This week I played a fair amount of Fire Emblem: Heroes. I started out thinking this would be a slightly more complex Pokemon game. Instead of collecting manz, you collect anime boys and girls. Instead of fighting a series of one-on-one battles, you fight on a small grid where positioning is important. There are even type matchups, albeit only three. At first glance, this seems like a winning formula.
What I found was that the overwhelming number of currencies, the rock-paper-scissors style gameplay, and the grinding of newly summoned heroes just pushed me back to Fire Emblem: Awakening on my 3DS. Oh...and Dandy Dungeon. Now that's a free-to-play game.
The most confusing part of FE: Heroes is that it doesn't even provide a strong incentive to engage with its only profitable mechanic: summoning. In other Fire Emblem games you can turn on permadeath, meaning that if a character falls in battle, they're gone. The size of the team you can send to fight also varies by map, and may well exceed the total number of fighters in your roster. None of this is true in Heroes. You can bring 4 heroes to every battle, and if anyone goes down they're available in the next fight. I get that collection for collection's sake is not uncommon for these types of games, but the value for money feels especially low here.
We asked developers how they would fix Early Access
A new Early Access platform called EarlyNinja drives a discussion about the problems with this growing model of game development. The consensus seems to be that players are either not fully aware of or not fully considering the risks of Early Access before they decide to pay.
Final Fantasy XV and the 'Empty Paradise' Problem
Connor Trinske highlights the ongoing issue of games that give you a huge sandbox and then neglect to fill it with anything interesting. He expresses hope for the Final Fantasy series and urges the developers to learn from the likes of Rockstar and CD Projekt Red when building the next entry.
The rebellious rise of road trip games
Speaking of cruising around in a car with nothing else to do, Rick Lane takes a look at the emerging genre of road-trip simulators. The games being released in this category are all going for something a little different, but they all seem to evoke that "it isn't much, but it's yours" type of first car feeling.
Nintendo Wants Players to Look at Each Other Again
The subtitle of this article is "But will they want to?" I haven't touched a Nintendo Switch, but I've seen some of those videos, and right now my answer is "Not for long". Jon Irwin gives evidence that Nintendo has wanted to get away from its reliance on screens for years, and explains how the Switch is trying to accomplish that goal.
'The Church In The Darkness' is Literally a Cult Game
This is the kind of thing that I think video games do best. They can place you inside parts of society that you've only heard about, and force you to interact with them. In the article the developer points out that people believe it should be easy to spot a dangerous cult before they become dangerous, but in reality it's much more complicated.