Fire Emblem Heroes is simpler than the rest, but it does the trick
Fire Emblem Heroes
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DFG Exclusive Review Summary
- Tons of characters from throughout the series to recruit
- Sort of classic Fire Emblem game play but simpler
- Random character draws feel a bit too gamble-y
- Teams of four are too small
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Fire Emblem Heroes is essentially a simplified mobile rendition of the meatier Fire Emblem games you can play on handheld devices and consoles. Only now you can recruit all sorts of recognizable heroes from all over the series because convenient plot devices make things like timelines and continuity not matter.
Hold the Line
When it comes to combat, series fans should already know what to expect.
- Respect the weapon triangle. As per usual, there are three main weapon classes and each is weak to one and strong against the other (Swords > Axes > Spears > Swords). Always keep this in mind, as it can make a huge difference when you’re not excessively over-leveled.
- Test the waters. You can see what a given enemy’s movement and attack range is by tapping on them, and you can see how a battle will play out by dragging a hero over to attack and keeping your finger on the screen. Use this info to plan your actions carefully.
- Losing a hero isn’t a big deal. In other games in the series you’d often lose a character forever if they fell in battle. Here they just can’t be used for the rest of the level.
If you want to get anywhere, you’re going to need to toughen up your team.
- Save up and summon. You can spend five Orbs to summon a single hero, but the cost of summoning actually diminishes if you summon more in one sitting. For example, summoning five heroes one at a time will cost you 25 Orbs, but summoning five one after the other will cost you 21 Orbs instead.
- Upgrade your Castle. You can go to the Shop and spend Orbs to upgrade your castle, which will give your heroes a permanent boost to the amount of experience they can earn (starting at +20% and going up from there).
- Use the Training Tower for low tier character experience. Replaying story missions isn’t terribly effective if you want to level your characters up, because the XP gains drop significantly once a story mission is completed. Replay Training Tower missions instead as they don’t suffer such penalties. Plus they don’t use up much stamina.
- Diversify your team. You’ll run into an assortment of enemy army combinations as you play, so you’ll want to have a few different types of weapon specializations on hand in order to take advantage of enemy weaknesses.
- Train everybody. As heroes level up they’ll earn SP, which can be used to learn new abilities. And remember to equip them once you learn them!
Simple but Not Bad
Fire Emblem Heroes is definitely a stripped down version of Fire Emblem, but it doesn’t really suffer due to its simplicity. Sure you won’t get the same experience as you would from any of the main releases on handhelds or consoles, but it pulls off “Fire Emblem on your phone” (for free, no less) really, really well.
Fire Emblem Heroes Review
While I hate seeing mainstream game reviewers always turning up their noses at mobile games, I have to admit that I had my own reservations about Fire Emblem Heroes. Sure it’s officially backed by Nintendo but it’s also free-to-play, which is practically a guarantee that the game won’t be something as awesome as a fully fleshed-out Fire Emblem on phones. And yeah, it’s not. However it is a pretty cool mobile strategy game regardless.
So Much Fan Service
The story is about as eye-rolling as you’d expect. Heroes from all over the various games in the series can magically exist in the same place despite timelines and continuities - and of course your faceless protagonist is the magical “chosen one” who can summon an entire army of heroes to turn the tide of the war, blah, blah, blah.
Although while I’m not a huge fan of the overall story I do think it’s neat how you can talk to your various heroes from the main menu, and that they’ll have different things to say on occasion. It helps to give them a bit more personality, or to further build on the personalities you might already be familiar with. There are also quite a few notable appearances to boot, both as summonable allies and as rivals. My current favorite is Beruka, from Fates. I can appreciate a lady who rides a dragon and clobbers enemies with a big axe.
I’m a bit disappointed in the summoning system itself, though. Granted it’s neat to be free-to-play, and as such it’s understandable that players will want to “gamble” their Orbs in order to hopefully acquire their favorite characters, but the randomness can be rather punishing. I’ve restarted my game twice (starter Orbs make it easy to jump in to summoning) in an attempt to get Lyn, and haven’t had any luck either time. The same goes for later summoning attempts.
Actually playing Fire Emblem Heroes is very similar to other main games in the series, but with a lot of stuff either simplified or stripped out entirely. In all honesty I think this is actually a boon. It does away with things like weapon breakage and permanent character loss, but retains the most important bits like the weapon triangle and class specific specialties. I totally get why series veterans might hate to see some of the more intense and meticulous features disappear, but their omission makes sense when you remember that this is meant to be a more accessible mobile game.
The one thing I do take issue with is the smaller army size. I mean I understand that they needed to cut things back in order to speed up the gameplay (and to account for the significantly smaller maps), but being limited to four heroes is disappointing. Mainly because I have so many that I want to use, but I have to sideline them due to the size limit.
A Decent Alternative
Fire Emblem Heroes won’t truly replace any of the other main games in the series - not by a long shot - but that doesn’t mean you should avoid it. While it doesn’t compare to the more fleshed-out stuff, it is a simple and fun strategy game that you can play whenever you have a spare moment. I’d consider it a good way to scratch the Fire Emblem itch when, say, you had to leave your 3DS at home.
- Review by Rob Rich
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