Control, Dominate and Win with War Robots, an online third person PvP Mech style shooter
I have been a fan of video games, as far back as I can remember. Starting out with the original Nintendo NES, I advanced with each successive system all the way up through the current Nintendo switch. Despite the allure of the home consoles, I have grown most fond of portable systems. Starting with the original GameBoy, I advanced through the GameBoy Color, GameBoy Advance, then I skipped a few generations and purchased a Nintendo 3DS and a new Nintendo 3DS XL. Needless to say, I have played many games over my life. The best game has always been the game that I was able to play when I wanted to. Since I always have my iPhone and often my iPad, iOS devices have become my main gaming platform. Unfortunately, as I have aged, my free time has dwindled to next to nothing. With millions of applications on the IOS store, numerous games, numerous genres that should suit the fancy of anybody who may be interested in gaming, how do you choose?
Over the past year, I have grown very fond of the War Robots game. As you turn on the game, you see a robot (Rogatka) in a hanger, which is being outfitted with a machine gun. The graphics appear well done, and the art is very appealing. Being new to the game, you will start out with a single robot called the Destrier. The initial hangar loadout may seem overwhelming, but after a few battles, you will become an expert. Along the bottom of the screen, you will notice options to “Equip” and to “Change” your robot. This will not be important for the first few battles. The only button that you need to know at the outset is the “To Battle” button, along the top right of the screen. Once you click the “To Battle” button, you will have the choice between two game modes: “Battle Mode: Domination” and “Battle Mode” Beacon Rush.” The two game modes offer very similar gameplay but the Beacon Rush has a slight twist. The original game mode was the Domination mode and required your team of 6 robots to capture beacons and kill the other team. Each team member has anywhere from 1 to 5 bots in their hangar, built for long-range, brawling or mid-range/support. You start from a single spawn point and need, to work as a team, to capture beacons and dominate the map. If your robot is destroyed, you will need to restart at the home/starting point. Knowing that your opponent has to start back at their spawn point as well, you must work on a strategy to decide which of the bots you destroy first. Heavier, slower, bots take longer to get back into the fight. Lighter bots will allow you to get back into the battle quicker but you may not have as many hit points or weapon strength.
Battle Mode Beacon Rush has become my favorite gameplay mode. Instead of starting at the home each time, you now have the option to start at any of the beacons that your team has captured. You can still choose to start at the home/spawn point, but this mode has increased the benefit of all bot styles. You can rush to capture a beacon, with one of your quick bots, and then if destroyed spawn a heavier, slower, bot to defend the beacon. With the variety of maps, you will quickly learn which of the beacons are the main control points. There are 8 possible maps (randomly selected): Shenzen (based off of the city in China), Yamantau ( a mountain in the Urals), Springfield (three different possible spawn points provide for variation to this map), Dead City, Canyon, Power Plant, Moon, Valley (newest). As you play, you will generate silver currency (Ag) and you can use this to upgrade your robot, your weapons or to purchase weapons from the store. As you proceed through levels, you will notice that there are other currencies as well. If you are one of the top players for beacon capture, damage or both, you may be able to earn Gold (Au). The gold can then be utilized to purchase special robots and weapons or you can use it to speed up the upgrade timer on your upgrades.
As you play maps, you will get experience and money. As you progress even further into the game you will get gold for leveling up your robot and for advancing tiers: Bronze, Silver, Gold, Diamond, Expert. The tier system is really important and honestly very much appreciated. This may be one of the best IOS game systems I have reviewed. Instead of everyone playing in the same pool, this system allows similar ability players to be paired with each other. This also allows for similar weapons, similar robots and reduces the “Pay to Win” aspect that is present. If you are too good, if you pay to enhance weapons, if you buy robots with real-world currency, you will have an advantage. You may win matches, you may advance quickly, but then you will move out of the tier into the next level up. Thus, you cannot stay at the lower levels and dominate. By moving into successively higher tiers, you will move from top dog to the underdog. You must then reassess your robots, weapons and further decide what to upgrade. The second and third hangar slot can be purchased with silver and will not require anything but a short time commitment. The fourth and fifth slots require gold (1000 and 5000). Again, you do not have to pay any real money to get gold in this game. Time, skill and a good bit of luck, will allow you to obtain everything that this game has to offer. If you are less patient or if there is something you simply must have, you can pay for them.
