Fire Emblem Heroes

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Fire Emblem Heroes logo

ConsoleAndroid, iOS
DeveloperIntelligent Systems, Nintendo EPD
GenreTactical RPG
Release Year2017
Free Download (Android)Click here to download from Google Play Store.
Free Download (iOS)Click here to download from iTunes.

So 2017 begins and this seems to be THE year for the Fire Emblem series. Ever since the popularity of Awakening and Fates for the Nintendo 3DS, the series had gotten a lot more due attention than it had before. During the last Nintendo Direct on 01/18/17, four games of the series have been announced. At the forefront of the new games is Fire Emblem Heroes. And following it, Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia for the 3DS, Fire Emblem Warriors for the 3DS and Nintendo Switch, and an unidentified Fire Emblem title for the Switch in 2018.

We’re expecting a lot of great things from this series. This is a sign that Fire Emblem is here to stay for good and that Nintendo is going to make it the next great thing. Maybe up there with likes of Super Mario Bros., Pokémon and The Legend of Zelda. At least, that’s my wishful thinking anyway.

Up next, I’ll discuss some voting results. If you want to go ahead to see what the actual game is about, you can go ahead and skip this section.



Fire Emblem on the Go

Fire Emblem Heroes is a free mobile app for the Android and iOS. It is a spinoff title that functions as a crossover of various games of the series, bringing in many different characters to form your dream team. If you’re one of those people who have no idea what the series is about and would like to get a taste of it, this is your chance.

Think of this review as also a comprehensive guide to getting better at this game.

Fire Emblem Heroes Anna

The game begins with a basic plot of two warring kingdoms: Askr and Embla. Princess Veronica of Embla (the blonde chick with the stupid-looking crown) has her sights set to conquer the world by shanghaiing legendary heroes from various worlds (including Marth, Xander, Roy and Chrom among others). Standing in her way are the Askran siblings, Prince Alfonse and Princess Sharena, and captain of the guard Anna. You have been summoned into this world to act as a tactician for the Askran kingdom, so it is your job to defeat Veronica’s captured heroes and bring peace to all of the worlds involved.

Fire Emblem Heroes gameplay

Fire Emblem Heroes borrows the basic gameplay elements of the series. During battle, your heroes are faced against an enemy group of soldiers.

Fire Emblem Heroes Alfonse vs Arthur

During your turn, you can move each of your four heroes and attack the enemy soldiers. Attacking will open up a simulation screen where both your hero and the enemy soldier fight each other. Whoever loses all HP gets knocked out.

It is your job to defeat all of the soldiers in order to win. This requires both brute force and outsmarting your opponent. But in order to win the more difficult battles, it’s best that you learn the system and come up with some clever strategies.

Fire Emblem Heroes Sharena vs Lon'qu

One of the most basic strategies is taking advantage of the rock-paper-scissors system, the weapon triangle. Each character has a weapon (usually indicated by a small color icon next to them).

Swords/Red Magic > Axes/Green Magic > Lances/Blue Magic > Swords/Red Magic… and so on.

Or if you really want to be picky about elements, red = fire, green = wind, blue = lightning. And keep in mind that magic users can only attack from two tiles away or from a diagonal tile.

By using the effective counter weapon against an enemy, you can do more damage.

Characters with shurikens/throwing knifes can only attack from two squares away and can attack diagonally, but also have a secondary effect of weakening an opponent’s stats. The weapon color is gray, so its element is neutral to other weapons.

Characters with bows are similar, but have a secondary effect of doing extra damage against flying units (pegasus knights and wyvern riders). The weapon color is gray, so its element is neutral to other weapons.

Characters with rods are typically healers, but also come with a weak neutral attack.

Fire Emblem Heroes Alfonse vs Tiki

Characters that can shapeshift into dragons can attack at close range or two spaces away (depending on the character), but tend to be quite powerful. Their element can also differ depending on the character (Tiki is red, Nowi is blue, etc.)

Fire Emblem Heroes gameplay

Another basic strategy is predicting where your enemies will be able to move and attack. You can do this by tapping the Danger Area button at the bottom of the screen, which will highlight individual grid squares on where your enemy can attack. You can also tap an individual enemy soldier to predict where he can move and where he can attack.

The rest, I’ll leave up to you. Fire Emblem Heroes is pretty easy to pick up on as long as you are dedicated to learning how it works.


The Battles Ahead

Battles are divided into five modes: Story Maps, Special Maps, Arena Duels, Training Tower, and some feature I have yet to unlock which I will explain later.

