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Alastor15243

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    Fates: Conquest

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  1. ...Ugh, I'm sorry to be doing this again, but I think I needed a full week off, and not just a day. This was just bad timing for me all around. This is the busiest period of the year for me, and it happened to coincide precisely with a game I'm not really playlogging so much as writing daily essays about. Enough about my situation will change come Monday that I should be able to continue as normal, but this week makes playlogging this particular game a bit too much for me. See you on Monday, but of course as always I'm happy to chat 'til then.
  2. Wait, what? It boosts Byleth's faith? I could've sworn the game said it only boosts the students' faith and instead boosts Byleth's authority. If it turns out it does boost Byleth's faith, fair point I suppose. Agreed, as strange as it sounds. Even though I would have preferred any class to be able to use magic, splitting up which class can use which in exchange for making more classes able to use it would probably have been an improvement over the current system. In fairness, I did list the bow one. And yes, there would be an accuracy/weight bonus to using a sword as a falcon knight or a lance as a wyvern lord (not to mention the swift strikes combat art if you have that). I picked axes in a lance class to highlight just how profound that +5 attack is in making a joke of weapon type stat comparisons. Incidentally, if I can eventually get the free time and motivation after this project to make a FE clone game, one thing I'd do is stop swords, lances and axes from just being a sliding scale of trading speed and accuracy for might. Personally I'd make swords light but weak, lances accurate but heavy, and axes powerful but inaccurate.
  3. ...Christ, I think you're right! They don't all join until after the first timeskip battle! I forgot because I had been so proactive in recruiting all the ones I could! Yeah, siding with the church should have most of your army abandon you in favor of Edelgard, and the church soldiers should join you immediately. And maybe if this were a game where having high supports meant jack shit, maybe only the students you're on really good terms with stick by you.
  4. I assume you mean the church members? Hm? What game are you referring to? Only game I can think of is Fates, but I can't remember anyone who unconditionally sides with Corrin on every route despite only knowing them for six days.
  5. Three Houses Day 5: First Class Alright, back to the grind. In more ways than one. And yet none of the fun ways. Dimitri: Professor! I've been looking for you! ...I can't help but notice this implies Professr just fucking bolted right after the mock battle, if the whole class running after her and finding her in the hallway is the first opportunity Dimitri's gotten to invite her to eat with the class. Was this supposed to imply that Professr is distant and emotionally detached from her class and is only interacting with them as much as she has to? If they wanted that to be the case, and to have her eventually getting close to them be a sign of character growth... uh... you think they'd maybe not have her invite them all to think of her as a friend and equal literally the first chance she gets. If not, then why is this conversation happening with everyone catching up to her in a hallway instead of just having this conversation happen on the field after the match? Dimitri: Well, I understand how hard it can be to accept joy sometimes. ...What, pray tell, might he mean by that? I'm curious, but not hopeful. Anyway, moving on to another talk with Rhea and Seteth, as happens basically every month. Seteth: Of course, the mock battle was just practice. The real fight is the Battle of the Eagle and Lion, which will take place during the Wyvern Moon. ...Okay, this isn't a huge deal, but it still annoys me that they say this like I have any concept of what that means. I, like most people I imagine, didn't stop to memorize the progression of this fantasy world's months on the birthday selection screen. A first-time listener has no idea whether Seteth is talking about next month or nearly a year from now. Hell, I still don't know what number month specifically Wyvern Moon is. If I were to be writing this, the obvious quick fix would be to say the specific number of months away it is. But if I were to go the extra mile, I think a cute way to introduce basic facts about this setting, I mean stuff even a ten-year-old in this universe would have down cold but we don't, would be to exploit the fact that this is a church. A church of an ostensible “love and goodness and all that crap” religion. Put an orphanage on campus, and have it be part of the explorable area of Garreg Mach. Show little kids singing nursery rhymes, the kind we teach kids in real life to help them memorize basic information. A “these are the months of the year” song for starters, but this would be a great way to exposit information to the player without talking down to the protagonist like a child. Just let the player overhear conversations with actual children. But moving on, Seteth further explains the basic premise of chapter progression in this game: shit only happens at the end of the month, and this is originally justified, as here, by these being scheduled monthly missions the students have to go on to help those in need and demonstrate their progress. But of course, this rapidly devolves into “this is a world where things only happen at the end of the month”. Speaking of... I've seen some people comment on how this game seems to be setting up tons of the framework to make a great FE4 remake, especially given how good the game is at conveying a sense of a large timescale between missions. ...Yes. Yes, Three Houses is very good at conveying a sense of a large timescale. It is so good at it, in fact, that when I play it, it genuinely feels like I'm spending a month on each chapter. Sothis speaks up, and Professr is yet again shocked and confused by this turn of events. The game even seems to be explicitly implying it is indeed taking this long for Professr to mentally absorb this information. It then cuts to a scene between