Fire Emblem: Heroes represents Nintendo's first foray into developing games for Android (if you ignore last year's Miimoto app), and is the eighth title in the Fire Emblem franchise to be released on North American shores.
Whether you're new to the franchise and want to know what the hubbub is about, or you're a hardcore fan of the series, we've tried to answer the questions you may have before you dive right in.
What is Fire Emblem?
Fire Emblem is a turn-based strategy RPG franchise developed by Japanese game developer Intelligent Systems, and published by Nintendo. Since the first game launched in 1990 on the Famicom system it has garnered a huge following in Japan, with the following five sequels exclusively released in Japan. North America got its first official look at the series in 2003, with Fire Emblem for the Game Boy Advance. Before that, Nintendo fans were introduced to two characters from the series — Marth and Roy — in Super Smash Bros. Melee.
What's the story in Fire Emblem: Heroes?
The story in Fire Emblem: Heroes centers around two kingdoms: The Emblian Empire and the Askran Kingdom. The game follows two siblings from the Askran Kingdom — Prince Alfonse and Princess Sharena — as they work to summon an army of heroes to do battle with the Emblian Empire who wish to rule all the worlds. You play as one of those siblings, but these characters don't really appear in the game. The main action comes from the heroes you summon — a mix of brand-new characters designed by acclaimed artist Yusuke Kozaki as well as numerous characters from across the entire Fire Emblem series.
Gameplay takes place on maps optimized for mobile, with touch and drag controls to move your heroes around the battlefield. Everything is turn-based, so you really need to take your time and consider your heroes' weapons and strengths before throwing them into battle. In previous games, there was a "classic" mode that meant if a hero dies in battle, they were lost from your party for good. But you won't have to worry about that here.
If you're a hardcore fan of the Fire Emblem series, you'll want to know that while this game certainly exists in the same universe, with the ability to summon your favorite characters from previous games to your army, but appears to be more of a tangential game in the series in terms of pushing the overall story forward.
Beyond the main story mode, there's also a Training Tower for working on your battle strategies while earning rewards and experience for your allies. The Hero Battles mode features battle scenarios which are only available for a limited time and allow you to add the opposing heroes to your army if you defeat them.
Is the game free?
Yes, Fire Emblem: Heroes is a free-to-play game, however there are stamina meters that need to recharge before you can head into battle, which require orbs which you can either earn for free or pay for with in-app purchases.
You will also need an internet connection to play this game, even when you're playing the purely offline modes.
I love the Fire Emblem series! Is it just like the other games?
By all accounts Fire Emblem: Heroes is a faithful entry in the series, featuring the fantastic characters and artwork that fans adore. The familiar weapon triangle battle mechanics (think Rock, Paper, Scissors) is here as well, so it should be easy to jump right back into the action. Of course, the game has been optimized for mobile in some good ways — touch controls — along with that dreaded free-to-play model that'll tempt you to pay for orbs to recharge your stamina faster. Overall, Fire Emblem: Heroes might feel like the light version of the console games you're more familiar with.
Fortunately, Nintendo is planning to release the next full game in the Fire Emblem series in 2018 on the new Nintendo Switch console, along with Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valenctia for the Nintendo 3DS, a reimagined version of the 1992 Famicom exclusive Fire Emblem Gaiden, scheduled for release in May 2017.
With that in mind, Fire Emblem: Heroes should be more than enough to tide you over until then.
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