Story Maps mode is self-explanatory. Play through a story mode and defeat Princess Veronica’s forces. Keep in mind that you don’t recruit characters through this mode. It’s all for the story and experience points.

Special Maps mode features a specific character of the day and allows you to fight against that character in Normal or Hard difficulty. Defeating the enemy force will allow you to recruit the featured character (the Hard difficulty giving a more powerful version). Be careful, though. You will lose the entire battle if any one of your characters are defeated, but you can make a comeback by redeeming a Light’s Blessing (or an Orb if you don’t have one).

Fire Emblem Heroes Arena Duels

Arena Duels mode allows you to fight other player teams across the world. Keep in mind that this isn’t technically PvP. It just lets you fight other player teams controlled by computer AI. But to use this feature, you need to spend a specific type of currency called Dueling Swords, which you can get by using a Dueling Crest or an Orb. You can also wait a day for your default three Dueling Swords to replenish.

The point of this feature is to win duels to increase your score for a season. The higher your score is by the end of the season, the better rewards you will get. In this case, you can earn Hero Feathers which are required to unlock your characters’ potential.

Training Tower mode is a feature that allows you to grind for experience and collect special items called badges. Like Hero Feathers, badges are essential for unlocking your characters’ potential to make them into even better soldiers.

And as stated, I will find out what the final feature is so more on that later…


Managing Your Resources and Characters

Fire Emblem Heroes quests

Orbs function as the main currency in the game. You can get them by completing quests, clearing story maps, and logging in daily. You can use the orbs to summon new heroes for recruitment, upgrade your castle to multiply experience gain, and use them as a substitute for a Light’s Blessing or a Dueling Crest (if you run out of either one).

If you run out of Orbs, you can spend money on microtransactions to get more. Personally, I don’t partake in microtransactions and the game is just fine the way it is without them. Unless you REALLY want to get your favorite characters faster, it’s totally up to you.

Fire Emblem Heroes Eliwood

The biggest feature of Fire Emblem Heroes is the ability to summon more heroes to recruit into your cause. You can spend 5 Orbs to summon one hero. But if you summon heroes in a consecutive batch, you can get a small discount. So in the long run, it would be better to save up your Orbs and summon a few heroes in one go. That way, you can always have some spare Orbs for later on.

You can summon from either one of two focuses: the Legendary Heroes focus and the Deep Devotion focus, which offer different heroes.

Ultimately, whichever hero you get and particular rating is all up to chance. There is no EASY way to get a 5★ character. For both focuses, these are the current appearance rates of summoning particular heroes:

5★ Focus 3.00%
5★ 3.00%
4★ 36.00%
3★ 58.00%






Keep in mind the numbers will change over time.

Also, 5★ Focus is basically a promotional 5★ hero and Nintendo may hold regular events that will increase a particular hero’s chance of being summoned. I am assuming this is what the Choose Your Legends poll is for, so I would definitely keep an eye out for those special heroes.

And as I mentioned earlier, you CAN get new heroes by completing Special Maps daily. Typically though, the characters themselves are 1★ or 2★. And if any of your heroes in this challenge gets knocked out, you get a game over and will have to spend a Light’s Blessing or an Orb to continue where you left off. Whether you think this is worth the investment of Orbs and time is up to you.

Fire Emblem Heroes unlock potential star rating

However, if you are not satisfied with your character’s current star rating, you can always try unlocking his/her potential through the Advanced Growth feature. But to do this, you need to fulfill these requirements:

  1. Raise the character’s level to at least 20
  2. Gather the required no. of badges (which you can get from Training Tower mode)
  3. Gather the required  no. of Hero Feathers (which you can get from Arena Duels mode)

The unfortunate side effect is that your character will lose levels and stat gains. However, he/she will start with better base stats and better stats growths. So as long as you spend time with leveling them up, it will become worthwhile in the end.

Fire Emblem Heroes skills

Every character has skills they can learn. But to actually learn them, they need to collect Skill Points (SP) and purchase them. Characters can gain SP from leveling up or from merging allies. After purchasing the skills, be sure to equip them or else they won’t work.

Fire Emblem Heroes merge allies Sophia

Got extra characters that you don’t really want? No problem! Just use the Merge Allies function through the Advanced Growth feature. By merging two allies with the same star rating (or one with a higher star rating as a sacrifice), the enhanced ally will gain extra stats and SP. Otherwise, the enhanced ally will only gain SP.

Fire Emblem Heroes Level Up

Finally, let’s talk about manually leveling up a character. While completing quests and playing through story mode, you may earn some shards and crystals of various colors. You can spend them to level up your characters without having to play through a map.