Kostas the bandit and the Flame Emperor, a mysterious masked figure with a deep voice and oh cut the bullshit it's obviously Edelgard. I knew this from the instant I heard her voice. It is trivially easy to tell when a woman's voice is being deepened to sound like a man's. The feminine inflections are still clear as day. I don't know about anyone else, but this never, ever fools me. ...That being said, due to being mostly blind about the story of this game on my first playthrough, and not knowing the nature of the timeskip... I came to some weird conclusions about this. I genuinely thought it was some future Edelgard or something. And then I was theorizing that Death Knight was future Dimitri or something, and... yeah, it was a dumb, weird mess and I was completely off-base, but excuse me for thinking the devs had a point to introducing the concept of time manipulation into the story. But yeah, Flame Emperor's all “you have failed me” and leaves Kostas to his eventual fate of being killed... at the end of next month. And yet if the mountainous scenery of this cutscene is any indication... he does absolutely nothing to move his base of operations in that time to flee the Knights of Seiros. ...Yes, while the game is uncomfortably good at making you feel like massive lengths of time are passing by in-game, it's frankly terrible at making what anyone does with this length of time remotely believable. Almost every meaningful event in this game happens with a whole damned month of warning no matter how much sense that makes, and this will get frankly ridiculous at some points in Part 1 and basically the entirety of Part 2. … “In honor of the saints whose births or deaths took place under this moon, the people perform music once beloved by these divine beings”. ...Saints are referred to in the Church of Seiros as divine beings? Isn't that reserved for gods, or, bare minimum, angels? ...We apparently have... an entire week off from studies right after the mock battle. What? Why did it skip that free time and that Monday study session? Anyway, I buy flowers for Annette's birthday, and... now let's get to the monastery again. Ah yes, and I can travel to Abyss now, months before the events of Cindered Shadows canonically happen, and just instantly recruit the entire Ashen Wolves house. Professr: A girl's voice... what could it mean? What exactly is the writers' motive for making Professr this goddamned dense about this? So, I check out the quests, and the first one I do is the “feed the adorable animals around the monastery” quest. And this game apparently thinks it's cool to feed turnips, tomatoes and onions... to cats. Cats are obligate carnivores. ...And yet apparently this cat munches on a turnip without any complaint at all. Allegedly it loved it. Anyway, I enter the marketplace, and when I see the cutscene of people wandering around with their awkward walking animations, I can't help but be reminded of the most infamous jank of early RWBY. I was honestly taken off guard when talking to Alois had him talk about him being “just about to head out for a mission”... and then he actually left. Honestly, I was expecting him to be “just about to leave for a mission” for the entire rest of the month. Ah yes, and then I run into Hilda, and I'm introduced to the “recruit” option. I expected a tutorial to pop up, but either there isn't one, or it was shown earlier and I skipped over it. But anyway, I really don't like the “recruitment” mechanic for numerous reasons. First of all, it makes no goddamned sense that this is even possible. If it were really possible for students to switch to a different house than the one tied to their nation... you'd think there'd be a single student who canonically did that. But no, near as I can tell, everyone's in the house of their country of residence until Professr comes around with her infinite plot charisma to seduce half of them into committing house-treason. Second of all, it drastically reduces the gameplay variety between routes by making it so that there's only three route-exclusive units for any given route, and in Golden Deer's case there's just one and in Silver Snow there are no route-exclusive units at all. Which also is frustrating from a story perspective as it makes it seem like the vast, vast majority of the cast has absolutely no values of their own and can easily be convinced to betray their homeland and families to fight for literally any cause imaginable out of loyalty to some teacher they've known for less than a year. Third of all, it utterly invalidates the emotional tension of having to fight the other students after the timeskip, because thanks to the fact that you can recruit all of your favorite students, the odds that you'll have to fight a given student are inversely proportional to how much you'd give a shit. Because almost anyone you'd actually feel torn up about fighting... will have been recruited by you. Anyone you didn't recruit and thus will have to fight... will be someone you most likely had no interest in, and maybe even have had no interaction with at all. This is another reason for a change I personally would have made that I'll discuss in a bit, once we get to lessons at long last. So, I have to say, as I explore the Monastery... a lot has been said about the massive number of recycled maps, and how it's probably because each map was so resource-intensive to make due to how detailed they are on zoom-in. If that's the case, isn't it a massive waste that we never fight a single battle inside Garreg Mach Monastery? Oh, there are battles that ostensibly take place in the Monastery, but they're underground or in some remote part of it we're never allowed to explore. None of them happen in the parts of the Monastery we're actually familiar with. Wouldn't it have made the Part 1 finale's siege/invasion of Garreg Mach Monastery far more impactful if it actually took place... in the Garreg Mach Monastery we've come to know and presumably love, and not in some generic nondescript battlefield allegedly just outside of it? If that explorable campus we've run through constantly until we know it like the backs of our hands... suddenly turned into a massive battlefield we had to fight to protect? I'll be frank, I was really hoping for such a moment back when Three Houses was still in development. I