The end of another year means the start of another chapter in the ever-expanding saga of Fire Emblem Heroes. Soon heading into its fifth year of service, Nintendo’s mobile juggernaut opens the pages of Book VI, the latest installment of Heroes’ story, as well as a wealth of other noteworthy goodies and additions in its newest update.
Here’s all you need to know about Fire Emblem Heroes’ 6.0.0 Update!
Summoner Duels (PvP in Fire Emblem Heroes!)
Unlike other turn-based strategy games, live PvP in Fire Emblem never works well, both on paper and in practice. With how ludicrously broken units and setups can be across certain titles, PvP turns into a bogged down waiting game, where the first player to actually make a move indubitably loses the entire match.
Fire Emblem Heroes has mostly relegated “PvP” elements to player vs. other player’s AI-controlled teams for the past four years in modes like Arena, Arena Assault, Aether Raids, and Pawns of Loki. So, the fact that developer Intelligent Systems was bringing an actual live PvP mode, named Summoner Duels to Heroes, was a huge shock (and probably the biggest part of the 6.0.0 update) to all players, knowing how PvP goes for this franchise.
There are a few caveats to this mode, however: unit restrictions, turn/action counts, time limits, and random matchmaking.
The unit restrictions thankfully make this mode playable at best and bearable at worst. Team compositions are allowed to have only one dancer/refresher unit and one armor save unit, which are armored unit specific skills that allow them to tank either a close or ranged attack for a nearby ally.
There is a time limit and round limit in place, ensuring that matches don’t take more than a maximum of ten minutes. Every player gets sixty seconds to make a move before it’s their opponent’s turn and all players get six moves per round. Every action and non-action (dance, galeforce-activation) counts as a move. Players who have more moves left by the end of the round earn the next round’s move priority. Every match lasts a total of five rounds.
The matches are won by two main strategies:
- Staying within the white-outlined capture zone with two more units in the space than the enemy
- Killing enemy units
Points are awarded for both strategies, with units killed by a player’s selected captain unit earning bonus points upon kills. The player with the most points by the end of the five rounds wins though completely wiping out the enemy team is a viable strategy provided the player is lagging behind in points.
Unlike most PvP modes, Summoner Duels is entirely casual, with no competitive ranking or matchmaking in place that other turn-based strategy games might tout. As a result, the mode is mostly stress and risk free. On top of this, the only rewards players can earn are total accumulated points, which are freemium to premium resources based on the number of collected points earned across all of a player’s matches.
Regardless of its stress-free design, Summoner Duels is still in its infancy and has a great number of incredibly strong to outright broken strategies dominating the current fledgling metagame. As mentioned earlier, armor save units are invaluable in this mode, hence the one-unit limit, and units with extended mobility (like cavalry or odd/even tempest users) that are incredibly strong and capable of hit-and-run tactics. Units with the canto ability, a movement tool that lets units retreat to a certain distance after engaging in an action, are forces to be reckoned with. Facing off against any or all of these units at once is bound to be a headache.
Still, the mode is quite fun to dabble in and mostly consequence-free thanks to the lack of a competitive ladder. Developers ensure more rewards for players down the line in future updates so there is really nothing to lose in the end. With some polish and future quality-of-life changes, Summoner Duels could end up being one of Fire Emblem Heroes’ premier game modes.
Book VI Begins
Every big numerical update also brings with it the next book (or season) in Fire Emblem Heroes’ storyline. So far, the Order of Heroes has ventured to the worlds of ice and fire, the realm of the dead, the dreamscape of fairies, and the land of dwarves and giants, all complete with Heroes’ Norse mythology roots.
Book VI takes players back to the roots of Heroes’ conflict, the clash between the Kingdom of Askr and the Emblian Empire, which was the primary story beat in Book I (and subsequently dropped for more exotic locations and story threads). As such, we will be getting more lore and fleshed out details of our neighboring empire to the north.
