Luckily for my sudden onset of insomnia tonight, it seems I have a new distraction to mull over beyond Superstar Saga. And writing overly long diatribes about Superstar Saga that I’m going to have to cut down to a more manageable form for a general newspaper audience.
Seriously, Sarah, if you wind up reading this… I’m sorry that I might wind up being more of a pain than I’m worth for the next couple of days with that review article.
But this isn’t the place for pre-emptive apologies. That can come at the end of this post. As the title suggests, we’ve got some Fire Emblem to discuss.
This morning, Intelligent Systems has graced the world with an update to Fire Emblem Heroes, bringing us into the 1.8 version of the game. Thankfully, there isn’t a hell of a lot to this big update like there was with the last few, so I hopefully won’t be hating myself when I have to get up later.
The major addition with this update is a little feature we’ve been waiting on for quite some time: Seal Forging.
Now, for those of you who are uninitiated in the unending and relentless cult of Fire Emblem Heroes, Sacred Seals are items you can equip to your units that allow them to utilize a fourth passive skill on top of the “A,” “B” and “C” level skills they can be summoned with or inherit.
These Sacred Seals can make a number of new possibilities open up for unit building and team composition overall. A few of my personal favorite examples include giving a unit like Reinhardt the “Quickened Pulse” seal that allows his special attack to pop off more often or giving a unit like Eirika a seal like “Fortify Resistance” so she can passively buff an additional stat for her allies at the start of a turn.
We’ve had a number of means of unlocking these Sacred Seals in the past, most notably through special Sacred Seal missions that cycle through on occasion, as rewards for completing Squad Assault challenges and as tier rewards during Tempest Trials:
The issue many players have had with these seals is that most have been stuck at a basic level 1 status, with no sign of additional level 2 or 3 variants being released anytime soon.
Enter: Seal Forging.
Though to allow Seal Forging to enter the conversation, we do have to take a step back. You don’t just get the ability to forge Sacred Seals right away, after all.
Thus, enter a new Intermission mission that players can unlock after they defeat Chapter 13 in the main story of the game.
Strangely enough this Intermission is the first of its kind and seems somewhat out of place as a result of being only one mission with no additional associated quests. The developers do make this strange addition make sense in the context of the story’s plot, however.
If you don’t remember what happened last time in the ongoing Fire Emblem Heroes saga, you can see me ramble about it in my post about the Crimean heroes some time back. If that’s a ‘too long, didn’t read’ kind of situation for you, then here’s the basics:
The Order of Heroes’ old ally Zacharias turns out to be their new enemy Prince Bruno, who fights against them because his bloodline makes him have an insatiable bloodlust because of something something evil dragon magic, so on and so forth in that classic Fire Emblem flavor. However, he revealed at that point that he still cares about his friends in the Order, and wants to help them help him so he can be friends with them again.
That’s the brief blurb about it, anyway.
This Intermission kicks off just about directly after that happened, when Anna leads the team to an ancient ruin called the Eternal Sanctum after Zacharias told her they could unlock more of their power there.
You go, you conquer, and at the end of the mission the team finds instructions for the Seal Forging ritual, which the team takes back home and unlocks for the player’s future use.
Really it’s as simple as that, even though I made it much more wordy than it had to be.
Once you unlock the option to forge Sacred Seals, you gain two abilities: Creation and Enhancement.
These options do exactly what you’d expect just off the names alone.
- Creation mode: As the name suggests, allows a player to create a brand new Sacred seal that they do not already have. Currently there are only a few options with the “Spur” skills and brand new “Deflect” skills, with the latter being more expensive than the prior to create.
- Enhancement mode: Again, as the name suggests, allows a player to boost the power of an enumerated Sacred Seal they already own. With this, “Breath of Life 1” can grow to eventually become “Breath of Life 3,” providing all the benefits of a third level skill as an add-on to a hero.
Both of these abilities take Sacred Coins, an item you receive as rewards for getting good rankings in the Arena Assault mode. Before now these items were completely useless and just taking up space, so I’m glad they can now be used for something.
Though, because I never took them seriously, I never actually spent a lot of effort earning them… So looks like I’ll have to take Arena Assault mode a bit more seriously from here on out. They are also adding them as rewards in other places like quests and through Tempest Trials from here on out, so that’s definitely a plus!
That’s really about all there is to say about Sacred Seal forging at this point. All and all I’d say it’s a quite welcomed addition as a means of making units more powerful for both casual and Arena play. Plus, it fills in some knowledge gaps as far as letting us know what certain things do that previously had no purpose, so it’s satisfying in that regard.
Yet, I wouldn’t argue I’m personally blown away by this part of the update. It’s definitely nice, but I’m not enough of an Arena junkie to feel like I’ll get an exorbitant amount of use out of the system outside of an underlying drive to collect everything.
I can probably blame Pokémon for that one now that I’m thinking about it… But that’s another story.
Seal forging isn’t the only thing that was added in Version 1.8. It was certainly the biggest thing that was added, but there are a number of more minor aesthetic and mechanical adjustments that are actually wonderful additions in terms of making the entire user experience with Fire Emblem Heroes more smooth.
There are three other changes that the game felt were important enough to spell out in more detail as a part of this update, so I figure I’ll break them down the same way.
Now this is a change I can get behind. When playing Fire Emblem Heroes, I’m a huge culprit of the ‘look at a mission, then change teams up to fit said mission’ phenomenon. If that is, in fact, a phenomenon most players encounter.
