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Alastor15243

Alastor plays and ranks the whole series! Now Enduring: Three Houses

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1 hour ago, Alastor15243 said:

Hey, uh, as I climb the gallows stairs as it were, thought I'd check in on my readers with the plan, since I've mentioned it a few times, but it's been ages.

Now, my assumption, which evolved into an understanding, is that most people... don't want me to do more than one route, because it would take forever and more than half of it would be the same content recycled four times.

I'm here to check to make sure that is still the case.

I think you can rip into the other routes easily enough while just playing Azure Moon. If multiple routes are a must, then I think Crimson Flower and Azure Moon covers it. There really isn't much in the other two aside from Claude's character. But overall now I reckon you deserve a break. Actually I'd be more interested in seeing what you think of Cindered Shadows than a second route of the main game.

Edited by Jotari

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1 hour ago, UNLEASH IT said:

The best thing to do would be to pick Black Eagles then open another save file before chapter 11 so you can play CF and SS without having to repeat all of Part 1 again. Dimitri and Claude are interesting, but their routes are essentially SS with an extra chapter so they don't add much to the overall story.

You totally miss out on Dimitri and Claude's post-skip characterizations that way, though. Each one has plot points that SS doesn't touch on. As well as the supports limited to route-exclusive characters.

2 hours ago, Alastor15243 said:

Hey, uh, as I climb the gallows stairs as it were, thought I'd check in on my readers with the plan, since I've mentioned it a few times, but it's been ages.

Now, my assumption, which evolved into an understanding, is that most people... don't want me to do more than one route, because it would take forever and more than half of it would be the same content recycled four times.

I'm here to check to make sure that is still the case.

Play all four. By the time you're done, FE17 will likely be out and ready for a review.

Joking aside, it's your series, so I respect your own prerogative here. There are enough post-skip differences (particularly, if AM is a given, between that route and CF), that I'd be curious to see your thoughts on. That said, I can sympathize with you not wanting to do a nearly-identical pre-skip twice in a row.

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4 hours ago, Shanty Pete's 1st Mate said:

You totally miss out on Dimitri and Claude's post-skip characterizations that way, though. Each one has plot points that SS doesn't touch on. As well as the supports limited to route-exclusive characters.

I'm not going to to disagree with you, but in my opinion, the things you mentioned aren't worth replaying the entirety of Part 1 (and most of Part 2) for.

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Gotta agree on that. If you're aiming to show at least more than one route but want to avoid burnout, it's best to do CF and SS since you at least avoid having to go through White Clouds all over again.

And as it is, better to push aside both Dimitri and Claude than having to choose between either.

Edited by Acacia Sgt

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I concur with just one route, or MAYBE two, 'specially since you could play one route then watch a playthrough of the other routes to see the story.

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If you only play two routes then SS would probably be the worst route to pick if you want a good impression of TH's story. At least the Verdant Wind versions gives the route some flavor through Claude.

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If I had to play two non-branching routes, it'd probably be AM and CF, because CF was my first, and thus 1, I never used Jeritza since I won before the update and thus I'm curious how that affects gameplay, and 2, I'm curious how I'd feel about its plot when I'm no longer profoundly lost and confused for not having played the other routes. The others I don't think I'd gain much from playing again here.

I guess we'll see how it goes.

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5 hours ago, Etrurian emperor said:

If you only play two routes then SS would probably be the worst route to pick if you want a good impression of TH's story. At least the Verdant Wind versions gives the route some flavor through Claude.

The only bad part of SS is Byleth himself, and honestly a lot of the things that happen in VW have very little to do with Claude. The final chapter is much more focused on Byleth than anyone else.

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On 7/24/2021 at 3:58 PM, Alastor15243 said:

I'm here to check to make sure that is still the case.

On 7/24/2021 at 5:04 PM, Alastor15243 said:

Luckily, I HAVE played the other three routes. I worked my way through them over the course of this marathon. I did VW first and finished SS somewhere around the end of last year. And since I did CF as my first blind playthrough, that leaves just AM left, the one I'm doing for the first time here. So I do somewhat have the whole picture, it's just... been a while for a lot of it.

Just play the one route for the thread but review all the routes (either as separate games or, more likely, rolled into one) at the end.

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Three Houses Day 1: Full Circle

...For every Fire Emblem game that came out in North America, I have a vivid memory of a moment in time I was playing it, and where I was.

For Blazing Blade, it's in my bunk bed at my old house when I was a kid, playing Chapter 16x well into the night under the light of the lamp whose metal clamp I had rather roughly attached to the post of the bottom bunk.

For Sacred Stones, it's sitting in a tent set up outside at my at-the-time best friend's lake house, using the super trainees in the Tower of Valni and thinking my cartridge was the only one in all the world that had this awesome “glitch”.

For Path of Radiance, it's sitting in the basement of the house I moved into in middle school.

For Radiant Dawn, it's challenging the endgame in my college dorm room several years after I first got it, using my laptop as a TV thanks to the capture card I had recently gotten in the hopes of making some machinima in my free time at college (something that didn't work out that well).

For Shadow Dragon, it's playing in the break room at my high school just after buying it at the local GameStop and being really disappointed at the animations.

For Awakening, it's playing Apotheosis in the backseat of my grandparents' car, completely oblivious to the fact that I was playing a map that I would later denounce as a ridiculous waste of time... during one of the last opportunities I would ever get to see my grandfather alive.

For Birthright, it's sitting in my bed, which at that time for reasons I don't quite remember was just a mattress propped up on a wooden frame, realizing that I was so caught up in the gameplay that I had temporarily forgotten about starting Dakota's War Journal because I couldn't bear to play it that slowly when it was this fresh and exciting.

For Conquest, it's sitting in a room in my neighbor's house while I was watching their pets, racking my brain about how to do justice to Chapter 26, which represented the narrative climax of Book 2 of Dakota's War Journal.

For Shadows of Valentia, it's sitting at the kitchen table of a different neighbor's house while watching their pets, attempting a replay of the game and getting annoyed at how difficult the heavy, barely-skippable story made it to listen to videos on my phone at the same time.

And for Three Houses...


 


 


 


 


 

...On this very day, exactly two years ago, I was in yet another neighbor's house (yet again, you guessed it, watching their pets), staring obsessively at the Amazon package tracker on my phone, watching the progress bar increase by pixels at a time while distracting myself from the obscene levels of restless anticipation I was feeling by alternately trying out the new amiibo stuff I got for Breath of the Wild, and playing What Remains of Edith Finch.

I.

Was.

So.

Excited.

The second I got the confirmation that the package was delivered, I rushed back up to my house and picked the package up, bringing it back to the house I was staying at and popping it into my Switch immediately.

Because I finally had my hands on the game I had been eagerly awaiting for more than a year.

Fire Emblem: Three Houses.

I binged it, playing almost 90 hours over the course of 14 days.

First out of excitement.

Then out of love for the franchise and hope that the game would get better.

Then out of pure, vitriolic spite.

No video game has ever made me angrier, more frustrated, more stressed, but more importantly, more transcendently miserable. And it wasn't just because my first playthrough was a blind (and through sheer dumb luck, successful) attempt to ironman a game that, more than any other in the series, has nothing but contempt for the concept. It was because it rapidly became apparent that I was playing an installment of my favorite franchise that had somehow managed to surgically destroy almost every aspect of the formula that I personally loved. Almost everything that made me fall in love with the franchise had either been replaced wholesale, corrupted beyond recognition, or buried beneath mountains upon mountains of fluff, filler, and soul-crushing tedium.

I was looking at a game that represented a potential future where the Fire Emblem I know and love would never be enjoyable again.

And I was watching the entire fandom happily, zealously, unanimously cheer that future on.

I have never felt more completely alone in a fandom than I did during those two weeks, feeling like the one Fire Emblem fan on earth who didn't like Three Houses. The only one who didn't like the potential direction this could be taking the franchise in. And after a while it became painfully apparent that, whether due to not being good enough at debating, or just having an audience completely unreceptive to any form of criticism of the new hotness... any attempt to discuss my experience playing it would not accomplish anything.

...So I retreated from discussion of Three Houses entirely, and redirected my feelings of frustration into something a bit more productive.