even made a thread about it. Alas. One of this game's many, many disappointments for me. Now we're introduced to choir practice, which practically screams “the last vestige of cut content” to me. Why would there be a campus activity specifically devoted to raising your students' faith skill... when there's no corresponding task for basically any other skill? ...Either that or, alternate theory, this was given for faith magic because the other weapon skills have arena tournaments devoted to them or something. Still feels weird, especially if it turns out that arena tournaments don't boost weapon skill at all. Also, still nothing for authority, riding, flying or armor. Anyway, I'm told to find some students who like to sing, and seriously, who finds this fun? These qusts would be outrageously tedious and trial-and-error if they didn't flat-out tell you who to talk to with a flashing dot on your minimap, but with that flashing dot, it's just “go here and come back”. I can picture people tolerating this, but does anyone actually find it fun? And hilariously, I'm not even talking to students who are interested in joining the choir, I'm just finding a piece of paper with a list of interested names on it. It's just lying there, forgotten and discarded behind a barrel, right there for us to find with our psychic powers. I repeat: I wasn't asked by this woman to find this missing list. I was asked to find students who are interested in music, and the solution was to find the randomly discarded work of someone else who already went around asking who was interested in music, and apparently did nothing with that information. Anyway, I have Annette and Mercedes take part in choir practice, and like with the dining hall, unless the two people you picked have a special interaction with each other, they always say the exact same thing every time. Which gets old fast. But them, I'm rarely gonna use this thing, I'm just doing it because the game prompted me. Seteth asks me to find an informant who can spill some dirt on any concerning behavior of the Western Church. For some reason he expects a student will know, and even crazier, he's right. Ah yes, and the most infuriating part of the “fast travel” system: you can't freely move the control stick to select a room, and if you're going for one of the rooms in the middle, it can be a pain in the ass to maneuver the selector onto it since they aren't in a grid, and indeed rarely even spatially relate to each other in logical ways. For example, press down on the Officer's Academy, and you won't go to the dining hall directly beneath it. You'll go to the reception hall, which is slightly lower than it on the map but... also almost completely to the right of it. Of course, if you even need a fast-travel system to get around a place that serves this place's function, that's a sure sign the place is way too big, but they couldn't even get the fast travel right. I talk to Sylvain and he says he “lost [his] own brother to bandits”...which, I will admit, is an amusing little half-truth. I talk to someone who tells me about how there are some people who “don't take too kindly” to foreigners... and then just flat-out hands me completely unrelated quest information about what the Western Church is doing. Unless this intel is supposed to be that the Western Church don't like how said foreigners are allowed at the church. Is that really secret information that Seteth wouldn't know? Aaaanywho... time to get on to the big red mandatory quests. Ah, so here's the recruitment tutorial. With Dimitri. I see. Ah yes, and now we see Jeralt, talking with Leonie. I'm not sure if I've said this already, but can we stop and appreciate just how much more ridiculous the existence of Leonie makes the pretense of Jeralt hiding from the church for 20-odd years? There's a fangirl of his... at the fucking school. Anyway, Jeralt claims to not know how old he is, because apparently he's trying to keep a secret that he's way, way older than he looks due to... Crest transplant magic, I guess? If it's not that, I don't remember what their explanation was. Anyway, it's absurd that it isn't common knowledge that he's way older than he looks given that people who knew him closely back when he was originally a knight are still at the Monastery, and that he hasn't visibly aged a day since. For that matter, what the fuck is the deal with Seteth and Flayn? Seteth looks thirty at the oldest, and yet he spoke of the events of 20 years ago like he was personally there. But, like, he couldn't have been, right? He can't have continuously been a public presence at the Monastery for the last twenty years. He's an immortal dragon trying to hide the fact that he and his “sister” are immortal dragons, and that must naturally involve only staying in public view until your lack of aging would start to get suspicious, and then either moving, or going underground for a while until you can pretend to be someone else. Which would logically mean waiting until everyone who was working at the monastery the last time you went public (like, say, Alois) is either gone or dead. But like... Rhea, Seteth and Flayn... is it ever mentioned what their strategy is for doing that? Because Flayn has to make it something that at least she and Seteth have to do all the damned time. Anyway, I did the mission from Jeralt and got the battalions. And god damn it, that's another thing I want to rant about, but I want to rant about everything in this game and I'm struggling to find the appropriate times. Right, time for the dining hall, where after an annoying, pointless detour I unlock “cooking together”, a minigame where you get one of the students or faculty to cook stat-boosting meals for the class, as opposed to the motivation-boosting meals you can also feed them independently of this. Does that make any sense? No. Do I care that it doesn't make any sense? Yes! Yes I do! But anyway, Professr needs to pick a student to do this, presumably because she's exactly the sort of incompetent buffoon that infomercials seem to think need their products. ...If you don't know what I'm talking about, please, for the love of god, look up “Infomercials are filled with very special people” on YouTube. You will not regret it. Anyway, I have Dedue cook immortality stew to boost our defense by 1 for