The mobile city-building strategy MMO is basically overcrowded at the moment, and so a game needs its own gimmick in order to stand out against the competition. Sadly, very few games actually manage to achieve that. Most of the time, all we see are just identical free-to-play games built upon the same levelling up mechanic, with the same fantasy setting and the usual cliché story. There are not a lot of reasons for players to set aside their current favorite to give something new a try.

With First Hero, however, its gimmick is that instead of fictional characters, you’ll be controlling real historical figures, from the ancient Egyptian queen Nefertiti to famed French Musketeer D’Artagnan. These figures perform the role of heroes, empowering your common with special buffs and abilities.

First Hero Gameplay

That said, this is actually not what sets First Hero apart from its rivals. That honor belongs to the combat system, which is a lot smoother and more interactive than most other strategy MMOs. We’ll get to that later

First, let’s have a look at the basics. Just like with every other city-building strategy MMO, in First Hero you are given a small city, and your main task is to construct several different buildings and level them up over time.

The most important building of your city will be the Royal Palace. Only by enhancing it can you level up the other buildings, which in turn allow them to create better stuff. Moreover, upgrading the Royal Palace also unlocks new building types as well. Do note, though, that the Palace cannot be upgraded higher than your current character level.

And then there is the usual affair: recruit troops – which comes in different types, research new weapons, etc. All of these actions take time, which you can speed up using a certain in-game token. In the early game, you will have an abundance of these tokens, but they’ll quickly run out if you overuse them, so do be careful.

First Hero Building
Construct and upgrade buildings

Every time you level up your Royal Palace, a list will pop up on the left side of the screen, telling you all the new things you can now do. Naturally, you are encouraged to do everything on that list. There’s also a quest tab as well, which tells you exactly what you have to do, guide you to the exact location to do it, and then give you some reward once you’ve completed it.

Command and conquer

In addition to taking care of your own city, you need to expand your territory by conquering nearby domains. Each one that you successfully occupy will constantly give you Strategic Points, which you can pick up at your port. These are basically resources that you can then use to grow even further, just like with a real empire.

And of course, you will be vulnerable to invasions and counterattacks yourself, so every now and then you will have to stop what you’re doing and deploy an expeditionary force to fend off invaders. Investing in your defensive squad is also something you must pay attention to as well.

First Hero Conquest
Send your troops out to conquer nearby domains

Multiplayer elements are present, allowing you to join an alliance to receive assistance from other players. Vice versa, you should also lend them a helping hand in their times of need to return the favor. Upon reaching level 20, you gain access to the Arena. Everything is quite contained and friendly, though: Your only mean of communication after a battle is through an emoji, so there is no toxicity or unsportsmanlike behavior.

If you don’t like multiplayer, you can opt to play through the singleplayer Adventure mode instead. In this mode, you’ll take part in a series of battles, all of which are linked together by fun, quirky banters between the heroes. Each of these battles puts you against another hero, and then if you win, you can recruit him or her to join your cause.

First Hero Story Mode
Play through a story in the Adventure mode

There are other ways for you to obtain heroes too: by spending gems (the game’s premium currency). How much gems a hero costs depends on their quality.

All in all, First Hero is a very decent strategy MMO with pleasant cartoony art style, unique characters, and captivating dialogue. Even though the genre is generally quite complex, this game manages to provide a more streamlined experience without sacrificing depth. Thus, even newcomers can have a kick out of it. Our only real complaint about the interface is that later on, as your city gets busier, it can be quite hard to make out the details as the screen becomes rather cluttered.

First Hero Heroes
Plenty of heroes to collect

Battlefield fun

But as we mentioned, the best part about this game is its combat system. Battles will play out on a field divided into hexes, and you have a nine-unit squad under your command. There are 3 main types of units: infantry, cavalry, and archers. Each one of them counters and is countered by another, kind of similar to Rock-Paper-Scissor. For example, the cavalry is effective against infantry, but is at a disadvantage while facing archers.

On top of that, the heroes that you send into combat will have an impact too. They provide various buffs and skills to your troops. And you are also able to bring tactics into a battle. A tactic will take up a unit slot, and it functions like a consumable skill.

First Hero Screenshot
A surprisingly dynamic combat system

The battles in , First Hero feel genuinely dynamic, which is not something you see very often in a casual mobile strategy MMO. In addition to composing your troops, you can place them in any hex on the front line. As you push forward and gain ground, more hexes become available, meaning you’ll have more space to optimize your units’ position or flank enemy.

In conclusion, we had a very good time with First Hero. If you’re searching for a new strategy MMO to play – especially if you’re a newcomer to the genre and find it overwhelming or confusing – First Hero is definitely worth a try, for the combat alone if nothing else. It is currently up for grab on both Google Play and the App Store.