Warborn (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Eric Ace 15.07.2020

Review for Warborn on Nintendo Switch

Warborn falls into the genre that has been painfully dead of options recently: that of the military-themed tactical strategy games, best exemplified by Advance Wars. Instead of infantry, planes, and boats, players control about ten different mech units that have up to three different attacks, as they move across the map securing resources and factory zones. With a focus on a campaign across four different leaders, there is substantial length to the experience, though many elements feel reused far before the end. Here's Cubed3's look at it.

If there is one genre and game that was universally celebrated, and is oddly without a meaningful sequel years and years later it is Advance Wars. Warborn falls into this genre and is an initial breath of fresh air playing a game like this. Taking the role of a commander in a future world, players order their varied mech units across large maps securing resources and killing all the enemies.

The first couple of missions are actually pretty fun, as you are introduced to various types of mechs. As an early example, there is the general infantry type that does the capturing and fighting, a tougher version that doesn't move so far, and a hero unit that can hit huge portions of the map with their sniper rifle. Early too a major difference is that each unit has three abilities, these are often various attacks or inflict status ailments. The theme of every mission is largely the exact same: either kill everyone or take a base.

Problems start to become visible fairly quickly. One, the art direction needs some help, the maps are just very bland, and all the mechs look fairly similar. Unlike in, say, Advance Wars where there are clear indications what a unit can do simply based on its looks, far too often in Warborn these look completely different than what they do. As an example a repair unit has two cool pistols, but does not ever attack with them, and a unit with a huge rocket launcher only does status effects.

Screenshot for Warborn on Nintendo Switch

These are nit-picks compared to the major problems at hand. While it completely hits the basics, and is a serviceable tactics game, two major issues are: the lack of variety, and a "dead zone"/grind element to the battles. First, maps are all very, very similar, and there are only two major things that matter: occasional resource nodes, and a factory. Vast swathes of the map are completely meaningless, and unutilized. Whereas in Advance Wars there are options like long treks through the mountains, flying over rivers, or rushing up roads, here all there really is to do is to just charge ahead. Further, commanders are largely boring, with a few very minor buffs - they are largely a huge missed opportunity. An upgrade system would have been incredibly appropriate in this game.

Even that point, large though it may be, is still smaller than the biggest criticism of how much a grind any battle is, and how rapidly they turn into huge dead zones. To understand this, first understand that any unit in general can kill most other units in a few shots (excluding the most expensive ones), and even a unit on the verge of death can still kill easily. Furthermore, there are around three units that have incredible range, typically with a move of two/three and a range of up to five, this means a unit can be moving and hitting at eight tiles away, which is absolutely massive. It often kills whatever it hit.

This leads to a very bad problem where armies get jammed up at a choke point of some kind, and whoever advances into range first gets blown away. It is incredibly frustrating to have an army of expensive units, finally crawling into position, screwing up the range of what can be hit, or having an enemy unit survive with 0.1% HP, only to multi-hit your units and kill upwards of five or six at one time. Such a disaster (which is always on the horizon) is at least 10 or more turns of activity gone in a single attack or two. This is an extreme example, but smaller situations happen many, many times throughout a single map. Given there are no other options, like sneaky trips up a river, or a transport behind enemy lines, far too often it becomes some weird slamming units into each other in an endless meat grinder, feeling more like WWI trench warfare than a future Sci-Fi battlefield.

Screenshot for Warborn on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

5/10
Rated 5 out of 10

Average

It gets all the basics of the genre right, but it simply lacks any depth, and becomes an incredibly grindy only a few missions into the campaign. Interestingly, all the basics are there, it merely is lacking any exciting options, choices or selections; this is in addition to a very bad 'dead zone' tactical problem that is a huge contributor to the slog. Very rapidly a player will have seen everything there is to offer and there just isn't much beyond it. The game just starts to become frustrating the more it is played.

Developer

Raredrop Games ltd.

Publisher

PQube

Genre

Strategy

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  5/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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