Fire Emblem: Three Houses is finally here, and even though excitement is high, there is a paralyzing question that’s tormenting countless players: Which house should I choose?
Indeed, Three Houses, staying true to its name, offers three different factions, and early on, you have to pick one to ally yourself with. Each house contains its own characters, storyline, and unique ramifications. In fact, it’s not a stretch to say that every house is an entire game unto itself, each one providing 60-80 hours of gameplay.
Needless to say, it’s a huge decision, and we’re here to help. In this guide, we’ll be looking at each of the titular three houses, and we’ll attempt to provide all of the information you need to make an informed decision — and we’ll keep it as spoiler-free as possible.
What We’re Focusing On:
Everyone has different things they’re looking for in the house they choose, so we’ll be focusing on a few of the major deciding factors that are likely to be common among most players:
- House Leader: Each house has its own main character, usually referred to as a “Lord” in the Fire Emblem games. Each house leader will play a tremendous role in the story, so we’ll examine their character, personality, and motivations.
- Characters and Appearance: Each house has its own unique cast of recruitable characters, so we’ll take a look at the members of each team. The characters all change in appearance halfway through the story after a time skip, so if looks are a big part of your decision, we’ll provide glimpses of their post-time skip look (but don’t worry, we’ll put that in a link in case you don’t want to be spoiled).
- Story: Each house has its own unique and powerful narrative. Keeping things spoiler-free, we’ll summarize the general “feel” of each campaign so you can understand which one is best for your tastes.
Without further ado, let’s get started!
NOTE: Every character goes through a visual redesign after the five-year timeskip partway through the game. CLICK HERE to see what every character looks like with their new design. (credit: /u/Negative-Nac)
House Leader: Edelgard von Hresvelg
Consider this description, and tell me who comes to mind: a late-teenaged princess with white-blonde hair, violet eyes, red/black house colors, and a sigil of a winged beast. If your answer was Daenerys Targaryen from Game of Thrones, we wouldn’t blame you. But these are all traits which also describe Edelgard of Three Houses, and as it turns out, the similarities don’t stop there.
Much like Daenerys, Edelgard is ambitious, determined, and when the situation calls for it, ruthlessly pragmatic. Favoring the axe, this isn’t a dainty girl who’s swinging around a little sword and seeking the most diplomatically favorable solution. She is single-minded in fighting for her cause, and she’s well aware of the fact that she will soon be an Empress with the might of a seasoned army at her command — and you can bet that she won’t be afraid to use it.
While Edelgard shows much compassion to her friends and followers, she has a no-nonsense attitude which defines many of her choices throughout the story… for better or for worse. Edelgard has been consistently praised as being one of the most complex, surprising characters of the entire game. If you want a character who will challenge your expectations and make you ask important questions, you’ll probably enjoy following her.
Black Eagle Characters
Black Eagle has a diverse set of characters with unique, standout designs. All of them (save for Dorothea) come from nobility, which will inform their worldview as the story progresses. Most of them were sent to the academy to gain prestige or strengthen diplomatic ties, and they each vary greatly in personality. Their designs are pretty eccentric, so they’re likely to fall under “love it or hate it” for most players.
The Black Eagles Story: What to Expect
The most common consensus for the Black Eagles story is “Fire Emblem: Conquest With Good Writing.”
For the uninitiated, Conquest was a Fire Emblem game for 3DS in which you allied yourself with a conquering army — the “bad guys” of the story. It intended to tell a morally gray story about what it means to ally with friends and family even if they might not be in the right, and what “right” and “wrong” even means in the context of two nations at war with each other. Conquest had your army plowing through a nation struggling to defend themselves, and it was a very ambitious attempt at telling a complex story.
Conquest, unfortunately, fell flat. It was derided for having character motivations which made no sense, a villain who was cartoonishly evil, and a confused narrative which failed to make a compelling point. The Black Eagles story, in a nutshell, reportedly takes these concepts and executes them in a much more elegant and well-written way.
Don’t get me wrong — I’m not saying the Black Eagles are the “bad guys” of the story or that it just copies the exact same beats as Conquest. But I am saying that you can expect an adventure which will embrace similar themes and make you ask tough questions about morality, ambition, and whether the ends justify the means. This is a story of a young ruler realizing her ideals and ambitions, for better or for worse.
