As a long time Fire Emblem fan, I was both hesitant and excited for the series’ first foray onto mobile devices. Fire Emblem Heroes not only is a fun and worthy entry in the long-time series but proves that micro-transactions can be handled well and fairly.
Right off the bat, Fire Emblem Heroes feels like a Fire Emblem game. From the character art and dialogue to the grid based combat, Fire Emblem Heroes has all of the superficial aspects you could expect from the franchise. What separates this game from previous titles is the depth, scale, and progression throughout the entire game.
Being a mobile game, Fire Emblem Heroes has been scaled down in map size compared to other games in the series. Each map is a 6x8 grid, allowing you to see the entire map on a single vertical screen on your phone or tablet. These smaller maps are accompanied by smaller parties, as you are limited to 4 characters in very battle. While these do sound like negatives, this positively affects the mobile aspect of the game, making each battle shorter in length. These shorter battles fit a smartphone game well, as you normally are not having long play sessions on your phone.
As a simplified version of Fire Emblem, Heroes simplifies its combat alongside its map structure. While familiar systems such as the rock-paper-scissors-like weapon triangle are still present, many “more complex” mechanics have been taken out entirely. No longer must you worry about switching weapons or pairing up of units for assisted kills, but your focus is now on the set strengths and weaknesses of the individual characters themselves.
Unlocking character units is where the statistical randomness, absent from other aspects of the game, manifests. Unlocking of characters, outside of the ones obtained during the main quest, require currency called “orbs” to give you a random chance at characters. While a great number of orbs can be earned throughout the game by beating various story missions and quests, you have the option to purchase orbs through micro transactions. The game gives you enough orbs to unlock a capable team without having to pay money, but those looking to unlock every hero the game has to offer may have to resort to purchasing some orbs to diversify their army.
Again, the characters you receive are random. The more you “summon” the heroes, the fewer orbs you have to spend on each of them. This is a good incentive to save your orbs and spend them all at once, but it does not guarantee you any of the characters you are hoping to get. I was lucky in my first few attempts to get strong and desirable characters, but I do not see every player being as lucky.
Overall, the game is fun. Even as I write this review, I have the game off to the side of my keyboard, progressing through more story levels at harder difficulties. It’s fun, enjoyable, and a great game to play on the go. Don’t let the free to play nature shy you away from this overall fun strategy game.