Fire Emblem Heroes – Fire Emblem Heroes is simpler than the rest, but it does the trick

Familiar Faces

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.

Team Building

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.

Low Expectations

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

(Android – For most Android based phones and tablets.
See download page for specific requirements.)

(iOS – For most iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch devices.
See download page for specific requirements.)

Learn how to play this game on your PC!