How does everyone feel about the difficulty?

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#1 Edited by nateandrews (102 posts) -

I've been playing through Fire Emblem Three Houses on Normal which feels like a mistake. Throughout the entire game my team has been one hit killing most enemies, and half of them are practically invulnerable to damage because they manage to successfully dodge every attack. I'm nearing the end now and of course I've just hit a huge difficulty spike on one particular mission, but every fight I've done since the beginning of the game has been unbelievably easy. I don't feel like I've gone out of my way to overlevel anyone at all, if that's even possible.

What's everyone else's experience been? Are you playing on Normal or Hard?

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#2 Edited by BisonHero (11603 posts) -

I’ve been playing on Hard, and it’s still been pretty manageable, but also I’m probably only like 25-30% of the way through, based on what everyone has been saying about the length. The red preview lines that straight up tell you who the enemies are going to attack is such an insane benefit. Obviously sometimes a million melee guys all want to attack one unit and once there are no open spots they’ll go and attack someone other than the preview lines indicated, so that’s a bit of a guessing game, but it’s still a huge improvement to know how enemies will behave. I’ve barely had to rewind time to prevent a death. Most of my time rewinds are spent when I see a slightly more efficient set of moves halfway through a round even though nothing bad has even happened.

Anyway, Hard seems tough but fair. I assume Normal just has enemies with lower stats and/or fewer enemies? The thing I’ve learned from the 3DS Fire Emblems is that their version of Normal is kind of a cakewalk, and Hard is usually fine if you’ve ever touched a grid-based strategy game before. It only tends to get absurdly difficult on Lunatic or Lunatic+, where they (usually) start nerfing your XP gains so you’re underpowered the whole game and all the enemy units are stacked with skills/abilities/arts/battalions.

The hardest battle so far was honestly the 2nd or 3rd battle in the game where you’re doing a mock battle with all 3 houses and all your units are level 1. My healer only had 5 charges of Heal, and I dodged basically zero enemy attacks, so by the end of the fight I had used all the charges of Heal and burned through a lot of the Vulneraries people were carrying.

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#3 Edited by mellotronrules (2625 posts) -

i think i'm on chapter 6 or so (we're looking for someone who's gone missing).

i made the mistake of doing some inadvertent grinding on auxiliary battles (i didn't realize they were infinitely repeatable, so i played probably something like i 5 didn't need to and buffed the hell out of a select few of my team).

tl;dr- grinding by accident has turned my edelgard into a god damned freight train.

for my first playthrough of a fire emblem ever- i'm ok with this. but having played a lot of xcom on higher difficulties- yes it skews pretty easy on normal.

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#4 Posted by DocHaus (2771 posts) -

Outside of getting my shit kicked in for trying to challenge the Black Knight early once, it's been surprisingly easy compared to previous Fire Emblems I've played, and I'm playing on Hard/Classic.

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#5 Edited by Zeik (5221 posts) -

I found it to be a bit on the easy side in part 1 on Hard/Classic, but part 2 has been kicking my ass a lot more. Seems like everything can one shot my units, so I have to play very carefully if I want to make it to the end with everyone. (Even Edelgard, who seemed unstoppable in part 1, still gets one shot quite often.) The last mission I did I burned through every divine pulse I had and still had to full restart the mission several times because I found myself backed into a corner with no way out unless I completely rethought my approach.

So that being said, I kinda wish the early parts were a little harder, but I also didn't find them so easy that I wasn't having fun, and part 2 I think is about as difficult as I would want before it stops being fun. I would go as far as to say playing Hard/Classic in Three Houses is about as close to ideal as I've experienced in a Fire Emblem to date. Previous entries fluctuated too much between frustrating and a cakewalk.

I can understand people who are looking for an extreme challenge being disappointed though, if Hard/Classic is as hard as it gets right now, but hopefully Lunatic will satisfy those people.

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#6 Posted by el_tajij (871 posts) -

I'm 100 hours in, finished a normal/classic run and now making my way through a hard/classic. I absolutely adore this game. I would agree the difficulty is probably a sticking point for some people, but also I get the impression that the mechanics must be extremely difficult to balance. I can't really think of any suggestions that would improve it.

I've had plenty of moments where a character I love is on the verge of death and juuuust manages to survive or fight off an enemy that I thought would be the death of them. Its those moments that make the game.

I definitely recommend to people who are playing on normal to not touch the grindable battles as it over levels your characters.