This is actually a nice feature if you want weaker allies to gain levels fast or if you want to bring an ally to level 20 before unlocking his/her potential.


A Closer Look into the Game

Alright, so I have explained how Fire Emblem Heroes plays. However, I have yet to talk about what I actually THINK about the game.

Honestly, I think Fire Emblem Heroes is really good, especially for a free mobile app. Not only is it highly accessible to the public, there’s enough fan service to satisfy even old fans of the series.

While the main gameplay is a simplified version of what you ought to expect from the Fire Emblem series, it captures the basics really well. I’m rather surprised that Heroes still manages to maintain the deep game mechanics of its predecessors, and that alone is well worth getting the game.

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The CG artwork, character sprites and environments are well done. It never feels like the overall presentation is off in some way. I especially enjoyed seeing the updated looks of old Fire Emblem characters that we haven’t seen in a LONG time. And it’s a joy that they also got their own voice actors.

The soundtrack is an assortment of remixed familiar tunes and new tunes. Some familiar stuff we got:

  • “Beyond the Distant Skies” – Fire Emblem: Binding Blade
  • “The Time to Act” – Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon
  • “Prelude” – Fire Emblem Awakening
  • “Far Dawn” – Fire Emblem Fates: Birthright
  • “Dusk Falls” – Fire Emblem Fates: Conquest

Now, let’s go over the “meh.”

The story is basic good vs. evil, though this IS a mobile game after all. The storylines of the Fire Emblem series tend to vary in quality, with the best written ones coming out later in the cycle. And this one is pretty much in the “meh” territory, but passable for something you play on the go rather than spend a long time on.

There is also a lack of support conversations—which is one of the most popular features in the series. However, I can see why they couldn’t be included in Heroes. There are WAY too many characters to account for and the game is rather too small to call for support bonuses. So if you’re looking to learn more about the characters of the series, you’re not going to find much here. It’s better to think of Heroes as a gateway to playing those other games.

The maps are also pretty small and featureless. While there are some terrain obstacles, unit movement is highly restricted—to the point where foot soldiers can’t even move past someone before them. So naturally, you would have to move your units across uncomfortably small spaces. This easily makes cavalry and flying units among the biggest threats on the map.

Mages are pretty overpowered as well. Most units you get will have a low Resistance stat and will have a hard time improving it. Mages also tend to be pretty fast, so they can deliver a very powerful attack twice in a row. Combined with the ability to attack from two tiles away, it’s very easy for a mage to get a safe vantage point without any retaliation from the enemy.

While I like the summon feature, it is expensive. The first hero you summon is worth 5 Orbs, which you can get from completing 5 story maps without any other aid. Combined with the low percentages of 4★ and 5★ summons, this makes it much more difficult to get your favorite characters quickly. And this is easily the motivation that would get you spending real money for more Orbs.

And finally, missing characters. As far as I know, Fire Emblem Heroes does not have characters from Fire Emblem Gaiden, Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War and Fire Emblem: Thracia 776. To be fair, these games were only released in Japan and they were some of the most obscure entries to the series. Only the most diehard Fire Emblem fans usually play them. But since the announcement of Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia, this would actually be a good time to introduce characters from Gaiden—since Echoes is its remake. This would give us a chance to learn about the main characters, Alm and Celica, before the actual game’s release. I personally think this would be a nice way to promote Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia since it’s coming out in May 2017.

Overall, I’m actually surprised by how fun Fire Emblem Heroes is. Even though it is a freemium title, it captured the spirit of the series really well and this is a great way to introduce the series to anyone who doesn’t own a Nintendo 3DS yet. Heroes is probably the closest thing to a “dream match” crossover Fire Emblem title we’ll ever get and it’s given us some interesting matchups.

Fire Emblem Heroes Eliwood vs Roy

So if you want to get a taste of what the series is about or want to experience some nostalgia, I recommend downloading this game onto your mobile device. But if you’re one of those people who don’t enjoy turn-based strategy games, then Fire Emblem Heroes is probably not for you.

So on that note, I’ll conclude the review with some beginner tips. Have fun.

Boons and Banes – Update 02/23/17

So I managed to beat all of the Story Maps, all the way up to the last chapter of Lunatic difficulty. I also completed the new Paralogue chapter featuring Eirika and Ephraim from The Sacred Stones and Seliph and Julia from Genealogy of the Holy War. Wow. I’m surprised that anyone from Genealogy made it in at all. Good work, Intelligent Systems.

Regarding Orbs, aside from the daily login rewards and the quest rewards (which don’t give much), I have no other way to obtain Orbs, which is a real annoyance. And for those who suggest I should just buy Orbs with real money… well, I did try to check the price of Orbs to see if they’re worth getting. However, I kept getting this particular error.