House Leader: Dimitri Alexander Blaiddyd
Relative to other Fire Emblem games, Dimitri is the most conventional Lord character in Three Houses. He comes from the Holy Kingdom of Faerghus, a soon-to-be King who is nothing less than a shining example of chivalry and kindness.
Of course, there’s more to the picture. In the E3 2019 trailer for Three Houses, Dimitri’s post-time skip look was revealed, and fans were surprised to see an angry, edgy, eyepatch-adorned man who was much worse for wear. It’s clear that time hasn’t treated Dimitri well after the academy, and his command to “kill every last one of them” is a not-so-subtle sign that this dude has some major beef.
So there you have it — the shining knight with a golden personality, who harbors a heart of darkness underneath. Is Dimitri just a dark edgelord with anger issues, or has he suffered so much that he finally reached a breaking point? Is he actually a prince of darkness, or is he really a big softie? If these questions seem interesting to you, Dimitri might be your man.
Blue Lions Characters
The Blue Lions are, in a word, loyal. Four of them are childhood friends, one has sworn a life-debt to Dimitri, one is deeply entrenched in the Church of Seiros (a major player in their kingdom) and so on. There is definitely a sense of unity and fellowship in this group, and you can expect their backstories to play heavily into their development throughout. They also have arguably the least eccentric designs, so if you prefer a more grounded look, you might dig this group.
The Blue Lions Story: What to Expect
Among the various people who have been playing the game and digging into spoilers, the general opinion is that Blue Lions is the most “traditional” Fire Emblem story. In most Fire Emblem games, there are common threads — you’re in a loyal army who follows a princely lord, fighting for a kingdom. You come under attack by an external force, and as you defend your homeland, a greater evil manifests itself and surprising twists and turns ensue.
Now, don’t jump to conclusions. We are, after all, speaking in very general terms as to avoid spoilers. But while Edelgard’s route presents a story that is surprising and thematically challenging, Dimitri’s path is likely to feel more familiar. After all, there is some reason why he’s so angry, and you’ve probably already inferred by now that the Blue Lions are probably victims in this story — one way or another.
But that’s where things get interesting. Are they in the right or the wrong? What price should a person, an army, a country pay to defend themselves? At what point should they yield? Should one seek revenge for past grievances, and if so, to what extent? Blue Lions explores these themes.
House Leader: Claude von Riegan
If Edelgard is ambitious to a fault and Dimitri is a brooding edgelord, Claude is, well, the normal guy. He’s got a smile that could melt hearts, an exceedingly friendly demeanor, and a magnetic presence which would make anyone feel at ease. Pretty simple, right?
Not quite. Claude, for all his charisma, is secretive and mysterious at the same time, and there might just be a much more clever and cunning personality underneath that friendly surface. Is he a schemer with ulterior motives, or a genuinely good dude who just likes to keep his cards close to his chest? Either way, the trailers suggest that Claude is the most well-adjusted character after the academy, neither the victim of horrible circumstance, nor overly ambitious or aggressive with the power that he holds.
We don’t want to give away too much about Claude, but with someone so perfectly pleasant, it might be prudent to ask: is there a catch? Maybe, maybe not. Claude is a character who is going to keep you guessing.
Golden Deer Characters
Golden Deer’s characters come from the Leicester Alliance, a combined power formed by several groups of nobility where class distinction isn’t as divisive among the people. So this group is a mix of commoners and nobles who are largely united by strong bonds and good will. Just like the other houses, each character offers much to love, and it will largely come down to how much you do or don’t like the character designs.
Golden Deer Story: What to Expect
Between the three Lords, Claude seems to be the odd one out. This remains true in his story, which is a little more independent from the other two. Speaking vaguely, there are heavy conflicts of war and loss in the other two stories, but Golden Deer is a bit more removed from these conflicts. That’s not to say, however, that these guys don’t have a lot on their plate to deal with.
If Black Eagles and Blue Lions are two sides of the same coin, Golden Deer is another perspective entirely — a third party who observes the conflict from the sidelines, providing a much more objective and nuanced view. While Golden Deer is a bit more detached, you can bet that it’ll fill in certain details that you missed playing the other routes, and give a clearer look at all the forces in play.
If you’re worried about Golden Deer feeling more anticlimactic than the others, don’t be. There are powerful and threatening forces that you contend with in this path, and the events are majorly relevant to the overarching story as a whole. Do you want the nonconventional path? The one where you have literally no idea what to expect? Golden Deer might be for you.