Freemium trash: Fire Emblem Heroes Pt. 2

“But wait,” I imagine you thinking, “why would he continue to play an app he considers both trash and a cynical whoring out of his once-favorite series?” To be perfectly honest, I intended to stop playing, but then I caught the flu and spent a lot of time in bed. Besides, there are occasionally things being added, and I’ve figured a few things out since the last time I wrote about Heroes. None of that has changed my opinion of this thing that can only generously be considered a “game”—can we take a second to acknowledge how perfect it is that the acronym is FEH, as in “feh, I guess gaming in general just sucks now if this is considered good”—but I still thought it’d be interesting to cover, and it gives me an excuse to take some shots.

Let’s start with the good

There are only two positive things to note here, and the first is something I read shortly after posting the last thing about Heroes: apparently the clingy royal most prone to creepy flattery friendzones you once you level her up all the way. I’m not sure if this requires getting her to 5 stars (one of the things I’ve discovered is that you only get level 40 dialogue for 5-star characters), but it’s still hilarious for a game so determined to bad touch its players’ egos to end up being so deflating and cruel. Whoever decided to put that in has my respect. The second thing also pertains to the writing, amazingly enough, and that’s the very first Paralogue that was added today. This is effectively a side story with no relation to Zachamoojacka or Princess Veronica of Boring Villain Mountain, and it pairs the royals from The Sacred Stones with some of the characters from Seisen no Keifu. Not any of the interesting ones, mind you, because they’re second-generation knockoffs, but some love finally being shown to the earlier games is nice to see. What amused me the most was actually the dialogue from the Sacred Stones siblings, though, because their closeness has always been considered… suspect by the internet. Obviously that’s fueled by a history of such shenanigans (nudge, nudge) in the series. Their dialogue, while still terrible FEH-tier writing, actually acknowledges “the lies” that arise from their closeness, which is an amusing little thing to have the writers note. It’s even more amusing to pair them with FE4 characters given that game’s particularly heavy focus on the aforementioned shenanigans.

Back to your regularly scheduled programming

As amusing as that was, though, Heroes still sucks. You can see in the header image the problems with movement that plague the game, and imagine that kind of thing in an arena match, only your members are facing someone of the same level and have a weapon triangle disadvantage that ensures they won’t last more than one or two attacks. That’s hardly the only problem with the arena, either, because the so-called difficulty has no relation to reality. The easiest group may have the toughest characters while the hardest group turns out to be a pushover, so separating or labeling them is a waste of time and I honestly don’t know why Heroes even bothers. Beyond that, the people who have re-rolled their characters by repeatedly uninstalling/reinstalling have flooded the matches to where pretty much every other fight has the tougher characters present. So much Camilla. So much Takumi. So much Tiki. Takumi’s the most absurdly unbalanced as far as attack goes, but Tiki has an annoyingly high defense. It just becomes irritating when you see these characters used again and again. On multiple occasions, I’ve faced down teams with multiple Takumis. So groan-inducing.

I murdered those two-Takumi teams, though

When I said in my first writeup about Heroes that you only had a chance with at least two 5-star characters, I naturally assumed that they were balanced to where you could make it with just about any of them. I was wrong. My first team shot up to level 40 fairly quickly, and it’s made up of a 5-star Minerva, a 5-star Peri, a 4-star Tharja, and a 4-star Florina. This team has proven sufficient for killing just about anything (except for on maps that spawn them near enemies who have a weapon triangle advantage and no room to get away, obviously). I thought it’d be interesting to make a second team, though, so I put together a second team that I could level up while waiting for them to add new content. It’s made up of a 5-star Robin, a 5-star Hawkeye, a 4-star Palla, and a 4-star Saizo. Right now both teams’ characters are at level 40 with the sole exception of Saizo, who’s still level 39, and yet the second team can barely eke out a win in half of its arena matches despite having the exact same makeup of two 5-star characters and two 4-star characters.

That one level Saizo’s missing isn’t going to be the magic bullet that takes my second team to a whole new level—the characters just suck, period. They don’t do enough damage. They have useless skills. They have terrible defenses against pretty much everything. This makes the fact that you have to roll for your characters early on that much more despicable; if you don’t not only get 5-star characters, but the right 5-star characters, you’re basically screwed later on. Either give Nintendo money or find a different game to play, basically, and I think we both know which option greedy lil’ Ninty would prefer you went with in that scenario.

Your odds are terrible

What’s so comically stupid about all of this is that the odds are against you at every turn. Earlier tonight I spent 40 orbs—obtained for free for checking in during the game’s early days because I’ll never in a million years give this trash a cent of my money—trying to get the new characters from Seisen no Keifu or The Sacred Stones. This was the result of the first 20 orbs, and this was the result of the second 20. The last attempt at new characters I tried before I wrote about Heroes the first time also resulted in nothing but 3 and 4-star trash. That’s 60 orbs without a single 5-star character, and when you consider that some of them are as useless as Hawkeye and Robin even at max level, that’s seriously demoralizing. Especially when you remember that as few as 35 orbs (which is less than what I wasted tonight alone and received nothing but trash in return for) costs 20 dollars to buy as an in-app purchase. And it’s still not feasible to level up 4-star characters to be 5-stars, not even after the developers literally handed everyone 10,000 feathers; you need both badges and feathers, and while badges are easily enough obtained, I’m still several thousand feathers short of the number required to upgrade anyone remotely useful, and it’s worth recognizing that the only reason I’m even that close is because of the giveaway (which was a social media PR stunt).

Don’t support this trash

That’s the bottom line, isn’t it? For all its pretensions to Fire Emblem, this is really just a slot machine designed to break your will and get you to spend money on it. I didn’t realize just how lucky I got with my early characters, but it’s definitely luckier than 99% of most people reading this will get with their starting characters, and once you hit the wall, the game will do everything it can to jam its hands into your pockets looking for paper money. Not change, but large chunks of cash. These aren’t microtransactions so much as macrotransactions, and it’s important not to support this kind of garbage with your money lest your favorite series is eventually turned into a freemium cash grab. Nothing is sacred anymore.

Thankfully, the game is already losing steam. For the past few days, I’ve watched it fall down the Google Play charts both in “top free” and “top grossing” (though the latter to a far lesser extent, sadly) so we’re definitely headed in the right direction. I just hope the momentum keeps on until the game is finally dead and I can get back to trying to figure out what Shadows of Valentia will actually be like.

Oh yeah, and can we all acknowledge that the main menu theme where a dude sings the series’ main theme with lyrics that start with “Fi-i-rrrrr Em-b-lem-m-m” is cringy as hell? I remember seeing a Youtube video awhile back where someone sang along with Game of Thrones’ opening theme, only all the lyrics were just “Game of Thrones” over and over again. This is that without the attempt at humor, and it’s awful. When my internet is acting slow and I’m forced to hear it, a little piece of me cringes itself to death and I instantly become a lesser person.

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