I’ve heard that complaint so many times. On this Forum that I swear that it’s not an unpopular opinion. And to be clear: This was not to copy Persona. The developers have stated that the reason a school setting was not chosen because of Persona or Harry Potter. It was because they were inspired by the 4th game in the series in which the protagonists go the same school only to fight each other war.
And lastly, since we’re on the topic of Three Houses: Here’s an unpopular opinion: I never found Three Houses’s monastery and mini games a grind or a chore, nor did I ever find them tiresome. The theme of Three Houses is that you and your friends enjoy peaceful days as friends only for you to become enemies with the blink of an eye- and you should cherish those peaceful memories with your friends. The monastery and school setting captures that perfectly. Instead of going immediately into war- you are teaching your class and enjoying life with other students. Why rush to a battle immediately? Sit back and have a tea party with a student not from your class. You can have a great time with them. Or you can discuss life over a meal or cooking food. The Edge of Dawn captures that feeling well: It’s describes Edelgard’s desire to stay in the academy rather than declare war, knowing those were the days where she could relax. The Japanese title: Wind, Flower, Snow, and Moon, which refers to how beautiful and cherished the passing of the year is, specifically the academy year.
As for gameplay, I never found Interacting with students or monastery boring or tedium, as well as the experience and class system as well. I liked interacting with students on the monastery days. I got to learn some interesting facts, like how Ingrid is related to House Daphnel and strongly respects Judith. Or how Dorothea mourns at Ferdinand’s death, claiming that he used to be our friend. That goes back to the main theme of Three Houses: Enjoying academy life and treasuring it. Unlike the other Fire Emblem games, these aren’t strangers you don’t know fighting - These are people you spent a lot with. There your friends. You don want to kill them. And when you kill them, it makes you feel so sad because these were people you had tea, cooked and meal with, and shared a dance with them. Likewise, I really enjoyed activities like tea parties and the sauna because they allowed me to get my know students while also allowing me to gain stat buffs via things like Tea parties. One of my favorite things about Fire Emblem is the interaction between party members. I love seeing how people react to certain scenarios or how people can relate to each other in support conversations etc, or how learning more about the history of someone’s past. It’s one of the reasons I’m drawn into Fire Emblem. Supports between units are important to gameplay and the game encourages you try to build those bonds with each other. Very few game handles relationships like Fire Emblem. It’s the reason why I find older games a lot more uninteresting- they have very little dialogue and so little interaction.
As for the class system, I never found it a pain at all. The game gives you your students as blank slates. Sure, some have favored areas over the other, but that doesn’t mean you can’t raise someone’s bad stat. It will just take longer. This game encourages you to try out all sorts of combos- like Warrior Annette or Dark Flier Ingrid, the latter of which was my one of my MVP for Blue Lions Maddening playthrough. This is also reinforced by the fact that classes do not reset levels nor does it require you to use certain weapons while locking all the others. Feel free to play around as much as you like, experimentation is never punished. Fates also had similar ability to share classes, but these were limited by the fact that classes were locked per route, and the fact that you had to grind weapon ranks If you wanted to use higher rank weapons. You could also only get two additional classes in Fates, while Three Houses, your units have access to more classes. And that’s before considering things like recruiting or not recruiting students. To me, Three Houses biggest selling point is the sheer versatility it offers when designing your units. The only actually restrictions are Gender locks- everything else is accessible.
I guess if it wasn’t obvious, I like the option of being able to grind and interact with my allies in order to get the perfect skills and supports, while also serving as a good break from the fighting. I like to take my time and prepare before heading off to battle. Mini games and extra battles often provide time and resources to grind up a bit and obtain all the right skills before going to battles. Being forced into battle back to back is not something I like. I want a hub area and mini games to make it into the next title.