the rest of the month. It's just a single stat point, but unlike in Fates this stacks with additional cooking sessions you do in the month, so if you visit every week you can rack up 3 or 4 boosts to a stat. ...Okay, I joked about Professr doing nothing for “cooking together” because that seemed to be what was going on, but Dedue implies Professr is helping cook somehow, despite not visibly doing anything at all, not even magically igniting the stove with a gesture like the cooking partner always does. Anyway, free time is over. So... ...It's finally time for lessons. Yet again Dimitri provides the tutorial for something he should not conceivably have any knowledge in, and we begin. ...Hoo boy. Here we go. Instruction. Instruction is, at its core, just the bonus experience system from the Tellius games, except applied to weapon ranks. ...Except like literally everything in Three Houses, it's made way, way more time-consuming and complicated than it has any business being. But I'm getting ahead of myself. There's a bigger thing I need to discuss here. So, I deliberately avoided hearing as much as I could avoid hearing about Three Houses, both story and gameplay, once information really started leaking. There was stuff I couldn't help but overhear, including some disquieting things about the turnwheel being a thing again, and the fact that there was a timeskip, and also all the stuff that was in the first few trailers, but past that I mostly went into this blind. And, uh... ...I misheard and misunderstood a lot of stuff I saw about the school and class system that made it seem... infinitely more fun than it wound up being. See... I was under the impression that Three Houses was going to break away from the traditional class system and use its system of training in various weapon and movement types in school to... essentially let you create your own classes. Combine any movement type you want with any weapon type (or types) you want, a la Fire Emblem Heroes. All the way up to release, I was fantasizing about using every crazy combination of movement type and weapon types I could think of, everything the franchise either rarely or never let me do. I was thinking of making an army of sword-and-sorcery mageknights, where everyone from the flier to the armor knight was proficient in magic. I wanted to make a spellslinging bowslinger who specialized in hitting any enemy where it hurt the most and doing it all from afar. I wanted to make a badass armored white mage healing her allies from the front lines, heedless of the danger. And needless to say I wanted to make an army of flying magic users to literally rain fire down upon my foes. The game... turned out to not be like that. And in a sense, it isn't fair to hold that against the game. I mean, it never claimed to allow that, as far as I'm aware. But it doesn't change the fact that, wholly divorced from my own, personal, immeasurable disappointment... this entire complicated class system amounts to literally nothing but wasting my time. It's literally just the standard class system with extra steps. Emphasis on the extra steps. Yes, you can use almost any physical weapon type in any class... but they also systematically removed damn near every reason you'd want to. Especially with the three primary weapon types, swords, axes and lances. Someone, at some point, presumably once asked the question: “Can I use axe as a falcon knight?”. Fire Emblem's answer used to be “No”. Three Houses changed it to “Sure, I guess, if you're an idiot”. There's no weapon triangle to make axes situationally more useful unless you spend a skill slot to put that situational bonus there, you need to spend another skill slot to equip the skill that provides massive hit/avoid/crit/dodge bonuses while using axes to make them worthwhile, and falcon knights, like damned near every late-game class in existence, have a class-inherent faire skill that makes them do 5 more damage with their class's weapon of choice, which in this case is lances. Meaning that there isn't a single axe in the game where you wouldn't be faster, more accurate, and more powerful using the equivalent lance. Unless of course you spend another skill slot and waited until the end of the game to unlock axefaire and put it on. Of course, the question gets a bit more complicated with things like gauntlets and bows, which provide utility that can potentially outweigh the reduced damage in certain situations. But then we get to magic. They were way, way stricter on magic than they needed to be, by locking it behind only specific classes. The mage classes have skills that do things like double spell charges and boost your magic damage or healing. That's great. That's fine. That's all the incentive I would have needed to use a magic-specializing class. Magic could easily have been something you're capable of using in any class, as a sort of limited-use special attack available to anyone who did the proper training. It could've made the str-mag dichotomy a lot more interesting by having both stats be something you could conceivably get a use out of in any class if you had a good score in it, meaning that physical fighters who have magic as their dump stat would actually suffer consequences for dumping magic. But instead, access to magic is locked behind specific classes that usually fall under the very strict framework of “squishy wizard”. And at launch, there wasn't even a single one of them that could fly. Essentially, in practice, Three Houses lets you get less creative with your character builds than basically any other game with a reclassing system. So what are we left with? We're left with, like I said: the traditional class system with extra steps. As for what those extra steps are... ...No, I can't get into this today. I'm sorry. I'm all ranted out. I'm running on fumes and a half-can of Monster. I've gotta proofread and be done for today. I'll continue this discussion tomorrow. Stay safe, everyone.
  6. Honestly, that's kind of the problem. The narrative doesn't even acknowledge how messed up the fact that we wind up ruling the continent is, it's just treated as a happy ending and a natural result.
  7. He still doesn't see anything wrong with refusing to give the kingdom and all of the dang alliance houses their autonomy back after Edelgard took it all.
