, but with some slight differences! Next to the top four options are percentages for “global activity”. From what I understand, these reflect the choices made by players across the world. So if you’re curious to know how many people went to Battle or were lazy and chose to Rest, you can find out!

Pressing the “-” button also opens the Statistics (Rankings in the Japanese version), which I assume provide detailed information about the global activity. Another thing, there’s a “House vs House Lance Tournament” happening, presumably on the 24th. These seem to be the arena-like battles seen in the previous trailer.

Let’s check out some battles next. Above is the zoomed-in, low-angle camera that we saw in the debut trailer. This camera shows all the soldiers in each battalion and serves as a happy medium between the in-battle scenes and the traditional birds-eye view map.

But if you prefer the traditional zoomed-out camera, it’s still there of course! Here we see the Blue Lions in action. Felix is about to trigger a Gambit for Byleth. In the background, you can see breakable fences (indicated by a breakable icon) near the top-left corner of the screenshot on the right.

As the player selects Byleth as the target, we learn something new! Byleth’s golden sword is known as the “Sword of the Creator”. This too was teased by thanibomb earlier. By “creator”, I’m assuming it’s referring to the Goddess. Are the three house leaders’ bone weapons also weapons of the Creator? Or perhaps lesser versions?

Anyway, this particular Gambit is called “Stride” and provides some sort of buff. I think it’s what I called “Godspeed Preparation”, which buffs movement of nearby allies by a whopping 5 tiles.

The post-battle screen confirms my suspicions, as we can see Felix’s Battalion: the Seiros Holy Monks. Earlier, we learned that the Seiros Monk Squadron can use Godspeed Preparation–and I am pretty sure they’ve been localised to “Seiros Holy Monks”.

Well, isn’t this fancy? This is the first time we’ve seen the battle preparations screen and it looks vastly improved. Options include: Fight (in the middle), Units (probably where class-change and assigning Assistants occurs), Inventory, Save, System, Quit, Marketplace, Support and Map.

Also, pressing “X” will show the conditions for the battle. Of note, the marketplace sounds really handy. In most games, you could only purchase items before entering a battle, not during the battle preparations phase. The support option also suggests that support conversations are triggered outside of battle.

Here’s Edelgard’s Certifications menu again, but showcasing a lot more of the classes. You can check them all out above. When the cursor goes to Noble, we can see the description, which refers to the legendary heroes. They are officially known as the 10 Elites. Hey, I was close with the 10 Greats!

We learn that during a student’s birthday, you can invite them to a tea party. Sounds fun. Oddly though, Edelgard’s birthday is on the 22nd of the 6th month, yet you can invite her to tea during the 8th month. Maybe on birthdays, you have an extra-special tea party? Anyway, this costs 1 action point.

There’s a Gift option, which I think lets you choose an item to give as a present. In the previous Famitsu article, we learned that flowers grown from the greenhouse can be gifted. Maybe this boosts support points? The remaining option is “Lost Items”, which is probably returning an item found on the floor like in Animal Crossing.

We jump to Pegasus Knight Ingrid about to take on a fearsome foe. This is a “Demonic Beast”, a new type of foe that occupies multiple tiles. The one she’s fighting is called a “King of Beasts” and it wields a “Cracked Crest Stone”.

Hmm, we’ve seen a Black Beast wielding a Crest Stone of Gautier before. This is highly suspicious. Although it’s called a King of Beasts, I wonder if it’s actually a lesser monster with an imperfect (broken) crest. While the Black Beast is a stronger one with a complete crest? By the way, the beast seems to be inflicted with Distress, from an earlier Gambit.

Check out an English Level Up screen! The stats are HP, Strength, Magic, Dexterity (formerly Skill), Speed, Movement, Luck, Defence, Resistance and Charm. I dunno why they decided to rename Skill all of a sudden, even if it’s not wrong. Maybe there was too much confusion with special skills? We may learn what “Charm” does later.

Here’s the result of sharing a meal. Linhardt seems to be teasing Caspar; it seems the pair have an interesting relationship as Caspar remarks about Linhardt in an earlier Famitsu article. Anyway, the player earns support points between the protagonist, Linhardt and Caspar, plus increased motivation for the two students.

Yo! It’s female Byleth. She was oddly missing from the new trailer. She seems to be unleashing a critical hit and her crest at the same time. Hang on, her crest is now the “Crest of Flames” instead of the “Crest of ???”. In case you didn’t know, that’s a synonym for “Fire Emblem”.

Also, I believe her crest is now at full power, if you look carefully at the shape of the icon (above her name). Now the icon matches the artwork of her crest. When it was the Crest of ???, its shape was cut in half. That said, it might be possible for her crest to grow further; who knows?

After the battle, we can see she’s Level 20 with experience to gain. Most likely, Level 20 isn’t the maximum Level, especially considering Levels aren’t reset after class-changing. We can also see her at Level 21 slightly afterwards. Any guesses what the final Level will be? I’m thinking 50 to 60, if there are Supreme classes.