You see, about two months prior to getting Three Houses, I set out on a mission to play, review and rank all of the Igavania Castlevania games in the leadup to Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night. I was done with all of them, including Bloodstained, before Three Houses came out, and I had been tossing around the idea of doing the same thing for Fire Emblem. The vastly increased time it would take me wasn't the real thing giving me pause here. The real main concern was, given my spotty track record of finishing long-term projects... not knowing the answer to the question:

...Did I really have it in me to force my way through Dark Dragon, knowing how tedious it was bound to be?

On August 8, 2019, the very day I'd finished my first run of Three Houses, I officially announced my intention to start the project, and began in earnest the day after.

Because I knew I had the answer to that question.

Yes. Yes, I did have it in me to play Dark Dragon. Because however bad Dark Dragon might turn out to be, I told myself, I knew it couldn't possibly be more tedious than Three Houses.

And the rest is history.


 


 


 


 

...Okay, so... I know that intro probably sounds... a bit melodramatic... but I think it's important to give you a good idea of exactly what and how this game made me feel when I first played it. Because for those of you just now joining us who haven't seen any of my by-now numerous potshots at this game throughout all 18 previous playlogs... first of all, welcome, and second of all, Three Houses is, without any competition whatsoever, my least favorite game in the entire franchise. I do not just consider it a bad Fire Emblem game. I consider it a categorical failure to even be a Fire Emblem game. Because if Fire Emblem is a chocolate sundae, then Three Houses took out the cherry on top and all of the chocolate sauce, and then added five times the sundae's original weight, counting the bowl, in sawdust. Not only does this game aggressively refuse to be played the way I most love playing Fire Emblem, but what remaining recognizable Fire Emblem content there is has been drowned in more fluff and filler than a teddy bear factory would get shipments of in a week.

And what will follow over the next... period of time... shall be my efforts to justify this opinion, and explain my point of view to those of you who are reading this.

So...

...with that... preamble that took me two hours to write out of the way...

...let's get right into it.

Let's play... Fire Emblem... Three Houses.

So, I boot up the game on my Switch, and one thing I will praise this game for right off the bat is finally letting us have more than a handful of save files. This one gives us 25, when the previous record was 9 in Fates, and even then only if you got all three paths. This arbitrary limitation really should have been done away with ages ago, but it took this long to do it, and even then I'm 90% sure this was patched in post-launch around the same time they added Jeritza to Crimson Flower. But still, credit where credit's due.

I'll be starting up a new file, and when the time comes, I will be picking Blue Lions as my house. Because Azure Moon is the one route left in the game I haven't done. I did Crimson Flower first (before they patched in Jeritza unfortunately), then throughout the course of the first several months of the marathon I managed to force my way through Verdant Wind in preparation for eventually doing this one day. When Cindered Shadows came out, I did that, and then a little while afterwards started my Silver Snow run where I refused to use a single student from any house that wasn't Ashen Wolves. It was them, Byleth, Anna, and the church faculty for the entire run. I did all of this because I was pretty damned certain that attempting to playlog all the routes for this marathon would be beyond untenable, but also that any commentary I could make on the game (particularly the story) while only having played one other route would probably be ignorant and misinformed, and would certainly be seen as such by many.

That said, it's been ages since I've last played this game, and this game is positively huge... so I imagine the story will throw me off regardless. That doesn't really matter though. Plotholes or lore inconsistencies are not going to make up too much of my critique of this game, I expect.

...Briefly forgetting that I can't simply start a few file by clicking on an empty one, I go over to the “new game” option, and I'm immediately greeted by the offer to make this a new game plus file. I decline, because that adds a ton of incredibly broken nonsense to the game. And since I won't be playing on Maddening (given that the idea of playlogging a mode it's notoriously easy to softlock yourself on sounds absolutely insane), I need to give this game as fair of a chance to be hard as I can grant it.

We get a cutscene that's a huge flashback to the battle between Nemesis and Seiros in ages past, and it's the same animation studio, as far as I can tell, that did the previous game's cutscenes. It doesn't really compare to the one they used for Fateswakening, as I said before.

And here we are introduced to one aspect of the game's design that positively irks me, though it's hard to demonstrate this right away so I won't say too much about it at this time. But let's just say that seeing a cutscene chock full of this game's generics reminded me of it.

This cutscene has the occasional weird framerate issue like the cutscenes in the previous game, but I will give the game this: Despite the generic models taking me out of it for reasons I will get into later, this is a pretty intense fight scene. Though it's finished rather anticlimactically when Seiros just... wraps the Sword of the Creator's whip mode around her sword, yanks it out of his hands and tosses the tangled mess aside, and then just kicks him to the ground, where he proceeds to do absolutely nothing to push her off or resist being stabbed to death by her auxiliary knife in any way, even when she takes the time to deliver a one-liner before doing it.

Yeah, uh... so... we're really not meant to understand what's going on here at first. In fact, I'm pretty sure there's at least one route where you can play it and never find out the truth of what's going on here. I kind of have my own headcanon of this moment that views it as an absolute tragedy, but that's based on a reading of the plot that at this juncture it would take way, way too long to justify. I don't know if we'll even learn enough about what happened back then in this route for me to provide evidence of it. And for all I know, it could have been based on a misreading of stuff I saw in Verdant Wind.

...But moving on... after the cutscene...

...We get a scene where we meet Sothis, this game's token dragon who looks like a little girl, and it's basically used as the character creation sequence. I'm told to pick between a male and female form, and I pick female because it is far, far more amusingly terrible. And I'm not really even talking about her outfit. I mean the vacant abyss of nothingness that is her face. When the trumpets sound on judgment day, the gate into the Lovecraftian seas of bleak infinity that will appear over the horizon to swallow the earth... will be visually indistinguishable from Femleth's eyes. And if you doubt me for even a second, then I invite you to feast your eyes upon this unbelievably cursed image that reverses the faces on male and female Byleth:

zmyoc3yx1la31.jpg

Female Byleth has the face of a braindead doofus, and laughing at the unintentional comedy that ensues from this will be how I help keep myself sane.

I am then immediately asked a question, and I'm given branching response options. These come in three distinct flavors: opportunities to either pick the right option or be railroaded into it, opportunities to get some support points by kissing up to someone, or opportunities to make world-changing story decisions ages before you could possibly be well-informed enough to have any idea what you're even choosing between.

This is an example of the first one. It won't let you proceed until you tell Sothis you're a mortal.

Sothis demands my name, and since the naming screen has the sense of humor of a wet rag and doesn't even give you enough character space to name yourself “Professor”...

...I'll be naming her Professr.

I put in my real birthday, April 5th, which I remember meant in Crimson Flower that I didn't get Edelgard's birthday present for me until after the timeskip, and in fact only in the absolute endgame. I don't remember if it's the same on other routes.

Sothis remarks on the amazing coincidence that they have the same birthday (she says this no matter what you put in), and then she promptly dozes off at the exact same moment you wake up.

What follows is something outrageously atypical and almost unheard of in this game.

We get a chapter that consists of an opening story sequence, a battle, and a closing story sequence.

We're introduced to our father, Jeralt, who asks us if we were having that dream again. I choose to focus on the “war” part and not the “young girl” part, and Jeralt says there hasn't been an instance of “massive armies clashing on a vast field” in “over three centuries”.

I'll have to pay attention to when they say various wars were fought.

Anyway, Jeralt is an obvious attempt to ape the greatness of Greil, and... let's just say it fell flat on me. For numerous reasons. The main two being:

1: Most of his characterization is tied to his relationship with a barely-sentient bag of flour...

and 2: His death is the dumbest thing ever and tied to the single worst thing about this game's story.

I will be elaborating on both of these, but especially the latter, later.

Jeralt says our next job is in the Kingdom (of Faerghus), and that “it's far from here, so we'll need to leave at dawn”.

And all I can think about is the game's tacit implication that this entire continent can be traveled across in the course of a single day, something that the sheer absurdity of the game's mechanics screams at the top of its lungs.

But then we're interrupted, and greeted by three students of Garreg Mach Monastery, who are being pursued by bandits and need help driving them off.

They were apparently attacked while they were at rest at camp.

I don't believe there's a single other instance in the entire first part of the story where the students are shown to be setting up camp outside of the Monastery. In fairness that can be read as increased security in reaction to this, but... just how close are they to the Monastery? I remember the implication being that they were super close.

Claude says they've been separated from their companions, and it occurs to me, only now, after having played this chapter at least three times, that each of the three house leaders wound up separated from the rest of their houses... together.

