Fire Emblem used to be a series all about permadeath, but with recent installments, things have eased up a bit. You can set the difficulty level to have fallen soldiers come back at the end of the level. There’s also a new Divine Pulse mechanic in Fire Emblem: Three Houses, which allows you to turn back time and redo your choices. So if you let someone die-die in the game, you are either a hardcore tryhard, or you don’t actually like the character in question.
While I’m not done with my playthrough yet, someone is already gone from my battlefield. Early on, I forgot that I was playing on Classic mode, so I didn’t think twice when Dedue fell in combat. The thing is, once I realized what had happened, I couldn’t be arsed to redo the entire fight — it just seemed like too much work. And, embarrassingly, I also thought to myself, “I don’t really like Dedue’s haircut much.”
Does that seem petty? Maybe. But, really, a lot of Fire Emblem’s culture comes down to character design. Edelgard, for instance, finds herself topping the most popular house largely because she looks like a cute anime girl. Plus, why use a character that you don’t like when there are tons more to recruit and replace them? I have no regrets about Dedue. Sorry, Dedue! Though it probably helps that he’s still present in my story even if he’s not selectable in battle.
Based on my conversations with other Fire Emblem players, everyone has a different reason for letting their characters die.
Twitter user Ryan Khosravi, for instance, says he let Lorenz die because “I didn’t like his personality and I wanted to replace him anyway.”
TheArcticSloth, meanwhile, notes that Lindhart is napping forever in his game because he’s not very likable. “He’s completely uninterested in his classmates and the world in general,” TheArticSloth said. “Everything he does is for himself.”
For some people, allowing a death to happen is a matter of pride. Player Gkqtie, for instance, had the opportunity to kill the fearsome Death Knight enemy on the first encounter — something that most players can’t accomplish, because the villain is comically overpowered at that point in the game. In Gkqtie’s playthrough, it came down to choosing between killing the Death Knight or saving Ignatz. The choice was clear.
“RIP Ignatz,” Gkqtie said.
Many deaths actually come down to user error. I, for instance, didn’t think to use Divine Pulse on Dedue because I wasn’t used to that mechanic even existing at that point in the game. I am apparently not alone in these sorts of mishaps.
“I let Hilda die because I set it to auto battle and walked out of the room,” said Twitter user Virtual Ruin. “I didn’t realize it until a few saves later.”
Jimi Níðhöggr, meanwhile, says they got distracted after letting Annette die in their playthrough. “I forgot to unwind until the next mission,” they said.
For some, allowing characters to die helps enriches the story experience.
“In the very first actual battle, I let Caspar die, because I thought it wouldn’t count,” said Twitter user Joe Ferrarelli. “It’s served my headcanon, like my students first brush with the cost of war. He’s still in the monastery, a reminder of my first foolish failure.”
A good number of people noted that while they’ll go out of their way to keep people alive during the normal course of the game, this care goes out the window when the final battle rolls around. Here, it somehow feels more impactful to have a few casualties in the toughest encounter the game has to offer.
Twitter user Steven, for example, says he let Ferdinand and Bernadetta die on the final map because he felt it was “their duty to buy time for Edelgard and Byleth” to kill the final boss. Steven notes that he made a separate save file before these characters die, however, in the hopes of seeing if he can beat it without saying goodbye.
Similarly, Twitter user WTHolder said that they let go of Hanneman in the last skirmish because he was already a high level, and they only had one Divine Pulse left that could be better served elsewhere.
And, hilariously, there are players who haven’t let anyone die yet — but they say that certain characters wouldn’t be missed if the opportunity arose.
“Caspar has used up nearly all of my Divine Pulses in several missions so he’s on thin ice,” said Twitter user mikegld561.
“I’m playing on casual, but I wish I could turn it off for one person,” said Twitter user chris2c2. “Lorenz and his stupid rose and stupid hair and stupid face.”
“I would let Ignatz die 1,000 times over if the game would let me,” said my former colleague Luke Plunkett, who is enjoying the game on casual. “I’m here to kill monsters, not babysit whiny haircuts,” he explained.
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