The Android community has- as a whole- long maintained that they’re not playing exactly the same game as those of us on iOS. Typically this boils down to some variation of increased challenges, difficulties, and/or struggles. Aside from obvious things like content update times and the lamentable lack of shadows on Android devices, though, I’ve tended to brush that off as some variant of homerist elitism.
So when I came along with my new Android account, a lot of them- having felt hard-done by in the game- were delighted to see an objective perspective shine a light on their experience. Surely this would be some extra validation for their travails.
I quoted much of this excitement in the Joker-themed epilogue of the last piece I did on the Android experience. Poster (and Trusted Contributor) KaneoheGrown spoke for more than a few when he posted this reply:
Overall, the expectation was fairly universal: here’s where Dredd craters against the wall. But perhaps, like a seismic probe, him smashing against it will unearth a trove of useful data.
As it happens, I took a full reading of over 100 data points, and I’ll have the follow-up By the Numbers piece up in a few days. But this is Battle Stories, where I leave the data aside and talk about experience.
And what an experience it’s been.
So first thing’s first. Android Silver is absolutely a different experience than iOS Diamond, and markedly different from even Android Bronze. Now this isn’t exactly the type of hard-hitting insights folks come here for, but I’ve finally started being able to put my finger on exactly how its different. How much of this is down to platform, and how much to league is beyond my ability to know (I started in Diamond 3 on iOS when the league system was implemented), but if I had to guess I’d say it’s a mix of both.
It was during one of my matches on the Lunar map, when I noticed everyone sort of congregating on our side of the underpass blasting away with Thunder Leos and other sorts of knife-fighters that it really dawned on me. There were no tactics here, no sense of order. And thanks to the shallow hangars, the sense of almost predictable momentum you could count on in iOS Diamond was entirely absent.
And that’s when it hit me. iOS matches are pugilism. Technical play and situational awareness are prioritized, and there’s a certain grace to those battles that I can appreciate now as you watch the ebb and flow of the beacon and player bars. Comparatively, you might liken it to the popular imagining of a duel between samurai.
As for Android…
I’ve played some very intense games on iOS, but I have never scrapped with pure improvisation and desperation game after game like I have on Android Silver, all steel pipes and broken bottles.
On the Moon map, seeing my Gekko Gepard pull in three Reds into the underpass, then mounting a full and suicidal “look at me” retreat to drag them deeper in….before respawning into my Thundorkan Lancelot to come wipe them out.
At center beacon in Yamantau, heavily outgunned and outnumbered but just holding on as the beacon bar creeps ever-closer to the win…then running down center ramp literally right into the face of the onrushing enemy to soak up all their fire and kill off the clock.
In fact, finding creative ways to stall and waste time became something of a survival tactic well beyond what I’d faced before on the other platform.
As I gained experience, I came to be able to rely on using my Zeus Fury (now upgraded from Ancile-Zeus Fury) to finish off a few bots on a map like Canyon, knowing that while it didn’t seem to make a huge dent in the moment, I’d see a significant drop in midgame combat effectiveness. Kill one of my bots, and I’m at 80% strength. Kill one of theirs, they’re at 66% or, less often, 75% strength. It became a very straightforward numbers game.
Where I have the most sympathy for my Android brethren is just how much of this is beyond their control. The sheer volume of poor players at this level of the game is staggering. Now, on the face of it, there’s nothing wrong with that- not that long ago I’d have happily accepted the same label, and we all start somewhere. But the tanking phenomenon has added a delightful new dimension to this not unlike a game of Werewolf. Is that guy a poor player…or is he just pretending to be. Because we’ll never know, it’s not hard to guess what conclusion we tend to favor.
Well, enough dancing around it. The naysayers and forecasters of doom were absolutely right. I encountered beatings in Android Silver quite unlike any I had ever experienced in War Robots before. It got so ridiculous that I started taking screenshots partway through, because who was gonna believe me?
I was first or second nearly every match, winning much more often than losing. I did have a horrifying moment when my d-pad stopped working in one game when I was close to qualifying. It kept falling back to the middle position, and my Doc sort of herky-jerkied itself across the battlefield until someone put it out of its misery. My Lance moved 10m forward and just sat there, looking for all the world like a tanker. I even had a poor Golem pilot stop, turn and look at me, and walk on in disgust. Turns out my tablet was about to die, and fortunately we won even though I was a mute witness. I came in third.
When it came time to qualify, I lost two in a row and had to re-enter qualification. A few matches later…
In short, at the moment Android players expected their perception of reality to hit me upside the head like a pool ball in a tube sock, I went on the greatest run of positional dominance I have ever enjoyed in War Robots.
Join me next time and we’ll explore why.