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Fire Emblem Heroes impressions

Fire Emblem Heroes
Mobile games just tend to not be good. I’ve been searching long and hard for good mobile games, and the only ones that end up being acceptable tend to be digital versions of already-good board games.

So here comes Nintendo in the mobile scene. I haven’t played Super Mario Run yet because it’s not out on Android (and not compatible on my iPod), but they have given a big spotlight to Fire Emblem Heroes. Before the announcement I joked that they’d make it a Gacha game with permadeath. I guess I was close enough, since it is a Gacha game.

So I thought I’d give my impressions about the game. Not really a review, not sure a game like this is “reviewable”. Let’s do this and see if this finally provides a good mobile gaming experience.

(this is not the last mobile game I will talk about, as I keep searching for any that are actually good)

Developer: Intelligent Systems
Publisher: Nintendo
Date of Release: January 30th 2017
Platform: Android, iOS
Genre: Gacha strategy game

Rated E10+ for everyone over 10

My thoughts

So what’s a gacha game, you might ask. The term Gacha comes from “Gachapon”, which are they capsule toy mini vending machines. Those are really popular in Japan. This concept is the main idea in Gacha games. You use some kind of in-game currency to get some random prize, of varying quality (ranks of sorts). Said currency can usually be gotten slowly in-game, or bought outright with real money. In many gacha games the prize is usually a card or character or figure of some anime girl (because Japan). You can usually use other currency or play the game to level up these characters or whatever they are. In Fire Emblem Heroes you summon, well, heroes from various Fire Emblem games.

Gameplay is largely as you’d expect from Fire Emblem, surprisingly. You get a grid-based map (it’s miniature though, 8 spaces tall by 6 spaces wide), and you move characters around the grid and have your characters try to kill all your opponent’s characters. Like in normal FE games, sword users (red) are strong against axe users (green), axe users are strong against lance users (blue) and lance users are strong against sword users. So red>green>blue>red (how is this a constant theme in mobile games?). There’s also neutral characters (ninjas, bow users, clerics), plus dragons and magic users (who have colored icons just like the weapon users, so the same weaknesses apply). The normal weapon users attack from adjacent squares, as do dragons, while everyone else attacks attack from one space further away. When a character is attacked, if they’re not dead they counter (except ranged attackers can’t counter melee attackers and vice versa, with a handful of exceptions).

Attacking enemies gives a bit of EXP, killing them gives even more. When you level up you get some stat increases and SP. SP is used to unlock skills. Skills can be weapons, super attacks and passive/semi-passive stat boosts. The thing with experience points is that you only get them if the enemy is around your level or higher. So if you’re level 20, anything lower level than you won’t give you more than a few points, if any at all. Another thing about experience points: Your characters only actually receive these if they don’t die before the end of a mission. That’s extremely annoying, as it can make leveling extremely slow, but I guess it’s better than permadeath.

Summoning characters (more on cost later) gives you a random bunch from, as of this writing, one of 2 sets. 5-star are the strongest, 4-star are still very useable, anything lower isn’t really worth it unless they’re higher-level. Instead of having them fight you can give them shards of their color which replaces experience. After level 20 shards don’t work anymore, so you need crystals, which aren’t terribly common. At level 20 you can use hero feathers and badges from the training tower (better quality required for 4-star characters) to increase the character’s star ranking. A 4-star character requires 20000 feathers to become rank 5, and from the arena you only get 1000-2000 per few days. Getting enough to rank anything up isn’t happening.

Considering the need to grind for a long ass time (literally weeks, from what I can count right now) to get enough hero feathers to increase their ranks. Unless they’re low rank, but at that point you might as well pull and hope for a better rank version of the same character.

Also, doubles of characters can be merged. If they’re both 5-star the one you don’t lose gets a bonus level (that’s not counted), as well as some SP. Max level is 40, so merging another character to that would make its level 40+1. Max level including this is 40+10.

So yeah, do story mode, get a bunch of My Nintendo coins that are completely useless, grind like hell to get through hard mode, then grind even more to get through lunatic mode. LOOOOOOOTS of grinding required.

Money value

Horrible. For 18$ you get 23 orbs. A single character costs 5 orbs, though if you summon 5 in one shot you get 5 characters for 20 orbs (essentially getting one free). So for 18$ you get 5 characters, most of which are useless. You do get orbs from playing missions, and as daily login prizes. Oh and orbs have other uses, such as increasing EXP gain, letting you revive your characters in a level if they die and refilling stamina.

Anyways, money value is trash here IMO. I assume you get a lot more bonus orbs at higher price ranges, but this is overall pretty ridiculous.

My Nintendo sucks balls

Just sayin’.

Overall

Well if you want an actual deep Fire Emblem experience, there’s plenty on 3DS and older consoles (and more upcoming on 3DS and Switch). However, for what it is Fire Emblem Heroes is fairly solid. It’s grindy as hell, and there’s some design choices I don’t fully agree with, but for a simplified FE experience it does it about as good as it should.

Not something I’d spend money on.

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