Me too. I guess I shouldn't be surprised though. Hardcore communities tend to have very opinionated views on games. Like if you go to Pokemon forums, people will complain how Sun and Moon are the worst in the series, or how Persona fans complain how Persona 5 sucks because it too easy. I'd like to warn that we are a minority here and most people who played this game love it. I gave this game to my brother as his first Fire Emblem and he loved it.
As for me, I love it too. Its one of those games that I have a constant desire to replay this, despite finishing everything. It's not perfect, but most things it does its done correctly, and the flaws I can let it slide. 2 things before I go any further: I'm going to address the common criticisms, and the only games I actually played prior to 3 Houses were the 3DS games, so those are the only comparisons I will make.
Difficulty: The games definitely feel easier than the 3DS games. However, I do not mind this. And I can definitely understand why. Fire Emblem games were notoriously difficult between classic mode as well as complex map design. That kind of design requires a lot of dedication and time to plan a strategy, and a lot of people don't want to/or don't have the time to build those strategies. This advanced strategy is probably what turned off a lot of people internationally, lowering sales potentially to cancellation, which is what Awakening faced. The introduction of casual mode and generally easier difficulty makes it more accessible to newbies. As someone who a college student who is doing internships, I don't have time to dedicate several hours to a complex map in order to beat it. The majority of people are not hardcore fans who will want to dedicate several hours developing strategies as well, chances are we will make progress relatively quickly. That's not to say that we don't want a challenge, we just don't want to spend too much time on one chapter when we have hobbies and other video games to play. Many other video games have done very forgiving video game difficulties, like how Xenoblade Chronicles, Catherine Full Body, and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate have swappable difficulties to tailor to hardcore fans and casual fans. Maddening is 3 Houses version of that, serving as a bridge between Hardcore and casual fans.
Monastery: Yeah, I definitely see where people come from when they find it tedious. That being said, you are not required to do any of the activities - you could skip immediately to the next battle by using the skip function on the calendar. In a similar vein, the Developers introduced New Game + in order to reduce time on that grind, you could buy back skill levels, supports, and weapon ranks using renown, which carries over. Its quite obvious that the developers intended the game to be played like with NG+ at the start of every play through as a way to reduce the grind. However, I still really enjoyed the monastery for what it had to offer. Personally, speaking, I really loved tea parties. They were fun a little mini game that really encouraged you to understand your students by paying attention to supports, gift giving, and paying attention to dislikes and likes for food. Speaking of which, the Monastery reflects the main theme of 3 Houses: How precious your time as friends are and how quickly that can change. Spend some time with the students- get to know each other- they can potentially join your class. A lot of RPGs encourage the players to take some time off to go explore the world and do things like quests or grind materials to gain new perks, or improve relations with party members. This is 3 Houses way of doing this.
Gameplay wise, I found that it was sufficient to do the Monastery to do it only once on my Maddening play through and still be sufficiently trained for the battles ahead. I never felt that I was wasting time exploring.
Map wise: A lot goes under difficulty. I do agree that maps are far too reused with no objective variation, and while I can forgive a simpler map design due to wanting to keep it accessible, Its very noticeable when lot of the premise overlaps, which happens a lot between SS, VW, and AM. Even CF, which has a different premise, shares a lot of map objective overlap it which also make it boring to play through. Its not even that difficult either, I thought the Fhirdiad map in CF vs AM was a good example of the same map, but a different layout can still make it interesting and feel completely different when playing on the same map on different campaigns. Fates also had similar thing going for its map design, with Fort Jinya being a map featuring different layouts and enemies on each visit during the campaign.
Story: The dynamic between Edelgard, Dimitri, and Rhea was very well fleshed out. The infinite debates on whose good and evil shows how effective the plot is. That being said, the game didn't need 4 routes to get this feeling. Honestly, it could just have been Edelgard vs Dimitri/Rhea, two paths, and the game could have been fine. The only actual difference between AM and SS map wise is the Fhirdiad Map. That could even provide more time for Edelgard's route. Sadly, Claude really does feel out of place here. His idea of ending racism is only lip service for the most part, with the only action of an additional Almyran general helping Claude in that goal during the Fort Merceus invasion. Everything else takes place in his epilogue, where its stated he helped establish peace between Fodlan and Almyra. Claude would require a massive redesign in his route to establish his ideals.Overall, the story, while great, still has traces of needed time of being fleshed out, especially from a game point perspective.
As for individuals characters, everyone is great. Everyone has a reason to be upset, and how Fodlan's society affects them can be felt by everyone. The supports here often feel more serious, as people are reflecting upon change from the academy to war, and how their alliance affects them. The fact that characters are so well thought out and have their own share of qualms and how they go through them is a great reason to recruit characters on different routes and see how they grow and interact on that route is a major reason why this game is so hard to drop. Not to mention the game is fully voiced-literally- from the Main characters to the minor NPCs really make the characters feel alive. Kudos to Patrick Seitz- he really knew which Voice Actor matched which character, and paid off in the end.
Visuals: The game looks like a PS2 game. The character models have been given the most attention, so that's definitely a +. However, the lack of animations start to show off quite poorly when characters reuse several generic poses that do not fit the character's personality. That being said, I do appreciate what they have done with support conversations, with each having a background, as well as paying attention details to which campaign you are on, what part you are on, and which class you are taking to name a few. As for glitches, most were very minor and did not slow the game that much from my experience. As someone who does 2D animation, the 2D cutscenes are really entertaining to watch and really well animated, like how Dimitri psyche breaks when Edelgard is revealed as the Flame Emperor, or how wailing is reverse of the opening cutscene. Overall, while the game is not the prettiest game on the Switch, its definitely an improvement visuals in Fire Emblem.
The DLC was bad though. Most of it was just cosmetics, and while the new characters were nice and I had fun using them, they weren’t worth 25$. I wish they brought back the 3DS method of purchasing the DLC separately. That would have been a lot better.
This is pretty long, so I'm stopping here. My only major criticism is that the maps and premise are too similar between the routes. It definitely feels like a slog when you do something like Silver Snow then Verdant Wind, and the similar map design doesn't do any favors. It does hurt the replaybility in the sense that you are playing multiple maps twice, and while the narrative is different enough make each path worth playing, once you know the story, the game's sameness definitely starts to show a lot more when you AM and then start to do Verdant Wind again. I'd give 3 Houses 8/10. The aforementioned similarity between the story hurts playthroughs once you've learned the story, but the new additions are enjoyable and add a more variance to how you progress your play through.