By Josh Speer / January 18th, 2017
I really didn’t know what to expect from today’s Fire Emblem Direct. I frankly just thought it would be discussing Fire Emblem Warriors in more detail, and would have been happy enough with that. Luckily, this Direct vastly exceeded my expectations.
Things started out with a narration by Yuri Lowenthal about two siblings and the gods Duma and Mila. It then goes on to reveal that they live in Valentia, a kingdom whose warring gods have split the realm into two regions, Rigel and Zofia. While Rigel is a place of discipline and power, Zofia is a land of excess and relaxation. Both realms seem to have taken their founding principles too far, and now Valentia is on the brink of a cataclysmic war.
As if that wasn’t exciting enough, it turns out the game based on this realm is coming out to the Nintendo 3DS this year! Called Fire Emblem: Echoes – Shadows of Valentia, this new 3DS tactical adventure is heavily inspired by Fire Emblem Gaiden. Featuring protagonists Alm and Celica, Echoes is a total reimagining of Gaiden, rebuilt from the ground up. It will feature free roaming, dungeons and flexible character progression. What’s truly exciting is that it is releasing this May 19th, 2017 on the 3DS.
If that wasn’t exciting enough, it will also work with a 2 pack of new amiibo, of Alm and Celica! Because we can never have enough amiibo.
To my great surprise, the Direct then moved on to a new mainline Fire Emblem game announcement, which is coming to the Switch. This is the first Fire Emblem to hit a console since Radiant Dawn, and it is slated for a 2018 release. Further details were not forthcoming yet, but it’s nice to have something to look forward to in the future.
Then the Direct had a quick flurry of action and talked a bit about Fire Emblem Warriors. It showed Chrom beating the everloving shit out of hordes of foes. What stood out to me about this was that, despite being developed by the same Koei Tecmo team who made Hyrule Warriors, FE Warriors looks stylistically faithful to the most recent Fire Emblem games. The second surprise was that it is slated to release for both New Nintendo 3DS AND the Nintendo Switch in Fall of 2017. Makes you wonder if the 3DS version will be identical to the console version, or if there will be some variations. Either way, we don’t have all that long to wait before we can find out.
I can say that the 2nd biggest surprise from the Direct was the last game covered, called Fire Emblem Heroes. This new title is the very first Fire Emblem to be developed for smart devices. Before you all get worried, this is still a tactical RPG, like previous games, just a little different to accommodate the platform. It will feature characters from all over Fire Emblem’s vast history, both old and completely new. Your job as the player is to summon heroes randomly using orbs and hope to get the right team to battle your foes. By progressively summoning more heroes, you won’t have to spend as may orbs on the next one, all in your attempt to get that one hero you really want (the more stars they have, the better). Orbs are acquired as you play or you can spend money to buy them. You can then wage war in a number of modes, including Hero Battles, timed events where you can commandeer the hero you defeat.
As for how combat itself plays out, it is still grid based, that grid is just smaller, 8 x 6 to be precise. You can initiate battle by dragging an ally til it overlaps an enemy or select a location and move there, just like you would expect from previous games. Heroes still has terrain effects and challenging gameplay, according to the trailer. What is new is the chibi art style for your characters, though classic FE portraits do appear as you battle.
Also new are the symbols displayed above your characters. These represent various attributes and double as their own weapon triangle. Red beats green beats blue, and each color seems to also represent multiple weapons. One nice touch is that each of the returning characters has newly recorded voice actors. For some, that will be a boon (looking at you, Camilla) though doubtless others might be miscast. Still, I’m impressed that Intelligent Systems and Nintendo put this much effort into a mobile venture.
Fire Emblem Heroes will be available on February 2nd via Google play, and will hit iOS and Android later. By taking part in the Choose Your Legends event now, you can help select who will make an appearance in the game. The top ranked will be featured as a usable character. Also, doing so will earn you lots of points if you have a My Nintendo account.
All in all, I was very pleasantly surprised by the Fire Emblem Direct. I expected one game and got 4 instead. Let us know in the comments which upcoming Fire Emblem game you are most interested in, and stay tuned to oprainfall in the future for more coverage of all things Fire Emblem! And many thanks to Ashley for the great screencaps!