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iPhone  header logo

Rivals at War: 2084

For: iPhone   Also on: Android, iPad

War is hell for your bank balance

Product: Rivals at War: 2084 | Publisher: Hothead Games | Format: iPhone | Genre: Card battler, Card/ board game, Strategy | Players: 1 | Networking: wireless (network) | Version: Europe | App version: 1.1
 
Rivals at War: 2084 iPhone, thumbnail 1
This is a freemium game review, in which we give our impressions immediately after booting a game up, again after three days, and finally after seven days. That's what the strange sub-headings are all about. Click on the links to jump straight to day three or day seven.

The far future is usually portrayed as a pretty grim place - all alien invasions, nuclear fallout, and social segregation.

With Rivals at War: 2084, it would seem that the relatively near future isn't that bright either.

As the human race spreads out across the universe and colonises planets, human beings witness a new, and perhaps much more violent, gold rush-like sprint to resources.

That's the setup, and it sounds interesting enough. Join me as I play Rivals at War: 2084, updating this review every few days over the course of a week, to see whether it manages to hold my attention.

First impressions

The production values in Rivals at War: 2084 are marvellous. The easily navigable menus have the future-cool look of the Wipeout games and the pure function and polish of Magic: The Gathering, while little effects throughout - like cards that appear to be holographic 3D as you flip through your deck -tell you that you're holding a quality product in your hands.

The battles into which you take your squad of fighters are rendered well enough, even if the animations look a little stiff - particularly when your characters are running.

The gameplay itself is a little puzzling. So far I've been given packs of cards, formed a squad of warriors, given them a name - The Kusanagi Xeroes - changed their colour scheme to yellow and black, and sent them out on battles in which I have no direct control.

You're forming a team of heroes, selecting which deadly mission to send them on, and when the time comes to fight you're sitting back in your luxurious space arm chair and quietly spectating.

Whether or not this slightly unusual mechanic is sufficiently involving remains to be seen.

Day 3: In space, no one can hear you make In App Purchases

One of the faults that traditional gamers perceive in freemium games is the tendency by developers to make their games artificially difficult so as to force players to pay to make progress. To some gamers, this just isn't cricket.

Unfortunately, it doesn't matter how scrupulous the developer has been about resisting this temptation. As long as there's an in-game store, every difficulty spike casts a shadow of doubt and suspicion.

IAPs explained
Bucks and Coins are your premium currencies, with Coins being significantly easier to attain without paying. Both enable you to purchase new cards for your deck, but only Bucks give you access to the super top-end stuff.

5000 Coins are yours for 69p / 99c, while 100 Bucks will set you back £1.49 / $1.99. This seems like pretty good value for money, but you'll have to spend often to stay truly competitive.
And the shadow is twice as dark when you have no direct interaction with the game. I'm finding that my team in Rivals at War: 2084 is getting cut down in early missions, but I've no idea why it's happening.

I can't help them out during battles by providing that match-winning sniper shot, or heroically mowing down baddies in one glorious blaze of laser fire. Instead, I'm sending them out to die, impotently observing as they're outclassed at every turn.

I can aid them a little with the use of Tactic cards, which increase the number of headshots they'll inflict upon the opposing team, or affect how well they use cover, but ultimately my team's success depends on the stats they have going into battles, and a bit of luck.

In addition, these Tactics cards are also disposed of from your deck once used, meaning that you're thinning your deck as you play, forcing you to purchase more cards.

In the campaign you'll often enter gigantic leagues featuring multiple matches, and if you run out of Tactics you're very likely to lose the match if you come up against an opponent of equal level.

I suppose I'm finding Rivals at War: 2084 a bit frustrating. I'm not sure that there's any more depth to the game - it's just a matter of having better cards than my opponent through grind or expense.

Day 7: RAW means war

It's been a week, and I'm very much done with Rivals at War: 2084.

After entering more and more missions, and failing to complete many of them in a satisfactory manner - i.e. I was losing campaigns consistently - I started ploughing my Bucks and Coins back into the war economy.

This is pay-to-win gaming at its most obvious: I could make things easy on myself by buying new packs of cards to play Tactics and add stat buffs to my team, or I could slog through missions and lose.

The more I played, the more I felt the game chipping away at my resources. My team had more critically wounded soldiers coming out of battles, more often, making for costly medical bills.

Their equipment was breaking and needed repairing, I was playing more and more Tactics cards to cope with harder difficulty levels, and apparently my squad have a certain number of Tours (missions) they can take part in before they succumb to nervous exhaustion and refuse to serve.

The final straw came when the game notified me that I'd run out of Energy, and that if I'd like to continue playing then I needed to spend more currency.

No thanks, Rivals at War: 2084 - I'm good.

How are you getting on with the game? You can tell us and the rest of the PG community about your experiences by leaving a comment in the box below.
 
Rivals at War: 2084
Reviewer photo
Peter Willington | 12 August 2013
A grind-heavy card battler, with high production values, and even higher costs if you want to play to a decent level
 
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