It's finally over.
At the Nintendo Switch reveal event, Nintendo announced plans for a Fire Emblem direct for this week, and having now seen it, I kind of get why.
Starting off, we’ll be getting a new(ish) Fire Emblem sooner, rather than later. This May, you’ll be able to pick up a complete remake of the second entry in the Fire Emblem series, Fire Emblem Gaiden, in the form of Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadow of Valentia. Echoes will feature two protagonists, the siblings Alm and Celica, as they fight in a war dividing their homeland.
While most Fire Emblem games follow a very streamlined “Point-A to Point-B” style of progression, Gaiden was unique in the sense that it let you do some more free-form exploration, sort of like earlier Final Fantasys. In the Direct they say that unique free-roaming style will be present in the remake, as well as several other features from the original game.
Fire Emblem Echoes will be launching on the on May 19th, alongside two amiibo figures of Alm and Celica.
In case you thought that Nintendo had already forgotten about the Switch, they went on to announce that yes indeed, they are working on a new Fire Emblem entry for their next console, but it won’t be coming for a while. Slated for a 2018 release, the untitled game will be the first Fire Emblem on a home console since Radiant Dawn almost ten years ago. Given the Switch’s portability, and the success of more recent Fire Emblem games, I think it’s safe to assume we’ll be getting something more akin to Fates than Echoes.
In Fire Emblem Warriors, we don’t know much more than we did last week, but really, there’s not that much to know. If you’ve played Hyrule Warriors, or any of the other Koei Tecmo Warriors games, then you probably know what you’re in for. The only real new information is that the game will be available on the New 3DS, as well as the Nintendo Switch sometime this fall.
Last on the agenda was the long-awaited reveal of the previously announced Fire Emblem mobile game, which we now know as Fire Emblem Heroes. Heroes takes the traditional Fire Emblem combat and simplifies it down to an easier, and quicker, gameplay loop. Taking on the role of a summoner, you’ll be able to bring characters from past Fire Emblem games together to make your own idealized team of anime cuties.
If you’ve ever played a game like Granblue Fantasy, Kancolle, or Final Fantasy Record Keeper, you definitely know what players are in for. How much you can play the game will be tied down by traditional stamina meters and the like, and unlocking characters will be tied to a roulette you can only access via a hard-to-get in-game currency that you can more easily acquire through micro-transactions.
What’s particularly devious about this is that after your first “summoning” attempt to unlock a new character, the price will continue to go down for each subsequent attempt, but only if you keep paying right then and there. This type of practice isn’t uncommon for this type of game, but it definitely feeds into the dangerous “Well I’d be stupid not to do this!” mentality that most of these gatcha-style games inspire.
If you’ve never played these mobage-like games, or you just really like Fire Emblem, it at least seems like the game won’t be light on fanservice. The combat looks just like what you’d expect from Fire Emblem, albeit with some smaller maps and a lighter user interface. For presentation, the direct also showed that characters featured in the game have had new lines recorded for them, and have been redrawn in some really lovely new art by several different artists.
Fire Emblem Heroes will be launching on February 2nd on the Google Play store, and on Apple devices at a later date.
UPDATE: Fire Emblem Heroes will now be launching simultaneously on both iOS and Android February 2nd.
All in all it makes a lot of sense why Nintendo would’ve delayed this information dump to this week instead of as an aside at the Switch Event. Even with their already slim showing for launch-window titles, saying that yet another one of your franchises won’t be getting a Switch release for another year, but your old handheld will be getting one a couple months after your new one’s launch would not have looked great.
With how much support is being made for the 3DS in-lieu or alongside the Switch, I’m left wondering just how optimistic Nintendo is about the Switch’s success. Whatever the case, at the very least, we’ll have a lot of Fire Emblem to dig over the next year, and I won’t be complaining about that.