In regards to the Bridge captcha and everything else, I thought this was a well written piece on it.
I’ll just throw some thoughts up.
The gacha system on its surface is good until you scratch a bit more until you realize it’s bad again. The game has had droughts of orbs, to be honest, but usually is pretty good around the seasonal events of dolling out a large enough amount that you can at least buff up your 5* drop rate. They also surface the rates up front and it starts at 3%, after 5 pulls, goes to 3.25%, and grows from there at similar intervals. That’s within a banner though, so if you really want to pull a 5*, you need to focus your orbs on one banner. If it rotates out and you invested a bunch in it without getting anything, you’re SOL. The real sinister shit is the IV system that gives similar units (Lyn) different stats. So you could roll a Lyn that has -ATK, -SPD or something, but it’s 5 star. Well, in reality, that unit is trash.
In terms of the game itself?
Tempest Trials, for me, showed some severe flaws in the game. If you don’t know what that was because you missed it or whatever, the basic idea is that you enter a “dungeon.” The dungeon will have, we’ll say 5-7 maps, based on difficulty. The enemy stats are randomized and so are their skills. You go in with your group of 4. If they wipe, you pick a new group of 4 to go back into the map. If you killed any enemies, their hp is reduced slightly. If you lost a unit, won the map, on the next map, that unit will be lost. The way they phrased that in promotional materials was way more severe than what it was.
You did this to try and grind for the unique units and seals. You needed to grind a lot. Fire Emblem has some real shallowness in the game play department. Fire Emblem Heroes is at it’s best when you’re not “playing.” The dragging, clicking, all of that feels so time consuming, but pulling off a strategy feels great. The game is only complex within team and unit building. I have my own complaints about the Soul Inheritance system that could get it’s own essay. The game is great in terms of letting people, elsewhere, express great strategic thinking - if you need proof there’s some great videos of people clearing some of the hardest content with 3* units.
Grand Hero Battles are the highlight of that game for me because the second to second operation of the game stays the same. It becomes a puzzle to be solved. That is when the game is at it’s best. “I have these materials and this is the set up, what can I do.” Tempest Trials was pure RNG. Your materials to set up with were severely limited. The different configurations of skills created so many scenarios that it was difficult to just try and suss out some clear way forward.
There’s this prevailing theory that gacha games don’t need to hold up for long periods of time. They just need to work within 10 minute chunks. I play Puzzle and Dragons. It has it’s own systems. It operates like a mutated match 3 game. The various leader skills in that game and how moving the orbs works adds a crazy amount of depth. Instead of moving orbs the cardinal directions 1 space, instead you can pick up any orb and move it anywhere else. This also displaces other orbs. Move an orb a space to the left, the orb that it is moving over will move to the right. You have a variable amount of move time to move the orb. At the beginning, you make just a single match. Get experienced and you can pull off 7-10 string combos, depending on the board.
Puzzles and Dragons has some major power creep, both in the player’s abilities and in the dungeon’s mechanics, but with it has come some truly interesting mechanics. There are bosses that need a minimum threshold combo. They’ve introduced bosses that have a maximum amount of damage they take, or else they heal off of the damage. There are leaders in the game that even change the size of the board, fundamentally changing some play styles. There is so much variation and interesting things within that game and it has a staying power that feels like you can sit down and play it for a while.
Fire Emblem Heroes doesn’t have that. There’s always enough content coming out that you have something to do, but the way stamina works really pushes back on experimentation. There feels like a good tier of units that are just broken, and yet they all feel the same - it’s just that tier has better numbers. I play it here and there, waiting for it to improve, and just not sure if it will.