The world has evolved in many ways over the recent years but none more so than video games on mobile phones. Smartphones not only hold the key to where casual gamers seem to convert into more serious gaming but it also holds the highest figure of accessibility that publishers can shoot at, and score. This, of course, brings us to this years SA Gamer Awards 2017: Best Free-to-Play (F2P) title.
F2P titles in the past have always been something that I would download, play for 30 minutes or until the gimmick wore off and delete. We all know the saying that “there’s no such thing as a free lunch”. So why should something we would get for free be any good right? Well, that might have held some truth in the past, but not anymore. These titles have evolved passed just wasting your data. They now create massive followings and sometimes even sustain a higher player base than what you would find in a paid game. What’s more is the fact that they also get updated regularly and this years best F2P (SA Gamer’s) has been updated so many times that even I’ve lost count.
Fire Emblem Heroes
Fire Emblem Heroes released in the early period of the year. In fact, it released so early in the year (2nd of February) that some would think that it’s not a 2017 title. Since launch, this tactical RPG has surprised and stunned fans across the world. The Fire Emblem series has never been as popular in the West as much as it is in Japan but with the release of titles from the series such as Fire Emblem Awakening and Fire Emblem Fates the popularity seemed to have spiked just enough to release what I believe is a mobile hit for the year of 2017 and SA Gamers best F2P game of 2017.
With more regular updates (sometimes daily, often weekly) than I’ve ever seen in a F2P title, Fire Emblem Heroes is basically the game that keeps on giving. Yes the downfall is that it is, unfortunately, a gacha game which means when you’re summoning new heroes it’s basically up to chance or luck on whether you’ll receive the hero you want let alone the rarity you want, but the game does balance out evenly once you acquire the hero you want by granting players a higher chance of success in events known as Focus Summons. And although players have to purchase Orbs to summon more heroes if they run out, I found that with so many events constantly being released, the game is always providing free Orbs. Not really a smart business plan by the developer especially since the game is F2P but hey the players are benefiting from this after all.
Intelligent Systems and Nintendo have really captured the essence and soul that is Fire Emblem in this mobile version spin-off with characters from across the franchise, special events held to battle against other players, well-designed map layouts through the game’s chapters and also a variety of difficulty levels combined with the feature of the players being able to customize or merge their heroes to create even stronger battle units. Although it may not be on the same highly developed stand that its mainline counterpart titles are on, it really can hold a flame to the candle that is Fire Emblem.
Runner-Up: Dokidoki Literature Club
Honorable Mentions: Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp, Skyforged, Fortnite