What, exactly, was this event that had all three of the houses traveling together with united purpose, and what exactly were the sleeping arrangements that when everyone got separated, all three house leaders wound up away from their houses and with each other?

I don't think we're ever given an explanation of what exactly was going on here. The obvious Doylist answer is that the writers wanted you to meet all three house leaders before choosing a house, but I don't think there's anything that irks me more in a story than seeing something where you can practically read the author's mind with regards to their cynical motives, but can't see the slightest sign they even thought of an in-universe reason why it was happening.

Edited by Alastor15243

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Day 1 Continued

But, mercifully swiftly by the standards of this game, we're thrown directly into battle. It's Professr and the three house leaders, backed up by the green unit Jeralt, versus an army of generic bandits.

Dimitri immediately obliterates the enemy in front of us with the combat art tempest lance (and in this game, combat arts drain durability rather than health, which I think is a better system honestly), and I have Professr and the others move forward. I'll be focusing on using Professr and Dimitri as much as possible, since they're the only ones that will actually remain playable. Unless a last-minute screw-up renders this undoable, I plan on having Edelgard and Claude trade their weapons to Professr as well, since otherwise I'll just lose them.

Oh god, and as I move these characters around, I'm reminded of that incredibly jarring and frustrating hint of input lag behind moving the cursor. It makes things so awkward when adjusting to the game after playing the more responsive and properly-optimized games for a while.

Yeah, we'll be getting to stuff like that later.

And of course, alas, we must mourn the death of the two-screened advances in unit info technology. As, indeed, must we mourn the design philosophy that if you can't fit everything onto one screen, you probably have too much going on. For the time being though, it's not too big a deal, because the only stuff we have to worry about is on one screen.

The game has added two more “calculated stats” to the stat screen. In addition to attack, hit, avoid, crit, and the rarely-listed attack speed, it also lists protection and resilience, which are respectively your defense and resistance stats after the game's numerous modifications to them. It did not, however, see fit to list crit evade, which is all the more infuriating here because the “range” section of that menu screen is twice as big as all of the others and very much does not use up even half of that space, as if they couldn't think of a last thing to list there and artificially inflated the range section to make it neat and tidy.

I feel personally attacked here.

There are some other stats that aren't listed here when they absolutely should be, but I'll get into that later when a certain game mechanic comes up.

An interesting added game mechanic is that the game will use arcing red lines to mark the targets of enemies' next attacks, which is incredibly useful... and yet I'm not wholly sure I like it. That feels like it's making it too easy to abuse enemy targeting AI, and abusing enemy targeting AI is something I've never truly been a fan of. Still, it is more transparency in enemy behavior, and I guess I'd rather have too much info than not enough, as my playlogs of the earlier games demonstrated countless times.

...Huh. So this game has Thracia-style infinite trading. Curious. If I noticed that before then I have no memory of doing so.

...Ah yes, I suppose I should comment on the music. ...Christ, there's always so much to comment on in a first update.

The music's good. Fodlan Winds is a nice map theme, though admittedly when I first heard it I assumed it would be a literal map theme. I pictured a big map being rolled out on a table, and this music playing as we select the next mission we'll be going to. The later parts of the song fit a bit less for this, but the opening really suits it.

Now, this game does have dynamic map themes, but with the exception of this one and maybe one or two others... the battle themes suck. But this one is... acceptable, so I will save my breath. For now.

Ah yes, and now we get to the first part of Jeralt's tutorial dialogue that I have deemed worthy of commentary. He talks about this game's... “interpretation”, shall we say, of the support system, and going by the way he describes it, it sounds more like a flanking mechanic.

...Oh, we'll talk about what this game did to supports.

But not right now. No way.

Dimitri gets the first level up of the game, and it's pretty damned impressive. Strength, dexterity (this game's renaming of “skill”), speed, luck, defense and charm (a new stat that governs a mechanic that we'll be introduced to, and I will be hating, shortly).

He gets a second level up almost immediately after that's just strength and dexterity. Yaaaaay.

...Ah yes.

Here we go.

This is the lovely part of this playthrough where we are introduced to the single worst aspect of the game's story.

The fact that they felt the need to make the rewind mechanic a vital, crucial, inescapable part of it, despite the fact that it contributes nothing to the story at all and does not affect the outcome of a single story moment ever after it is introduced.

But first, a quick amusing tangent:

In this cutscene, the bandit leader Kostas, who we just took out, suddenly leaps back up and charges at Edelgard, screaming. She proceeds to whip out a puny-yet-apparently-from-what-I've-heard-plot-relevant knife to defend herself.

My reaction upon seeing this scene for a second time, on my Verdant Wind run, was to go “where the fuck is your axe, Edelgard!?”

“In Byleth's inventory”, replied my own mind. “You made Edelgard dump it on her, remember?”

“Too-fucking-shay, game,” I replied, laughing to myself.

But yes. This is the part of the game where the story introduces its version of Mila's Turnwheel: the Divine Pulse. But rather than this being, like with Mila's Turnwheel, contextualized as the prophetic warnings of the fickle and uncontrollable whims of destiny... it is contextualized as the main character having nigh-unfettered mastery of the fabric of space and time. At any moment, both in gameplay and in story, the avatar has the ability to freeze and rewind time, even after sustaining fatal injuries to themselves.

“Wow”, the wide-eyed and innocent among you who have not played this game might exclaim, “that's a really, really, ridiculously powerful ability! In light of this ability, what's the writer's game plan to preserve the story's dramatic stakes?”

Simple, my friend:

They make half the cutscenes turn Byleth into an incompetent goober with the reflexes of a dying goat.

It honestly feels like half the cutscenes Byleth appears in were created with the sole purpose of making Byleth incompetent enough to allow numerous horrible things to happen to them in order to justify moving the story forward. This will get absolutely ridiculous later in the story, but I'm sorry to say, people, that this does not wait until you actually have Divine Pulse before it happens.

No, indeed, one of the most blatant and egregious examples of cutscene incompetence that the canonization of the Divine Pulse mechanic imposes upon the plot... is used to justify the avatar first getting it.

For you see, how does our dear Professr, who we are supposed to believe is a mighty and feared mercenary, trained by one of the greatest and most famous warriors on the continent, respond to this attack by Kostas?

This attack that amounts to a bargain bin bandit running at Edelgard with his axe held aloft, screaming at the top of his lungs?

This attack that takes something around eight seconds, which, for point of reference, is a comparable windup time to Nergal using Ereshkigal, Lyon using Naglfar, or Gharnef using Imhullu?

The absolute best idea that we are expected to believe Professr is capable of coming up with in that exorbitant length of time... is to push Edelgard out of the way... and tank the blow with her own spine.

This is our main character, people. This is the character I am expected to believe represents me and my strategic accomplishments throughout this game. And the writers have already set a precedent that they are willing to make this character fail catastrophically at tasks that every other protagonist could, and Lucina in fact did, accomplish with absolute ease.

Now, there are many arguments as to who the most incompetent protagonist in Fire Emblem history is. Many say it's Celica. Others say it's Eirika. Others still say it's Corrin. There are also the less common, though still reasonably case-make-able, answers like Sigurd, citing things like his political naivete.

All of these answers are wrong.

Because riddle me this: did any of these people canonically require literal divine intervention to survive their encounter with the bandit boss of the prologue?

This is how incompetent they're willing to make the avatar to justify introducing Divine Pulse.

Wait until you see how incompetent they're willing to make the avatar in order to justify failing in spite of having it.

But anyway, as you might naturally expect, Sothis is rather furious at Professr for somehow managing to take an axe to the back of the neck... from a frontal attack.

...Ah yes.

...So, in the middle of this not-very-interesting conversation where Sothis introduces her ability to turn back the hands of time, my eyes happen to wander towards the bottom-right corner of the screen and... I see Sothis's portrait. Which reminds me of something that I fear absolutely must be said.

...Fans of Three Houses. Please forgive me, for I am about to disclose an observation, one you may not yet have made yourselves, and one that you may very well never be able to un-see for as long as you live.

The characters in Three Houses... have double-tiered irises.

There is an entire eyeball inside the whites of every character's eyes.

I am sorry.

...While I'm not a huge fan of Sothis, I will admit that in light of the cutscene I was just forced to witness, I got some satisfaction about making “Professr” admit that she is “less than a child”.

