Ahead of its July 26 release date, Fire Emblem: Three Houses got a ton of new gameplay details at this year’s E3 conference.
One of the biggest changes to the series is that the player now takes on the role of a professor. Tasked with leading one of the titular three houses at the Garreg Mach Monastery, you’ll be leading lessons, engaging with students and teaching them all the fundamentals of battle.
In practice, the player will be boosting characters’ stats with individualized lesson plans tailored to the character based on information you learn via conversations with the students. There’s an interesting-sounding morale mechanic, where students will only be receptive to learning if they’re excited; you can enhance character morale by cooking a meal for the student or consoling them. Characters have specific desires and goals, but you’ll be able to mold them to fit different classes than what they might want.
There are other activities for the player at the monastery, too; you’ll be able to fish, explore and just hang out with your students. You can run skirmishes to see how your students have grown and boost their levels, too. There’s a calendar system, complete with characters’ birthdays, and at the end of each month in the monastery, your students will engage in a battle with the other two houses to see how everyone is shaping up.
Here’s the thing, though—that’s only half the game. At some point, there will be a five-year time skip, where you’ll be embroiled in a war. Your army will be the students you’ve taught; your foes, members of the other houses.
The battles and war phase of the game will likely be familiar to fans of the franchise. Set on a grid system, the turn-based combat will find the player issuing commands to the different characters and taking advantage of the skills you’ve been instilling in your pupils. All of the attacks are fully animated and include details on specific damage counts.
Fire Emblem: Three Houses is out July 26 on the Nintendo Switch, and is shaping up to be filled to the brim with systems, characters and all the quirks the franchise is known for. You can see all of those in the full gameplay demo below. Keep scrolling to find out what’s going on in the story via the cinematic trailer further down.