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‘Fire Emblem: Three Houses’ Strategy: 11 Useful Tips and Features

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The Fire Emblem series has always sailed in its same territorial waters for years, but with the release of Three Houses on Nintendo Switch, the series has taken a new course of action by incorporating foreign elements to its very own genre. The newest breed of Fire Emblem comes off as the same tactical chess-like game we all know and love blended with the engaging exploration elements of the Persona series. With so many new aspects packed into the latest entry, the game can give both veterans and newcomers a blind eye to various features that they should be aware of while playing. Here are eleven useful features, Fire Emblem: Three Houses brushes over or flat out never explains that you should be well aware of.

The Soft Reset Combination

Fire Emblem is a series specifically known for difficulties that will challenge even the most experienced veterans. For those of us who are playing on classic normal or hard mode, you might find yourself wanting to completely restart battles from the beginning without wasting your Divine Pulse. The following button combination will take you directly to the main menu of the game when held at the same time: L, R,+, and –

Main Menu Support Do-Overs and Music Player

Sticking to the main menu, although this does not affect gameplay, optional dialogue routes in support cutscenes can be viewed under the subcategory ‘extras.’ If you feel you have made a mistake in a conversation or are just curious as to what another route would have brought out from a certain character, this is a simple and effective way of viewing the dialogue you never got to see. The game’s soundtrack is also accessible through this part of the main menu, but the entire score can only be unlocked after you have completed the story at least once.

Monastery Menu Fast Travel and Position Locator

Getting around the Monastery during your exploration time can become an absolute hassle late into each month. When characters have nothing new to say or are constantly moving around as the latest moon draws to a close, there is less of a reason to actually roam around Garreg Mach’s premises. By clicking the right bumper while exploring, you can pull up a menu that enables fast travel and locates every person, event, quest, and activity that is currently available. Just simply use the left analog stick to navigate over each specific area of the Monastery map, while ZL and ZR will allow you to toggle the sidebar menu to either narrow down people or facilities. Pressing X will show you the exact location of who or rather what you are looking for.

Relationship Speeding With Gifts and Tea

Recruiting students from the two opposing houses or maxing out the Avatars support conversations with various other characters can take quite a while if you are sticking to a daily schedule of activities that only allow you to invite your colleagues to a minimal amount of activities. Players can gift both students and professors with items of their liking when exploring the Monastery. These items can be found all around the premises or harvested through the greenhouse and fishing. Flowers are a common item liked by everyone, but there are other specific items to be found that will greatly boost your relationships depending on the character.

Players looking to max out supports can also use the ‘tea time’ feature; a one on one conversation between you and another resident of Garreg Mach, where you will have to create conversation in order to ensure that they have an enjoyable time. This is by far the largest relationship booster you can receive in a single activity if done perfectly, but it can not be accessed all the time.

Certain Activities Do Not Require Activity Points

Fishing, greenhouse planting, and student quests are three activities that do not require any activity points to be spent. These activities are simple chores that will increase your professor level and grant you various items you will need for increasing your supports so you should be doing these whenever you can. The only time a quest will require you to spend points is if they are asking you to go into battle.

Increasing Your Professor Level Is Critical

The number of activity points you can retain is solely dependent on your professor level (a scale that runs from E to S rank). If you are going to want to do more on a weekly basis, be sure to spend time doing activities with your students in order to receive more renown. There is no easy way out of increasing your professor level. Experiment with your activity points to see what will give you the most experience, but be sure not to repeat mistakes as time is an essence in Three Houses.

amiibo Gazebo’s Monthly Items

Gathering gifts, bait, and various herbal drinks for tea time can take quite a while if you are not willing to freely explore the Monastery for items at least once a month. Items can be frugal, but if you happen to own any of the Fire Emblem amiibo, be sure to stop by the amiibo Gazebo- located in the courtyard north of the entrance hall- in order to scan in an assortment of items and a music track once an in-game month. Item drops will only appear after scanning a Fire Emblem amiibo. All amiibo figures outside of the series will provide only music tracks.

Certifications and Stat Boosters

Certifications allow units to change into different combat classes, but what Three Houses does not inform you about is the availability and potential gain of several certifications on one unit. Certifications are broken down into beginner, intermediate, advanced, and mastery classes; all units can pass every class certification as long as you teach them the requirements during the week’s teachings.

An easy way to gain bonus stat points for an individual unit is to certify he or her for classes you will not be using. If you are lucky, you will receive a bonus stat boost when your unit passes the exam for certification. The odds are entirely randomized, but due to how low the gold price of beginner and advanced certification seals are, your risks versus reward is worth the attempt.

