Fire Emblem released a mobile title this week, and it plays and feels much like the rest of the series in what turns out to be a very enjoyable mobile game.
I was skeptical to try this game thanks to the multiple mobile games that present themselves as free only to hide behind a steep pay wall early into the game. Fire Emblem Heroes, fortunately, manages to be an enjoyable title without demanding hundreds of dollars from the player.
The story is rather weak. You travel between the different Fire Emblem universes and fight popular heroes from previous installments. Thankfully, the gameplay well makes up for it. You control 4 units of your choice and they will be automatically placed on a small map. Terrain is similar to previous games. Players will encounter breakable walls, mountains, and forests that hinder movement. Like in previous games, players take turns against the AI to advance the field and try to wipe out the enemy team. The classic triangle still exists in that swords will beat axes and axes beat swords, however there is also a color element. Red magic will trump a green axe user the same way that a sword would. While this may seem disappointing to some, it makes sense with the limited party size.
To recruit characters, players spend stones at a summoning gate. Summoning characters of the same color type lessons the cost of summoning, while summoning a different type will keep the current cost. So far, I’ve found that I generally walk away with at least a 4 star summon any time I use all five.
Stars replace promotions. Units will never change, but increasing their star rank will enable them to learn new skills with skill points. Their level will reset to 1 when they are ranked up, but they’ll have higher base stats to make up for it just like promoting a character in the main game. The requirements for 4 and 5 star promotions are high, though. Players will have to use the PvP arena or trade units in for feathers in order to meet the requirements. There are also badges and crystals that come from training missions.
Leveling the units doesn’t take long. A player can get to level 30 relatively easily in a day or two just by doing the leveling stratums. As for story, there are 9 chapters with roughly 5 maps each to reach the conclusion. As you progress through the story you can unlock higher training stratums that let you fight stronger enemies and win better items for promoting your characters once they reach level 20.
The only flaw I found while playing the game is that due to mounted units being unable to go through forests, flying characters carry a large mobile advantage. You can breeze through most maps with a good group of wyvern and pegasus knights (although I had a 5 star Camilla that carried me through a lot of fights on her own). Because of this, it should be no surprise that Takumi, a powerful archer unit, has become a staple for a lot of player made teams. Unfortunately, PvP is all done against an AI, and it can be somewhat easy to cheese them. However, there are harder difficulties for both the story and PvP and a few teams that looked simple did give me a hard time, or even completely wipe me out entirely.
All in all, Fire Emblem Heroes works well as both a mobile game and a Fire Emblem title. I went through the entire story with a team I got for free with the stones I earned throughout the game so at the very least you can see the entire campaign for free without worrying about premium units and power creep.