Warcraft Rumble Review: Learning From Past Mistakes

In the Summer of 2022, Blizzard and NetEase unleashed Diablo: Immortal. Hot on the heels of a less-than-positive announcement, it’s safe to say that Diablo fans were a little wary of how the game would turn out. Shockingly, it was very good! However, what wasn’t so good was the game’s repugnant, predatory microtransactions. “Whale” players have reportedly spent thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars on that game.

Diablo: Immortal was tweaked as time went on, but Blizzard had another game up its sleeve – Warcraft Rumble. The legendary game company’s take on Clash Royale’s gameplay uses recognizable Warcraft characters, but is that connection strong enough to make a good game? And, more importantly, are Warcraft Rumble’s microtransactions as evil as Diablo Immortal’s?

Let’s find out in this review of Warcraft Rumble on iOS.

Blizzard-Quality Strategy On The Go

First things first – what is Warcraft Rumble?

Blizzard itself describes it as an “action strategy game”, but I would venture to label it as a “tactical real-time tower defense” title. Every match begins with players on opposite sides of a battlefield, who then send out various units to attack the opponent’s home base. Each unit has a cost attached to it, which is tied to a currency that slowly generates over time. The strategy comes into play with unit selection and their various gimmicks as well as map lanes and gimmicks that can be taken advantage of, such as switches that redirect your troops en route.

It’s very well thought-out, and If you were at all concerned about how Warcraft Rumble plays – or worried that it wouldn’t be any fun – just know that your doubts are unfounded.

Warcraft Rumble is incredibly well-made from a mechanics and gameplay standpoint, and the transformation of Warcraft creatures and characters into battling action figures is delightful. Even better, the controls are simple and intuitive, which almost obfuscates the surprising amount of depth this mobile game has.

This is a game built for phones after all, but Blizzard’s pedigree and high watermark for quality in the strategy game department absolutely shines through here. Warcraft Rumble is simple enough to play, but also complex enough for more advanced players to really sink their teeth into. After spending several hours in the game, just organizing the units in my deck and preparing for the next battle became a game in itself!

Much to my surprise, the monetization system at play isn’t half bad either!

No Need to Empty Out Your Pockets…. Right Away

Like all free-to-play games, Warcraft Rumble runs on several currencies – Coins (used for purchasing units from the in-game store), Arc Energy, and Upgrade Cores (both used as upgrade materials.

With all of that in mind, here’s the deal – Warcraft Rumble is truly free-to-play.

You can enjoy the game’s “single-player” PvE content and unlock everything without spending a dime – a process that would take a week or two depending on your rate of play. Coins are given out pretty generously as long as progress is being made (at first), though you can – of course – also buy packs of Coins through microtransactions. Just in case you’re curious, here is what those microtransactions look like in terms of cost:

  • 90 Coins ($0.99)
  • 500 Coins ($4.99)
  • 1,200 Coins ($9.99)
  • 3,000 Coins ($24.99)
  • 6,000 Coins ($49.99)
  • 12,000 Coins ($99.99)

These packs are listed under the “Refills” section of the in-game store, along with Arc Energy. In another surprising move by Blizzard, it seems that you can’t even make these purchases until you have put some time into the game – enough to earn specific amounts of Sigils (medals awarded at certain milestones that unlock game features). PvP, quests, and even the store itself are locked behind Sigils.

It’s nice to see that you’re actually meant to understand and enjoy the game before you have the ability to spend money on it, but Blizzard definitely does want you to cough up money at some point. There are early attempts made at enticing players to spend through bundle offers that expire, but those are easy enough to ignore if you’re just looking for a fun time-waster. However, Refills and other microtransactions become increasingly difficult to ignore as you progress, and they appear to be basically crucial when it comes to PvP play.

Gimmicks and Paywalls

Warcraft Rumble’s store is set up in a very interesting way. It does have items that cycle in and out like Fortnite and other F2P games, but the majority of the items that are available at any given time are dependent on the G.R.I.D. – a literal 3×3 grid that populates with minis (units) and game items. The items on the G.R.I.D. change frequently, and you can even spend Coins to move items around to take advantage of the experience bonuses that activate when purchases line up in certain ways.

Is this necessary? Probably not. It seems like it will appeal to the fans of gacha systems in other games while providing more options, but I didn’t find the G.R.I.D. engaging enough to spend hard-earned Coins to move items around. It’s also worth noting that the G.R.I.D. gives out free items every day as a log-in reward.

Speaking of hard-earned Coins, it’s time we mentioned the dreaded paywall – the bane of many free-to-play gamers’ existence.

There exists a point in Warcraft Rumble where your progress will basically stagnate. In order for your minis to level up, they’ll need tens of thousands of experience points, but each successful mission or quest will only grant roughly 50, or just over 200 if you stumble across a rare one. Progress screeching to a grinding halt is painful, but you can – of course – buy Tomes to boost your EXP gain.

It doesn’t quite feel unfair – you can spend dozens of hours in-game before you reach this point – but it has the echoes of the sliminess that plagued Diablo: Immortal. Rather than spending money on individual, expendable Tomes,  the much more interesting microtransaction in my opinion is the Arclight Booster – a permanent item that provides a buff to both your EXP and Coin acquisition.

However, it is a little steep in price with a cost of $19.99.

Get Ready to Rumble

While the microtransactions in Warcraft Rumble can get a little out of hand and it definitely feels like it has been designed to squeeze your wallet after a certain point, it has one very important thing in its favor that trumps any issues I could have with it.

It’s a hell of a lot of fun.

It’s totally possible to get sucked into a pit of financial despair if you become obsessed with upgrading your minis to succeed in either the PvE or PvP content, but it’s also totally possible to completely bypass any kind of spending. The Warcraft Rumble experience remains largely intact without microtransactions, and that’s a big plus for this genre.

It’s definitely a game that’s worth checking out, and it’s certainly a far cry from the madness that was present in Diablo: Immortal. Just be careful you don’t get sucked in too far!

8/10


 

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