I’m probably the last person who should be talking about Fire Emblem Heroes. I have almost no connection with the series, having only played some of Awakening and all of Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE. To me, Lucina is the character I play as the most in Super Smash Bros., and the fact that she was in another game is almost irrelevant. That’s not to say I don’t like Fire Emblem, what I’ve played has been great. I just don’t have a lot of experience with it. But despite all that, when Nintendo puts out a new free-to-play mobile game, I need to see what it’s about.
So far, I’m happy to report that I’m really enjoying the game. Fire Emblem’s famous difficulty seems to be missing, which I’m sure will annoy long time fans of the series, but it resulted in the game being something I could casually play while listening to a podcast or half watching a YouTube video. So far, in the time I’ve spent with the game, I haven’t failed a single mission.
There might be a pretty simple explanation for that though. I got lucky. The game uses a system where you exchange “orbs” for new characters that are given to you randomly. You can choose certain categories to increase your chances of getting a character you want, such as choosing from the pool that includes sword-wielding characters, but ultimately you still don’t get to choose. The third character I got was Lyn. Each character is ranked stars, with a five star character being the highest possible rank. My Lyn is a five star Lyn. And she destroys everything.
Earning orbs to try your hand at getting a character as good as mine is as easy as progressing through the game. Every story mission grants one orb upon completion. Unfortunately, it seems like you only get the rewards the first time you beat a mission, meaning that grinding out orbs isn’t too easy to do. But, like many free to play games, this is where micro-transactions come in.
You can use real money to buy more orbs to spend on summoning heroes. So far, I haven’t seen a need, and honestly I don’t plan on ever spending money on it. But for people who do, the prices actually don’t seem too bad. You can also buy items that help you out in other ways. The game has a stamina system that keeps you from burning through the whole thing too quickly. Kind of annoying, but not uncommon for this kind of game. You can spend real money to get a potion that will eliminate the stamina.
But, enough about all that free to play nonsense. Let’s talk about playing the game. Like the main Fire Emblem games, Heroes is a strategy RPG. The scale is a lot smaller than that of the main entries, only allowing up to four characters per side and maps that fit on a single screen. This is okay though, as it helps keep it simple and focused. It’s very easy to tell what’s coming at you at from where.
Fire Emblem has always had a “rock paper scissors” style weapon system to determine strengths and weaknesses, and that returns here. Sword beats axe, axe beats lance, and lance beats sword. They also lump those into colors, to include other types of weapons, such as magic tomes. Some characters mount pegasi (pegasuses?) which enable them to move about the map much quicker, but are weak to archers, who can attack from a distance. It all feels very well balanced. And I mean, it better be balanced, it’s not like this is a new series.
The story of the game seems simple enough, and I’m fine with that. You’ve been summoned from another world to help the Askr kingdom. Apparently they used to be allies with another kingdom, the Emblian Empire. The Askr kingdom has the power to open portals to other worlds, and the Emblians have the power to close the portals. But at some point, the Emblians stopped closing them and sought to conquer the other worlds instead. Those worlds are from past Fire Emblem games. Now it’s up to you to summon other heroes to help stop them.
So far, the story hasn’t gone much beyond that. Each chapter sends you into a different world. There, you’ll encounter famous Fire Emblem characters such as Marth or Roy, who tell you that they’re under contract from Veronica, princess of the Emblian Empire. They’d rather not fight you, but they don’t have a choice. But if you can beat them, they’ll be free of the contract. I’m in chapter four now, and that’s been what’s going on in each chapter so far.
As you play through the story, you unlock other modes too. One of these are special missions, where if you meet certain criteria, you can unlock a character. These seem to be time based, with the current one having three hours left at the time of my writing. I’m not sure if they plan on rotating in new content all the time or if it just pops up every once in a while. Either way, it’s neat to have a special something that you could miss if you’re not fast enough.
You’ll also unlock a duel mode. This pits you against another player’s team. I don’t know for sure, but I believe you’re just fighting the computer using the stats of a real player. As far as I can tell, there is no true multiplayer. Dueling costs a dueling sword, of which you start with three. I’m not sure how quickly those come back, but there are items you can earn to bring them back instantly.
There’s also a practice tower. Here, you can just get into quick battles for experience points. There’s a few different difficulties, but other than how tough the enemies are, there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot else there. Not the most interesting mode, but it’s something to do.
I wish that I had more context for Fire Emblem characters, as the game seems full of fan service that I’m sure people will really enjoy. Even so, despite not being all that familiar with the series, I’m having a great time with it and will continue to play it. The only thing that could sour my opinion of the game going forward would be if the micro-transactions start to become more necessary in order to advance. But as of right now, I’m having a ton of fun and would recommend the game to anyone, even if they’ve never played a Fire Emblem before.