This week in Fire Emblem Heroes was like any other. A new summoning event started, this time introducing heroes from the fan-favourite Genealogy of the Holy War–and fans were generally excited to see what was coming next.
Today this excitement was mercilessly dashed for many, ironically by a very surprising and unprecedented move. A new Tempest Trials based on Holy War was teased, which was expected. The kicker: the summoning event released alongside it included a brand new and sought-after hero, Ayra: Astra’s Wielder.
Almost immediately, the Heroes community was flooded with disappointed and angry players. Previously, many of these same players openly praised the developers for making Heroes an enjoyable experience that’s friendly to non-spenders, a sentiment I share as well. So how did things end up this way and why the extreme reactions?
First of all, Ayra is a hugely popular character in some circles, being a strong and likable character from a well-liked game. She is essentially the progenitor of the badass and powerful swordswoman character found in later games. That said, although her popularity undeniably had an influence, worryingly, it is the least of the concerns.
For the benefit of those who don’t play, in Heroes, you obtain characters (heroes) by summoning them from summoning events (also called “banners”) using currency (Orbs) earned in-game or bought using real money.
Every two weeks or so, the game releases a banner that debuts brand new heroes and provides an increased chance to summon them. After this banner ends, the new heroes are added to the permanent pool of heroes (unless they are specified as limited-time heroes).
Sprinkled throughout are various other banners that promote old heroes. The purpose of these banners is to help players summon heroes they failed to get earlier or provide them with an easier way to get additional copies. These are usually thrown out randomly or to coincide with an in-game event, like the Voting Gauntlets and Tempest Trials.
This where the problems begin. Until this point, there has been a clear distinction between banners promoting new heroes only and banners promoting old heroes. This makes it easier for players to choose where to spend their Orbs–most will spend on the new heroes, but others may appreciate another chance to get the older heroes. Either way, the options are clear-cut.
The latest Tempest Trials banner subverts this concept by including a brand new character–Ayra–among two older heroes. This is incredibly frustrating. Perhaps not the best example, but imagine this was a trading card game. You could buy the latest booster packs or the older ones; that’s your choice. But here it’s like buying a re-released booster pack with only a handful of new cards.
Edit: The summoning rates I previously provided were incorrect due to a misunderstanding of how the numbers work. I apologise for that. I will talk about the rates later on, where it’s more relevant.
The top 4 bonus heroes include the 3 new heroes… and Ayra.
Now, in the developers’ defence, it’s understandable why they did this when looking at the Tempest Trial bonus units. Clearly they wanted to focus on the Generation 1 characters. There are exactly 8 of these characters in the game, which also happens to match the number of available bonus units. 3 of them are from the new banner, 1 from a Grand Hero Battle, 1 as a Tempest Trial Reward and 2 from an earlier banner.
So to make a relevant Tempest Trial banner, at least 3 heroes are needed, but only 2 are applicable (from the earlier banner). Therefore, they needed one more hero to fill in the slot. This is probably where they made a huge gamble. By adding a new “secret” hero into this banner, they could simultaneously generate a lot of buzz. Which they ended up acheiving, but maybe not the kind they wanted…
Alternatively, they could have added Seliph and Julia (the other Holy War characters) as bonus units and make them available from the aforementioned Tempest Trials banner. Yet, chances are, they are probably preparing a 2nd Holy War banner and Tempest Trials focusing on the 2nd generation (which Seliph and Julia are exclusively part of right now). So that option was likely thrown out of the window at an early stage, for better or worse.
The other problem is that, quite honestly, there was little need to put Ayra in a separate banner. Historically, most banners with new heroes featured exactly 4 heroes, although it has gone as high as 6 and has recently dropped to 3 starting with the previous non-limited banner, “World of Radiance”. The latest banner, “World of Holy War”, has 3 new heroes, so they could’ve easily fitted in Ayra as a 4th if they chose to.
In fact, doing so would have killed two birds in one stone, allowing “World of Holy War” to double as the Tempest Trials banner, seeing as how all 4 featured heroes are the highest tier bonus heroes. Sadly, the developers probably realised doing so was against their best interests, as there has always been a Tempest Trials banner. Plus they already backed themselves into a corner by excluding the 2nd generation units.
When people talk about DLC being part of the original game, but cut out to be resold to consumers for additional money, I have never felt that to be true with Fire Emblem. (Even if some of the DLC has been hit-and-miss and/or overpriced.) Here, though, it’s very hard to see how this is not comparable. If this was many months ago, there would’ve been no excuse for Ayra not to be with the other 3 heroes in the new banner.
Edit: The one saving grace of having Ayra in a 3-person banner rather than a 4-person banner is that the chances of summoning her are slightly better. In her current banner, there’s a 1% chance to summon her, whereas it would be 0.75% if she was an addition to the Holy War banner (3% divided by the number of heroes). That said, having her split like this still means having to divert your resources, so things would probably balance out.
The last and possibly biggest problem is one of expectations. Nevermind data-mining for a moment, once “World of Holy War” and its accompanying story missions rolled out, all players should have noticed Arden and Ayra as heroes in the story, but not available to summon. This kind of teasing has happened before with the likes of Legion, Clarisse, Tobin and Clive.
These heroes were excluded from the then-released banner and eventually made their way into the player’s barracks via Grand Hero Battles, Tempest Trials and whatnot. Therefore, it wouldn’t be any stretch of the imagination to believe Arden and Ayra would both follow suit. Of course, Arden has been confirmed to be a Tempest Trial reward, but they weren’t as kind with Ayra.
Those are the main facts and arguments, and I haven’t even touched on Ayra’s obscene stats and exclusive skills, which are a problem for another day–in this scenario, it’s merely more salt rubbed in the wounds.
At this point, even if you’re indifferent to the whole affair, that’s totally OK.
We are talking about a free game that mostly centres around collecting 2D waifus and husbandos. However, if you are a player who feels negatively affected by this turn of events, I urge you to voice your concerns to the developers.
Intelligent Systems in the past has been incredibly receptive to fan feedback–after all, we are the ones literally putting money in their pockets. They have made so many quality of life improvements over the 8 or so months of the game’s life, many of which have been widely suggested by fans. Therefore, hopeless as it may seem, letting them know isn’t actually so.
There are two main ways to contact the developers.
1. Via the game: Go to “Misc.”, “FAQ/Etc.”, “Customer Support” and finally “Feedback”. You can write up to 1000 words. For “Topic”, “Summoning” or “Characters” would be the best choices.
2. Via e-mail: Write an e-mail to fire-emblem-heroes-support[AT]nintendo[DOT]co[DOT]jp
Just bear in mind that you may not get a response (unless via e-mail). However, it’s very likely that the developers will read your feedback and, at the very least, they should notice the increased amount of feedback during this period, most of which is about Ayra’s inclusion.
The worst-case scenario that we should all try to avoid is Intelligent Systems not getting the message and continuing to potentially alienate players. Even if you don’t care about Ayra, who’s to say the same thing won’t happen with other games like Thracia 776 and Radiant Dawn? What if the character you’ve been waiting ages for is unceremoniously lumped in with others?
Anyway, thanks a lot for reading this–and hopefully we can get our voices heard so you don’t need to see me talk about this again!