How Fire Emblem Heroes’ Battles Refresh the Serieson February 22, 2017 by Oscar TK
Fire Emblem can be a hard series to get into. Beyond the simple fact that it has a complex story and history spanning multiple games — some of which have never made it west — it’s a strategy game that can be kinda sorta pretty tough. The last couple of mainline releases have been more approachable, but it can still be a little intimidating.
The same isn’t really true of Fire Emblem Heroes. While it is a crossover game that celebrates the history and generations of the Fire Emblem games, it also provides a great starting point for newcomers to get to grips with the series. The story takes you through key characters briefly, and the smaller, more contained battles introduce the core concept of Fire Emblem‘s mechanics in a simple and intuitive way that’s incredibly easy to get to grips with — but can still offer plenty of challenge as you progress.
Indeed, if you can equate Fire Emblem to Chess (and you can — I will fight you otherwise), then Fire Emblem Heroes is the equivalent to chess puzzles, offering tighter, smaller scale challenges with comparatively limited resources, asking you to find a solution.
You can form multiple teams of 4 units (obtained in traditional F2P game gacha style), though you only take 1 team into a battle at a time. Maps are smaller, taking up only the size of a phone screen with chunky tiles. You drag your units where you want them to go, slide them into enemies to initiate an attack. There are no hit rates, no chances of critical hits. The weapon triangle has been simplified and colour-coded, always displayed in the bottom right of the screen. The rules of the game don’t really change, just your team and your approach.
But what’s great about Fire Emblem Heroes is that it’s not a replacement for Fire Emblem. While these tweaks to the format wouldn’t really fly if applied to the main series, they work super well in this contained “puzzle-like” scale. Just like how chess puzzles can be used to help teach chess, so too does Heroes teach the basic levels of Fire Emblem, and encourage you to want to sink your teeth into something deeper. Which is, of course, the main Fire Emblem series.
Heroes allows you to break down the layers of Fire Emblem‘s unique battle and strategy systems. In giving you this super satisfying chunky way of playing with that system, it gives you a renewed appreciation for Fire Emblem‘s full complexities — it gives you the hunger to tuck into the series proper. It wouldn’t be surprising to see lots of Heroes players picking up the 3DS games or the Virtual Console releases after having this first taste. While Fire Emblem Echoes and Warriors will be coming soon, Fire Emblem 15 (if you include the remakes) is still a way off and veiled in mystery.
Fire Emblem Heroes doesn’t do Fire Emblem better than the main series, obviously. But it does it different. It’s a great supplement, and hopefully a great way for a lot of people to be introduced to the series, and to take their first steps down that rabbit hole.