PREVIEW: Warstone TD

Warstone TD is one of many attempts at a Kingdom Rush successor. The game has some potential there, but isn’t without some flaws.

Steam: Early Access
Type: Single and Multiplayer
Genre: Tower Defense
Developer: Battlecruiser Games
Publisher: Battlecruiser Games
Release date: April 6th, 2017

Another Tower Defense steps up

Tower Defense games might get a bad rap as a genre among some people, but there’s one it seems everyone agrees is good, the Kingdom Rush series. Two of them are on Steam now, and have enjoyed plenty of positive reviews and sales. So it’s no surprise there are some that try to follow the leader a bit, but Warstone TD is an example of taking an established formula and trying to improve it. That’s certainly admirable, although there were some things I disliked about it.

…but it might need a lesson in brevity

The gameplay loop of Warstone is very similar to Kingdom Rush – you go to a stage, hopefully watch all the waves march into the perfect defense you’ve set up, then go back and choose upgrades before going to the next one. As I said though, everything has been expanded upon. Instead of two spells, you have up to four you can take into battle, and others that are one-time use occasionally drop from enemies. As opposed to the simple skill tree you had in Kingdom Rush, Warstone has three ones big enough that you have to scroll through them. The actual stages themselves have your usual array of weak fast enemies, slow strong ones, ones that fly, and bosses.

What I didn’t like so much was that as opposed to Kingdom Rush, or really most Tower Defense games, which let you move from stage to stage pretty quickly, Warstone seems set up so you can’t do that. After every mission you have to build something new, talk to your old man mentor, and click around a bunch in general. I don’t mind this genre trying to have a story, but it doesn’t really add anything, and it even extends to the early stages, where you have to do things like put towers down exactly where the game wants, which is a drag.

The game also offers online play with others, either teaming up with others or fighting someone else in specific maps. The latter takes the form of a weird tug of war style game, where you try to send your own units in past their towers while you have to defend against theirs trying to do the same. I wasn’t able to see how either work though, as they’ve pulled down that option to deal with bugs at the time of this writing.

In general they seem to be having some trouble with the online side of things: the game requires a connection even if you’re playing single player, and according to the developers the server provided is going through some difficulty at the moment. I ran into one bug which I think was because of that where my towers all stopped firing in one stage, but the enemies all kept going to the exit without killing me. I couldn’t go back to the hub, leaving the only option exiting the game.

Visually the game does again take after Kingdom Rush, with cutesy-style units (although they’re 3D models instead of sprites), and comic book illustrations for story beats. It gets the job done well enough, although they’re not the best graphics I’ve seen from a Tower Defense. The music is sort of generic and forgettable, but with these games I usually have something on in the background anyway while I’m playing.

Overall, I think if they can iron out these online issues and maybe lighten some of the tutorial stuff, Warstone could be a real classic in the genre. It seems to have a lot of support and interest behind it, so I’m hopefully it manages to succeed.

Written by
Justin Brett
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