After you hit level 15 a third currency becomes available to you. You will notice that the Workshop opens up at level 15. Here you can pay silver to research tech. You can access the workshop by pressing the icon to the left of your hanger, just below the “!” task icon. As you level up your workshop (max level 15), you will get to open more spots. This will allow you to stack the research and to purchase more points per day (buy them with silver). Each day you will be given free points, you can use gold to buy more points and you can generate the points with silver. This separate currency will allow you to purchase special weapons and robots that you cannot purchase with Gold or Silver. Each set of currency offers a variety of options. You can play the game with only silver bots, if desired. However, the Gold and Workshop point robots offer variety and some special benefits that you cannot get with the silver robots. For example, as you collect 15,000 Workshop points, you can buy a Rhino (2 medium and 2 light weapons), which can rush into battle with a forward facing physical shield. Rockets may hurt your bot quickly and you do not have any protection from side or rear fire, but you can eliminate the player who thinks that they can take you head to head. You may buy a Fujin (15,000 Workshop points), a very heavy bot with two heavy turret points. Enter into Bastion mode and deploy your two forward facing physical shields. For beacon rush, this is the perfect beacon defense robot. Make sure your back is protected and destroy nearly anything that gets in your way. Personally, if you want to feel like you are in beast mode, wait until you are the Fujin and it takes multiple opponents ganging up on you to win.
You can also opt for a lighter spider style robot called the Raijin. This four-legged robot has three medium weapon slots and a forcefield that deploys when it is in its turret mode. It is a disadvantage to only have the shield while stationary. However, the firepower of three medium weapons is simply amazing. If you have a team-oriented group, one of your players can actually push you in turret mode to a more favorable location. Additionally, your forcefield protects everyone inside of it and not just you. There are two more Workshop point robots to discuss. The first is a robot with stealth (The Stalker 7500 Workshop points) which cannot be targeted for a short while. This option is incredibly handy for beacon capture and for end game. You can deploy your short 8-second rush (16-second cool down) into the shield of the Raijin and unleash your dual light weapon firepower and then run away. Be cautioned, however, rocket splash damage can still hurt you. With a good amount of health, this bot is worth the purchase. The last of the Workshop bots is the Carnage (13,000 Workshop points). This bot is incredibly fun to play and has a forcefield, two heavy weapons, and a rush ability. This is a predator, ambush robot and can take on heavy robots if played appropriately. You can choose long-range firepower (sniping), brawling power (thunders) or support range (Zeus, Trident).
The gold bots are set up very similar to the Workshop point bots. The cheapest option is the Gepard (Cheetah in German) costs 1200 Gold and is one of the fastest robots in the game. It has three light points and will allow for massive firepower when fitted with 3 pinata rockets. Run into battle, deploy your rockets and then run away, before your enemy has time to counter. Jumper robots are faster than the Gepard, but the sustained speed of this robot is not to be ignored. At the outset, gold is more important to save for hangar spots. The next Gold robot is worth 2500 and is the Rogatka. This robot has the capability to jump (like the Cossack and Griffen silver bots) but has two medium weapon slots. This robot is one of the fastest and most versatile in the game. With the introduction of the “British Bots” (Brit Bots or Shield bots), the game saw the Gareth (1250 Gold), Galahad (2500 Gold) and the Lancelot (5000 Gold). These numbers may seem overwhelming, but they can be obtained through regular play. The Gareth is quick, has a physical shield and 1 medium and 1 light slot. The Galahad is slower but has more hit points and an extra light slot. The Lancelot is a beast with a physical shield, more hit points and 2 medium and 1 heavy weapon slot. This robot has a lot of end game opportunities when you install an Ancile shield (purchased with gold and provides the same shielding as carnage and Raijin) and two medium weapons. When upgraded, it will take a team to take down one of these heavy bots. Lastly, you can be a Fury. Just like the movie that shares its name, this thing is a tank. For 5000 gold, you get over 120,000 hit points and three heavy weapon slots. Provide heavy long-range fire or add three thunders and absolutely destroy anyone in close combat.