Also, I just now realized Sothis's voice actress is the voice of both Aoi Asahina from Danganronpa and Edea Lee from Bravely Default.

So, interesting easter egg: the writing on the runes that appear when Sothis works out whether or not she can rewind time... that's not some ancient text. It's cursive English, saying things like “The Goddess always lives in Heaven and Fodlan”.

So Sothis rewinds time, Professr does on the second attempt what Lucina was able to do effortlessly on the first, and we are reunited with Jeralt and the other house leaders, released from the plot pocket the writing temporarily shoved them in for the shameless purpose of making Professr fuck up.

Oh also, might I point out: Kostas is still not dead. All Professr managed to do, even with the power of hindsight, is knock Kostas down, flat on his ass, so he could run away.

And so the map is complete. ...It's kind of weird to realize we didn't get the “Stage Complete” screen until after all that cutscene nonsense.

And seeing how the game is giving me an opportunity to save here... I think I'm going to take it. This update is already ridiculously long, and it'll take me hours to get it ready to post.

Well then... so begins the journey. Tune in tomorrow, same Alastor time, same Alastor thread, and I'll give you the second installment of this...

...event, I guess we can call it.

Stay safe, everyone.

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1 hour ago, Alastor15243 said:

 

 

No video game has ever made me angrier, more frustrated, more stressed, but more importantly, more transcendently miserable. And it wasn't just because my first playthrough was a blind (and through sheer dumb luck, successful) attempt to ironman a game that, more than any other in the series, has nothing but contempt for the concept. It was because it rapidly became apparent that I was playing an installment of my favorite franchise that had somehow managed to surgically destroy almost every aspect of the formula that I personally loved. Almost everything that made me fall in love with the franchise had either been replaced wholesale, corrupted beyond recognition, or buried beneath mountains upon mountains of fluff, filler, and soul-crushing tedium.

I was looking at a game that represented a potential future where the Fire Emblem I know and love would never be enjoyable again.

And I was watching the entire fandom happily, zealously, unanimously cheer that future on.

I have never felt more completely alone in a fandom than I did during those two weeks, feeling like the one Fire Emblem fan on earth who didn't like Three Houses. The only one who didn't like the potential direction this could be taking the franchise in. And after a while it became painfully apparent that, whether due to not being good enough at debating, or just having an audience completely unreceptive to any form of criticism of the new hotness... any attempt to discuss my experience playing it would not accomplish anything.

...So I retreated from discussion of Three Houses entirely, and redirected my feelings of frustration into something a bit more productive.

 

...Okay, so... I know that intro probably sounds... a bit melodramatic... but I think it's important to give you a good idea of exactly what and how this game made me feel when I first played it. Because for those of you just now joining us who haven't seen any of my by-now numerous potshots at this game throughout all 18 previous playlogs... first of all, welcome, and second of all, Three Houses is, without any competition whatsoever, my least favorite game in the entire franchise. I do not just consider it a bad Fire Emblem game. I consider it a categorical failure to even be a Fire Emblem game. Because if Fire Emblem is a chocolate sundae, then Three Houses took out the cherry on top and all of the chocolate sauce, and then add five times the sundae's original weight, counting the bowl, in sawdust. Not only does this game aggressively refuse to be played the way I most love playing Fire Emblem, but what remaining recognizable Fire Emblem content there is has been drowned in more fluff and filler than a teddy bear factory would get shipments of in a week.

 

So, I boot up the game on my Switch, and one thing I will praise this game for right off the bat is finally letting us have more than a handful of save files. This one gives us 25, when the previous record was 9 in Fates, and even then only if you got all three paths. This arbitrary limitation really should have been done away with ages ago, but it took this long to do it, and even then I'm 90% sure this was patched in post-launch around the same time they added Jeritza to Crimson Flower. But still, credit where credit's due.

That said, it's been ages since I've last played this game, and this game is positively huge... so I imagine the story will throw me off regardless. That doesn't really matter though. Plotholes or lore inconsistencies are not going to make up too much of my critique of this game, I expect.

...Briefly forgetting that I can't simply start a few file by clicking on an empty one, I go over to the “new game” option, and I'm immediately greeted by the offer to make this a new game plus file. I decline, because that adds a ton of incredibly broken nonsense to the game. And since I won't be playing on Maddening (given that the idea of playlogging a mode it's notoriously easy to softlock yourself on sounds absolutely insane), I need to give this game as fair of a chance to be hard as I can grant it.

I'm going to be honest, I know that feeling all too well and can sympathize. (I won't go into detail but let's just say that the vast majority of games I loved in my childhood that still have installments today are games I now have no desire to play/hate playing if I did get them.)

That doesn't strike me as melodramatic at all personally.

Honestly I hope the probably inevitable (and hopefully good) remake of any previous Fe games has that amount of save files, Since I feel like I have to save in a different slot anytime a character dies incase I need them later and are now soft-locked. (Since while I appreciate FE's relative boldness for that, I do want  to have a save file anytime I potentially have a "Point of being screwed".)

I personally actually hate New Game Plus/DLC stuff on a "Fresh" playthrough as I feel they're almost always stuff that break the experience, (Such as Sniper Elite selling objectively better DLC Guns, such as the only silenced Sniper Rifle and FE Echoes DLC Supports arguably count as a admittingly minor example of this but the unlockable DLC weapons/shields were left untouched in my inventory.) if possible I always try to go as "Release Date" as possible with a game, with only the bare minimum of stuff if possible. (Or if it's stuff that the game was clearly designed around and only left not-in due to time constraints and patched in later.) so I do plan to not do New Game plus stuff until I've done every house once. 

Yeah the dialogue choices aren't good, a handful are good but well...landing say, roughly 3 dialogue choices not feeling incredibly rail-roaded out of 30 isn't exactly praise-worthy, it's better than only 3 completely pointless ones in Awakening but that's clearing a bar so low I'm pretty sure it's actually just sitting on the ground and not in the air at all.

Even in Echoes it at least takes several days to traverse the whole thing. (That said an FE game with some sort of travelling mechanic like Jagged Alliance 2 could be cool.)

1 hour ago, Alastor15243 said:

 

This is the lovely part of this playthrough where we are introduced to the single worst aspect of the game's story.

The fact that they felt the need to make the rewind mechanic a vital, crucial, inescapable part of it, despite the fact that it contributes nothing to the story at all and does not affect the outcome of a single story moment ever after it is introduced.

But first, a quick amusing tangent:

In this cutscene, the bandit leader Kostas, who we just took out, suddenly leaps back up and charges at Edelgard, screaming. She proceeds to whip out a puny-yet-apparently-from-what-I've-heard-plot-relevant knife to defend herself.

My reaction upon seeing this scene for a second time, on my Verdant Wind run, was to go “where the fuck is your axe, Edelgard!?”

“In Byleth's inventory”, replied my own mind. “You made Edelgard dump it on her, remember?”

“Too-fucking-shay, game,” I replied, laughing to myself.

But yes. This is the part of the game where the story introduces its version of Mila's Turnwheel: the Divine Pulse. But rather than this being, like with Mila's Turnwheel, contextualized as the prophetic warnings of the fickle and uncontrollable whims of destiny... it is contextualized as the main character having nigh-unfettered mastery of the fabric of space and time. At any moment, both in gameplay and in story, the avatar has the ability to freeze and rewind time, even after sustaining fatal injuries to themselves.

“Wow”, the wide-eyed and innocent among you who have not played this game might exclaim, “that's a really, really, ridiculously powerful ability! In light of this ability, what's the writer's game plan to preserve the story's dramatic stakes?”

Simple, my friend:

They make half the cutscenes turn Byleth into an incompetent goober with the reflexes of a dying goat.

It honestly feels like half the cutscenes Byleth appears in were created with the sole purpose of making Byleth incompetent enough to allow numerous horrible things to happen to them in order to justify moving the story forward. This will get absolutely ridiculous later in the story, but I'm sorry to say, people, that this does not wait until you actually have Divine Pulse before it happens.

No, indeed, one of the most blatant and egregious examples of cutscene incompetence that the canonization of the Divine Pulse mechanic imposes upon the plot... is used to justify the avatar first getting it.

For you see, how does our dear Professr, who we are supposed to believe is a mighty and feared mercenary, trained by one of the greatest and most famous warriors on the continent, respond to this attack by Kostas?