Fire Emblem Heroes Support Code: 803-3003

A communication error has occurred.
Support Code: 803-3003

Right now, it’s no big deal since I’m in no real hurry to try my hand at rare Fire Emblem characters. Still, it would be nice to see a fix for this come soon. I did search the Internet for a fix, but to no avail. So I made a post at the Nintendo Support forums to see if a moderator may answer my question.

Alright, so I have a little more to say about the game since I had more time figuring out its strengths and weaknesses. So here they are.

First, let’s talk about the actual gameplay mathematics. I don’t know about you but I feel like the weapon triangle works way too favorably here. There are multiple instances where I had strong characters getting outdone by weaker characters with the weapon advantage, just because they win in the weapon triangle.

I’m dead serious. I could have a sword user pitted against a blue mage. The sword user would do little damage (6 damage against a 25-HP mage), but the blue mage could inflict 26 damage, twice, immediately KO’ing my sword user. They’re about the same levels and the sword user is a higher star rating.

Normally, the weapon triangle in Fire Emblem isn’t THIS advantageous. This makes battles in Fire Emblem Heroes one-sided most of the time. And the losing side is likely the one with mismatched weapon types.

Now, let’s talk about the Summon Heroes feature. As clarified earlier, it’s pretty much a gacha system where you spend Orbs to get random heroes. Standard fare.

Now, here’s one of my issues. Getting a 5★ character is purely luck-based, of course. So far, I only got two: Fae from Binding Blade and Eirika from The Sacred Stones. But in Arena Duels, I keep facing these full 5★ character teams, often with Takumi from Fates (who, by the way, is overpowered with his Fujin Yumi). How is it that these players are getting these 5★ characters so easily? Are they emptying their wallets for a shit ton of Orbs or are there people exploiting the system for easy 5★ characters?

When you get to the summon screen, you can spend up to 20 Orbs consecutively for five heroes and save yourself 5 Orbs. However, the problem is the seemingly random colors you get for which heroes you get. For nearly every summon screen I have, I get at least three red summons and I very rarely get green summons. This easily puts me in a shortage of axe users and green tome users. It just feels like something is off here.

Next, let’s get to the Unlock Potential feature. For any character you have that is not a 5★, you can unlock their potential and gain an extra star after the character reaches level 20. However, there is a serious flaw.

Fire Emblem Heroes five star unlock potential

Seriously. You need to get 20,000 Hero Feathers and 20 Great Badges of a corresponding color to achieve this. If you managed to get up to the Eighth Stratum or higher in Training Tower, you can manage to get the Great Badges—with some difficulty.

However, getting 20,000 Hero Feathers is just dumb. Your main source of getting feathers is to play the Arena Duels feature and try to get the highest possible score during a season. Each season usually lasts a few days and rewards you Hero Feathers after your score is calculated and the season ends.

However, the highest reward you can get for offense in Arena Duels is 1,600 Hero Feathers. This is still not enough to promote a 3★ to a 4★ (which needs 2,000 Hero Feathers) and absolutely unreasonable to get a 4★ to 5★.

Let’s say you start with 0 Hero Feathers and you want to save up 20,000 Hero Feathers. So you use Arena Duels and get the highest possible number of Feathers during each season (1,600). So how many seasons do you need to play through to get enough?

13. 13 seasons. And a season lasts about a week, so we’re talking about 13 weeks of saving up Hero Feathers, without ever spending them.

Now… there are ways to get more Hero Feathers. If you become Friends with people through Arena Duels, you can get daily Hero Feathers from the Home screen. How many do you get? 5.

Poker Night 2 Max evil smile
Heh… he… hehehehe…. HEHEHEHEHEHEHEHE…

Fire Emblem Heroes Hero Feathers Quests

And yes, you can get more Hero Feathers from completing these repeatable quests. But hopefully, you saved up a shitload of Dueling Swords because you need to win 40 battles for these quests to reset. All that trouble for 2,000 feathers max for each repeat. Let me tell you. Not worth the extra grind.

Fire Emblem Heroes Arena Duels win streak

More feathers? Why, yes. There is another way. In Arena Duels, try getting the highest win streak/score as possible for a season. You earn bonus feathers for falling into within the top 100,000 high scores… WORLDWIDE. And the highest you can get is 5,000 Hero Feathers. So combined with getting a score of at least 3,000 in Arena Duels, you can get 6,600 Hero Feathers for one season. NOW REPEAT THAT THREE MORE TIMES AND YOU WILL GET ENOUGH HERO FEATHERS.