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#7 Posted by theuprightman (232 posts) -

I playing on normal and have started setting challenges for myself to keep it interesting, I’m currently about 35 hours in, seems like I have about 10 hours left to go.

For example I only allow myself to use two offensive units each battle and a one healer to keep them going, each battle I choose another two characters to keep the levels balanced, but honestly even with this it’s still very easy. I wish I could change the difficulty, the game has not challenged me since about hour 2.

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#8 Posted by imhungry (1139 posts) -

Finished the game on hard and it's definitely on the easy side in the history of FE games. Just thinking about the standard difficulties I'd probably put it as easier than Path of Radiance, which had a similar sort of difficulty but had more interesting map and objective design, but harder than Awakening.

I guess my issue is that there was never a need to actually strategise throughout the course of the game, in large part because the map designs, with some exceptions, don't really lend themselves to any real plans beyond just heading toward the enemy. The most planning I did was in how to min/max each combat scenario for the growth of my characters, which I almost always felt I had the luxury to do, and maybe that's fittingly in-line with the pseudo-raising simulator nature of this entry in the series.

Ultimately I still really love the game, I don't come to these games exclusively for difficulty anyway, but this is definitely one of the weaker entries in terms of the difficulty and the need for strategy.

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#9 Posted by TheFlamingo352 (377 posts) -

I beat it on normal and it was extremely easy until the last quarter of the game. Not being able to increase the difficulty was mildly infuriating, but I plan on playing through again on hard.

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#10 Posted by Efesell (4567 posts) -

I found normal to be relatively easy throughout but not so much as to make everything too boring.

I also had pretty much my whole squad perform extremely above average from what their growth rates should have been so that definitely factored in.

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#11 Posted by doctordonkey (1854 posts) -

Hard/Classic feels pretty good. You still have the rewind mechanic, so you don't have to immediately restart whenever you make a mistake and one of your poor fools gets blasted. From what I've seen/heard and played a tiny bit of myself, Normal is just simply too easy to be enjoyable.

I think the real choice is Hard/Classic or Hard/Casual.

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#12 Edited by Veektarius (6413 posts) -

I agree that hard/classic is a pretty good challenge, though in the mission I'm doing now there are artillery pieces critting my casters for 100+ damage and I'm pretty salty about it. As another poster mentioned, while part 1 was pretty harmless, in part 2 I've had a few cases where I really needed to straight up restart missions with a different character configuration to have any chance of a perfect clear.

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#13 Posted by bmccann42 (435 posts) -

I've never played a Fire Emblem game, played through most of X-Com and other strategy games and just wondering if this is something I should dive into?

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#14 Edited by BisonHero (11603 posts) -

@bmccann42: Consider giving it a shot. The similar elements between XCOM and Fire Emblem are:

-turn-based “you do your moves, then enemy does all their moves” system

-combat is on a grid

-your units level up

-various factors contribute to unit attack accuracy, which is then decided by RNG

But just about every other detail works differently. Maybe watch the Quick Look and see if its style of tactics appeals to you.

In recent memory, Three Houses is a pretty good Fire Emblem, or if you own a 3DS, Fire Emblem Awakening was a good one. Both pretty approachable for beginners, compared to earlier entries.

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#15 Posted by bmccann42 (435 posts) -

@bisonhero: It's on my mind, though the 80 dollar Canadian cost for games this day is a bit of a deflator - I'm mostly unsure to buy it as I really don't use my Switch for much these days (heresy I know!).

Thanks for the info!

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#16 Edited by SilverSaint (98 posts) -

As someone who hasn't completed a fire emblem before I was highly hesitant to start on Hard/Classic, but after completing GD's the game was without question too easy. The difficulty is like an inverted parabola where the hardest point of the game are the first few battles and it then gets easier and easier until a slight spike for the last 1-2 battles. Let alone with NG+ mode my 2nd run as BE removed the hard section of the start, though the battles for BE are much harder at the end (compared to NG GD) thanks to being a much shorter campaign.

I am pretty shocked there isn't a difficulty above hard included (or released within a week) of the release as I would say Hard/Classic is easier then normal of the previous fire emblem titles.

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#17 Edited by haneybd87 (403 posts) -

I’m on Normal and feel I’ve made a huge mistake. It’s just way too easy. Every battle is a completely mindless exercise of moving your blob of units toward theirs. I’m already 15 hours into the game so also feel like I’ve gone too far to restart it. I kind of just want to quit the game at this point.

