Fire Emblem: Three Houses has been out for a while now, and with many people well into their second playthrough with a new house after over 50 hours, it's clear the shoddy mistakes Fire Emblem: Fates brought to the table have been remedied.
For one, Fire Emblem: Fates piggybacked off of Fire Emblem Awakening's success and took a risk by splitting the story into three games, leaving two games as DLC for those who bought the physical cartridge. If players bought Birthright, the easier of the two, they spent a starting price of $40 and then a remaining $40 for Conquest and Revelations combined, which had you fighting on the opposite side of the war and against everyone, respectively.
Fates Kept Asking For Money
Those that found Conquest, the token "bad" route with a bunch of evil people too grueling could also be tempted to buy additional DLC packs to grind experience, as this route locks players out of all optional battles. This DLC was called "Boo Camp" and those particularly bad at the game would be grinding it a lot.
This split put a bad taste in many player's mouths, which was made worse by the fact that Revelations contained what felt like the "true" ending. To summarize, the main character Corrin could choose to side with the army Hoshido (the good guys' path) the army of Nohr (the bad guys' path) or, if Revelations was installed, telling both armies to get bent and trying to recruit them to your side over time.
The story was also lackluster, with Azura giving some of the worst tactical advice to advance the plot seen in a videogame. The romance was cringy at worst and awkward at best considering the family dynamic– Corrin is a part of the family whichever route you choose, and Camilla, the voluptuous beauty, is your adoptive sister. While she's become a fan favorite, showing up in the mobile title's Fire Emblem: Heroes in several variants, pursuing a romance with someone who calls you "Brother" just feels off.
How Three Houses Gets It Right
These issues are entirely mitigated by the new entry in the series, Fire Emblem: Three Houses. Again, there are three routes to take (aside from the Secret Route, which, spoilers, is a near copy of Golden Deer aside from the final battle and party member) but from the get-go they're given to the player who bought the $60 entry package. Gone is the intrusive DLC and players on the forums asking if buying the one where you beat up ghosts is worth it.
The story is compelling from the start, and while people argue on the forums over whether Edelgard is the literal devil in human form or if Claude is just a little too goody-two-shoes, it remains engaging enough to stay fresh over the stunning fifty or so hours you'll be spending on your first playthrough.
Three Houses's feedback loop continues to be engaging even after the first playthrough, too, when it's already clear how the general story unfolds. Up to three more stories await you, clocking the total time to over 200 hours should it strike your fancy. If you want to make Bernadetta, the scared archer girl who refuses to leave her room, a tank for the front lines, you can. Want to be a sadistic homeroom teacher who lets their entire class die in classic mode, and take on armies on your own? Go for it.
Three Houses Keeps On Giving
Even as the game starts to show its cracks in a few areas (one particular support conversation has Byleth and a friend "fishing" which is just standing against a static background with their arms lowered and a crudely drawn fishing pole) it's easily forgivable as the entire 200 plus hour experience is fully voiced. The wealth of options for difficulty allows it to be easily accessible, as well- for those players wanting a challenge who do poorly at first, they could easily do one playthrough for each, up to Maddening. By then, Three House's DLC will probably be out with its final difficulty and more outfits and goodies.
Three Houses' feedback loop goes like this: Teach your class how to be better at battle, tell them what areas to focus on, and then take them to the battlefield. Eventually, you can go recruit students from other houses. (Most of them, if you're good enough or on a second playthrough.)
When the battle is over, go to the monastery and have tea time conversations to raise their charm, go fishing, and raise their motivation by having meals with them or bringing them to choir practice so they'll be more willing to learn how to throw axes. You know, the way teaching should be.