If you were ever interested in the walking-tank genre of Mech games — such as the BattleTech/MechWarrior series — then Pixonic’s Walking War Robots (out now, free) just might be what you were looking for, or at least it would be if you really liked IAPs. While this part of the review is usually where I attempt to try and explain the lore behind an iOS game’s scenario, there will be no such thing here as Walking War Robots has none. Although this might seem odd — since Mech games are well known for having reasons why the two factions are always squaring off — you’ll just have to accept that no such lore exists here, and people are instead here to fight each other simply because they both exist.
What I must start this review off by declaring — however — is that if there’s any facet of the game’s workings and/or controls that I’ve failed to grasp, I can honestly declare that it’s not my fault because Walking War Robots contains virtually no tutorial to speak of. Most games of this sort would usually send you to a trial match against AI bots first — explain to you what all of the menus do, and even how to buy better gear — but none of those things happen here. What will happen instead — immediately upon first booting up — is that you’ll be told to push the random match button, after which you will henceforth be dropped straight into a 6-Vs-6 team based match featuring mostly higher level players. Yes, you read that correctly: Walking War Robots’ matchmaking system contains absolutely no kind of tier based logic, a very problematic issue that I will be discussing in detail shortly.
Anyways, there’s 15 seconds at the start of each match before the action kicks in, and it is during this short period of time — for a single time only — that Walking War Robots will attempt to partially explain how the game is played. During this period you will be told that the virtual analog stick on the left moves your Mech, that swiping across the screen will aim your torso, and that the button on the bottom right fires your weapons. Afterwards you’ll be set loose to die extremely quickly — learning absolutely nothing in the process — and as a result not obtaining any valuable resources either, and afterwards be sent back to an array of menus that the game won’t bother to explain in the slightest.
While it’s true that the game’s ability to run real-time 6-Vs-6 multiplayer in a fully 3D environment is impressive — and the gun reloading, missile restocking, and empty shell ejecting is all mesmerizing to watch — not one of these do anything to make the game fair. The fact ultimately remains that this game has been designed to ensure that paying users have a 99% chance of winning, and that the paying users will also be the only ones to ever freely collect the gold needed to buy the stuff that got them to where they now are. Walking War Robots was then furthermore rigged to ensure that the non-paying users on a team will get few-to-none of the rewards earned, all because Pixonic couldn’t have players accidentally profiting even if the RNG ever put them on a team with IAP users.
Although silver can be used to buy insignificant equipment, all of the best mechs — in terms of speed, mountable weapon points, and armor — can only ever be purchased with Gold that the developers intend for you to purchase or else. Even if you pay to upgrade your scrub tier Mech — which is a process that takes six hours to finish, unless you use gold to expedite it — you’ll then only be better than other scrub tier Mechs in the process. You’ll still never even come to close to being able to hold a candle up to either damage output capacities — the maneuverability — or the defensive abilities of those higher tier mechs, especially if they’ve also ever been upgraded and fitted with premium weaponry.
Right off the bat I’ll tell you that the losing team gets absolutely zero gold — the currency with which you purchase any of the tools that actually matter — and now let me explain why you probably won’t get anything when winning either, all because you didn’t pay. You are probably thinking that you could at least occasionally be on the winning side when the random match maker puts you on a team that — other than yourself — is well stocked, and then gives the enemy team nothing but scrub units. Although a match ends either when one team drains the other’s morale by holding the beacons for longer, or when the other team dies entirely, it’s only those who ‘help contribute’ that get paid.
Only those who kill enemy units get paid in gold for killing enemy units, and you certainly won’t be doing any of this against heavily armored Mechs with the scrub guns you’re permitted to use. Furthermore — assuming the other team isn’t entirely composed of Gods — then someone on your team will usually stop everything to kill steal the enemy you’ve been working on when they’re nearly dead, because only the final hit matters. Therefore even if you win you won’t get any gold with which to one day purchase the tools that actually matter, all because the paying members on your team will be doing all in their power to ensure that they get their hands upon that gold instead of you.
Now while you might also prove your usefulness to your team by activating all of the beacons for your side, this credit specifically requires that you were the one whom did the bulk of the beacon activating. If someone whom has massively maximized out the speed of their superior Mech decides that they should get to a beacon first, then there really isn’t anything you’re going to be able to do about it. You might occasionally find yourself being able to glean some minute table scraps by collecting these beacons while all of the more worthy paying players fight it out, but this will be purely at their leisure.
Now you might be wondering if a team of crafty scrub geared players might possibly dodge damage long enough to keep three of the five beacons from paying users, if they’re genuinely the better players — by an entire mile — than those whom are using IAPs. Unfortunately the answer is still no, as those IAP players will also have access to additional slots that let them respawn more times — each time with superior gear — to help further compensate for their incompetence. These slots — all of which are unlocked with gold, and each also costs more than the previous one — let you jump right back into the match when you die, yet the game’s tutorial doesn’t explain this fact to new players at all.
Although other issues also exist — such as how it can sometimes take minutes for the matchmaking service to pair anyone up, or even an issue where slowdown can greatly confound the aiming process — these problems ultimately seemed trivial by contrast. All of this was a massive shame – too – as the game otherwise seemed to be rather solid, and I truly could have dug happily into Walking War Robots otherwise if it had been more fair. Unfortunately — as things so far stand — I can currently think of a far better way to interpret this game’s acronym, and that would be to declare that Pixonic actually meant for this game to be called Wallet Warriors Required.
For those of you whom are willing to be that Wallet Warrior, I ask for you to remember this first before you blindly jump right in: all Pixonic needs to do is to release a new superior set of gear — all costly and gold only — to put you back in the loser circle again. Should you now think that I’m a hypocrite because I enjoyed Haypi Dragon (our review), which also lacked any tier-based logic for its PVP matches, I then wish to remind you that in Haypi Dragon you could always grind for power in the puzzle-based PVE mode. There is no PVE mode to save you here, so — unless you already had the precise amount of gold needed for the new tier saved up before it released — your compatriots that bought the new gear first will now do everything that they can to eternally keep you below them.
I do — however — extremely hope that the developers will one day change Walking War Robots for the better, as the game’s technology — if only it was more fair — would make for a truly great iOS based multiplayer Mech romp.
Although Pixonic’s game is certainly well made — at least as far as the controls go, and additionally the game’s ability to handle a real-time 3D 6-Vs-6 death match — there’s currently too much wrong with Walking War Robots right now. The game — as things currently stand — is entirely geared around ensuring that paying players have a 99% chance of victory, and also that only those same players earn any gold after a match is finished. While this game could have been fun — especially for those seeking an iOS Mech fix — this set up has forever ruined that, particularly since everyone’s investments will just be meaningless whenever the next set of gear releases.