  8. Crimson Flower, as a first path, confused me beyond reason and felt like it skipped half its chapters in terms of both length and explaining what the fuck was going on. I was alternately baffled by the story, bored by the monastery, and reduced to a babbling, paranoid wreck by the gameplay. The biggest takeaway I have from Verdant Wind and Silver Snow is that I became convinced even Rhea's "real" story about the elites was a near total lie, because I just do not trust a single word that woman says and the story would be infinitely more compelling if she were lying. Also, Claude is every bit as much of an extremist shit as Edelgard was, stealing her empire from her and thus getting all of the power with none of the bad PR. Actually for that matter it infuriates me that two of the four endings have Byleth as the literal God-Emperor of Fodlan like that's a happy ending that could possibly end well. I could probably go on further but I really don't want to text for five hours. I'll mention stuff about the other routes if I'm reminded.
  9. I'm planning on discussing character builds once I get to the first lesson. As I said before, my main recruitment plans are Leonie and Constance (though the Ashen Wolves as a whole are free so I'll be getting all of them, even if not all of them get active use). As for the fourth question, as I said in the first part, it's because she looks absolutely ridiculous and I need some more laughter in this playthrough.
  10. One more thing: I think I'm gonna re-instate the "presentation" tier, and not be lazy about naming the categories this time. Because I really, really can't pretend anymore that it doesn't have any impact on my enjoyment of the game or my ability to take it seriously. I'll be focusing on how much the shortcomings in the visuals take you out of the experience, or how much their quality adds to it. So expect the GBA games to be pretty dang high up there for their gorgeous spritework.
  11. Hey, so, I don't think this schedule is working. At least not at this specific moment. I'm gonna have to take today off regardless, given I won't have that much time for it today anyway, but more generally I don't think I can keep up the pace I've been going at into next week. I've been play logging about 4-6 hours a day this week, which I can afford to do because I don't have a conventional 9-5 job and usually have below-average total work hours, but my workload changes by seasonal demand and summers tend to be the busiest time of all, and as a result putting that much time into my hobby consumed basically what remained of my free time. To give you a bit of a peek into the whole process, over the course of four days, during which I play logged for at least 4 hours each day, I have beaten two chapters, which has taken 4 total hours in-game time, and I've written a total of roughly 30 pages in word. I play logged that much this week because this game is so slow already, and I knew it would take literally forever if I didn't bring my play logging pace back up to earlier standards, and apparently I was right. But at this current moment I just can't keep that up without burnout being almost imminent, so I need to come up with a better solution. Anyway, have a great weekend everyone. I'll see you on Monday, hopefully with a better solution. Though obviously if you ask me something here I'll probably reply.
  12. ...Shit, this reminds me of something I need to discuss, a way I think they should have done the route split differently. I'm experiencing so much information overload here that I have to set reminders for myself and I missed that one. Very, very valid points. Jury's out for me on Dimitri and Dedue's relationship, haven't seen it yet, but I agree with everything else; totally forgot this game brought back genderlocked classes. Like I said, it's a ton of things I struggle to keep track of that piss me off about this game.
  13. Three Houses Day 4: First Exploration Alright. Time to explore strange old worlds. Time to boredly go where most of us have gone before. First free time event, and it's mandatorily exploration because they're showing off each of the options in sequence here. I know they force a seminar at one point, but I don't think they ever force a rest. So that probably means I'll never use it, because it's objectively the worst option. You get nothing from it but +5 durability for the sword of the creator. The other benefits are dwarfed so radically by exploring the Monastery that it's frankly ridiculous. Which is a massive shame, because it's easily the quickest option. Professr: So, this is my room... ...You've been here for multiple days, and this is the moment you're saying this to yourself for the first time? Where have you been sleeping until now? Professr: I thought I heard a girl's voice... but I must have been imagining things. … … ...Is the avatar, like... actually, literally, intentionally, canonically mentally disabled? She's had at least three separate conversations with Sothis, and she still hasn't fully mentally registered that there's a time-bending loli literally living rent free in her head? Anyway, I check the bulletin board, and there are three quests. I'm pretty sure the game won't let us skip the this exploration period until we've done this, so that's yet another bit of pointless busywork the game adds to repeat playthroughs. Seteth: These are the student's quarters. To better help you supervise them, you also have a room here. Your room is here at the end. ...He says to Professr, from a vantage point where he can't conceivably have not seen her already walk out of her room. Yeah, while I realize this is the sort of thing you aren't likely to notice unless you're going over the script with a fine-toothed comb, it still doesn't say very good things about the attention to detail of the writing team. This implies the people who wrote these lines didn't think about the scene they were writing long enough to realize how utterly ridiculous it would be in-universe for Professr to be hearing this stuff now. Anyway, apparently the nobility of the various countries are entirely comfortable having their children sleep in the same area as students from rival countries