Fire Emblem Heroes is one of the first mobile games I'm craving to play. Which is unique, seeing as this is my first Fire Emblem game and I'm not a huge fan of strategy role-playing games. If that doesn't tell you something about #Nintendo's new mobile game, maybe a glimpse into the customization and gameplay will.
Games can shine when they are accessible and #FireEmblemHeroes is a game that makes SRPGs easy to understand within the first few screens. Each set of battles builds on previous tactics. Within a few chapters, I was capable of dispatching my enemies without a second thought. It's a nice way to initiate someone's appeal to play by being able to decimate your foes from the get-go. Accessibility alone doesn't make a game great; depth and fun do.
I was a little hesitant that Nintendo would go a little dry bone in the stats department for a mobile game. Thankfully, Fire Emblem Heroes will surely please the gamers who look at stat sheets and salivate. Stats, options, customization are all crucial in an #SRPG to make it stick. The learning curve of the various assets of the game quickly ramps up with each new chapter completed. Currently, I've beaten the prologue, Chapter 1 and Chapter 2.
Battles have a variety of depth with strengths and weaknesses, the varied environments, and the combination of classes of mages, warriors, archers, defensive, healing, assassins, etc, to keep things fluid and engaging. There is the Pokémon-style triangle of who's strong against what class, but some classes are neutral and have class-specific relationships. For instance, archers mete more of a wallop to flying enemies (it's also nice that it's the same color arrangement to #Pokemon).
The environments are varied, from grassy plains, lava-filled wastes, and walled structures among many others. Obstacles within the environment add to the strategy. Archers can shoot over walls, warriors can't attack from behind an ally when on a bridge, some walls can be destroyed to open up new paths, flying warriors can move over water — simple concepts with deep utilization.
An Array Of Characters
It's exciting knowing you can acquire up to 200 characters to make up your team of four, and options are welcome when trying to figure out your play style. You can spend SP points, accumulated from gaining experience in battle, to achieve unique attacks or moves to boost your allies. Characters level up by attacking enemies in battle and get a boost in experience for defeating foes. You can also get characters to increase in rank outside of battle in one of the many upgrading systems.
Characters are ranked from a one star to the legendary status of five stars. Even if a character is a one star they have the potential to increase to the max, which is nice if you are partial to a certain character and they're a lower tier. So pick your favorites and know they can be the very best.
Unlocking the known Fire Emblem roster is a little bit of a gamble. You use an item known as a summoning stone (acquired by beating story missions). It takes five stones to open up the portal, pictured above. You get two different categories to choose from and a list of percentages of the heroes is detailed. Check out the image below to see what the two categories are.
Once you pick a focus, you're taken to a new menu where you pick one of five crystals of various colors, which are linked to the elements of the heroes. This corresponds with magic, archers, warriors, etc. You pay your five summoning stones and then it chooses a hero at random. Once a character is picked you can then re-summon again for one less summoning stone, so now you'll pay four instead of five. So save up those stones.
You have about a 3 percent chance of getting a legendary focus hero. The percentage grows with the lesser-tiered characters (but remember they can all be the very best!). I choose to summon three times all within the Deep Devotion focus. I somehow got two legendary five stars and one four to permanently add to my roster. I was pretty ecstatic, even though I had no idea who these characters are. But I love my flying winged horse rider Hinoka the Warrior Princess — she freakin' decimates! I assume with the heroes being random, you could unlock the same hero more than once. Fire Emblem Heroes has a menu where you can meld two duplicate characters and potentially have a stat booster tied to it to counteract this. Nice work, Nintendo.
Characters can also be unlocked in the Special Maps mode. If you beat certain scenarios, you acquire a new ally. This was where I saw the "game over" screen more than once; I had to have all four of my allies survive the map and destroy my opponents. It was a tough one and I was on the easiest difficulty for the mission.
Story: You're The Summoner
The story is this game's weakest point, but it's far better than many mobile games. You're summoned to the world as a hero randomly by a fellow protector of the many worlds. You take hold of a legendary treasure and are able to use its powers without practice. You have the ability to summon various heroes to fight for you and thus the story begins.
Missions are across various worlds that are being invaded by other forces. Basically, certain groups want to take over certain worlds for themselves and you're tasked with protecting against the takeovers. I've already seen three villains that have come up multiple times as well as different allies.
Visually it's spectacular, the hand-drawn aesthetic protects the atmosphere of the franchise (moves in battle look fairly awesome for a mobile game, too). The opening cutscene that sets up the story is well put-together. I'm unsure if there are any others throughout the game, but one can hope.
Light Barriers For A Free Game
Free games: How do they entice the gamer to spend money? Most limit the play time before you hit a barrier wall and get to a purchase screen. Fire Emblem Heroes does this with stamina. You have 50 stamina and each story mission takes around one to two stamina per entry. I've seen a stamina of four for a special mission. Stamina auto regenerates every five minutes, five minutes — that's not terrible. Within four hours you can recharge to full stamina. I got a good two hours out of this game before I dropped to the one stamina mark. You can purchase to increase your stamina, but I'd wait.
Items are another way for the mobile game to get money out of the consumer. Summoning stones can be purchased so you can keep trying to get new heroes without experiencing the story missions. Every item, from summoning stones, shards to increase levels, arena tickets to battle other players teams — basically any item can be bought. I didn't look at how much each of the items cost because I'm not a fan of microtransactions. In this case, none of the barriers are severe enough that it'd deter someone from picking up this game. If you want to spend all the money and get to max level, more power to you. Hopefully Nintendo will take your money and keep creating awesome mobile games like this.
Should You Play It?
This seems more like a game than any mobile game I've played. Within half an hour I didn't care that I was playing on a phone because the gaming experience blocked that from my mind. It's addictive to see what characters you will get in the gamble of the summoning stones, it reminds me of doing the blind trades in Pokémon X and Y. The customization tweaks and party variations can create a deep rabbit hole to explore. Overall it's fun, and that's the best thing you could ask for, especially coming from someone who doesn't get excited about SRPGs and doesn't know squat about #FireEmblem. I'm ready to pick it up and dive into all this game has to offer.
Do you plan on giving it a shot? And who's the best Fire Emblem Character? My vote is cast for my girl Hinoka. Sound off in the comments section below, after you check out the trailer of course.