Either way, the inconvenience of this issue is now a thing of the past. Instead of having to jump through seemingly 20 different pages to go from the entrance of a mission to the team editing screen, you can now go to team editing right away thanks to an extra button just at the bottom of the confirmation screen.
As you’ll see again with the other two things here, this change is all about convenience for the player, as just the fact that it was added at all leads me to believe other players had just as much to groan about as I did in regards to how long it took to get to the editing teams menu.
So good on you for listening to that bellyaching and turning it into constructive criticism, Intelligent Systems. I certainly know I appreciate the change.
Much like going to the team editing screen from a battle confirmation screen was a pain, so was going from a battle confirmation screen to the menu showing off whatever quests and missions you had available. If you were trying to accomplish a mission with a certain goal on a certain level, flipping through those screens was almost a necessity.
Luckily, thanks to Version 1.8’s push for convenience, that problem is also a thing of the past.
Now when you’re looking at missions you can go directly to wherever that mission is relevant for. Need to beat the Training Tower’s Tenth Stratum another six times? Well, here’s a button to go straight there. Plus, it works in reverse, which means you can go from the battle confirmation screen to the quests and missions tab and vice versa. Way cool.
However, I think my favorite part of this change is that it also added these:
Markers showing off which options include mission-specific things you can complete is honestly incredible. It again removes the need to flip between two pages to pick up on the information you need, but in a much more streamlined way.
I would probably argue this addition is my favorite part of this entire update, just because it’s exactly the sort of thing I’ve been internally asking for since the day the game came out.
With this one, what you see is what you get. Now there’s a more convenient button available (if you turn it on in your settings menu) to turn auto-battling on and off. During a game mode where you have to fight multiple teams in succession, this also keeps it on across multiple battles.
Simple convenience is the name of the game here, folks. Not too much to say, but the effort to improve the user experience is cool to see seeping through every inch of this game as time goes on.
Beyond those three, a number of other things were done that I figure are best left up to the concise words bestowed by in-game text:
- I haven’t played a lot with character supports beyond doing it for some stat buffs between my calvary units as a test run, but I guess it’s nice to see a more concise list of the benefits it provides right from the Support Rank icon. Don’t have much to say beyond that, however.
- Voting Gauntlets don’t happen that often, and an aesthetic change as small as darkening out the members of a team you have selected other than the one that will appear in the Gauntlet is definitely more of an unnoticeable change unless you’ve been playing this game as long as I have. While I did notice this before even reading it in the change log, I’ll say pretty bluntly that it doesn’t change my life much at all.
- Seeing every item you collect when using the “Accept All” option is a change that is arguably negligible enough to not have to be there at all, but I will admit there is something nice about getting a complete breakdown of what you’ll be earning should you be accepting items strewn across multiple mission and quest lines.
- Gotta love bug fixes.
While that’s everything new with Version 1.8, I also figured it would be worth bringing up the new Voting Gauntlet that started today, if for no other reason than to look back at this when it’s over and lament whatever choices I’ve made in the here and now.
The theme for this gauntlet is “The Blood of Dragons,” which pits Manakete against Manakete in a battle of the ancient bloodlines.
Not much has changed with this version in regards to the Voting Gauntlet system, other than the fact that supposedly adjustments were made in determining which army is stronger or weaker (which I really hope isn’t an actual fix considering what a meme it has become amongst my friends to send pictures of billion or trillion point differences in scores that read in-game as being the “same” as one another).
Though mechanically things are the same, there are some different rewards this time around for putting in the time to play:
Like I mentioned before in the Sacred Seals forging portion, now Sacred Coins have been added as rewards for completing Gauntlet-related quests. Between those and orbs, there are a growing number of incentives to participate as time goes on.
Personally, I’ll be participating on the side of young Tiki. She was one of my first five star units ever summoned, so there’s sentimental value there, and I also happen to adore her unrequited love for Marth in the canon of the games in which she appears.
I’m a sucker for that sort of thing, okay? Sue me.
If Tiki fails I’ll probably jump on the Nowi train since I get the feeling she has a strong chance of winning… But that’s a bridge we’ll have to cross when we get there. For now, I’ll just keep focused on supporting my girl as far as she’ll go.
Well, that about does it for another unnecessarily huge Fire Emblem Heroes post.
Seriously this was another relatively small update that I managed to turn into a 2,200 word post. How I do that is beyond me, but I sure hope that it clears out whatever issues I have backed up in my psyche in one way or another.
If you stuck with me so far, then thank you. As a reward, I’ll treat you with this: My favorite picture out of Mario & Luigi Superstar Saga so far.
Nothing like a good old game of Donkey Kong to really bring the world together.
It’s either this one or blowing up the fat skeleton in the shipwrecked S.S. Chuckola, but that also requires some extra explanation to truly appreciate the fatso jokes, so… Yeah. For another time.
Like I mentioned at the beginning of this post, I’m actually working on an article for the Daily Titan reviewing the Superstar Saga remake, so expect to see that by the end of the week. In fact, I have far more to say about the game than I’ll ever be allowed to publish, even if it’s probably going online-only, so expect to see an unabridged version of that review here on the blog not too long after.
Until then, let me know what you think of Sacred Seal forging and the other small changes from this update in the comments below!
If nothing else, I know messing with some of this stuff is going to be a wonderful distraction from having to study for my statistics exam this week. Seriously not looking forward to that.