Reclass Units From The Options Menu

If you are not particularly satisfied with how one of your units are performing in a newly certified class, you can always change them back into what you previously unlocked for them by going to inventory and selecting reclass. There are no drawbacks to reclassing so feel free to change up your units for your personal content!

Auxillary Mock Battles

Are you in need of a few level ups before your next mission? Are you scared your unit might be killed in action due to its low level on classic mode? Every so often you will have the opportunity to participate in auxiliary mock battles. Your units can not be killed during these training sessions. If you are looking to level up your units that are straggling behind, take your time and use these battles to get in some easy level-ups without hesitation. The only downside to participating in these battles is they cost you activity points.

The Convoy Can Always Be Accessed During Battle

During the core battles, weapon durability and item storage can be a major issue on higher difficulties and even sometimes on more casual playthroughs. Your avatar character will always have access to the convoy, but so does every other unit you have in play. Place your unit next to your avatar to allow them to access the convoy. Accessing the convoy does not cost you a turn; you are simply placing or trading items into your inventory, you can still attack after swapping out your unit’s inventory.

On a side note, it is always important that you keep spare items and weapons in the convoy in case of an emergency. Without spoilers, the ladder half of the game has some difficult battles- even on normal mode- where I strongly advise players to take advantage of this specific feature. Have health items in your convoy at all times. Keep your elixirs close and your spare killing edges even closer!

Journalist major and part-time film writer. I have always held high interests in the fields of professional writing and communications. You can find me with my head deep in the espionage genre, on a collectathon, or in a kayak upstream. I’ll always be first in line for the next Hideo Kojima or Masahiro Sakurai game.

4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. Tal

    August 12, 2019 at 3:07 pm

    I’m not sure how you managed to miss such an outrageous amount of things, but nearly every one of these so called unexplained features are explained in detail. Fast travel and position locator? Yep. Gifts/tea and their importance? Check (And honestly, what fathomable reason would the exist beyond enhancing relationships… Come on). Amiibo Gazeebo items? Yep. Professor level importance? Absolutely, and another one that’s self evident. Certification stat boosts? Check. Reclassing units? Yes, obviously this is covered. Convoy being accessed during battle? This is also explained. Just because you somehow didn’t read the extensive tooltips and one time explanations doesn’t mean they weren’t explained.

    • Kevin

      August 13, 2019 at 2:59 pm

      You took all that time to just act Superior, how bout adding an unknown of your own? Some FE fans are the worst

  2. Kramlebonk

    August 13, 2019 at 2:25 am

    Mostly good information, however the amiibo gazebo information is mostly incorrect.
    To activate it you can use ANY amiibo. The fire emblem amiibo however give extra specials like costumes and soundtracks from older games.
    Furthermore, you can get items from the gazebo on every exploration, not once a month.

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Game Reviews

‘Riverbond’ Review: Colorful Hack’n’Slash Chaos

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Sometimes a little bit of mindless smashing is just what people play video games for, and if some light sword-swinging, spear-stabbing, laser-shooting giant hand-slapping action that crumbles a destructible world into tiny blocks sounds like a pleasant way to spend a few hours, then Riverbond might just satisfy that urge. Though its short campaign can get a little repetitive by the end, colorful voxel levels and quirky characters generally make this rampaging romp a button-mashing good time, especially if you bring along a few friends.

Riverbond grass

There really isn’t much of a story here outside something about some mystical leaders being imprisoned by a knight, and Riverbond lets players choose from its eight levels in Mega Man fashion, so don’t go in expecting some sort of narrative thread. Instead, each land has its own mini-situation going on, whether that involves eradicating some hostile pig warriors or reading library books or freeing numerous rabbit villagers scattered about, the narrative motivation is pretty light here. That doesn’t mean that these stages don’t each have their various charms, however, as several punnily named NPCs will blurt out humorous bits of dialogue that work well as breezy pit stops between all the cubic carnage.

Developer Cococucumber has also wisely created plenty of visual variety for their fantastical world, as players will find their polygonal hero traversing the lush greenery of grassy plains, the wooden piers of a ship’s dockyard, the surrounding battlements of a medieval castle, and the craggy outcroppings of a snowy mountain, among other locations, each with a distinct theme. Many of the trees or bridges or crates or whatever else happens to be lying around are completely destructible, able to be razed to the ground with enough brute force. Occasionally the physics involved in these crumbling structures helps gain access to jewels or other loot, but this mechanic mostly just their for the visual appeal one gets from cascading blocks; Riverbond isn’t exactly deep in its design.