and of the opposite sex, but not keeping their children a floor above the peasantry is where they draw the line. Just thought that was amusing to note. I say hi to Dedue and I'm met with a very stern warning not to cross Dimitri in any way, or Dedue will “take action”. Kind of jarring for this to be the next line he has in free exploration when the last one was him saying he's in my debt for saving Dimitri's life and he's ready and eager to repay the favor. So Dimitri offers to “show [me] the ropes” with regards to the various facilities in Garreg Mach, which feels profoundly weird since by the sounds of things he hasn't been here longer than a week. ...Unless this isn't their first year. ...Come to think of it, how many years are there at Garreg Mach, and if there are upperclassmen... why do we not meet a single one of them? Is this just a one-year school? Then, naturally, I expect to be reminded of the numerous instances I've obviously forgotten of people talking about how they'll all have to say goodbye at the end of the year. ...Or discover that the game just really hasn't given much thought to how this school works beyond the bare surface level. That's always possible. ...And I've just written an entire page without even leaving the dorms. We are on day four, and the commentary-to-gameplay ratio still feels like we're on day one. Dimitri: This probably goes without saying, but no matter which facility you use, it will take up a considerable amount of your time. On the one hand, this is bullshit, because there are plenty of places that qualify as “facilities” that don't take up any of your activity points at all. The greenhouse and fishing pond being good examples. On the other hand, truer words have never fucking been spoken. ...It seems the game does let you finish exploring early, funny enough, after you do the red quest. Let's see if it actually gives us the “are you sure” prompt or if it just says “you cannot do this right now”. ...Okay! My mistake! Looks like those tutorial quests are optional! Okay, this is a relatively minor complaint, and in fact it's mostly an excuse for me to rant about this also being the case in a game where it's far less excusable, but... ...Why exactly is the run button not a shoulder-button in a twin-stick game? Granted, it's still technically possible to move the camera with the “elbow” of your thumb while pressing down the B button with the tip of it, but it's a hell of a lot more awkward than it would be if you were pressing the shoulder buttons, and you have nowhere near as fluid of a range of movement. Breath of the Wild is a really cool game. Even though I consider it mostly a failure to be a proper Zelda game, the thing that it is instead of a Zelda game is great enough that I had lots of fun. But the control scheme is hot garbage. B to dash? X to jump? And no way to customize the controls yourself? I practically drooled with excitement when I heard about the Switch software update that lets you re-map the functions of joycon buttons, thereby adding custom controls to any game, but when I tried to map B to a shoulder button instead, alas, that means you have to press that shoulder button whenever you want to do menu B functions as well, which made trying to play BotW with a control scheme I'd be much happier with (pretty sure it was X for runes, B to jump, ZR to dash, R to aim your bow, and L to throw weapons) an absolute nightmare on my muscle memory when navigating menus. ...Anyway, yeah, given there's no real-time combat in this game, it's more of an annoyance than an actual issue. Hey, so, in talking to Ashe, and remembering the gender-imbalance of Blue Lions... I've got a question for you guys: if you had to genderbend one of the guys to make the house gender-equal like the others, who would it be and why? For me it would either be Dedue or Ashe. Dimitri, Sylvain and Felix feel completely off limits based on what I've heard about their original Japanese storyline, because, again, their masculinity apparently factors heavily into it, and they're all hugely influenced in different ways by the values and expectations of their culture. ...But if you put a gun to my head and forced me to make it one of those three, hands down I'd pick Sylvain. Why? Well first, like I said at some point during Fates, I would be very interested in seeing someone try to write a straight female version of Sylvain's archetype, and also because as far as I understand it, Sylvain's character arc would still work pretty dang well with Sylvia: a misanthropic hedonist getting their thrills while they can before their family can breed them like a racehorse in an arranged marriage due to the Crest-bearing status they never asked for. It would actually make some interesting parallels and contrasts with the dutiful Ingrid who's accepted that role, though for all I know those parallels are already discussed in their supports and I just haven't seen them yet. I could believe that. Alright, I'm at the garden now, talking to the gardener, or as my friend jokingly called her, “best girl”. Why? Because when shit hits the fan at the end of White Clouds, she's so goddamned committed to her job that she cares for, grows, protects and maintains the crops you planted there in a now abandoned and ruined monastery, for five fucking years, in the wild and undying hope that you would one day come back for them. ...Yes, that is totally the explanation, and not that the timeskip causes a veritable gauntlet of nonsense where numerous supports and gameplay mechanics act like it never happened. But yeah, I plant Dedue's seeds, and I'll be able to harvest them next time I choose to explore (again, even if that next exploration is canonically five years later). When you get more professor levels, it becomes a really complicated and intricate system of seed-mixing that determines what seeds grow what plants and what the harvest quality is, but as far as I can tell there's literally no way to figure out the system in-game without trial, error and memory, so just keep that in mind. One thing I find myself doing is snapshotting the yield result of a certain winning seed combination so I can remember it for later. Right. So, here we