Usually I take the App Store tags "Price: Free" and "Offers In-App Purchases" as an indicator of freemium pay to win tat and give the bearer a miss, but this one also had "Publisher: Nintendo". Hmmm... maybe I'll give it a look then. One week of playing an hour or two a night and I've got to admit I'm hooked... at least for the moment.
Whilst I've heard the name, I've never played a Fire Emblem game before. Turns out the franchise is pretty big (15 games?) and detailed, and this is a much simplified mobile version. You have a team of (up to) 4 heroes to take out a similar team of AI characters in a turn based battle. What makes it interesting is the array of character categories, which results in a complicated game of rock, paper, scissors. Each character has a weapon class, movement type and colour.
Colour is either red (sword), green (axe), blue (lance) or colourless (ranged). It's a straight RPS loop: Red > Green > Blue > Red. Coloured characters are either melee or ranged magic users, and are largely focused on trumping the appropriate colour. Colourless characters are either specialist ranged weapons (bow for flying units, shuriken for infantry) or healer (staff).
You get a hint of what's coming up in the next match (e.g. level 15, 2 red melee, 1 archer, 1 blue magic user) and can choose a suitable team from your pool of heroes... assuming you have them. If not there's always the training tower or an arena match.
The main appeal for me is the heroes. There is a huge array, all from other Fire Emblem games, so I guess anyone who knows the series will enjoy seeing some familiar faces. Playing through the first few story missions gets you a starter team, but to get more you have to summon them using "orbs", which is a "spin the wheel" RNG affair. There's no choice, you just have to hope for a good one. Orbs can be bought as in-app purchases or given as rewards for story missions and other quests.
What's more, characters have a 5 star rarity rating. 5 star characters have high stats and access to the full array of skills, lower tiers are more limited. You can upgrade a favourite character to the next tier by getting them to level 20 and spending items. Upgrading their tier resets them to level 1, but retaining all their skills and unspent skill points. Summoning guarantees at least a 3 star, but you can also earn a 1 or 2 star version from a daily quest.
There's also PvP... of a sort. In the Arena you pick a team and go up against another player's hand picked team, although the enemy team is controlled by the AI.
Yes, it's a fairly shameless grind... but yet it's one that I'm enjoying a lot. The characters are fun and appealling, and creating teams and growing them is satisfying. Maybe I'll burn out when I hit the free grind limit (I never spend money on these games), but so far it doesn't seem to be pay to win so all good