This attack that amounts to a bargain bin bandit running at Edelgard with his axe held aloft, screaming at the top of his lungs?

This attack that takes something around eight seconds, which, for point of reference, is a comparable windup time to Nergal using Ereshkigal, Lyon using Naglfar, or Gharnef using Imhullu?

The absolute best idea that we are expected to believe Professr is capable of coming up with in that exorbitant length of time... is to push Edelgard out of the way... and tank the blow with her own spine.

This is our main character, people. This is the character I am expected to believe represents me and my strategic accomplishments throughout this game. And the writers have already set a precedent that they are willing to make this character fail catastrophically at tasks that every other protagonist could, and Lucina in fact did, accomplish with absolute ease.

Now, there are many arguments as to who the most incompetent protagonist in Fire Emblem history is. Many say it's Celica. Others say it's Eirika. Others still say it's Corrin. There are also the less common, though still reasonably case-make-able, answers like Sigurd, citing things like his political naivete.

All of these answers are wrong.

Because riddle me this: did any of these people canonically require literal divine intervention to survive their encounter with the bandit boss of the prologue?

This is how incompetent they're willing to make the avatar to justify introducing Divine Pulse.

Wait until you see how incompetent they're willing to make the avatar in order to justify failing in spite of having it.

But anyway, as you might naturally expect, Sothis is rather furious at Professr for somehow managing to take an axe to the back of the neck... from a frontal attack.

 

 

Ha, imagine being someone who doesn't realize people only actually have one line generally a month and ran around talking to everyone several weeks in a row to see if they have different dialogue, like I did.

Yeah I literally noticed right away her axe was gone, I won't go into too much detail but if your story ever requires characters to suddenly not use a more appropriate weapon they have to have (So not anything missing/optional), you have screwed up if there is no valid reason for them to not have it, just have an archer nail her in the arm and she drops it in pain or something.

Also the Animation of Kostas jumping back up is....bad. (Also that annoying trend especially for FE where Perma-death is supposed to be a serious thing where people are fine after getting killed, gods I miss FE7 where every boss was at least explicitly heavily injured and not really in fighting condition if they lived as opposed to apparently getting Aum staffed off-screen.)

Also yep, Byleth being made incompetent, other games do that to add "DRAMA" to their cutscenes where the protagonist is suddenly incredibly incompetent and almost nothing actually makes me stop caring entirely about what's going on, it's never engaging, it just makes me hate the cutscene due to how obviously contrived it is. (I know it's in the future but when a Mage literally pulls out a shield spell that doesn't even exist in-game just so Byleth can nearly die honestly made me put the Switch in Sleep mode and do something else for a while instead of finishing the cutscene because that's crappy writing.)

If a character needs to fail then for gods' sake,  make them fail in a way that doesn't make it look like you just threw your hands up and went "DON'T CARE!" in the Writer's room because frankly, if the writers clearly didn't care about this cutscene, why the heck should I?

 

If FE characters were ranked on how effective they are "In-universe" (AKA Non-gameplay) Byleth would rank worse than Roy probably.

Edited by Samz707

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On 7/19/2021 at 8:42 PM, Jotari said:

Imagine if he just claimed Berkut was his son instead of his nephew to conceal Alm's existence, when really he's an absolute no one they found on the street as a baby. That would have turned Berkut's whole life upside down even more than what happens anyway. It'd also be monumentally more shitty of Rudolf. But I think it would work better with the classist theming of the story to show how it doesn't really matter where you're come from. Berkut would still be an ass even if he's technically a commoner.

A little late on this but this actually would’ve worked a lot better and made Berkut actually mean something instead of you know being dumb, pointless, and thematically inconsistent

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1 hour ago, Alastor15243 said:

..Okay, so... I know that intro probably sounds... a bit melodramatic... but I think it's important to give you a good idea of exactly what and how this game made me feel when I first played it. Because for those of you just now joining us who haven't seen any of my by-now numerous potshots at this game throughout all 18 previous playlogs... first of all, welcome, and second of all, Three Houses is, without any competition whatsoever, my least favorite game in the entire franchise. I do not just consider it a bad Fire Emblem game. I consider it a categorical failure to even be a Fire Emblem game. Because if Fire Emblem is a chocolate sundae, then Three Houses took out the cherry on top and all of the chocolate sauce, and then add five times the sundae's original weight, counting the bowl, in sawdust. Not only does this game aggressively refuse to be played the way I most love playing Fire Emblem, but what remaining recognizable Fire Emblem content there is has been drowned in more fluff and filler than a teddy bear factory would get shipments of in a week.

Really liked the whole intro. Sets the stage for some serious rage. As for my Fire Emblem memories, my strongest would probably be with Shadow Dragon. After I was diagnosed with asthma, I had to do at-home nebulizer treatments. I'd replay through Marth's journey to make them less tedious.

1 hour ago, Alastor15243 said:

This cutscene has the occasional weird framerate issue like the cutscenes in the previous game, but I will give the game this: Despite the generic models taking me out of it for reasons I will get into later, this is a pretty intense fight scene. Though it's finished rather anticlimactically when Seiros just... wraps the Sword of the Creator's whip mode around her sword, yanks it out of his hands and tosses the tangled mess aside, and then just kicks him to the ground, where he proceeds to do absolutely nothing to push her off or resist being stabbed to death by her auxiliary knife in any way, even when she takes the time to deliver a one-liner before doing it.

This one is my favorite cutscene of the game, and probably of the series up to this point. I love the lighting effects that make it look like old, degraded footage. And it's some great action and soundwork.

1 hour ago, Alastor15243 said:

Sothis demands my name, and since the naming screen has the sense of humor of a wet rag and doesn't even give you enough character space to name yourself “Professor”...

...I'll be naming her Professr.

An 8-character limit really sucks. Particularly in a game where "Bernadetta" gets to walk around with 10 letters. Interesting for a game where player input is oft requested - this is the only time you'll enter any text into the game.

1 hour ago, Alastor15243 said:

An interesting added game mechanic is that the game will use arcing red lines to mark the targets of enemies' next attacks, which is incredibly useful... and yet I'm not wholly sure I like it. That feels like it's making it too easy to abuse enemy targeting AI, and abusing enemy targeting AI is something I've never truly been a fan of. Still, it is more transparency in enemy behavior, and I guess I'd rather have too much info than not enough, as my playlogs of the earlier games demonstrated countless times

I like the aggro lines as quality-of-life features, but providing an on/off switch for them would've been nice for player freedom.

1 hour ago, Alastor15243 said:

But yes. This is the part of the game where the story introduces its version of Mila's Turnwheel: the Divine Pulse. But rather than this being, like with Mila's Turnwheel, contextualized as the prophetic warnings of the fickle and uncontrollable whims of destiny... it is contextualized as the main character having nigh-unfettered mastery of the fabric of space and time. At any moment, both in gameplay and in story, the avatar has the ability to freeze and rewind time, even after sustaining fatal injuries to themselves.

I generally interpret this power as belonging to Sothis, rather than the Professor. Since she describes herself as "turning back the hands of time", albeit on Teach's behalf. At the merger, though, it becomes a lot muddier.

1 hour ago, Alastor15243 said:

The absolute best idea that we are expected to believe Professr is capable of coming up with in that exorbitant length of time... is to push Edelgard out of the way... and tank the blow with her own spine.

Actually, this scene makes Teach too powerful. They shouldn't be able to Shove people - they haven't mastered the Fighter class yet!

1 hour ago, Alastor15243 said:

Oh also, might I point out: Kostas is still not dead. All Professr managed to do, even with the power of hindsight, is knock Kostas down, flat on his ass, so he could run away.

Hey now - he's a villain with a name and portrait, in a game without enough of those to go around. The least Teach could do was spare him, in order to stretch his assets out another chapter.

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I won't comment on the narrative, all I want to say ATM is that in case you forgot I did post some notes on medieval universities back on this page of this topic. Again, I lost most of my meticulous, clean, and formalized notes, which I never got to rewriting. 

However, my messy summaries might prove somewhat informative, and the demographics section is intact. To which, I'll now add that in the case of English nobles and universities, it was later stated in the text that they were younger than the average student, stayed only for 1-2 years, and were harder for universities to punish, since they had the wealth to brush off any fines.