are at the dining hall. This is far and away the best (practically the only) way to keep your students' motivation up, which is crucial for skill training, for reasons we will be getting to during our first lesson. However, it is a massive resource sink, requiring you to get food from various different sources (fishing for fish, gardening for plants, and skirmishes for meat). Oh, we'll be getting to fishing. So, the first professor rank has a comically low exp cost, to the point that just visiting the dining hall and sharing a meal with Annette and Mercedes was enough to do it. I just found it kinda funny how rapidly the first bar went up compared to the overflow into the next level's bar. I get more max activity points from it, but those only come into effect the next time you come here. It doesn't give you an extra point for the day you get the level. Flayn: Hello there, Professor. Well, I call you that, but I am afraid I am not a student here myself... That's okay, Flayn. That doesn't stop literally anyone else. Your only options to respond to this are... rather aggressively friendly, shall we say, for the literal first words you ever say to this apparent little girl, to the point that Professr should consider herself damned lucky she's a woman: “That's a shame.” “Where can I visit you, then?” Flayn: My brother would not be pleased if he heard you saying such things. I should think not. Flayn: The monastery is kind enough to provide a sanctuary for my brother and I. He's the only family I have. ...There is an entire circle of purgatory devoted specifically to people who say “and I” when it isn't grammatically appropriate because they think it sounds smart. Well, at any rate, now it's fishing time. Fishing is this... weird, bare-bones rhythm game where you have to time the overlapping of rings on a screen. It consumes bait, which you can get mostly from the market. There are five tiers of bait, and you can get 10 a month of the first three tiers each and 5 a month of tiers 4 and 5. Doing this is basically your only means to get fish for meals, both of the moitivation-increasing kind the game just introduced, and the Fates-like stat buff kind that the game will be introducing later. It's damned useful gameplaywise, as you can pretty easily survive off of fish alone, and fish supplies the two best cooking buffs, speed and defense. It's also boring as all hell, which would be bad enough... ...but it's also one of your finite and limited sources of professor rank. Which means that if you're doing everything you can to improve your professor rank and be as ready as possible for the challenges ahead... you are doing this minigame forty fucking times a chapter. I am going to do this. The second the marketplace opens up and I can buy my month's supply of bait, I will be fishing until I've used up every last bit of bait, without commentary, from beginning to end, doing nothing else but the actual fishing. Because I want you to know exactly how long this takes. Hell, I want to know how long this takes. Because I've never actually timed it, but it feels like it takes fucking forever. But anyway, I'm pretty sure that's everything I can do. ...And then it gets to Ferdinand's birthday, and we have the option of buying him flowers, or, later, taking him to tea. Bit of a dick move for Ferdinand fans, no, that you can't do his birthday tea party until after the timeskip? But anyway, I don't do anything because I don't plan on recruiting him, and giving flowers to someone I haven't even talked to yet feels hilariously weird. And now it's mission time. Time for the mock battle. Finally. In hour fucking four. Also, really weirdly, the chapter name and the mission name are different. Which is why people keep referring to the infamous Chapter 13 interchangeably as Hunting by Daybreak or Reunion at Dawn, which are the mission and chapter names respectively. But yeah. This is a really basic chapter, with only 5 units (avatar and exactly half of your house, with the leader being mandatory), which I suspect was done to artificially make the Battle of the Eagle and Lion feel more grand in comparison. This feels... weird to me. This game sets two records. In terms of number of battles instead of average playtime, this game is by far the quickest to unlock the battle prep menu for you. But as a corollary, it's also the quickest to tell you that you have too many units and you have to leave people out. Absurdly quick, in fact. Consider: this game is making me choose between three of seven units to deploy... and I haven't had an opportunity to use a single one of them. That has never happened in Fire Emblem. Ever. Well, I'm not going to dwell on this too much, just kind of an observation. I don't like it, but the reasons why are relatively mild compared to my complaints with basically every other aspect of this game's roster system, so for now I'll let it slide and not dilute this playlog with petty rants. Well, more than the playlog will inevitably be anyway due to the off-the-cuff nature of this. I'm bringing Dedue, Felix and Mercedes. Healer's a no-brainer, and Dedue and Felix's personal skills in the early game are absolutely insane, but I'll wait until we get to training before I discuss my party and plans in depth. Alright, I'm about to deploy, but I'm sorry, there is one thing I have to comment on: this game has us back to using 3D unit models on 3D maps. And I can't help but notice they put these big character portraits in front of all of them, and I suspect that they had to do this because in playtesting, the 3D models were difficult to tell apart at a glance, especially at the beginning where everyone's wearing near-identical school uniforms. ...Which is unfortunately and ironically where every student looks their best. With the exception of the part 2 outfits, damned near everyone looks better in their school uniform than they do in the atrociously dull outfits most of the classes in this game have, and I'm grateful that, with the unfortunate exception of mounted classes, you can make it so that they wear their Monastery outfits in other classes too. Still though, back to the point, I maintain that the idea of putting 2D sprites on 3D maps