Update: Fire Emblem Heroes will in fact launch for Android and iOS at the same time. Despite initially providing a date for the Android version and saying the iOS version would launch “soon,” Nintendo of America has now clarified it’ll be out for both platforms on February 2.
At its most basic level, Heroes plays out like any Fire Emblem game. It’s a strategy RPG with turn-based combat, a tile-based map, and a weapon triangle that dictates each weapon’s strengths and weaknesses. Maps are designed as 8×6 grids intended to fit the screen of a mobile phone. You’ll drag characters around to move them from tile to tile, with movement and combat apparently working like in a typical Fire Emblem.
The “Heroes” part of the name refers to the characters you’ll control and fight against–many of them are fan-favorites returning from previous games like Marth, Roy, Chrom, Lon’qu, Anna, Lyn, and Robin (your character in Fire Emblem: Awakening). Each one has a color that dictates where it stands in the weapon triangle, and they all have new artwork and voicework for Heroes.
Being a free-to-play game, there are some noteworthy differences from previous titles. Heroes adopts the popular gacha model used in many free-to-play games in Japan. Characters can be added to your team using Orbs, which are obtained by either playing or paying real-world money. Summons are random, although you can pick a certain color (corresponding to the weapon triangle) from a choice of five summoning stones to bolster a certain part of your team.
While final prices may still change, today’s livestream briefly showed Orb pricing; it ranges from $2 for three orbs to $75 for 140, and it looks as if higher-priced options may also be available. Summoning initially costs five Orbs, but repeatedly doing so from the same set of stones lowers the Orb price of each summon. Summoned characters are assigned stars that determine their stats, skills, and weapons. That means there may be a benefit to summoning the same character more than once, although it is possible to increase a character’s star level over time. New skills (of the active and passive variety) can be obtained by fighting enemies or leveling up.
Nintendo also promises “[f]ree and timely updates will add new characters and content for additional hours of gameplay.”
Unlike Super Mario Run, which debuted on iOS, Heroes launches as a free-to-play on Google Play on February 2. It’ll be available “soon” on iOS devices.