I must also say that medieval universities had nothing to do with war whatsoever! They might contain a copy of Vegetius's De re militari or other treatises on war, but they didn't teach it. In fact, principals in charge of the dormitories were in charge of confiscating weapons. A life of the quill-pen was to the exclusion of a life of the sword, which did result in some insecurities of manliness among university students. Although vigorous oral debates became a replacement virility competition to substitute the spilling of blood. If you want military academies, you have to wait until the 1700s.

 

Right now I'm reading a book on medieval siege warfare, I might provide some interesting notes on the topic later, though it has little relevance to FE, since sieges are few, likely because IRL they take weeks and months without a lot of major clashing most the time. Although, according to the book, glorious formal battles between big armies in the field that turned the tide weren't that common. Siege warfare against castles and walled cities was one of the two primary forms war took in Medieval period. The second common form of medieval war was chevauchee- raiding and pillaging. Which is to say you strip your enemies' territories of their wealth to deny it to them, add it yourself, and make the people of those lands so weary of war they surrender for peace in defiance of their lieges. Chevauchee didn't involve large pitched battles, it was a war of attrition.

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2 hours ago, Samz707 said:

I personally actually hate New Game Plus/DLC stuff on a "Fresh" playthrough as I feel they're almost always stuff that break the experience, (Such as Sniper Elite selling objectively better DLC Guns, such as the only silenced Sniper Rifle and FE Echoes DLC Supports arguably count as a admittingly minor example of this but the unlockable DLC weapons/shields were left untouched in my inventory.) if possible I always try to go as "Release Date" as possible with a game, with only the bare minimum of stuff if possible. (Or if it's stuff that the game was clearly designed around and only left not-in due to time constraints and patched in later.) so I do plan to not do New Game plus stuff until I've done every house once. 

My favorite New Game Plus modes are the ones that give you almost complete control of what stuff you can bring back to a new file. Most notably Bravely Default, which lets you enable and disable basically everything. You can bring back all of your classes, but if you want you don't have to bring back the experience you got in those classes. You can bring back your items and leave your money behind, or if you want you can just start a new game where the village building minigame is over and done with and you don't have to bother with it anymore if that's what floats your boat. Personally my favorite thing to do with this is play a randomizer where everyone unlocks a different random class every time they awaken a crystal.

2 hours ago, Samz707 said:

Also yep, Byleth being made incompetent, other games do that to add "DRAMA" to their cutscenes where the protagonist is suddenly incredibly incompetent and almost nothing actually makes me stop caring entirely about what's going on, it's never engaging, it just makes me hate the cutscene due to how obviously contrived it is. (I know it's in the future but when a Mage literally pulls out a shield spell that doesn't even exist in-game just so Byleth can nearly die honestly made me put the Switch in Sleep mode and do something else for a while instead of finishing the cutscene because that's crappy writing.)

If a character needs to fail then for gods' sake,  make them fail in a way that doesn't make it look like you just threw your hands up and went "DON'T CARE!" in the Writer's room because frankly, if the writers clearly didn't care about this cutscene, why the heck should I?

Aaaaaaabsolutely. Like I said on a different point, I hate when writing is so transparently blatant in its out-of-universe motive that you can see the damned puppet strings.

1 hour ago, Shanty Pete's 1st Mate said:

Really liked the whole intro. Sets the stage for some serious rage.

Hopefully you'll enjoy a sort of colder fury this time. I'm experimenting with doing less "screaming" (IE all caps or exclamation marks or all-italicized sentences), since... when you're trying to be persuasive and not just roasting something, anger can be a serious weakness.

 

1 hour ago, Shanty Pete's 1st Mate said:

An 8-character limit really sucks. Particularly in a game where "Bernadetta" gets to walk around with 10 letters. Interesting for a game where player input is oft requested - this is the only time you'll enter any text into the game.

And yet, the greatest text limit crime in all of human history is that the character limit in Pokemon prevented the English name for Gyarados from being Skullkraken.

 

1 hour ago, Shanty Pete's 1st Mate said:

I generally interpret this power as belonging to Sothis, rather than the Professor. Since she describes herself as "turning back the hands of time", albeit on Teach's behalf. At the merger, though, it becomes a lot muddier.

In most cases even before the merger though, this would just shift the incompetence blame over to Sothis.

 

51 minutes ago, Interdimensional Observer said:

I won't comment on the narrative, all I want to say ATM is that in case you forgot I did post some notes on medieval universities back on this page of this topic. Again, I lost most of my meticulous, clean, and formalized notes, which I never got to rewriting. 

However, my messy summaries might prove somewhat informative, and the demographics section is intact. To which, I'll now add that in the case of English nobles and universities, it was later stated in the text that they were younger than the average student, stayed only for 1-2 years, and were harder for universities to punish, since they had the wealth to brush off any fines.

I must also say that medieval universities had nothing to do with war whatsoever! They might contain a copy of Vegetius's De re militari or other treatises on war, but they didn't teach it. In fact, principals in charge of the dormitories were in charge of confiscating weapons. A life of the quill-pen was to the exclusion of a life of the sword, which did result in some insecurities of manliness among university students. Although vigorous oral debates became a replacement virility competition to substitute the spilling of blood. If you want military academies, you have to wait until the 1700s.

 

Right now I'm reading a book on medieval siege warfare, I might provide some interesting notes on the topic later, though it has little relevance to FE, since sieges are few, likely because IRL they take weeks and months without a lot of major clashing most the time. Although, according to the book, glorious formal battles between big armies in the field that turned the tide weren't that common. Siege warfare against castles and walled cities was one of the two primary forms war took in Medieval period. The second common form of medieval war was chevauchee- raiding and pillaging. Which is to say you strip your enemies' territories of their wealth to deny it to them, add it yourself, and make the people of those lands so weary of war they surrender for peace in defiance of their lieges. Chevauchee didn't involve large pitched battles, it was a war of attrition.

In the immortal words of Corrin, "I can always count on you!"

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3 hours ago, Alastor15243 said:

And I was watching the entire fandom happily, zealously, unanimously cheer that future on.

[ RUBENIO ] has entered the chat.

3 hours ago, Alastor15243 said:

The obvious Doylist answer is that the writers wanted you to meet all three house leaders before choosing a house, but I don't think there's anything that irks me more in a story than seeing something where you can practically read the author's mind with regards to their cynical motives, but can't see the slightest sign they even thought of an in-universe reason why it was happening.

C'mon, Doylism is great. Sure, it may be silly, but when it comes to an opening moment like this, it makes perfect sense to go with the option which will most efficiently introduce the consoomer to the context of the story rather than to do what makes perfect sense within the context they don't know yet.

I probably won't finish Blue Lions ahead of you despite my head start (being on chapter 7) because I like to be leisurely in that sort of thing. I hope you are filled with righteous indignation by this game.

One thing I will say is that (based on my unfinished experience) I wish they'd gone with Byleth being less "stoic or vacuous" and more so "psychopathic", in the most clinical sense possible. I mean, you're already choosing responses you think people will like so you can build support points (basically good rapport) with them, so why not lean into that angle of emotionally manipulating those around you for glorious success? Pretty sure Professr is supposed to have a weird origin that leaves them emotionally stunted or whatever, so it'd work fine.

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Wow, should I be happy that I had my brain switched to "off" mode when I played 3H? These things are all definitely problems, yeah, but ones I hadn't noticed at the time. Probably because I wasn't trying, but still.

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On 7/24/2021 at 7:19 AM, Jotari said:

Alastor managed to get Atlas looped before reaching the Sage's Hamlet. If this playthrough has displayed anything it's that the Dread Fighter look is absolutely possible to get and absurdly good once you do. Sure there's only a handful of battles left by the time you reach that point, but they're meant to be the hardest battles in the game and can easily be trivialized by throwing a unit with double the intended levels at the problem.

Even so, it still sounds more like gratuitous overkill, as pretty much nothing in the main game is so bad that it justifies going out of my way to do it, not even the final battle. And frankly, I'd find the inconvenience of needing to work my way back to whatever class I wanted them to end in to far outweigh the benefits (having to backtrack to Mila shrines two or even three more times when by the time this is even doable, I'm probably far enough into the game that I'd rather just finish it already? Pass). That being said, I MIGHT consider it if I was looking to get through Thabes.

4 hours ago, Alastor15243 said:

For Blazing Blade, it's in my bunk bed at my old house when I was a kid, playing Chapter 16x well into the night under the light of the lamp whose metal clamp I had rather roughly attached to the post of the bottom bunk.

