Hothead returns with a futuristic take on its CCG franchise.
Regular Modojo readers may recall a game we reviewed back in March called Rivals At War. A card-based battler, with all of the standards established in this bloated genre over the last 12 months, it differentiated itself from the rest of the pack with a very clever battle system. Having crafted a deck of fearless warriors, you then had the option to watch the combat play out on a 3D battlefield, complete with sniping, base capturing, and objective clearance.
Given the title of this new edition, and how quickly it follows on from that first game, it shouldn't surprise anyone to learn that Rivals At War: 2084 is pretty much more of the same, albeit with a technologically advanced, futuristic flavor. Gone are the grizzled grunts of the first game, replaced here with a host of creatures and combatants who wouldn't look out of place in a Mass Effect game.
Just like last time, you begin with a core deck of warriors. As well as fielding basic soldiers and support team members, you can also choose to deploy precious tactic cards at the start of the match, each one of which adds a defensive or offensive trick that affects how battle plays out. With your deck assembled, you can either let the game rolls its die behind the scenes to discover who emerges victorious, or watch the action play out in front of your eyes.
This ability to watch the combat in action was the first game's secret weapon, and judging by how much love and attention has been lavished on 2084's system, you suspect the developers know this too. Animations are even slicker, combat feels more fluid, and it's simply more exciting to watch. We're still not sure how much of our deck-tinkering is directly manifested during these combat reels, but it's an impressive system nevertheless.
The other draw of the game is, of course, upgrading your deck over time, and there are booster packs galore to be greedily unwrapped. Some are available for game currency, while the most powerful are unlocked using a premium currency. As a result, that pay-to-win concern from the previous game persists, although a Facebook-powered Rivals mode allows you to play on a more even battlefield against real-world friends you can trust to play fair.
There's no question that Rivals at War 2084 represents a much improved experience over the original. The level of polish lavished on this new edition makes that first game seem almost like a prototype, and existing fans of the series have much to be excited about. We're still of the opinion that the very best multiplayer card battlers require an even playing field that's free of in-app purchases, but Rivals remains the champion of this particular free-to-play scene.
What's Hot:An enhanced version of the original game that fans are going to love.
What's Not:As with the first game, 2084's innovations are largely cosmetic. In-app purchases are a path to pay-to-win.