Being #FatesTrash, I dived into Fire Emblem Heroes with a passion from the day of its release on February 2nd. Two months in and it’s already given other gacha games a run for their money. Literally. Not only does Heroes bring together characters from almost every Fire Emblem series, but it acts as a solid introduction for newcomers to both the franchise and genre itself. While the in-game currency is a bit on the pricey side, you don’t need to spend any money to enjoy Heroes. This free-to-play game is fun, intuitive, and chockful of content. The developers clearly care about the fans and the giveaways and updates are indicative of this. If you’re looking to get into a mobile game or two, Fire Emblem Heroes may be the one for you.
Who knows? Even if the gameplay and story don’t peak your interest, I guarantee you’ll discover some new favorite characters.
Whether or not you’re familiar with the Fire Emblem franchise, Fire Emblem Heroes’ mechanics are easy to pick up due to their being simplified from the normal format. As the player, you’re in control of a team of four heroes who must navigate a small grid and rout all enemy units. Simple, right? Naturally, the 100+ heroes currently in the game have their own strengths and weaknesses on the battlefield. Combat follows a “rock-paper-scissors” dynamic where red units beat green who beat blue, etc. In addition, all units take on a secondary quality that dictates their range of movement (i.e infantry can move two spaces without obstacles, armored units can move one space without obstacles, cavalry can move three spaces without obstacles, and fliers can move two spaces regardless of obstacles). Typing aside, each character has a unique set of stats that makes them distinct from other units of the same category – even when compared to their own duplicates.
Heroes’ gameplay comprises of a nine-part Story Mode, Paralogues, PVP Arena, and a Training Tower. While Story Mode is fairly easy to complete, it leaves players with many questions concerning who’s truly behind the conflict between our protagonists – Prince Alfonse, Princess Sharena, and Commander Anna of the Askr Kingdom – and their adversary, Princess Veronica of the Emblia Empire. Then again, plot isn’t often a concern for mobile games. In comparison to its “proper” predecessors, you won’t find a particularly riveting story in Heroes. However, I do appreciate the effort that was put into establishing the new characters in the small frame of time they were given. If anything, the game has succeeded in bringing the fandom closer together. Ever since the release of Fire Emblem Awakening for the Nintendo 3DS in 2012, there has been a dichotomy between the Fire Emblem “Geewunners” and the Awakening/Fates fans.
As an Awakening/Fates fan myself, I still hold a great deal of respect for their predecessors and upon completing Fates, began looking into the lore of Shadow Dragon, Blazing Blade, and Path of Radiance. But seeing as many Fire Emblem games were made for older consoles and are hard to find nowadays, I’m unlikely to play these titles for a while. Which brings me to my main point. The dichotomy between the Fire Emblem “Geewunners” and the Awakening/Fates fans is often caused by the latter’s lack of knowledge of the older titles. The new titles are also heavily associated with “Husbando/Waifu” culture. In turn, newer fans don’t appreciate this generalization nor the toxicity that comes from many “Geewunners.” And yet, the two types of players have found common ground and friendly competition in Heroes. The wide variety of artwork, lore references, and heroes and villains alike act as a nexus for sharing our love for Fire Emblem as a whole.
Speaking of artwork and lore references, I especially love how collaborative Heroes is. Multiple artists were hired to breathe life into Fire Emblem’s most beloved characters, and while not all of them hit home, a lot of passion clearly went into the process. In addition, new lines of dialogue and text were given to the cast – which makes a voice-acting aficionado like me sing. And seeing as characters prior to Path of Radiance were conveyed through text alone, I can only imagine how excited older fans were to hear favorites like Marth and the Blazing Blade Trio speak for the first time. While I was determined to summon Female Corrin and other favorites from Birthright from the get-go, I’ve grown to love several older characters as a result of the work put into recreating every single one of them. Yes, I’m looking at you, Catria and Fae. The game has also been adding characters who didn’t make the original 100+ cast every 2-3 weeks through bonus missions called “Paralogues.”
In case the game’s Story Mode and Paralogues weren’t enough for you, the PVP Arena and Training Tower allow players to gather in-game currency and test their skills against tougher opponents. The first completion of any level in the Training Tower will reward you with a number of Badges/Great Badges and Shards/Crystals. Both must be used in combination with Hero Feathers to strengthen heroes depending on their rarity, or star-count (i.e they are divided into 2-5 Stars with 5-Stars being the strongest). On the other hand, the in-game currency you should save up on are orbs. From the day of its release, Heroes has been very generous with its free orbs, giving players plenty of chances to add new recruits to their roster. The banners from which we summon heroes follow different themes – with the most recent one being the Easter-themed “Spring Festival.” As you can already tell, “Spring Festival” is good old-fashioned fanservice that can easily be pulled off in a low-stakes game like Heroes.
Fire Emblem Heroes’ mix of diverse characters, fun visuals, and intuitive gameplay will give it mileage for quite some time. The 100+ cast is but a fraction of the characters in the Fire Emblem universe and as mentioned at the start of this article, the developers have been actively improving the game. Recently, they added “Skill Inheritance” that allows characters to inherit abilities from each other – at the expense of whichever unit is passing on their three skills. Being the powerful tool that it is, Skill Inheritance can make any non-meta character unique and viable. The developers also promised to implement pre-combat setup and increase the stamina bar that restricts how much players can do in a given amount of time (i.e it takes four hours to fill the stamina bar). It’s innovations like these that encourage players to keep supporting the game. Outside of gameplay, the “crossover” nature of Heroes has become something big in itself and given way to a flurry of fanart and unusual pairings. While everything I’ve said is all good and well, the game isn’t without its faults. Even with Skill Inheritance, the current meta and means to strengthening heroes are both rather convoluted. But overall, Fire Emblem Heroes is a fantastic mobile game that has further cemented the franchise in my heart.