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Three Houses Vs Breath Of The Wild: Which Is The Best Fantasy RPG On Switch?

For such a little device, the Nintendo Switch has definitely packed a strong punch, particularly when it comes to ambitious and refined RPGs. Many fans would agree that the Switch has delivered some of the best fantasy RPGs in the modern era, with its two champions being Breath of the Wild and Fire Emblem: Three Houses.

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But, between these two games, which one is the penultimate fantasy RPG on the system? From their respective stories to their casts of characters, there are quite a few arguments to be made for either game depending on what matters most to the player!

10 BOTW: Better Pacing

Breath of the Wild takes a very hands-off approach to pacing; much like in sandbox games like The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, the player could have a well-rounded experience with this game without ever touching the main plot.

While the plot is by no means shoddy, it's ultimately a better game for letting the player decide their own pace. By contrast, Three Houses can be overwhelming with how quickly it moves, and how much is expected to be done within each plot arc. The game is always moving forward and can be fairly linear at times, and, while players can pick which line they follow, they ultimately have more control with BOTW.

9 FE3H: Complex Characters

Three Houses is a character-driven game and would be nothing without its memorable cast of students and staff for the player to get to know. The characters help the player decide everything from which house they end up choosing, to which factions they side with, and even who gets paired off romantically.

As well as this, each character is written beautifully, with hidden depths that never fail to surprise and endear them to the player, and even the least popular characters have fans who are willing to vouch for their complexity. While BOTW's characters aren't exactly one-dimensional, even those with the best character arcs don't have much staying power.

8 BOTW: Masterful Soundtrack

Both games have soundtracks that are moving and emotive, yet BOTW outclasses many games by having a score that would make even a seasoned maestro swoon. There is a constant motif in each song, heavily emphasized by the piano, and this motif is able to elicit whatever mood the game find's itself in—from a gentle ride through the fields, to a sudden, tense encounter with a Guardian.

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Very few games are able to pull off this kind of fluid scoring so well, which puts BOTW in a class of its own. That said, Three Houses does have some pretty memorable tunes such as the ever-memorable "God Shattering Star." It just isn't quite on the same musical level overall.

7 FE3H: Memorable Fights

While the structure of Three Houses might have harmed its pacing, it definitely was a boon to its combat. Nearly each and every fight has a subplot to it, and even the optional auxiliary fights are rife with challenges that are fun to complete and stick in the player's mind long after. It's really no wonder so many Fire Emblem fighters were put in Smash given how fun their moves are!

Some fights are particularly heart-breaking, especially the ones where students are forced to fight old friends. This kind of emotional toll in combat is unique to Three Houses, whereas, in BOTW, there is no real indication that Link feels any sort of remorse for his actions. Then again, he doesn't have much cause to feel remorse, but it would add a level of complexity to his fights that BOTW lacks.

6 BOTW: More Expressive Protagonist

Frankly, both Link and Byleth have some work to do regarding stretching their facial muscles, but even though both protagonists have canonical reasons why they're fairly stoic, Link still manages to out-emote the ever-serious Byleth.

Players never really get to see Byleth react quite as much as other players seem to think they do. Although characters like Claud might make off-hand comments like "you've become quite expressive, haven't you," players don't really see these "expressions" beyond a simple smile and eyes that are slightly wider.

Meanwhile, players get to see Link react to pretty much everything, and he has a wider range of expressions from disgust to elation—emotions which are typically tied to his skills as a chef—and even more via Breath of the Wild's many memory cutscenes.

5 FE3H: Magic Mechanics

Despite the fact that both are fantasy games, there's a surprising lack of magic options in BOTW. In fact, Link can't even cast any spells. He's dabbled with magic in previous games, and it would have been a fun option for players to try in a game that innovated in so many other areas.

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Byleth, on the other hand, is free to learn any discipline the player wishes with a predisposed talent for Holy magic right from the start. Some spells are seriously overpowered, which can make the player feel like a power-hungry wizard, especially with glass canons like Lysithea. It's a fun way to experience the game that BOTW sorely missed out on.

4 BOTW: Less Fanservice

In this context, "fanservice" can be defined as making characters overtly sexualized, even if their design is relevant to their backstory. BOTW doesn't do this nearly as much as Three Houses, which makes the game a bit more approachable to fans who might feel uncomfortable with overtly skimpy outfits.

While it's nowhere near as risque as other games in the genre, Three Houses definitely features more than a few fanservice elements, and gamers looking to avoid that may enjoy Breath of the Wild more as a result.

3 FE3H: Intriguing Story

BOTW's story works, but by no means is it complicated. It follows a classic hero's journey pretty much to the book, with Link going straight from his 100-year sleep to saving the kingdom. While players can mess around with the order of the story, it ultimately ends up in the same place with Princess Zelda saved and the Kingdom freed from Ganon's clutches.

RELATED: 10 Biggest Mysteries Left Unsolved In Fire Emblem Three Houses

By contrast, Three Houses is all over the place with a story that would put even some award-winning novels to shame. It's full of layers that most video games don't even try to establish, and each route is pulled off in a way that builds upon the others. Such a feat of storytelling would be difficult for even the best game studios to pull off, but Three Houses did so in spades.

2 BOTW: Soulful

Part of what makes BOTW so special to players is just how quiet it is. The game hinges on the player doing things on their own terms, which allows players to experience its unique world in a way that feels whole, introspective, and even melancholic at times.

But, that's what gives the game its soul; it evokes familiar feelings not by cluttering the world with things and sounds, but by recreating a sense of stillness, solitude, and loneliness. There is something beautiful to that, which can be compared to other video game masterpieces like Shadow of the Colossus.

1 FE3H: Replayability

One of BOTW's biggest faults is that it's difficult to replay, if only because many of its strong points—such as exploring new landmarks, or fighting a boss for the first time—lose their luster after their initial encounters. It's an incredible game everyone should play, but many find themselves unable to keep playing it from scratch after all's been said and done.

This is where Three Houses truly shines; it was designed to be played over and over again. The game wants players to question their choices and allegiances, then go back and start from another angle. Players have to grapple with things like "how do I prevent Ferdinand from dying" and "was Edelgard actually right," and the beauty of Three Houses is it lets them fully answer these questions for themselves.

NEXT: Top 10 Best LGBTQ+ Endings In Fire Emblem Three Houses

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