Hi all. After last week's day of server issues, I tried a couple of FTP games from the google play store and just wanted to share my experience with them. The games were Sword Art Online, a game based on the anime series/comics of the same name, and Fire Emblem Heroes, Nintendo's attempt at bringing over some of their popular IP to a mobile platform.
TL;DR: Gems of War has better gameplay and is more generous than other FTP games in the google play store based on a small sample size of three.
- Sword Art Online
I loved the series of this game so was really interested to see how this conversion would turn out. It's extremely polished and has lovely cut scenes that took me right back into the series. But whilst the story is about a virtual reality mmorpg, this game is a 2D beat-em-up with swipe controls. There is a 'lobby' area where you can see other player's characters but there is no interaction with them.
I didn't enjoy the gameplay much as there is very little variety to it. You assemble a team of three characters, and these are made up of two types of characters (that I found), which are melee and ranged weapon. Characters have different special moves which activate after you use normal attacks. Enemies have different timings but essentially you swipe to block and then attack at the right moment. Yawn!
The character collection element is way stingier than GoW and it is hard to see how you could go about getting all the characters. There isn't much variety between the characters either. To be honest, as I didn't enjoy the gameplay at all I uninstalled this pretty quickly, so quickly that I can't even remember how character collection worked. Perhaps there are more complex/interesting mechanics further in the game?
- Fire Emblem Heroes
Downloaded this one yesterday when I saw that at last Nintendo have released a game for mobile! Oh wait, it kinda sucks.
FEH is a real time strategy game with screen sized maps and four troops per team. Maps have various types of obstacles like rivers, mountains, and breakable wallks.
Combat is based around the colour triangle where red is strong against green, green against blue, and blue against red. There are melee and ranged troops with different types of weapons/spells, and there are also troops that can buff and heal. Additionally there are different types of troop (on foot, on horseback or on a flying mount) which also have strengths and weaknesses (e.g. ranged weapons are strong against flying).
I played this one a little longer than SAO as I really wanted to like it, but again the gameplay element is just not that fun. Whilst I liked the fact that troops can buff and heal (as well as just attack) there just isn't that much strategy to it other than to put out a high level team that can exploit the other team's weaknesses. You quickly get to the point where strategy comes second to having a high level team.
Troops have lots of unlockable passive/active skills, weapons, and spells, but I disliked the fact that levelling up a troop is based on that troop killing opponents. This means that it's really difficult to level up a low level troop (although you can always spend your hard earned scarce resources to level up a weak troop).
The main downside here is the stamina mechanism, not just for gameplay but also for PvP (which, like Gems is actually player versus AI-playing-another-player's-team). This makes it a real chore to grind, as in order to improve your team you are constantly using stamina. And the harder the battle, the more stamina you need, so as the game goes on you'll actually be able to play it less and less. WTH Nintendo?
Collecting characters comes from 'orbs' which are won by completing story levels. You need 20 orbs to collect five troops (or if you want you can buy them for 5 orbs per troop). Each character has its own voice and has its own text for things like levelling up which is nice, and the rarest characters have a coool little intro video when you obtain them which makes it seem more special to find them. But at the end of the day, a rarer character is just a combination of a colour, a weapon, and a type, with higher stats than a weaker one.
GoW is not perfect but the number of troops and spell combinations makes for a much more interesting game, plus it is FAR more generous with its premium resources. I believe now more than ever that this is a well crafted game, as despite the simplistic match three mechanics there is so much depth to teambuilding that other free to play games just do not have.
I think that the spells element of GoW means that very few troops are truly useless, where as with both these games you will not look twice at the weak characters.
The only area where both games beat GoW is with story. Sure, they are both drawing on strong, tried-and-tested IP, but having a story where the characters have personalities and interact with each other is great. I'm afraid to say that GoW does not stand up in this area. The interaction between characters is limited and personally I hate how passive the hero is. I digress here, but I am basically a god in GoW - I have beaten and tamed deities, demons and angels, monsters and beasts and all other creatures in the entire world - and some stuck up princess wants to go shopping against her father's will so I just clear a path for her rather than instruct any one of my legion of souped up followers to send her home?
Finally I just want to say that I am not against any criticism of the game. I agree things can be improved, and that it is completely acceptable to make suggestions on how this can be done. And I am not trying to start a "isn't GoW great" circlejerk But having seen the competition I can't see any other collectable FTP android game taking me away from GoW. The devs aren't lying when they say how generous this game is with how much resources you can earn without paying.