I never thought the first review I did of a new game would be a freemium game for my phone. My addiction to Fire Emblem Heroes was almost instantaneous.
Playable on both Android (what I’m using) and iOS, Fire Emblem Heroes was released worldwide on February 2nd, 2017. It’s a much smaller scale game than any of in the series, meant to be played in short bursts considering the nature of mobile gaming. But standalone it’s so much different than any other FE game, and in the most positive way.
If you’ve never played a Fire Emblem game, it’s a turn-based strategy RPG, where you take control of your characters one turn, then the enemy gets their turn and so on. Most games in the series aren’t really related to each other (with a few exceptions), so you can really pick up any of them and play them in any order you choose. This game is all about fan service, as you can “summon” heroes from most of the series to join your team. Pick your favourite 4 for each map or choose who you think will help you win, it’s all up to you.
The thing this game nails right is getting rid of the luck aspect of combat. You won’t be missing attacks, or getting hit unexpectedly for triple damage like the other FE games. Almost all of the information you need is right there in every battle, and if you take the time to analyze your opponent it becomes an intense thinking game of strategy and skill. You can use overpowered units to take away the challenge, but that will only get you so far as the late game enemies will not only have strategy but powerful units as well.
But the main attraction of this game is “summoning” new characters to your team. While this is entirely luck based, the thrill of seeing what characters you get makes the process so much fun. The characters you summon will be either 3, 4 or 5 stars, which dictates how powerful they start and how powerful they can become. Obviously it is extremely rare to get a 5-star hero, but the 3 and 4 stars have their worth as well.
However here’s how they get you to spend money. You require orbs (the currency of the game) to summon new characters to your team. While they can be earned through play, quests and daily logins, you can also opt to spend your real money on them as well. I haven’t hit a point where this is necessary, but I have a feeling once the launch period ends it will be considerably tougher to get them without paying.
Being a freemium game, there is a system in place that can limit your game time if you don’t want to pay money. You have a “stamina” bar that maxes at 50 points, and every time you play a map it will cost you an amount depending on the difficulty of the map you’ve chosen. When it reaches 0, you can use a stamina potion if you have one, or an orb if you don’t. Otherwise, you’ll have to wait quite a bit as 1 stamina point regenerates every 5 minutes. Honestly, at launch with all the bonuses I’ve never really had an issue with this and was able to play for quite a long time each day.
Speaking of limiting game time, I’ve found this game is very generous on my battery. I played on both a Samsung Galaxy Note 4 and a Samsung Galaxy Tab E and I was able to play for at least 2-3 hours before my battery got low. This game also requires an internet connection at all times, so be wary of your data when you’re traveling (although besides the initial updates it doesn’t really use much). Stick to Wi-Fi where and when you can.
I can definitely see where this game will begin to get grind heavy. While initially at launch there are numerous bonuses to help you get through the game, if you want to upgrade your characters it requires an insane amount of items. With enough grinding, you can get any character to 5 stars or again dump some money into the game to speed along the process.
The music and voice acting is pretty top notch. The music features various remixes of past FE installments while having some pretty decent original songs, including a fantastic rendition of the “Fire Emblem Theme”. The voice acting, for what is there is pretty good too. It’s also really cool to see characters from old games that never featured voice acting now speak for the first time. For the most part, they fit pretty well.
There is a multiplayer component to the game, but it’s a bit lacking. You can send your best team of 4 into “the arena” to fight against other teams from around the world, but it will only be computerized versions of their team. I hope they implement a future update to allow for live competitive battles.
There is also a friend list feature, but it doesn’t seem to do much at the moment. You can view your friend’s featured heroes and the game will send them to your castle each day so you can get some random items. They have to have plans for this in the future, because I’m not seeing the point now.
I’m shocked at the sheer amount of content in this game, and the fact that you can access a lot of it with having to pay anything. While not terribly long, the game’s main story features 50 chapters that I blazed right through, with options to play through them again at 2 harder difficulties. I also sunk hours into the training tower (at launch stamina cost was cut in half).
If you’re looking to get into the Fire Emblem series, this is a fun and simple way in. It may play different than other games in the series, but it has familiar mechanics and will introduce you to a lot of the characters found in the other games. On it’s own, it holds up very well and is easy to pick up and play but becomes challenging as you progress. Hopefully with future updates, the life of this game continues for a long time. I can’t see myself putting it down any time soon.