The silver bots, although a little blander, are still incredibly useful bots. The Cossack is a very cheap bot, with the option of quick jumping. At level 9 this bot is possibly faster than the Gepard but lacks firepower. It has a single medium slot, which may be ideal for rockets or possibly installing an Ecu shield (physical shield). Use the bot to capture beacons for the heavier robots to defend. You can buy more Destriers, which have two light points, a Schutze (looks like an ostrich) which is a fast bot with a single heavy point or opt for the Vityaz (500,000 silver) for a single heavy and two light weapon slots. For 500,000 silver you can also purchase a Golem (1 heavy, 1 medium, 1 light) or Gl. Patton (4 light) weapon slots. They both have just over 70,000 hit points initially and will provide a good firepower to survival ratio. For 1.7 million silver you can get a Leo, which has 155,000 hit points, a heavy and three light slots. It is a slow bot but is a meat shield. Also for 1.7 million, you can purchase the Griffin, which is likely the most utilized bot in the game and the Natasha. The griffin has jump drives as well as 2 medium and two light points. This combines the firepower of the Gl. Patton with more hit points (110,000) and versatility. The Natasha is considered the poor mans Fury. You get 2 heavy slots, 2 light slots, and 120,000 hit points. The downside to the Natasha is its speed, this bot is slow. You cannot have all of these bots at first, you must level up steadily to unlock them. This is another feature of the game that is quite rewarding. As you level up, you unlock the cooler bots and the better weapons/features. This mechanic really keeps you playing.
You may notice that I have left out a few of the newer features. Pixonic has introduced the “America” bots, with the Jesse, the Doc, and the Butch. These are known as the quick draw bots and unfortunately, I have not earned/won one so far. The Jesse bot has 4 light slots but only 2 are available at any given time. You will need to press the quick draw button to quickly switch between your pair of guns. Unload rockets, then switch and unload another salvo, while your previous rockets reload. The speed is good and the firepower matches that of the Gl. Patton. The Doc has 73000 hit points initially and has the same Quick Draw option. Instead of paired light weapons, the Doc has 2 pairs of medium weapons. The Butch has 79,000 health and has the option for 2 pairs of heavy weapons. These bots are currently obtainable through Influence points and require you to get friends to join through Facebook. This fourth currency has not been that easy to obtain because I do not bombard friends with requests. You can buy the points with gold, but they are very expensive.
The most recent currency available are Black Market keys. As you play maps you will earn up to 5 keys. You can be the worse player and get 1 key or the winning member of the winning team and get up to 5 keys. There are chests that you can open to win anything the game has to offer. For 10 keys you can win big items, if lucky, but will likely get silver, more keys or possibly one of the silver weapons. For 100 Gold, your chances of winning big increases, but you may still only win keys, higher denominations of silver, gold, better weapons/bots etc. For 1000 keys your chances increase even more. You can buy keys with real-life currency and as you open Black Market chests, you gain experience towards opening a super chest. The super chest is a special award, which lets you spin for a huge chance of special items. Personally, I wish that you could simply buy the items you want. The latest bot styles are the Dash Bots and you can only get those with lucky draws at present. Additionally, the latest guns the scourge and tempest are only available in this manner. Who knows how this system will change when Pixonic adds the component mechanic (future update).
Weapons are incredibly important in this game. Do you choose bullet style guns with the Punisher (light or medium version), Molot (light or medium version), the thunder, Kang Dae, Nashorn. Or, do you choose direct-fire rockets (Tulumbus, Pinata, Pin, Orkan, Tempest), targeted rockets (spiral, aphid, hydra), longer-range rockets (Noricum, Zenit). Or, do you choose energy weapons (Magnum, Gekko, Zeus, Trebuchet). You can opt to attach a physical shield, or an Ancile forcefield as well. The beauty of this game is you can modify your robots to your liking. Each bot has its set hardpoints (light, medium, heavy) and you can choose a weapon from that class to install into the robot. Although you cannot choose which of the maps you play, your play style will allow you to load your robots the way you like them. I love that Pixonic continues to update the game and to modify/balance out the robots. With each update, they are buffing and nerfing features. You may have an overpowered weapon that gets weakened and you may have weaker weapons (NORICUM/ZENIT) that receive enhancements. The rockets received a huge upgrade recently, yet the shield bots continue to get nerfed. Balance seems to be an important feature to the company, but they seem to be behind what the players are experiencing. For example, a recent buff to the Gekko lasers has led to nearly everyone using these gold weapons. At a range of 1000 meters, you can stand on the opposite end of the map and fry your counterpart as they are walking to you. Upgraded versions will absolutely destroy you, if you cannot get to cover. Imagine your carnage nearly dead, by the time it leaves its spawn point. Yes, this is incredibly frustrating. Even more frustrating, the trebuchet (heavy weapon) can reach the same distances but takes a long time to charge up for the immense damage. By the time I have fired at the Gl. Patton, with 4 Gekko across the map, they have essentially killed me.