I noticed that after I reached over a score of 3,000, the score will NOT increase any higher. However, my rank in Arena Duels is high enough to get a bonus 1,000 Hero Feathers. So maybe these rank gains are more to do with your tier rank during a season. Right now, I have a Sable Knight (Tier 4) rank, so maybe that alone is restricting me from getting a higher score.

Imagine how many Dueling Swords you need to even reach that point.

Fire Emblem Heroes Arena Duels defense points

I also noticed there’s a score range for “defense,” but I have no idea how you get anything from this. The game doesn’t bother explaining it aside from:

These rewards are based on the score your team has earned for defense.


The rewards are little but it’s still a nice opportunity to get more Hero Feathers. Now, I did try being on the defensive for Arena Duels, but I never seem to get any points for letting enemies attack me. So I have no idea how the hell this system even works.

And yes, I am aware of that little Twitter campaign where 10,000 retweets of Fire Emblem Heroes will give everyone 10,000 Hero Feathers for free. So that reduces the number of Arena Duel campaigns to 7 to get 20,000 feathers. Still a long way…

All in all, getting enough Hero Feathers to make your own 5★ characters is poorly thought out. Getting a single 5★ character through unlocking potential would take at least 3 months of saving feathers without ever spending them. I do hope at some point that Intelligent Systems will lower the requirement (to something more manageable like 5,000 – 10,000 feathers) so that we don’t have to waste so much time and effort into getting a single 5★ character.

And just in case you’re wondering, YES. A 5★ character makes a greater difference than a 4★, due to better stats and access to the most powerful skills in the game.

Fire Emblem Heroes female Robin event special map

Next up, let’s talk about the event Special Maps. So far, we had two: one for Narcian from Binding Blade and one for female Robin from Awakening. Unlike the daily Special Maps you get, these in particular have two challenges: a level 25 team for a 2★ character and a level 35 team for a 3★ character.

But let me tell you. These maps are designed specifically to be death traps. They put you in a bad spot where, no matter where you go, you will be attacked by at least three enemies. It’s designed to be unfair.

So the only thing you can do here is send in a bait character who can take a few hits (preferably, someone who can hit two tiles away), use other characters to buff the bait character’s defense/resistance, and hope the bait character doesn’t die. In this case, a manakete who can counter from two tiles away would be an ideal candidate. But if you don’t have these types of characters, well SUCKS TO BE YOU THEN. BETTER COUGH UP SOME MONEY FOR ORBS!

If ANY character dies, you get a Game Over. You can’t use a Light’s Blessing. You can’t use an Orb. You have to restart the map all over again. This is the only time the game does this.

It took me a few tries just to beat level 25 Narcian, with a level 35 team. I am dead fucking serious about that. There is no balance to these maps.

So the challenge of the event Special Maps is not playing by the game’s rules. But rather putting you into this Kaizo-esque situation where you hope you have the right characters with you. And the penalty for loss: losing 10 stamina for the level 25 map and losing 15 stamina for the level 35 map. I’m sorry, but that is just bad design.

If you can at least beat the level 25 map, unlocking the new character’s potential (2★ to 3★) is worth only 200 Hero Feathers. So not really worth the aggravation to go through the level 35 map.

Because of these flaws I discovered while investing more time into Fire Emblem Heroes, I decided to lower my rating of the game. It’s still a fun experience, but there are times when this game can get unfair. Certainly not Thracia 776 unfair, but the game’s mechanics simply working against you and the nature of the pay-to-win system. I’m still looking forward to future updates of this game and I hope Intelligent Systems will consider these points in the near future.

Fire Emblem Heroes

Fire Emblem Heroes










          • The gameplay is fundamentally the same as the main series games, making this app a good introduction to the Fire Emblem series.
          • A lot of different gameplay modes prevent this game from getting stale too fast.
          • Being able to create your dream Fire Emblem team through the summoning feature.
          • The visuals are fantastic for a mobile game.
          • The soundtrack is a remix of old Fire Emblem tunes and some decent original tunes.
          • What are you waiting for, fool? It's FREE! GO GET IT NOW!


          • Story is pretty basic and doesn't necessarily represent the typical writing of the series.
          • The stamina meter may limit your gameplay time.
          • Maps can be difficult to traverse due to small amount of space and short character movements.
          • Summoning heroes is expensive and Orbs needed for them are difficult to collect in large numbers without resorting to microtransactions.
          • You can never get enough Hero Feathers without a huge amount of patience.
          • The event special maps aren't very well thought out.
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