Game essentials: Fire Emblem Heroes
We take a closer look at the App Store’s must-play games.
Fire Emblem Heroes
Nintendo has an uncanny knack of making unfamiliar genres accessible to all.
With its Fire Emblem games, however, it seemed to have its work cut out – strategy games can often seem stern and unforgiving to new players. But Heroes extends a warm welcome even to tactical novices – without losing the depth that series fans fell in love with.
At its core, Heroes is about assembling a well-balanced team to take down a procession of opposing armies. From sword-wielding barbarians to spell-toting magicians to girls with the ability to transform into mighty dragons, there are dozens of wildly different fighters on offer.
Using magical orbs, you summon them into your realm, choosing a strong foursome to take onto the battlefield. On attractive gridded maps that fit on a single screen, you’ll face off against steadily tougher opponents, building your heroes’ battle experience with every victory.
It borrows the traditional Fire Emblem ‘weapon triangle’, whereby certain units have the advantage over others. But with magic and other weapons complicating matters, this system has turned into an immediately understandable colour-coded system: blue > red > green > blue.
With its simple controls and slick interface, Heroes makes moving and attacking quick and easy – and if you’re completely new to strategy games, you can even select the ‘auto-battle’ option to let the game do the hard work for you.
This way, you can focus on building and strengthening your team instead, raising their levels and picking out the most effective skills. The playful but vicious Peri can intimidate opponents into lowering their defences, while the noble Lucina spurs on adjacent allies to increase their attack power – and that’s just two of many abilities to experiment with.
On top of that, Heroes now includes the series’ renowned relationship system, where two units can bond off the battlefield to become a deadly pairing on it. As such, you won’t just develop an attachment to individual heroes, but to those perfect partnerships.
And suddenly, almost by osmosis, you’ve developed an affinity with your team – even if only because you make such a cute couple. That said, they’re all pretty cute: the ‘chibi’-style designs of your units are adorable, with gorgeous, crisp 2D portraits popping up to add anime-style drama to critical attacks.
Beneath that immaculate surface, there’s so much to discover. If you want to tackle challenges on the aptly-named Lunatic difficulty, you’ll need to think about earning and inheriting skills and merging allies as well as considering applying elemental blessings. If you really dig into the details, it might be some time before you come up for air.
Fire Emblem Heroes just keeps on giving. There are daily, weekly and seasonal trials, quests and events to tackle and even tap battles that turn combat into a rhythmic dance. All of which offer ways to get the items and heroes you need to become an unbeatable force.
If you’re a casual collector, an armchair tactician or a Fire Emblem veteran, you’ll find plenty to love here. All hail the Heroes!