Riverbond boss

That shallowness also applies to the basic gameplay, which pretty much involves hacking or shooting enemies and environments to pieces, activating whatever task happens to be the main goal for each sub-stage, then moving on or scouring around a bit for treasure before finally arriving at a boss. Though there are plenty of different weapons to find, they generally fall into only a few categories: small swinging implements that allow for quick slashes, large swinging implements that are slow but deal heavier damage, spears that offer quick jabs, or guns that…shoot stuff. There are some variations among these in speed, power, and possible side effects (a gun that fired electricity is somewhat weak, but sticks to opponents and gives off an extra, devastating burst), but once an agreeable weapon is found, there is little reason to give it up outside experimentation.

Still, there is a rhythmic pleasure to be found in games like this when they are done right, and Riverbond mostly comes through with tight controls, hummable tunes, and twisting levels that do a good job of mixing in some verticality to mask the repetitiveness. It’s easy for up to four players to get in on the dungeon-crawling-like pixelated slaughter, and the amount of blocks exploding onscreen can make for some fun and frenzied fireworks, especially when whomping on one of the game’s giant bosses. A plethora of skins for the hero are also discoverable, with at least one or two tucked away in locations both obvious and less so around each sub-stage. These goofy characters exist purely for aesthetic reasons, but those who prefer wiping out legions of enemies dressed as Shovel Knight or a sentient watermelon slice will be able to fulfill that fantasy.

Riverbond bears

By the end, the repetitive fights and quests can make Rivebond feel a little same-y, but the experience wraps up quickly without dragging things out. This may disappoint players looking for a more involved adventure, but those who sometimes find relaxation by going on autopilot — especially with some buddies on the couch — will appreciate how well the block-smashing basics are done here.

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Game Reviews

‘Earthnight’ Review: Hit the Dragon Running

Between its lush visuals and its constantly evolving gameplay, Earthnight never gets old, from the first dragon you slay to the hundredth.

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Earthnight

In Earthnight, you do one thing: run. There’s not much more to do in this roguelike auto-runner but to dash across the backs of massive dragons to reach their heads and strike them down. This may be an extremely simple gameplay loop, but Earthnight pulls it off with such elegance and style. Between its lush comic book visuals and its constantly evolving gameplay, it creates an experience that never gets old, from the first dragon you slay to the hundredth.

Dragons have descended from space and are wreaking havoc upon humanity. No one is powerful enough to take them down – except for the two-player characters, Sydney and Stanley, of course. As the chosen ones to save the human race, they must board a spaceship and drop from the heavens while slaying as many dragons on your way down as they can. For every defeated creature, they’ll be rewarded with water – an extremely precious resource in the wake of the dragon apocalypse. This resource can be exchanged for upgrades that make the next run that much better.

This simple story forms the basis for a similarly basic, yet engaging gameplay loop. Each time you dive from your spaceship, you’ll see an assortment of dragons to land on. Once you make a landing, you’ll dash across its back and avoid the obstacles it throws at you before reaching its head, where you’ll strike the final blow. Earthnight is procedurally generated, so every time you leap down from your home base, there’s a different set of dragons to face, making each run feel unique. There are often special rewards for hunting specific breeds of dragon, so it’s always exciting to see the new set of creatures before you and hunt for the one you need at any given moment.

“[Earthnight is] an acrobatic, dragon-hunting ballet that only becomes more beautifully extravagant with every run.”

Earthnight

Landing on the dragons is only the first step to slaying them. Entire hordes of monsters live on their backs, and in true auto-runner fashion, they’ll rush at you with reckless abandon from the very start. During the game’s first few runs, the onrush of enemies can feel overwhelming. Massive crowds of them will burst forth at once, and it can feel impossible to survive their onslaughts. However, this is where Earthnight begins to truly shine. The more dragons you slay, the more upgrade items become available, which are either given as rewards for slaying specific dragons or can be purchased with the water you’ve gained in each run. Many of these feel essentially vital for progression – some allow you to kill certain enemies just by touching them, whereas others can grant you an additional jump, both of which are much appreciated in the utter chaos of obstacles found on each dragon.

Procedural generation can often result in bland or repetitive level design, but it’s this item progression system that keeps Earthnight from ever feeling dry. It creates a constant sense of improvement: with more items in your arsenal after each new defeated dragon, you’ll be able to descend even further in the next run. This makes every level that much more exciting: with more power under your belt, there are greater possibilities for defeating enemies, stacking up combos, or climbing high above the dragons. It becomes an acrobatic, dragon-hunting ballet that only becomes more beautifully extravagant with every run.