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#18 Edited by ArbitraryWater (15748 posts) -

I think the game is pretty easy for the most part, and I seriously recommend people play on Hard/Classic if they have any experience with Fire Emblem or turn-based strategy in general. I'm not asking for Conquest or Thracia-level sadism-fests, but a lot of the maps in the first half of the game (i.e. the part you have to go through regardless of what route you pick) are really open and featureless, thus encouraging you to move your army around in blobs, kiting enemies one at a time. It's not much different from a lot of Awakening maps, actually, but the addition of rewinds and threat lines mean you can recover from dumb mistakes very quickly.

To its credit, the game definitely started getting trickier once I got past the time-skip, and the last two maps of Edelgard's campaign forced me to play a lot more defensively than I had previously. It's just a pity that it took that long. New Game Plus definitely edges things towards being even easier, and I have to admit to mostly sleepwalking my way through this first part of my Blue Lion playthrough. Definitely going to wait for Lunatic mode before I get to the rest of them.

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#19 Posted by nateandrews (102 posts) -

What's interesting is that I don't think I want the same experience I love in XCOM, where I have to deal with the challenge of losing great soldiers and finding their replacements. Unlike XCOM, the characters here are actual characters and I feel like I would be getting less of a game, at least in a narrative sense, if any of them died in battle.

At the same time, the total mindlessness of the fights in this game on Normal has just been a huge bummer. It's nice to see that Hard is maybe a better experience, but I'm not sure I'm willing to commit to a second playthrough to experience that. Very conflicted.

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#20 Posted by Sweep (10608 posts) -

I'm playing on normal and after the first training mission, once i'd figured out how the combat worked, I haven't had a single person die.

Tbh though if I played on a harder difficulty I'd end up save-scumming through it to ensure none of my students died anyway, so I'm relieved I don't have to stress about it too much. If I get around to playing again in NG+ or with a different house then i'll ramp it up and see how that goes, but for my first attempt easy is fine.

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#21 Posted by j-mack (89 posts) -

I started with normal, but restarted on hard mode after finding the first missions to be too easy. I read that you can lower the difficulty on hard, but can't raise it from normal. Hard has been pretty easy until the last two missions, around level 17 or so, when there was a sudden spike in difficulty.

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#22 Posted by gerrid (705 posts) -

Hearing everyone complain on the podcasts about how easy Normal is, I'm really glad I went for Hard, with permadeath.

I didn't do much research before I started the game but that is one thing I googled, thanks Polygon for letting me know you can only go -down- difficulty levels after starting.

The combination of real consequences and everyone being vulnerable is like an adrenaline rush. You can't be lazy in battles and I end up using Divine Pulse fairly often. You have to think about unit turn order, make sure not to leave anyone vulnerable, and re-starting to try different strategies and seeing it pay off is really rewarding. Worst thing so far has been a Paralogue with endlessly-respawning flying units than can one-shot anyone in my party.

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#23 Posted by randombullseye (67 posts) -

I like that I feel like I'm doing very well at the game and one shotting enemies.

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#24 Edited by haneybd87 (403 posts) -

So I decided to start over on hard/casual instead of normal/casual. At this point I’ve almost caught up to where I was (in half the time) and beyond the first few battles hard is feeling pretty easy at this point as well. I don’t feel like going with classic would make it any harder either. It’s not like classic increases the challenge, it just means you’ll have to reload if someone dies.

Tl;dr this game is way too easy.

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#25 Edited by BisonHero (11603 posts) -

@haneybd87: What have you noticed about the differences between the two modes? When I last googled it, the results were pretty vague about it. Are there more enemy units per map, or the same amount of enemies but they’re maybe slightly higher level on Hard compared to Normal?

I’m kinda surprised they missed the mark so much on the difficulty. Awakening and Fates and Echoes were hard to balance because you can grind your ass off if you really want to ruin the game for yourself. But with the finite number of battles in Three Houses (well, finite on Hard), you’d think the devs could estimate your level at each stage of the game and give an appropriate challenge. But other than intentionally overpowered enemies like the Death Knight in the early game, most of the enemies I’m encountering on Hard still don’t have very threatening stats, nor do they aggressively swarm you or anything.

