Fire Emblem: Three Houses is a game that begins in the most idyllic sort of way. Three nations on a continent are at peace. All of their heirs are attending the same school and get along quite well. Even though you look like you are the same age (or in some cases, younger) than them, you are tasked with shaping their destinies. And, in the early days, the game does all it can to encourage you to keep interacting with everyone via support options that give you plenty of ways to constantly curry favor.
The little Fire Emblem: Three Houses support options happen around the school. When Byleth is walking around, a student might have something to say. Occasionally, these conversations will prompt a response that will offer a few support points for a correct option. During these conversations, you can also offer one of the gifts you have collected to try and make them like you too. Maybe you’ll check with the counselor at the advice box to try and guess the right advice to offer an anonymous inquiry. Part of it is getting a few extra points that can push you up to another level, but it also feels like an excuse to get you to explore a school where occasionally little blue glimmers hint at gifts you can collect, lost items you can find, quest items, or bit of information that can help boost your professor level. It feels pleasant and incidental. You’re going about your day. Sure, you’ll say hello and chit-chat. Stopping to watch choir practice barely takes any time at all.
Lost items can help quite a bit. Players’ avatars in Fire Emblem: Three Houses apparently spend all of their time picking up after their fellow faculty members and students. Blue glimmers of light are everywhere, and they often are items people at the school have left behind. When you find one and work out the clue as to who it belongs to, you earn support points with the person for returning it. Perhaps our Byleths are super observant mercenaries, accustomed to needing to pay attention to details, meaning they’re the only ones finding the lipstick Sylvain dropped or the herbs Manuela sticks in her liquor.
Battles are, as always, one of the easiest ways to boost support between characters. In fact, it feels like it is easier to form bonds with other characters now than it was in previous installments. The number of characters you take into battles, size of the maps and way you pick and choose allies weapons and skills all are conducive to keeping people in groups. Fire Emblem: Three Houses is also good at showing you when support is earned, so you can see more easily when people within one to two squares of one another are becoming closer.
But, sharing meals can sometimes feel like one of the most helpful ways of all. In a move that almost made me think of Neo Angelique’s dinner parties, Fire Emblem: Three Houses lets you enjoy meals at the dining hall together or enjoy a brief tea party with another individual. (If you have Fire Emblem amiibo, please make sure you scan them to help generate a steady stream of food and tea in the amiibo garden.) Relying on “today’s special” is an easy way to boost bonds between yourself and two other characters, without having to worry about providing any food to make it. While a tea party is an entertaining enough way to really boost a relationship on a weekend, it is even better to wait for a character’s birthday. Then, you can get the benefits without having to actually waste an activity point on them.
All of these additional ways to socialize are packed together for a reason. Fire Emblem: Three Houses covers quite a bit of time in all of these people’s houses. Due to their affinities and groups, you know eventually you won’t all be together and see things from the same perspective. All of this forces you to interact more. It makes you get involved and, hopefully, care about them. It lets you see who you might like enough to try and recruit to your own house, so you don’t have to worry about possibly losing them one day. As an added benefit, it makes the relationships feel more natural. Of course Dedue and Ingrid would eventually start getting along and trusting one another. They’re fighting alongside one another on the battlefield each day, had lunch together with me a few times, and were on stable duty together as a group task. It all helps you feel closer to everyone and get those support ranks up as high as possible. (Though, you won’t be getting those maxed until later in the game.)
Fire Emblem: Three Houses is available for the Nintendo Switch.