The premise of Book VI begins with the eponymous dragon Embla, chief deity of the Emblian Empire, consuming villages of Askr and Embla indiscriminately, leaving the Order of Heroes and the former enemy now temporary ally Emblian Crown Princess Veronica to investigate. The gods of Askr and Embla aren’t idle in this matter, sending their envoys Ash and Elm respectively to do their bidding, with the former becoming our ally (and free five-star hero) and the latter acting as an antagonist and main jobber.
Through the first two chapters, players become privy to the political infighting and turmoil the Emblian Empire is going through, with its current corrupt senate and a number of great houses determined to usurp Princess Veronica from the throne and install one of their own as leader, with Veronica being none the wiser to the machinations taking behind the scenes. The introduction of this political intrigue and backstabbing along with a new Emblian character named Letizia, who is something of an older sister figure to Veronica, is setting up for an interesting storyline that may conclude the Askr/Embla conflict once and for all.
The only real criticism regarding the story is something many players have been clamoring about for the past four years: chapter pacing.
With only five maps per chapter, the space for story progression is very limited. It would be in Heroes’ best interest to use every chapter as a springboard to keep the plot rolling but the game continues to stuff useless new playable character introductions within them instead of meaningful story beats. Thus, among the five playable maps, only two or three of them are used to actually move the story along, which massively stalls the pacing of every chapter. Book VI is no different. We sincerely hope this changes in the future but with no changes in the last four years, the probability is very low.
Launching alongside the new mythic hero, the bovine servant Ash, long-awaited characters from Fire Emblem: Awakening have finally arrived. The inclusion of Priam, Flavia, Basilio, and Miriel almost completes the full Awakening roster, leaving only Vaike, Ricken, and the rest of Awakening’s second generation as the final remainders.
Nothing too groundbreaking with the new banner. Flavia and Priam compete for a highly coveted team spot as red sword units, boasting strong personal weapons and statlines. Basilio is somewhat shafted, joining the banner as a demoted green axe unit with no personal weapon or notable fodder skills to give other units, aside from Atk/Def Bond 3. He’s the latest in a long line of green axe insta-demotes. Players can earn up to two free five star copies of Miriel through Book VI Begins quests. Though not pullable yet, she will become available to get in future banners.
But perhaps the most surprising thing about the new characters comes from the most unexpected place: Grand Hero Yen’Fay.
Grand Heroes are free units players can earn by beating said hero and their team during their map battle’s run, amassing a total of three copies once all maps have been cleared. Yen’Fay, despite being a notoriously unpopular character in Awakening, joins Heroes with a highly competitive swordmaster statline and a stellar personal weapon, making him a very capable and Free-to-Play friendly unit. This is a massive turnaround not just for Yen’Fay’s character but for Grand Hero Units as well, as many previous GH units were massively subpar or outright garbage.
We live in a time when Grand Heroes outshine their usually more premium counterparts.
Though few, there are some quality-of-life changes that come with the 6.0.0 update. Players can now sort their barracks more specifically thanks to new categories put in place to distinguish heroes from one another. Filters like Hero Type (Legendary, Mythic, Duo, Harmonic, Dance) and Version Number (Game version when the unit was added), make it very easy to sort, organize, and locate a hero of the player’s choosing.
As is the case with every monthly update, a batch of weapon refineries have come as well, giving longtime characters Libra, Nailah, Walhart, Loki, and Summer Tiki personal weapon upgrades that give them a competitive edge in the ever growing sea that is Heroes’ powercreep.
Also, thanks to the addition of Summoner Duels, a new profile card feature has been implemented, letting players show off their records to their friends list. With how starved Fire Emblem Heroes is in its social interaction/integration department, this is a welcome addition for the community at large.
The 6.0.0 update was one of the bigger content updates Fire Emblem Heroes has seen in a long time. With how much money this game grosses for Nintendo, it is no wonder it continues to expand and flesh out the mobile game in whatever way it can. Things will definitely not be slowing down for Heroes in the foreseeable future and we hope it stays that way.