Some of you may know me from the forums for my long-winded opinions and/or my equally long-winded guides on the Wiki Forum and elsewhere. I started playing War Robots in the beginning of 2017, and quickly fell in love with the game. It was an immense game full of features, balance, strategy and skill.
To feed my competitive nature, I quickly joined the forum and became part of the community, gleaning knowledge and tactics from everyone and everywhere that I could. I developed my skills and knowledge, and gave back to the community when I could – sharing tips and tactics as I discovered them. Because I jumped to the forum and other sources for information, and because there was no league system when I started, I quickly flew past the early stages of the game. Like most of today’s veteran players, I never experienced the early stages of our current game.
Until recently, I was playing War Robots exclusively on an iPhone 6 Plus. Recent iOS updates have left me perturbed, and their decision to charge an exorbitant price of $1,100 turned me off completely.
Sound familiar to another company?
I decided it was time to make the switch to the dark side, and purchased the new Pixel 2 XL. I couldn’t be happier with the decision so far (sorry Apple-ites), aside from one thing. One thing that I knew was going to be a result of the switch: ten months of War Robots progress and spending – gone. Because Pixonic does not support cross-platform compatibility, I had to start over if I wanted to keep playing. And so I did.
My hangar as of writing this article consists of three bots: A 6/5/5/5 Golem Thunder/Orkan/Pinata, a 3/5/5 Gareth Orkan/Pinata, and a 6/5/5/5/5 RDB Griffin. I am approximately 50 games in, and have climbed to Bronze II. (It feels weird writing the words climbed to and Bronze in the same sentence.)
All games have been played solo, mostly in Beacon Rush. My strategy has been to get weapons before slots, and basically attempt to maximize damage to accrue silver as quickly as possible. My secondary goal is to build a good hangar for the custom game 6-Pack league, which ROCKWELDER started, and can be found here.
A Different Game
A lot has changed since last time I started from the bottom. Firstly, the league system. I began playing just before the hangar based matchmaker saw its demise. Because of that, most of my newbie days were spent during the damage-only matchmaker. For those that don’t remember, you were matched with and against other players with similar average damage over their previous 50 games. Out with the days of pure seal clubbing and in with the days of tanking. One could actually start and leave 50 games to get average damage of 0 and then play with max hangars against new players (and occasionally other tankers of course). It seemed that Pixonic quickly realized how terrible this idea was and they implemented the league system. It is essentially fully dependent on damage still, but it uses a point system to progress you up or down in the system.
Secondly, the game has entered the pay to win world, through and through. When I first started, you could certainly pay for the best bots in the game. The best bots in the game, however, did not even come close to guaranteeing your success. They were also relatively reasonably priced. The game had great balance, and relative affordability. Enter the world of $250-300 superbots and $50-100 super weapons. A single Shocktrain Haechi will run you a cool $500, but it will also guarantee you ridiculous amounts of damage and silver earnings. Paid content has become king.
We all know how the shift towards “pay-to-win” (P2W) and emphasis on real money purchases has affected the upper leagues, but how much has this affected the bottom leagues? Much more than you would think. It’s not quite P2W at the bottom, but the aspects of P2W are there. I’ll go through what I’ve seen so far, step by step.
Push Deals. For the first 20 pilot levels, you receive a new set of discount deals every single level. Essentially, when you unlock knew content, it pushes a discount deal for you to purchase package of that unlocked content immediately for real money. For example, when you unlock the Leo, you get a push deal to purchase a Leo for $4.99. Additionally, you can purchase a Leo packaged with 3 Magnums for something like 6,750 Au – which at this stage in the game you would have to pay real money for.
Additionally, when you either buy or win new bots, you get push discounts that offer you weapon packages that fit that bot. I won a Patton off a bronze black market spin, for example, and was offered 4 Aphids for $19.99. I was actually tempted to purchase this deal, and the only thing that kept me from doing so was that I already know I don’t really enjoy the playstyle Aphids require. Basically, these deals come often, and can be quite enticing – especially to those players that are either new or have not been turned off by Pixonic’s recent changes.
Recuit League. The recruit league of old was full of Cossacks and Destriers, with the occasional Vityaz and Golem. Weapons were mainly Punishers, Molots, and Pinatas. There wasn’t much more variety than that. There wasn’t much more you had to worry about. That is no longer the case. These push deals are working. Admittedly, myself included.
I have made two purchases: a Gareth for $4.99, and an Orkan with 800 Au for $9.99. I also received some free Gold from the purchase bonus tasks. Many people have griped about these tasks, but they are nothing other than free bonuses for purchases you were already going to make. If you aren’t a spender, you would simply ignore them. What I noticed in game was that a lot of players had bots you would not expect them to have yet.
There were many more Leos, Griffins, and Natashas than you would normally expect to see in the field. About two-thirds of my opponents in Recruit League had at least one of these bots. All three of these are offered for real money when you unlock them. There were also a few weapons that were unexpected, such as full DB Griffins. It’s very clear that many players are actually making the purchases when they show up. This led to much more difficult gameplay than I was expecting, but also much more variety. Overall, it was a fun and challenging experience.
Private League. Much of the same, just a step above. Many players reach higher pilot levels by this league, and have unlocked more bots and weapons. I saw a much higher variety of bots and weapons. I saw Tempests, Orkans, Aphids, Gekkos, Zeuses, Anciles and Trebuchets. I also saw a few Lancelots, Furies, Jesses and Docs. I even saw a triple Zeus Fury, which can be purchased for $48.99 when you unlock the Fury. Not really a bad deal considering the individual costs of each item, but not something I was interested in.
Basically, any common bot setup you can imagine, they offer as a deal when you unlock it – Tarancilot included. This leads to a lot of new players making micro purchases that introduce a huge variety of bots and weapons to low level league play. Most of these players are unskilled at the time, so while they have slightly more power, the gameplay is still relatively balanced.
Bronze League. This is where I currently reside. And the effect of micro purchases has actually lessened in Bronze. I suspect it is partially due to a much larger pool of players, as well as the fact that many players in this league have already passed level 20 and are no longer being offered new deals every 15 to 20 minutes. There are still paid items here and there, but the majority of what I see is silver bots and weapons with the occasional low level Au or WSP setups. The other introduction when you reach Bronze is the occasional tanker. It is not nearly as bad as many say – I saw my first tanker in my first Bronze match, and see one tanker every three to five matches. By no means is it a rampant problem – yet.
So far, the experience has been quite refreshing. Going from a struggling 9/9 Champion player to a new player with essentially nothing has provided a gameplay experience not unlike it was six months ago. Balanced matches with a variety of bots, weapons, and skill levels are the norm. The deals for new players are reasonable, and the push deals induce a lot of spending and thus a lot of battlefield variety. I have not seen any P2W content so far, so I would say the push deals for new players actually have a hugely positive effect on the value of the game and the overall experience in the lower levels.
Pixonic making money is a good thing, and the way they monetize newer players is the way they should monetize every player. Give reasonable deals that actually provide value to the player, rather than exorbitant deals that directly sell over-performance to the player. The variety and affordability is a positive thing for players (both spending and non-spending) and for the developers. I look forward to progressing more and being able to provide further perspective on the game from the viewpoint of a new player – particularly in reaching the point that P2W starts affecting the experience.
Thanks for reading, and until next time!