If you've been playing Nintendo's Fire Emblem Heroes [Free] for any length of time, you surely know the pain of a terrible 20-orb draw. You end up with a bunch of heroes you have no use for, and there's nothing to do with them but send them home for a meager amount of Hero Feathers. To address that problem, Nintendo has added a new system to the game called Skill Inheritance, which allows you sacrifice a unit to teach its skills to another unit. There are only a few restrictions, so you can theoretically create some very powerful units if you have the right stock to work from.

There's the rub, though. One of the nice things about Fire Emblem Heroes is that, so far, the gap between free players and paying players in the Arena mode hasn't been terribly wide. Because of the way matchmaking works, if you're stuck without any five-star units, you should still be able to find a reasonable opponent. At the moment, the game simply compares the stats of your team against the stats of the opponent's team. Sure, there are some cracks in the system, like tiny gods Takumi and Linde, but given the low probability of pulling specific heroes, you'd have to spend a great deal of money to guarantee getting those particular characters. More importantly, there are always ways of handling specific problem cases by using other characters.

The Skill Inheritance system up-ends the existing order. In its current form, it's extremely powerful, allowing you to teach up to three skills from one character to another. The sacrificed unit does not need to be of the same rarity level, so four-stars can feed a five-star hero quite nicely. On top of that, the sacrificed unit doesn't even have to have learned the skill yet, so you can dump your summoning fodder directly into the grinder. While there are a number of skills that cannot transfer, you can put together some very interesting combinations. For example, you could feed a four-star Lon'qu to Hector to pass on his Vantage 3 passive skill, allowing him to counter-attack first if his HP is 75% or less. And you thought Hector was strong enough as-is!

This seems cool, and hey, it kind of is, but not everyone is optimistic about it. A well-taught hero will now be leaps and bounds ahead of a stock hero in the arena, and due to the current match-making system being solely focused on stats, you would be just as likely to face one as the other. Pulling a specific hero is something of a crap shoot, but pulling useful sacrifices isn't too hard if you have some orbs saved up. Or, of course, if you buy some orbs. The concern is that this completely destroys the balance of the Arena mode, creating a huge gulf between the free players and the paid players to the point that the free players might as well not even participate.

Nintendo seems to have anticipated this problem, as the April updates are going to change how the match-making works. I can't help but wonder why the balance-breaking Skill Inheritance system went live before the balance-restoring adjustments to the Arena mode were ready, though. It seems like for the next few weeks, anyone who isn't lucky or spending some money is going to get bumped around pretty badly in the Arena. Of course, looking at how the game has risen in the Top Grossing rankings since Skill Inheritance went live, maybe that's not such a bad thing for Nintendo.

  • vicsark

    While I've not look at all the details yet, this article confirms my skepticism about this update. It feels like that such a feature could easily cause huge imbalances and create very OP heroes. It's kinda weird to add that to a game that had already some small imbalances issues like the Takumi dude. But those could be nerfed later or countered.
    Do any of the other Gacha games or CCG have this sort of features ?
    Though all in all FEH has been pretty generous with new quests all the time, a tournament, and lots of orbs to be gained for free every week. I'm surprised by the amount of follow through they had in store for this game.

  • 5hift

    Can't wait to roll into the arena with my Takumi-eating Frankenstein's monster of a Male Robin with Triangle Adept and Threaten Res.

  • yumtoko

    I hope they remove this honestly. Or at least change it to where units can learn certain new skills but giving them the option to have almost any skill kinda takes a lot away from individuality, at least in my opinion.

    • Brendan Charles

      Unfortunately that ship has sailed... There are so many beasts online now and IS can't exactly take them away... think of all the character's people have sacrificed to make those things... there would be people quitting or possibly even suing. The reason I say that is because people have been buying or packs to get people to sacrifice... if you were to take away their newly beefed up characters... those orbs would have been spent for nothing.

  • Xavier Rodriguez

    I havent lost a single battle since the update came out and i havent payed a dime or used the skill inherentance thing.