Instead of complaining, these changes require a bit of strategy. I no longer start maps with my carnage, instead I start with a faster bot, to get to cover. I do not like that the Gekko benefits from quick targeting capabilities. Jumping really does not affect the laser much, nor does dashing. If the player is paying attention they can stay with you while you move. That does need to be modified in future updates. However, by modifying my play style, they tend to target someone else. I can use my Rogatka to jump behind cover and advance more quickly. Once they are focused on someone else, I can then use my long range bots to pick at them. Or, I can spawn my heavier bots in the advanced positions and then negate the range of the laser. You will focus your upgrades on certain weapons, only to have them become less effective. Again, not complaining, play the way you want, upgrade the way you want and enjoy this really fun, rewarding and interactive game. I wish that there was some form of communication, however. You will have maps that people are absolutely idiots. You will have others where it feels you have been playing with them your entire life. At the end of the mission you will be taken to a summary page. You can select the team icon along the top and see the hangar and weapon load out for each of the players. You can join guilds/clans and work with people as well. Again, you cannot talk during maps, but being in a clan, you can team chat after the map to work on strategy. This does provide a “Call of Duty” feel to the game.
The biggest complaint that many people have about the game is balance and the amount of currencies. I do not like the current Black Market system as the random draw piece is a huge turn off. I am not going to pay real-world currency for a dice-roll. If I wanted this, I would gamble and play craps. I do not want to gamble. I want to know that my money is going to enhance my robots, my hangar and to get what I want to purchase. Additionally, why should I buy a Lancelot or a Fury now, when I can randomly win one of these by collecting keys by simply playing the game. The only reason to buy gold at this time is to buy that must have bot/weapon or to speed up your upgrades. This may save you 1-2 days, but may also enhance your enjoyment in the game. The new user interface is better. I like the option to change targets quickly, to unload all of your weapons with a single button or to individually fire your weapons. There is rumor that new upgrade features to this game will introduce a hover bot, new methods of earning in-game currency/items etc. I would love more maps, more hangar slot options and healer bots or buff bots. A mirage feature would be amazing as well, where you could generate a hologram and run it around the map, to confuse the enemy. A carrier style bot would be amazing as well, where it could deploy smaller bots to swarm some of the heavier bots.
This game is so incredibly fun and keeps me coming back for more. It has not suffered the same stagnation as many of the games I have played and Pixonic does a good job at trying to keep the game fresh. Yes, there are issues, there are balance issues, there are so many currencies to acquire. If you want a Mech game with 6v6 robot battles and strategy, this is the game for you. Similar to many other group style games, you can choose to be a sniper, a brawler, or a support bot. You can load out your hangar with a variety of play styles or simply make it for long range only, short range only, or mid-range only. I think I have spent roughly $150 of real-world currency in this game. This is the most I have spent on an IOS game to date. However, when you consider that an XBox One game is near $70, without the $30+ season pass, I have essentially bought myself a game. I do not feel the money was wasted, as I really wanted a Lancelot and a Galahad. I do not use my money for quick upgrades as I am a patient person and I am willing to wait. I do not buy keys, as stated above. So, the gold went to purchase my fourth and fifth hanger spots. Pokemon Go is the only other game that has caused me to open my wallet for more (Incubators).
War Robots provides a great opportunity for portable gaming and you do not HAVE TO “PAY TO WIN” in this game. It is true that paying will advance you faster, but you can get everything the game has to offer without spending a dime. I look forward to further updates, further enhancements, new bots, and new features. You will have complainers with everything in life, especially when a change affects them. This is my favorite game, by far, and I play it nightly. I hope that they will increase the level cap above 30, introduce more options for workshop points, and increase the number of hangar slots. As stated above, I would love a healer bot, a mirage bot or carrier bot. One idea that I had was to create an A and B hangar. At the start of the map, you can choose option A or B depending on the map. This would definitely change the interaction. Regardless, I foresee this game continuing to be one of my favorites. I patiently await the flamethrower and to see how the components system changes the playstyle. See you on the map!
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