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#26 Edited by haneybd87 (403 posts) -

@bisonhero: Other than the fact that you’re limited on how much you can battle on free days it doesn’t seem like much is changed at all. I suppose your damage and enemy damage could be tweaked a bit but it doesn’t feel noticeably different, beyond me not being leveled as much.

I wonder if permadeath really hobbled the way they handled difficulty. So instead of tweaking the difficulty in such a way that you’re just barely making it through battles with maybe a character or two left they tweaked it so that you can get everyone through because losing just one character is a huge deal. I think the former, without permadeath, would be much more fun and engaging.

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#27 Posted by BisonHero (11603 posts) -

@haneybd87: I think good objective design can force people to take interesting risks with permadeath on, but the last good Fire Emblem to do that was like, Path of Radiance on the GameCube. Three Houses seems to be trying a little, but the time limit missions (finish in 25 turns, etc.) still seem incredibly generous and I’m typically finishing those with like 5-10 turns to spare.

Also in Path of Radiance was a system that awarded more bonus XP for clearing missions in fewer turns and for certain mission-specific tasks (keeping NPCs alive, etc.). So even on missions without weird objectives, that gave the game some difficulty as you tried to play as aggressively as you could without having a character die. They’ve moved away from that system after the GameCube and Wii entries because the bonus XP ended up being abusable.

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#28 Posted by Zeik (5221 posts) -

@haneybd87: Classic definitely affects the overall challenge and way you approach battles imo. Without that there's little consequence for doing poorly or being reckless. Yes, if your goal is to keep everyone alive then losing someone means reloading, but isn't that the point? It's effectively the same as a game over, so you have to play more carefully to avoid that.

I will agree that part 1 doesn't really push that too far though. If someone dies then it is often easy enough to use a single divine pulse to reposition them or target a different enemy to fix the problem, but part 2 hasn't been so simple in my experience. It's a lot more common to find yourself overwhelmed enough that you have to completely rethink your approach to the fight to keep everyone safe.

However, I don't feel like most of those scenarios would exist on casual, since I would probably just let them die and keep going. I remember that being the case even in older Fire Emblem games too. When I played Fire Emblem on the GBA I remember getting to the final stage and just wanting to be done with it, so I pretty much just threw my units at the enemies until I won, even though a bunch of them died in the process.

@bisonhero: Three Houses does have some of those optional objective based missions. I've mainly noticed them in the paralogues. You often have a side objective to protect NPCs or a town or something and you get better rewards depending on how you do. Getting a perfect clear on those is pretty hard.

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#29 Posted by nateandrews (102 posts) -

@bisonhero: Aside from his first appearance, I was able to one hit kill/defeat the Death Knight with Edelgard every time he appeared! He became a total joke in my game.

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#30 Posted by haneybd87 (403 posts) -

@zeik: Classic hardly adds any difficulty when the game is so easy that none of your units die.

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#31 Posted by Zeik (5221 posts) -

@zeik: Classic hardly adds any difficulty when the game is so easy that none of your units die.

I'm talking about hard/classic specifically. I've had plenty of my units get one-shot by enemies on hard. Even my super tanky Edelgard.

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#32 Edited by haneybd87 (403 posts) -

@zeik: I am playing hard and I haven’t had anyone die.

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#33 Edited by Zeik (5221 posts) -

@haneybd87 said:

@zeik: I am playing hard and I haven’t had anyone die.

You're either very early or just extremely good at the game. There's no way you will not encounter enemies that can one-shot you on hard, the game doesn't give you enough opportunities to grind to avoid that. But if you're so good at the game that you've never made a single mistake then congrats I guess.

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#34 Edited by haneybd87 (403 posts) -

@zeik: I haven’t hit the time jump yet but I guess if the game doesn’t have any challenge until that late in the game I still have to criticize that. At this point I feel like there’s almost no strategy to the combat. It’s mindless unit movement.

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#35 Posted by holycrapitsadam (704 posts) -

I’m playing on Normal/Casual and loving it. I’m not having difficulty with the battles but that’s fine with me. I’m enjoying steamrolling over everyone in my wake. Makes me feel like I’m as powerful as the game makes me out to be.

Maybe I’ll try a different house on a harder difficulty as a second playthrough but as someone with very little time to game, I do not mind the easiness to the battles.

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#36 Posted by haneybd87 (403 posts) -

I just did a monster battle on hard that was 4-6 levels above me and had no one die and only had to heal someone once. What were they thinking with this difficulty?

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