Mobile tactics game Fire Emblem: Heroes offers pint-sized battles and dozens of (slightly horny) heroes to collect. One thing it doesn't have is permadeath — until now. The game's new Tempest Trials brings a variation of this feature and adds much-needed challenge to the game.
The small battles in Fire Emblem: Heroes aren't terribly difficult. Even with an expanding catalogue of story missions and a battle mode that lets you fight other players' pre-assembled teams, the game never really offered much challenge. If you had tough heroes or paid attention to the game's Rock, Paper, Scissors-esque approach to weapons, you could easily succeed. The Tempest Trials, however, are pretty damn tough.
The core conceit for the Tempest Trials is the return of a major mechanic from the main series where characters who fall in battle are lost forever, at least within the sequence of battles you're fighting in the Tempest. This means that if you lose a precious hero, you must press on without them. Don't worry, they're still alive and ready to be used in the other game modes. Since Fire Emblem: Heroes is also a gacha game that relies on random chance to get good heroes from summons, killing them forever would be harsh.
Tempest battles have forced me to think far more tactically. Fire Emblem: Heroes had previously doubled down on heroes rather than tactics, dangling powerful units in front of players during major events and even tossing familiar characters into bunny suits or wedding gowns. Trying to last through a series of battles in which you can lose your allies brings tactics to the fore and reinvigorates the game.