We’re back at the academy, in a new area. Nearby, there’s an “amiibo Gazebo”. I have no clue idea what purpose this has, but at the least, we definitely know there’s amiibo support. Hopefully we’ll find out what kind of support soon!

Back to eating! By the way, I’ve already had lunch by this point of writing. That’s how long these things take, haha. The player has chosen a Daphnel Stew and is in the process of choosing people to invite. In the right screenshot, you can see two more characters with confirmed names: Seteth and Manuela.

Seteth is the character who I previously had as “Ceteth”. In the leaks, he was translated as “Setes”. Funnily, his English name turned out to be neither but a mixture of both! Anyway, he seems to start as a Wyvern Rider.

We jump to Dimitri using a Gambit on the King of Beasts. Now we can see the beast in battle! It’s certainly a big ‘un. Looking at the beast’s head, I can’t help but notice it resembles the white dragon from the E3 2019 trailer. It has similar horns and a flat area in-between that seems to have a crest. Is this actually a baby dragon or a mutation?

Here’s the next big scoop. You can potentially recruit students from other houses for the war phase 5 years later. Although I dunno what compelled the player to try and persuade Lorenz of all people. I’m sorry Lorenz fans. It seems you must meet certain conditions to recruit students.

In Lorenz’s case, he’s not convinced right now. Instead, you’re told to come back when your Charm stat and Reason Professor Level are higher. Also, from what I can tell, students might not join you straight away. Instead, when the war phase starts, they may decide to join you then. So this is probably investment.

Furthermore, I don’t think we know how many students can be recruited this way–and who. I doubt you can, say, recruit the house leaders considering they’ve got their own personal agendas. That said, there’s an option called “Mission Assistance”, which may let you temporarily borrow their help during the school phase.

Lastly, Rhea is a possible instructor for Faculty Training during weekends. Wow, you can learn straight from the archbishop herself! She can boost the protagonist’s Sword, Fighting, Reason and Faith levels. Of note, the protagonist has three stars in Faith, indicating a hidden talent. Also, you can give Rhea a gift. Aww.

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.
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  • Devi

    Thank you for your wonderful analysis as always

  • speedster


  • Zuf Lis

    we can give Rhea a gift? seems like she will not be a villain in the future time

    So many interesting idea and concept here, like unrestricted class and class branch, hidden talent, etc.
    i dont know how or why can FE fans still hating this title. Haters gonna hate i guess :/

    maybe just me, but i hope older Version of Three House leaders are a separate character (not affected by your chosen class in school time) so we can see them in “canon” future class, and our “preferred” class. or make them as Green/NPC unit in the future with boosted stat as adult

    • Aveyn Knight

      Maybe she’s an incredibly hard to recruit character that needs a lot of persuasion? Haha.

      I am pretty hopeful she’ll join eventually though. It’d be sad to have another Emmeryn or Mikoto type character…

      • Rei1556

        but we did have a recruitableemmeryn

        • We can put that down to Awakening being shit than anything else.

      • Zuf Lis

        hopefully not only she is hard to recruit but also powerful/unique unit.

    • People like FE for different reasons. Older fans generally do not like when the systems offer too much freedom, and would prefer when the gameplay is more restricted. This game is literally the opposite of what we want.

      • Radnar

        Er, speaking as an older fan myself, I’m fine perfectly fine with the idea of broadly customizable units as long as the units in question retain some real sense of individuality. And if you really want more “restrictive” gameplay, why not just impose those restrictions on yourself? It’s not like solo-unit runs have ever been built into previous games, or really even encouraged, but people still do them.

        • Then you’re probably not as hardcore about the series as I am. If you were, then you would know exactly where the strengths of the series lies. Hint: it’s not in building units, having complex systems, or in grinding. The best games are the ones with minimal systems but engaging scenarios.

          If you want the whole truth rather than just a hint, I’ll lay it out for you. Fire Emblem has transitioned from a linear, resource based, scenario driven SRPG into a semi-linear progression based JRPG on a grid. And it fucking sucks.

          • Radnar

            “Then you’re probably not as hardcore about the series as I am.” …Mmmkay. Sure.

            Anyway, my argument here is that if you want to ignore all the tutoring, roaming sections, and mid-month skirmishes, you can. There’s a command specifically for skipping past all that and jumping right to the next key battle. If you want to avoid all reclassing and go straight down a single promotion path for a given unit, you can.

          • Nice job with disregarding all I said. My point still stands. FE is not the same anymore, and self-imposed challenges are not the same as a game coherently built around around said challenges. I bet you would also consider FE8 to function the same way as CQ.

            All I’m seeing is the Echoes system in a new entry. Personal magic and combat skills are enough to tell me this is farther away from normal FE from anything that isn’t named Echoes.

          • Radnar

            I haven’t directly addressed your complaints because I’m very unclear on what you actually object to. I see the gradual evolution of a series that continues to try new ideas rather than stagnate and die. I can only presume you see differently, but I fail to see what your specific complaints are. Story? Map design? “Scenario” can mean a lot of different things in this context.