Speaking of which, I remember that back in the day, I found myself staying up later than I was supposed to to play one more turn. Except a lot of the time, "one more turn" would end up being "several more turns" instead.

4 hours ago, Alastor15243 said:

Oh also, might I point out: Kostas is still not dead. All Professr managed to do, even with the power of hindsight, is knock Kostas down, flat on his ass, so he could run away.

Speaking of which, I'd like to state the irony of how the prologue plays out... but this ain't the time.

4 hours ago, Alastor15243 said:

 

...On this very day, exactly two years ago, I was in yet another neighbor's house (yet again, you guessed it, watching their pets), staring obsessively at the Amazon package tracker on my phone, watching the progress bar increase by pixels at a time while distracting myself from the obscene levels of restless anticipation I was feeling by alternately trying out the new amiibo stuff I got for Breath of the Wild, and playing What Remains of Edith Finch.

I.

Was.

So.

Excited.

The second I got the confirmation that the package was delivered, I rushed back up to my house and picked the package up, bringing it back to the house I was staying at and popping it into my Switch immediately.

Because I finally had my hands on the game I had been eagerly awaiting for more than a year.

Fire Emblem: Three Houses.

I binged it, playing almost 90 hours over the course of 14 days.

First out of excitement.

Then out of love for the franchise and hope that the game would get better.

Then out of pure, vitriolic spite.

No video game has ever made me angrier, more frustrated, more stressed, but more importantly, more transcendently miserable. And it wasn't just because my first playthrough was a blind (and through sheer dumb luck, successful) attempt to ironman a game that, more than any other in the series, has nothing but contempt for the concept. It was because it rapidly became apparent that I was playing an installment of my favorite franchise that had somehow managed to surgically destroy almost every aspect of the formula that I personally loved. Almost everything that made me fall in love with the franchise had either been replaced wholesale, corrupted beyond recognition, or buried beneath mountains upon mountains of fluff, filler, and soul-crushing tedium.

I was looking at a game that represented a potential future where the Fire Emblem I know and love would never be enjoyable again.

That sounds like me with Shadow Dragon. I initially liked it, but the more I played it, the more I started to dislike it. It's nice that the developers were willing to remake the first game in the series, but that feeling went away rather quickly when I realized that it was a MASSIVE step down from Radiant Dawn in terms of pretty much everything. It's a serious disappointment, considering that when I got Marth's trophy in Melee and read his description, I thought "this sounds pretty cool". But in the end, I found it boring as hell. I saw this quote elsewhere, and I think it really applies to SD:

"Intelligent Systems did what they wanted to do, but they didn't do what should have been done,"

4 hours ago, Alastor15243 said:

...Did I really have it in me to force my way through Dark Dragon, knowing how tedious it was bound to be?

On August 8, 2019, the very day I'd finished my first run of Three Houses, I officially announced my intention to start the project, and began in earnest the day after.

Because I knew I had the answer to that question.

Yes. Yes, I did have it in me to play Dark Dragon. Because however bad Dark Dragon might turn out to be, I told myself, I knew it couldn't possibly be more tedious than Three Houses.

Whatever floats your boat. I mean, with how much I disliked SD, when I heard they were releasing the original for a limited time on the Switch, I immediately thought "hard pass" because if I hated the remake, there's no way I would like the original...

Edited by Shadow Mir

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1 hour ago, Shanty Pete's 1st Mate said:

An 8-character limit really sucks. Particularly in a game where "Bernadetta" gets to walk around with 10 letters. Interesting for a game where player input is oft requested - this is the only time you'll enter any text into the game.

I forgot to comment on this earlier. I'm reminded of Xenoblade Chronicles X and Skell (mini giant robot) names. A store-bought Skell can have a name like "XS0730 Amdusias ST" which is 18 characters long counting in the two spaces. And yet, you're restricted to 10 if you rename it, you can't even fit in the original name! 10 including spaces can be a little lacking for giant typical giant robot names.

Although, in both cases, we do have to remember these are games that originated in Japan. Japanese kanji logograms and hiragana & katakana syllables pack more information into a single written character than Latin alphabetic letters. To pick one from Awakening's name chart here on SF, "Frederick" is 9 letters, but in Japanese, it's only 5 katakana syllables. And every character in Awakening is 5 katakana or less, with the exceptions of 6 from Yarne and Walhart. I don't see a single name in New Mystery exceeding 5 katakana either.

 

58 minutes ago, Alastor15243 said:

Hopefully you'll enjoy a sort of colder fury this time. I'm experimenting with doing less "screaming" (IE all caps or exclamation marks or all-italicized sentences), since... when you're trying to be persuasive and not just roasting something, anger can be a serious weakness.

If you're looking for an alternative take on roasting an SRPG, maybe consider looking at this old LP here on SF?😛 -Although being a screenshot LP lets it do things you simply can't with just text alone.

Keep in mind that FFT was once genre-defining to an extent and still is, albeit much forgotten, regarded as a legendary Square-could-do-no-wrong classic, back when FE was unknown to the West.

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5 hours ago, Alastor15243 said:

 

For Shadows of Valentia, it's sitting at the kitchen table of a different neighbor's house while watching their pets, attempting a replay of the game and getting annoyed at how difficult the heavy, barely-skippable story made it to listen to videos on my phone at the same time.

 

Perfect example of why commas are necessary, I thought you said the pets were playing the game at first XD Course the comma was there, it's just late and I can't sleep.

5 hours ago, Alastor15243 said:

 

...Okay, so... I know that intro probably sounds... a bit melodramatic... but I think it's important to give you a good idea of exactly what and how this game made me feel when I first played it. Because for those of you just now joining us who haven't seen any of my by-now numerous potshots at this game throughout all 18 previous playlogs... first of all, welcome, and second of all, Three Houses is, without any competition whatsoever, my least favorite game in the entire franchise. I do not just consider it a bad Fire Emblem game. I consider it a categorical failure to even be a Fire Emblem game. Because if Fire Emblem is a chocolate sundae, then Three Houses took out the cherry on top and all of the chocolate sauce, and then added five times the sundae's original weight, counting the bowl, in sawdust. Not only does this game aggressively refuse to be played the way I most love playing Fire Emblem, but what remaining recognizable Fire Emblem content there is has been drowned in more fluff and filler than a teddy bear factory would get shipments of in a week.

 

I eagerly await the day when your scoring system scientifically proves that despite all your perceived feelings, it's actually your favorite game in the series XD

5 hours ago, Alastor15243 said:

...We get a scene where we meet Sothis, this game's token dragon who looks like a little girl, and it's basically used as the character creation sequence. I'm told to pick between a male and female form, and I pick female because it is far, far more amusingly terrible. And I'm not really even talking about her outfit. I mean the vacant abyss of nothingness that is her face. When the trumpets sound on judgment day, the gate into the Lovecraftian seas of bleak infinity that will appear over the horizon to swallow the earth... will be visually indistinguishable from Femleth's eyes. And if you doubt me for even a second, then I invite you to feast your eyes upon this unbelievably cursed image that reverses the faces on male and female Byleth:

Male Byleth wearing a hat is obviously best Byleth.

5 hours ago, Alastor15243 said:

 

1: Most of his characterization is tied to his relationship with a barely-sentient bag of flour...

 

and 2: His death is the dumbest thing ever and tied to the single worst thing about this game's story.

Oh no, the nukes are far, far dumber than Jearlt's death. I hope you're talking about the nukes, becuse honestly I don't think they come up in Azure Moon at all. Though maybe they do and I've just forgotten, because the nukes are narratively irrelevant.

5 hours ago, Alastor15243 said:

Jeralt says our next job is in the Kingdom (of Faerghus), and that “it's far from here, so we'll need to leave at dawn”.

And all I can think about is the game's tacit implication that this entire continent can be traveled across in the course of a single day, something that the sheer absurdity of the game's mechanics screams at the top of its lungs.

"It's far from here, and we need to be there at like 7:00am sharp, so we're leaving at 6:15, with a brief stop on the road for breakfast of course."

 

5 hours ago, Alastor15243 said:

The game has added two more “calculated stats” to the stat screen. In addition to attack, hit, avoid, crit, and the rarely-listed attack speed, it also lists protection and resilience, which are respectively your defense and resistance stats after the game's numerous modifications to them. It did not, however, see fit to list crit evade, which is all the more infuriating here because the “range” section of that menu screen is twice as big as all of the others and very much does not use up even half of that space, as if they couldn't think of a last thing to list there and artificially inflated the range section to make it neat and tidy.