Earthnight

At its very best, Earthnight feels like a rhythm game. With the perfect upgrades for each level, it becomes only natural to bounce off of enemies’ heads and soar through the heavens with an almost musical flow. The vibrant chiptune soundtrack certainly helps with this. Packed full of driving beats and memorable melodies with a mixture of chiptune and modern instrumentation, the music makes it easy to charge forward through whatever each level will throw your way.

That is not to say that Earthnight never feels too chaotic for its own good – rather, there are some points where its flood of enemies and obstacles can feel too random or overwhelming, to the point where it can be hard to keep track of your character or feel as if it’s impossible to avoid enemies. Sometimes the game can’t even keep up with itself, with the performance beginning to chug once enemies crowd the screen too much, at least in the Switch version. However, this is the exception, rather than the rule, and for the most part, simply making good use of its upgrades and reacting quickly to the challenges before you will serve you well in your dragon-slaying quest.

Earthnight

Earthnight is a race that’s worth running time and time again.”

It certainly helps that Earthnight is a visual treat as well. It adopts a striking comic book style, in which nearly every frame of animation is lovingly hand-drawn and loaded with detail. Sometimes these details feel a bit excessive – some characters are almost grotesquely detailed, with the faces of the bobble-headed protagonists sometimes seeming too elaborate for comfort. However, in general, it’s a gorgeous game, with its luscious backdrops of deep space and high sky, along with creative monsters and dragon designs that only get more outlandish and spectacular the farther down you soar.

Earthnight is a competent auto-runner that might not revolutionize its genre, but it makes up for this simplicity by elegantly executing its core gameplay loop so that it constantly changes yet remains endlessly addictive. Its excellent visual and audio presentation helps to make it all the more engrossing, while it strikes the perfect balance between randomized level design and permanent progression thanks to its items and upgrades system. At times it may get too chaotic for its own good, but all told, Earthnight is a race that’s worth running time and time again.

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Most Important Games of the Decade: ‘Death Stranding’

What makes Death Stranding the most important game of the year is how it has managed to divide gamers and critics alike.

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Death Stranding

2019 has been a banner year for gaming. With some excellent original properties making their debuts and a ton of great sequels, there’s been something for everyone and a lot of it. Still, with all of these amazing games to play, only one of them stands out as the most important game of 2019, and that’s Death Stranding.

Now, please note, I said “most important” and not “best”. Death Stranding is far from a perfect game. As my own review pointed out, Death Stranding has a lot of problems, and some of them are so egregious that they could be described as anti-fun. However, what makes the game stand out from its peers is the sheer scale and awe-inspiring hubris of its creation.

For the first (and possibly last) time, Hideo Kojima has been given a total carte blanche of creative freedom and financial resources to make whatever game he wanted. With Sony footing the bill, Death Stranding is maybe the most Kojima game ever made. Unfortunately, like some prog rockers and experimental filmmakers, Kojima could have well done with some reigning in this time around.

Death Stranding

Still, what makes Death Stranding stand out so much from the competition is that it really is almost nothing like anything you’ve ever played. The game is basically a delivery sim where you must cross an apocalyptic wasteland of America and battle a bunch of ghosts along the way. What caused America to fall, and where these ghosts came from, is still relatively unclear even after all of the overwrought explanations that punctuate the end of the game.

Of course, Death Stranding isn’t so much concerned with why and how these events came to be as it is with the experience of living in, and dealing with, them. This is the one game you’ll play this year that will balance out self-serious moral and religious philosophy with chucking literal piss bombs at ghosts and chugging Monster energy drinks.

Yes, Death Stranding has all of the classic Kojima staples. From egregious product placement to a never-ending stream of increasingly tragic backstories, all the hits are here.

Death Stranding

However, what makes Death Stranding the most important game of the year isn’t so much its utter weirdness as a AAA title but how it has divided gamers and critics alike. While some have slathered it with never-ending praise and perfect scores, others have labeled it “a very lumpy game” or “damaged goods“.

Few games, especially in the AAA space, are able to elicit such divergent responses from their audience. Fewer still are peppered with major actors like Norman Reedus and Lea Seydoux in painstakingly rendered motion capture. For these reasons and more, Death Stranding will be debated in critical circles for years to come, and if that’s not the mark of a game that stands out, then nothing is.

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