            I think Sacred Stones and Conquest are very different games for a variety of reasons, but that they’re obviously built on the same conceptual framework. I think the same for every game in the franchise, even the odd ducks like Gaiden and Shadows of Valentia. As for personal magic lists, they’re anything but complicated, and the manually activated combat arts present in SoV and 3H are ultimately a much easier concept to grasp, and to make use of, than the randomly-activated class skills present in Sacred Stones.

            Regardless, the reason I replied in the first place was to make it clear that not all veteran players hate what Three Houses appears to be shaping up into.

          • I literally wrote what I’m objecting to. FE has turned into a more party-styled unit system since the 3DS games where unit progression is such an important aspect of the gameplay that losing one can be nearly unrecoverable. This is also one of the ways the games are not really balanced around permadeath anymore. If you can look with a straight face and say that the changes to the formula that shift the style of the games away from being unique SRPGs into generic JRPGs are good, then more power to you. That just proves my initial statement of you not valuing the core aspects of the series enough to be disappointed to see them gone.

            Regarding scenarios: We’ve seen a bunch of systems so far but as Awakening proves, we’re going to need engaging gameplay scenarios to make said systems satisfying. There can be skills, intricate formations, and deep progression, but if every map is an open field rout objective like in that game, everything is going to fall flat. Nothing of what we’ve seen yet shows that the map design has been improved. Depth is also not necessarily a good thing, which holds true in particular for skills.

          • Zuf Lis

            i understand your point, but it is unavoidable. every major franchise that i know went past 6th or so series start to differ greatly from earlier installment: Tales, Shining, FF, etc.

      • Zuf Lis

        are people starting from Binding blade considered older fans? i like new ideas for gameplay mechanic, didnt like meaningless fanservice, but still want support system included. beat almost every FE starting from Roy to Alm (remake)
        soo.. am i older or newer fans :/ ?

        • My first game was Sacred Stones back in 2005. I’d say as long as you started playing them before Awakening came out you’d probably be considered an older fan. Preferences of the games themselves don’t really have anything to do with it.

    • Ruri “Kuroneko” Gokō

      Thanibomb had actually leaked a while ago that Rhea would, in fact, be recruitable. Considering that Manuela can join you as well, I would assume that most – if not all – of the teachers can join you.

  • Wytse de Jong

    Thanks for another great analysis.
    One thing I found interesting: When you look at the screenshot with the advanced classes you can see a scroll bar to the far right, suggesting there will be another tier of classes (which makes me very happy).

    I wonder why they removed the weapon triangle and what the advantages will be using different kind of weapons vs the same enemy…

    • Böser

      well the weapon types have always had their different Pow & Hit (and I think Wt is returning) so there is variance just less.

      Its probably to stop players abusing the new weapon system and having full weapon triangle control

  • Bcardia

    Great analysis. But I don’t think she outright said that the weapon triangle is no more. She just said it’s more about the combat arts this time around.

    • Aveyn Knight

      I know what you mean, but on a base level, it’s gone. I was gonna talk about the Combat Arts, but I kinda forgot, haha.

      Also, we know that there are (passive) Professor Skills that grant breaker skills. I guess those ones will have a different name though, if there are indeed breaker-type Combat Arts.

  • I like how the class change menu still uses the Awakening/Fates style sprites despite everything being 3D models now.

    • Mason Klaus

      Thats probably more for space than anything else cause I imagine having each of the characters’ full 3D models in each class would take up a lot of room. Makes it a little easier to find the class you want that particular student to be in if nothing else.

  • Killuawatt

    If Thanibomb is to be believed, he remarked that we could only recruit one other student from another house.

    • Ruri “Kuroneko” Gokō

      In the Nintendo Treehouse E3 presentation it was revealed that you can actually recruit multiple characters and that they will already join you before the time skip. Also, Thanibomb had leaked well over a month ago that Claude would become a wyvern rider as his final unique class.

      • Killuawatt

        I knew about the unique final class, but I was worried about the lack of the actual Wyvern Rider class in general gameplay, had only seen Pegasi as flying units up to this point. It’s possible development changed to allow multiple recruits, Thani did say his info was from early on.

  • Some thing I noticed in the Nintendo coverage is that Byleth’s sword seems to have durability, which I find really strange if it’s supposed to be a legendary weapon. Maybe instead of breaking like normal weapons it needs to recharge like the Master Sword in Breath of the Wild, or maybe it just looses the red glow and becomes a less powerful weapon when the durability is depleted. Also Ignace has been translated as Ignatz, not sure how I feel about that.

    • Ruri “Kuroneko” Gokō

      Ignace had never been a correct translation of his name. If you romanize his name イグナーツ, you end up with Igunaatsu. Just from looking at it one can easily tell that it is far more similar to the German name Ignatz than the English Ignace and, considering that a lot of the names in Three Houses are, in fact, German, it was only logical to translate his name as such.

      • Oh I see I didn’t know that, cheers for clearing that up for me

  • nainelaine

    according to the treehouse coverage, you can pursue romantic relationships after the 5 year timeskip. i don’t have time to fully peruse your analysis right now, but it sounds like the treehouse demo may have showed off elements left out of gamespot’s!

  • Yui Tasheko

    Nice work! Thank you for taking part of your time to upload this!