To kick off our inaugural post, let’s begin with a very competent, long lasting, addictive mobile game.
Mobile games have such huge potential to satisfy that base building creative urge all us Brainiacs feel. You can take them anywhere, immediately start playing, and have the play sessions fit around any activity you’re doing. You only have to load the app and play for a few seconds to collect your resources and you’ve accomplished enough for the next few hours.
But they also need to be able to hold up for extended play sessions. This is where the pedigree of Boom Beach’s developer, Supercell really comes into it. Creators of another little app you may have heard of, Clash of Clans, Boom Beach is up to the task of keeping you occupied for a good 20-30 minute play session.
Being one of the more popular apps on the app store also means there’s no shortage of strategy guides, clone apps, and bootleg lego minifigs. Bringing with it a large and active playerbase.
But how’s the base building?
The core gameplay revolves around building up a small military base on your own little tropical island. Taking place in an archipelago, you discover the Black Guard are invading neighboring islands and enslaving the inhabitants for…….well, because they’re evil I suppose.
I’m happy to say however Boom beach consists of two parts base building, one part invading, at least how I played it. Your base is where you’ll spend most of your time, arranging your defenses, building new resource buildings, and upgrading your various constructions. You start with a relatively small area, most of your island hemmed in by trees and rocks that you’ll be able to clear later. One major point in the games favor is it’s free form basis. You can only ever view the game from one isometric perspective, and your buildings all snap to a grid, but the grid is very condensed and allows you to build in pretty much any way you please.
Foregoing the lack of rotation for the ability to build symmetrically pretty easily, I’d say this works well for phones and tablets. You can see my base on the right there, though to get to that point you have to make a pretty sizable time investment.
The customization of the bases in Boom Beach is one of its’ greatest strength however, and helps to dull the pain of some of the gripes I have with it (we’ll come back to those). There are PVP elements in that, as well as the AI bases that invade the surrounding islands, you’ll also run into other players, their bases appearing in place of a Black guard occupied island. It’s always a worry when a game becomes as popular as this one has that you’ll see a large amount of homogenized layouts as strategy guides and pre-defined bases rise to the top as being more effective or efficient.
I’m glad to say though, this isn’t the case from what I’ve been playing. Every player base has been different, with their own strategies in mind, being able to almost follow the thought process of their creator when designing them. You have your usual clump-everything-in-one-corner types, but the more interesting ones vary wildly and can offer a lot of new ideas for your own designs. This brings in a constant stream of inspiration for moving forward, and brings me on to my next point.
You can, and will, be attacked.
Other players can attack you, and if your base is destroyed, you will lose resources. However, every time you are attacked, you are able to see a replay of how they attacked you. What troops were deployed, what abilities they used and what they went for first. And while they have access to the same troop types as you (depending on your relative levels) the makeup and distribution of those troops is just as varied as their bases. You might find one high level machine gun is enough to hold back a few boatloads of riflemen, but it isn’t going to do squat if a few heavies come rocking up the beach. So you’ll need to plan for different unit compositions, how they’ll use their abilities, build in redundancies, fallbacks, strategise. This is where BoomBeach shines.
Another nice touch of it’s pedigree is that after almost every upgrade, your defenses, resources and buildings will update their model to reflect that. Meaning once you have an eye for it, you can tell an enemies level 1 pea shooter from their level 20 ‘get-the-hell-off-my-lawn’ ultracannon.
Monetization, mistakes, and pitfalls…
For all it’s shine and polish, for all the nice little touches and well thought out design, there are some problems with Boom Beach, and they are big ones.
There is no need to buy the premium currency, at all, ever.
The premium currency in Boom Beach is Diamonds. And they allow you to instantly upgrade building, replace troops, and complete research without using any of your in game resources. Pretty standard, but the currency is incredibly undervalued. You get so little gems compared to the amount of real world money you pay for them, not to mention how expensive it becomes to finish that research or upgrade that sniper tower when you’re more than an hour or two into the game. In most cases, it’s better just to spend the in game resources and wait for the timer. And you might think that would be a positive, and normally, you’d be right, but this leads to my biggest gripe with the game.
You can only ever build one thing at a time, this cannot be upgraded.
I like to consider myself a reasonable brain in a jar. If I put twenty hours into a mobile game, I’m perfectly willing to spend a few dollars to unlock an in game upgrade. And usually in games of this type, that comes in the form of an extra worker or constructor or however the game like to package the ability to build more than one thing at a time. But here it simply isn’t available. So when it’s going to take 18 hours for that upgrade to finish, and your resources are stockpiled as far as they’re going to go, you may as well put the game down and walk away from it for the next few days. And that is never a thought you want to have about a game you enjoy playing.
Oh, and let’s not forget that it can’t be played offline. You weren’t getting away without me bringing up that infuriating little tidbit.
But hey, at least you can cackle like a maniac when the sorry sod that attacked you didn’t see that multi-barreled rocket launcher you hid in the trees.