Fire Emblem Heroes brings Nintendo's strategy series to your smartphone

(Image credit: Nintendo)

Hot off of Mario's smartphone debut, the next step in Nintendo's venture into mobile gaming has just been revealed.

Nintendo announced Fire Emblem Heroes is coming to Android and iOS during a Direct stream today, showing off its vision for taking the storied turn-based strategy series to its newest platform.

In Heroes, players call in a roster of legendary characters from past versions of the game - all the way up to the latest release in the series, Fire Emblem Fates - to fight in classic Fire Emblem-style strategy gameplay, with a few tweaks (more on that later).

Fire Emblem Heroes launches February 2 on Android devices and "soon" for iOS. The game will be free to download but, of course, will offer microtransactions starting at $1.99 a pop to purchase Orbs that summon new characters into the game.

In addition to Fire Emblem Heroes, Nintendo also announced three other projects in the series. These include an original, unnamed entry for the Nintendo Switch sometime in 2018, a remake of 1992's Fire Emblem Gaiden for the Nintendo 3DS, and a Dynasty Warriors-style spinoff called Fire Emblem Warriors for both the Nintendo 3DS and Switch.

Fire Emblem Heroes: How does the game work?

From a birds-eye perspective, Fire Emblem Heroes plays much like its classic counterparts. Players control units representing individual characters on an 8x6 board designed to fit smartphones, using each turn to wisely move and attack until they're the last one standing. 

Like past games, units can level up and get stronger through grinding battles, though it appears that other in-game resources will appear to help buff up your warriors.

In addition to characters from past games, the series' rock-paper-scissors gameplay is also making an appearance. With this, characters aligned with a certain weapon or element can gain a massive advantage if paired against a weaker counterpart.

What's different?

One big change that might make an FE fan scoff is the perceived lack of perma-death in Heroes. 

"Traditional" games in the series punished poor planning by having friendly characters who die in battle stay dead for the rest of the game - making battles tense and reducing carelessness, (even if we'd just reset the save anyway). 

Instead, it appears defeated heroes return to your unit after the battle ends. This sort of feature was added in later FE games to make it more welcoming to newcomers, but Heroes may be the first time it comes as default.

The other notable difference in Heroes is recruitment. Players can earn (or, more realistically, buy) Orbs to summon new heroes to join their side of varying roles and rarity. 

Players can choose what "style" of hero they recruit (should they need to make up for any weaknesses) but can likely expect the same-ol', same-ol', of pulling random characters from a hat, common in many free-to-play mobile games as users augment their army.

After Fire Emblem, the next game in Nintendo's library of IP planned for mobile is Animal Crossing - a series so primed for the pick-up-and-play style of mobile devices that, if done right, could easily make a killing in the App Store.

Parker Wilhelm
Parker Wilhelm is a freelance writer for TechRadar. He likes to tinker in Photoshop and talk people's ears off about Persona 4.