was a really good idea, and I never had any trouble telling units apart in the 3DS games because their little pixellated heads were so distinct. They looked fantastic, and I think even if this game had better art design for its assorted classes and generics, they still would have been better off if they took those class sprites that they made anyway for use in other parts of the game, and used those for the 3D map too. Ah yes, and as a form of gameplay and story integration, these mock battles have mandatory casual mode. Makes sense, and while it all but ensures this will be a cakewalk, it's just Chapter 1, so whatever. We get our first critical, and while the cut-in is passable, the actual crit impact is... like... nothing. Yes, this is a mock battle, but even in normal gameplay, there's almost no audible impact to the crits. No big satisfying sound that's half the fun of scoring them! You'd barely know they happened sometimes unless you look at the damage, especially for brave arts where the cut-in doesn't even happen at all. I can't help but notice Mercedes's Live to Serve personal skill doesn't actually happen during the healing process like it did in Fates. Weirdly, it happens afterwards as a renewal or lifetaker or vulnerary-style effect. And the visual for it is pretty pathetic, little more than a green number, with few sparkles or even a zoom-in on the health bar increasing. This confuses me, because between nosferatu and the crest of flames and the like, the coding framework to make this skill work like the original one surely existed. So, Claude is all “Are you really gonna fight two houses at once?”... when I only went into range of one of them. The initial guard of both houses is down, all that's left of Claude's house is the group holding their ground behind barricades far away to the west. It's as if the game expected me to read its mind and just know about its invisible aggro flags that mean that attacking the eastern house would aggro the western one but not the other way around. This is a sign of things to come. Also, the game never explains why neither house will even try to attack anyone but you. In the Battle of the Eagle and Lion it's a massive free-for-all where everyone's beating the shit out of everyone. But here, everyone gangs up on you, and given Claude's line back there they basically acknowledge it, and yet there's no explanation why. Professr gets a decent level up, in particular strength, magic and defense (along with luck and HP). Though it's amusing to realize she didn't level up at all in the previous chapter. Anyway, the Black Eagles are down before the Golden Deer get anywhere near getting involved. Felix gets a great level in the process as well, getting basically everything I wanted except speed. Ah yes, and here is where it's starting to become obvious that all of these units only have four move. Because like goddamned clockwork, the game that comes right after a remake decides the weirdest random dated shit is some brilliant new feature they need to put in the next game. Like 4-mov basic classes. Or a nerfed-to-shit hit and evade formula. Or not having a weapon triangle. If I seem like I'm just constantly being reminded of random shit to bitch about, that's because I am in fact constantly being reminded of random shit to bitch about. It's not one core central reason why I hate this game. At times it feels tailor-made to specifically piss me off. It does so many things, big and small, that I find either incomprehensible or just outright terrible, and it's damned near impossible to keep track of them all. This game is a massive, massive machine of moving parts, and going through it is like being personally reminded of every single individual cog, and going “Oh yeah! I remember that thing! I hate that thing!”. But I will take this moment to praise something that's come up in this battle: the new magic system. See, in this game, instead of spells using weapon durability, or even costing HP like in Echoes, it works on a vancian spell charge system a la Dungeons and Dragons or early Final Fantasy. You get a certain number of uses every map of each spell. Five uses of heal, six uses of wind, etcetera. Personally, I like this a lot, and especially with white magic. So many staves have effects that massively encourage hoarding, and if you get a small but renewable number of uses every map, that's way better at encouraging the player to actually use them, and then giving them practice with using them. Working out the best situations to use them in. ...However, the presence of this system also... magnified my disappointment for something else this game wound up doing. I'll get to that when we get to the class system. Hilda: Ouch! Was that really necessary? Dedue: Had to be done. OOF. Man, I love when unrelated voice lines just line up perfectly like that. Comedy gold. I think my favorite I've ever seen happen was in Awakening, when Gerome and Brady were teamed up on a DLC map for reasons I can't recall. They were fighting Sanaki, and Brady could only do one damage. He procced astra. He then proceeded to do five consecutive 0-damage attacks, and the second the fifth one connected, Gerome, very annoyed, went “enough,” zoomed over to Sanaki on his mount, and killed her in one hit with his axe. ...Is it ever explained how we can use real melee weapons, real fire, real life-leeching spells, and real arrows aimed at a woman in a skimpy dress and a fur coat, and still not cause any serious injuries here? No, it is not. And in total fairness, that has never been explained in any Fire Emblem game that was stupid enough to try that. But at any rate, Manuela's down, and with that, the mock battle is over. Not a particularly engaging battle. Mostly revolved around baiting people in as they approached and then swarming them all at once with all my guys. But whatever, it's only Chapter 1. Professr got strength and defense again, and her defense is now as high as Dedue's. And with that victory, I'm given a chance to save, and I'm using this as an excuse to bow out for today. My dinner will be here any moment, so it's time to proofread. Stay safe, everyone.
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