I feel like listing attack speed should be a standard for the series. It's a pretty important stat. Even more important than speed itself as far as display purposes go.

5 hours ago, Alastor15243 said:

...Ah yes.

Here we go.

This is the lovely part of this playthrough where we are introduced to the single worst aspect of the game's story.

The fact that they felt the need to make the rewind mechanic a vital, crucial, inescapable part of it, despite the fact that it contributes nothing to the story at all and does not affect the outcome of a single story moment ever after it is introduced.

Not as stupid as the nukes. That's m y party line and I'm sticking too it.

5 hours ago, Alastor15243 said:

...While I'm not a huge fan of Sothis, I will admit that in light of the cutscene I was just forced to witness, I got some satisfaction about making “Professr” admit that she is “less than a child”.

I like Sothis. She has this air of brattyness, but also mixed with like an elderly arrogance. Quite a distinct personality. The mystery angle to her also works despite the answer to the mystery being super basic and obvious. They still pull it off in atmosphere though. I also find her surprisingly unsexualized for a loli you can S support.

5 hours ago, Alastor15243 said:

And so the map is complete. ...It's kind of weird to realize we didn't get the “Stage Complete” screen until after all that cutscene nonsense.

That is kind of nice in a way. The battle wasn't over until after the nonsense was dealt with.

5 hours ago, Samz707 said:

Yeah I literally noticed right away her axe was gone, I won't go into too much detail but if your story ever requires characters to suddenly not use a more appropriate weapon they have to have (So not anything missing/optional), you have screwed up if there is no valid reason for them to not have it, just have an archer nail her in the arm and she drops it in pain or something.

I'd blame this more on the cutscene director than the story. As far as the story is concerned, they just needed Edelgard to be in peril and for Byleth to save her. That could have easily been accomplished while maintaining continuity by

A) Having the axe knocked out of her hand

B) Having Edelgard put away the axe thinking the battle is over

C) Having Kostas be competent enough to threaten Edelgard even with her axe in hand (though that wouldn't provide foreshadowing for the dagger).

The story logic is sound, it's just literally the people who animated the cutscene didn't fill in the expect context as to why Edelgard got disarmed. If we were to try and fill in the holes (which really should almost never be the audience's job) we can easily deduced she lost it in the chaos of battle. Though even that could be better implemented by showing her picking it up from somewhere after the event.

5 hours ago, Samz707 said:

If FE characters were ranked on how effective they are "In-universe" (AKA Non-gameplay) Byleth would rank worse than Roy probably.

Oi, what are you saying about my Boy! He's very competent...in universe.

 

2 hours ago, Alastor15243 said:

My favorite New Game Plus modes are the ones that give you almost complete control of what stuff you can bring back to a new file. Most notably Bravely Default, which lets you enable and disable basically everything. You can bring back all of your classes, but if you want you don't have to bring back the experience you got in those classes. You can bring back your items and leave your money behind, or if you want you can just start a new game where the village building minigame is over and done with and you don't have to bother with it anymore if that's what floats your boat. Personally my favorite thing to do with this is play a randomizer where everyone unlocks a different random class every time they awaken a crystal.

That's actually not unlike how Three Houses does it's new game+. You don't get to decide what you're bringing over when you start it, instead you use a currency of renown to port over whatever you want or need during the playthrough. One could start New Game+ and not bring over anything at all.

1 hour ago, Shadow Mir said:

Even so, it still sounds more like gratuitous overkill, as pretty much nothing in the main game is so bad that it justifies going out of my way to do it, not even the final battle. And frankly, I'd find the inconvenience of needing to work my way back to whatever class I wanted them to end in to far outweigh the benefits (having to backtrack to Mila shrines two or even three more times when by the time this is even doable, I'm probably far enough into the game that I'd rather just finish it already? Pass). That being said, I MIGHT consider it if I was looking to get through Thabes.

Well you're known to be pretty bad at Fire Emblem so it's understandable that you could struggle to do things that other people have demonstrated can be done with little to no effort. Mandatory question, have you played Shadows of Valentia?

1 hour ago, Interdimensional Observer said:

Keep in mind that FFT was once genre-defining to an extent and still is, albeit much forgotten, regarded as a legendary Square-could-do-no-wrong classic, back when FE was unknown to the West.

I'm still not sure what people were smoking when that game was released, because as someone who played it years after the fact, it comes across as such a horrendously flawed game.

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Sooooo... is it just me or are M!Byleths eyes gigantic? F!Byleth looking like she nows she´s getting the axe.

6 hours ago, Alastor15243 said:

An interesting added game mechanic is that the game will use arcing red lines to mark the targets of enemies' next attacks, which is incredibly useful... and yet I'm not wholly sure I like it. That feels like it's making it too easy to abuse enemy targeting AI, and abusing enemy targeting AI is something I've never truly been a fan of. Still, it is more transparency in enemy behavior, and I guess I'd rather have too much info than not enough, as my playlogs of the earlier games demonstrated countless times.

It certainly helps with long range attacks. The lines of aggression don´t always seem to update though.

6 hours ago, Alastor15243 said:

And since I won't be playing on Maddening (given that the idea of playlogging a mode it's notoriously easy to softlock yourself on sounds absolutely insane), I need to give this game as fair of a chance to be hard as I can grant it.

Big sad. I don´t understand how chapter 13 softlocks that hard - sometimes you gotta kill off some characters. Unless it´s Gilbert. Do not lose Gilbert.

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42 minutes ago, Jotari said:

Well you're known to be pretty bad at Fire Emblem so it's understandable that you could struggle to do things that other people have demonstrated can be done with little to no effort. Mandatory question, have you played Shadows of Valentia?

You're literally the only one who believes that, just so you know. Anyways, snarky potshots aside, yes, I have played SoV; I just have yet to finish it due to having gotten sidetracked (iirc, I'm at act 5, so I don't have much longer to go). 

2 minutes ago, Imuabicus said:

It certainly helps with long range attacks. The lines of aggression don´t always seem to update though.

Agreed. Though the enemies can change things up on you and attack someone you were not expecting them to.

4 minutes ago, Imuabicus said:

Big sad. I don´t understand how chapter 13 softlocks that hard - sometimes you gotta kill off some characters. Unless it´s Gilbert. Do not lose Gilbert.

I don't know about you, but I don't like that; like I said when talking about Conquest Lunatic endgame; if the only option for success involves sacrificing units, you've gone and fucked up in a VERY big way (I know there was a video where the player cleared the endgame of Lunatic Conquest without sacrificing units posted here, but it was made private :(:). Personally, if I lost a unit, I take it to mean my strategy was not good enough, I got unlucky, or even both.

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10 minutes ago, Shadow Mir said:

You're literally the only one who believes that, just so you know. Anyways, snarky potshots aside, yes, I have played SoV; I just have yet to finish it due to having gotten sidetracked (iirc, I'm at act 5, so I don't have much longer to go). 

Agreed. Though the enemies can change things up on you and attack someone you were not expecting them to.

I don't know about you, but I don't like that; like I said when talking about Conquest Lunatic endgame; if the only option for success involves sacrificing units, you've gone and fucked up in a VERY big way (I know there was a video where the player cleared the endgame of Lunatic Conquest without sacrificing units posted here, but it was made private :(:). Personally, if I lost a unit, I take it to mean my strategy was not good enough, I got unlucky, or even both.

So yeah, you're once again complaining about something you've never tried. I am so shocked at this revelation.

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8 minutes ago, Shadow Mir said:

I don't know about you, but I don't like that; like I said when talking about Conquest Lunatic endgame; if the only option for success involves sacrificing units, you've gone and fucked up in a VERY big way. Personally, if I lost a unit, I take it to mean my strategy was not good enough, I got unlucky, or even both.

I mostly wrote that in jest, but no, I did chapter 13 with 5 of my heavy hitters (Catherine, Shamir, Hilda, Lysithea, Hapi) not even on the map and had no problem - other than discovering Gilberts situation and losing Ashe whomst I didn´t and still don´t care about, which was mostly due to my lack of knowledge on the enemy AI.

Chapter 13 seems very much overhyped in it´s difficulty.

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