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There is a lack of engaging strategy titles for mobile devices, especially those in the 4X genre. While there might be some app purchase mockeries out there, not a lot receive a decent amount of marketing to spread awareness. Indie project War Worlds might not break this mold, but with a decent idea and basic engagement, it may surely be worth the look. Despite some underdevelopment issues in its current Alpha stage, this one-man project might aspire to great heights with some precise focus.
Games start with players getting assigned a random solar system on the gargantuan map that is the universe and its many planets. From there, the basic tropes of 4X strategy lets them explore, expand, exploit and exterminate. So far, most of the interaction will be done either on the large, overall map that contains all the solar systems of the universe or in construction screens from said systems. Each planet has a certain focus that can be divided by population growth, food production, mining and building new structures. These will determine just how well the colony strives and how fast they’ll be able to create new things.
Only a few expansion options exist at the time, though a foundation for additional content is set with a research laboratory that allows for more complex constructions. Other buildings exist to increase population, defense or production. A shipyard allows players to take their quest onwards, though only a basic amount of ships exist. However, here’s where it gets interesting. Money is mostly used to literally fuel the ships’ needs. While it’s also possible to accelerate building time with money, most of it is needed to send ships to other planets. In particular, the weight of a colony ship is accurately portrayed, as it needs a ton of resources and funds to undertake a voyage. Given its purpose is to start a new settlement from scratch, this mechanism definitely makes sense.
In order to explore, players can send scout ships to solar systems, which will report back on what enemy troops might be flying around. From there, it’s possible to send a wave of fighter planes to take gain air superiority and then troop carriers to wipe out any native or opponent colonies that might be present. Fighters launch an amount of damage at each other, while carriers simply represent one attack point versus a planet’s defense that gets depleted for each unit of measurement. Specifically, this means that if a settlement has 200 defense, the same amount of ships will be destroyed in order to free the space needed for a colony ship to deploy. It sounds rather cumbersome, but as time progresses and empires gain strength, it won’t be an issue to renew a ton of ships at once. If 4 planets in one system each make 50 ships, it will take roughly 4 hours to rebuild, given there are sufficient resources and dependent on the quality of the overall settlement.
This simplicity cuts at both sides. On one hand, gameplay is kept pure and simple, which allows its users to quickly manage their empire, build a few things and get on with their day. More so, not a ton of skill is needed to participate; merely making sure solar systems don’t run out of resources does plenty. Adversely, there aren’t a ton of downsides to the game, except the waiting periods necessary to create new things. Ships require no upkeep, so there’s no reason not to build them. The same goes for buildings, so there is very little management needed, besides the survival rate of planets. This can also affect balance, as larger empires hold a huge advantage against their peers. A sole buffer exists in generating enough funds to let the war machine flock to other empires.
Another possible deterrent is the requirement to be always online, as players are tied to their Google account. Now, this game is an MMO, so there’s no reason to think otherwise. That’s just a reminder for those seeking to explore on their own.
Potentially, this title could present a ton of great qualities, certainly as the sole developer is almost daily available for suggestions. Buildings follow a simple and understandable hierarchy, while combat isn’t obstructed by dozens of options and puts all players on the same playing field. Planets come in several shapes and sizes and solar systems vary in magnitude, which keeps exploration refreshing. Some planets might be radioactive and therefore have high mining affinity, but low population and terrible farming prospect. Others will be more suited for human life, but won’t aid towards the system’s production, because their form doesn’t yield sufficient resources. Planning just how to perform optimally can tickle the strategic brain at times.
Some improvements could be possible as well, though those aren’t faults per se. A better overview of the universe map could help explore to more faraway systems, though this optimization may apply to the interface in general. A few tabs are available so far to sort out fleets and colonies, but an idle construction button could facilitate progress. There are also talks of creating a rudimentary artificial intelligence, which would definitely add another layer of gameplay, as most planets are inhabited by dormant natives anyway. Having more than one side to worry about could aid players to stay invested in the growth and protection of their empire.
Playing for just a few minutes each time is possibly this game’s prime feature. Through just small increments of time, players can update and grow their empire and wait for more resources to become available. This promotes an organic growth that is captivating with just the right amount of interaction required. It’s also possible to prompt a wide variety of updates, for those that want to truly pinpoint their precision when it comes to management. Additionally, a big plus for the game is that this immense operation is completely free, even without in-app purchases. There are no buttons to complete resources by handing out a credit card number, no additional buildings that can be bought, better ships for those that pay; none of that mess. Each player gets the same means and the universe is the prize. It should be a given, but reiterating this in times of in-app hell scenarios can’t hurt now and again.
While basic in format, there are notable signs of a hopeful outcome for War Worlds. With just the few things it offers so far, there is already enough to start an empire and grow it to tremendous size. More so, no tedious amounts of micromanagement are required; just a few minutes suffice each day. With no price tag, an accessible outline and a strong connection to the community, this 4X game could turn out to be one of the first great ones on mobile devices. We certainly hope so.
As its name could land you with several hits on the Google Play store, we’ll save you the trouble. You can download War Worlds for free here.