Brawl Stars Review: An Underrated Supercell Gem
With all the new MOBA and Battle Royale games flooding the mobile market nowadays in a daily manner, it is easy to miss a lot of good ones among them that are unique (ie. NOT MOBA and Battle Royale) and well made. Today we are looking at a game by none other than Supercell, the mastermind behind the worldwide phenomenon Clash of Clans, and the subsequent success Clash Royale.
The game has just been launched on Android and soft launched in Malaysia recently, so local player presence is still quite shallow.
About the Game
Brawl Stars, in essence, plays out a little bit like a MOBA, but sports enough differences that most will not place it in the over-saturated MOBA category. In this real time twin-stick action game, most modes will put players in a 3v3 PvP teams, with some unique modes that will have a different arrangements to keep things fresh.
Players will choose one “brawler” from the pool of brawlers he or she currently have (up to 21 that the game currently feature) that have unique abilities and attack types, as well as different movement speed and health points, and then contest against the other team.
The gameplay of Brawl Stars is a gem (pun totally intended)
Variety of game modes contribute to a strong entertaining game
The staple mode of Brawl Stars is called Gem Grab, in which each team needs to pick up gems that gradually spawn in the middle of the map, while, of course, preventing the other team of doing so. The team that picked up 10 gems first will trigger a countdown of 15 seconds, of which after it reached 0, the team with the gems will be declared the winner.
The next mode, called Showdown, is essentially a stripped down version of a battle royale game. Every PVP game needs a battle royale mode nowadays, right? In Showdown, 10 players will enter the battlefield with their chosen brawler, and strive to be the last one standing, or at least survive long enough to see most other players eliminated to gain trophies, the in-game ranking system that also gates lucrative rewards behind them.
There are also more game modes available like Heist, where players will need to defend their own safe, while trying to destroy opponent’s. Brawl Ball, which plays out like a football game, and weekend special modes Robo Rumble and Boss Fight. Although most of the modes require players to exercise their prowess to eliminate their opponents effectively, all of them require very different mindset and focus when it comes to winning the round.
Overall gameplay is fun, but also frustrating at times
Enough of the babbling, you say, how is the overall gameplay actually? In short. It is tremendously fun. Each mode has a few different maps, which require players to approach differently, and every brawler, together with their own attack patterns and Supers etc. makes the game very strategic. From picking the right brawlers to researching the synergy between brawlers against possible opponents,
For example, Colt the pistol-wielding cop, is a long range damage dealer that shoots multiple bullets while strafing. He can dish out a lot of damage, but is low on HP and requires precision to be good. Shelly the shotgun sheriff on the other hand, is a balanced close-to-mid-range brawler that can decimate pretty much anyone up close but is not as effective on mid to long range.
Brawl Stars put every bit of your intelligent mind to test, not to mention your familiarity of the brawler you command, and the attack mechanics of opposing brawler, all come into play to contribute to an deep, satisfying, and enjoyable experience.
It is not all bells and whistles, however. As you have probably realized, the game, when played alone, will pick your teammates randomly and pitch you against opponents randomly, which contribute to major frustration at times. Although the game will try to match your rank (trophies, remember?) with your teammates and opponents, things usually don’t work out as intended because of the small player base. You could be matchmade to face opponents with much higher trophies while having teammates that are not as well versed as they should be in your current trophy range, leading to you having to face opponent teams that are much more skilled or, more often than not, have brawlers that are higher level than your team.
The inability to choose which brawler to team up with also contributes to the overall frustration when you are matched with teammates that use brawlers that are not suitable to certain modes, leading to an uphill climb to victory which often don’t work out.
The perfect tabletop fun in gathering
Brawl Stars shines the most when you have your buddies to play with you together. Players can create a room and discuss strategies and brawler choices etc. before proceeding to a game, and that leads to much better experience than having the game pick almost everything else randomly for you.
The ultimate enjoyment however comes when you play with your little buddies around the same table in a dinner or limteh session. Communication in this game not only contribute to a more coherent experience, but also adds tons of fun to the flow of the game. Moreover, the overall bright and happy-going tone of the game helps a lot in reducing the grief and bitter taste after losing a match, which is a good thing when it comes to playing games with buddies together. No one likes a night out turn into finger pointing fest, right?
Brawl Stars have the polish we expect from Supercell
Let’s be real, from the screenshot we can see Brawl Stars is definitely not a contender for the best in the graphics department. What it does best, however, is how smooth and polished the overall feel of the game is. Brawl Stars runs flawlessly across all devices, be it a low end Xiaomi Redmi 3S, or a Samsung Galayx S8. Frame drops are rare and far between, and it consumes way less battery juice than most other 3D games.
The art style of Brawl Stars is nothing to write home about, but it is on the better side of things. Characters come in different size and colours, and their animations are done well. Bullets and projectiles in most cases are easily distinguishable, and indicators and health bars are all placed nicely around the screen.
The on screen controls are done well as well, with the aiming stick on the right doing what I intended to do most of the time, and allows for very precise aiming. It is quite intriguing how much calculations is going through to make the aiming feels so accurate with my fat thumb.
What Brawl Stars does best though besides the controls, is the music. The title music will be looping in your mind in no time, and it is not rare to find that you are tapping your toes or nodding your head while listening to the in game music of different modes. Some characters are also voiced very well, my particular favourite is the Spanish (?) wrestler El Primo and his cheeky voice. ELLLL PRIMO~
Progression system is Brawl Stars biggest Achilles Heel
The biggest drawback of Brawl Stars besides the relatively low number of players, is perhaps the progression system. After the success of Clash Royale, Supercell is once again locking a lot of content behind apparent paywalls. Players start with only 7 or 8 brawlers that the game give you if you progress up the trophy range. The rest of the 21 available brawlers are gotten by chance through loot boxes which can be gotten by acquiring the daily keys and star keys that refreshes a few hours in between, or, you know… by paying real money for them.
What’s worse is each brawler can be leveled up individually, giving them more damage and health points, and players can actually level up their brawlers literally just by shelling out more cash for the loot boxes which consists of the power points and coins that are required to level up certain brawlers.
There are some mechanism to make the paywall and unfairness feel less pronounced, and numerous examples of low level teams beating higher level ones can be found, but it is still vexatious when you lose a shootout to the same brawler because your brawler is lower level.
In conclusion, Brawl Stars is a neat mobile game title worth checking out for those who like a tactical and challenging PVP game. It is an even better entertainment when played together with friends and families. The overall polish and thought put into the game is very inviting and I strongly recommend this game.
- Variety of modes means the gameplay will stay interesting for a long period of time
- Brawlers are vastly different from each other, giving players a chance to try out different team compositions
- Deep strategies and tactics in higher end gameplay provide satisfaction to competitive players
- Team oriented real time gameplay means a good time together with buddies
- Superb polish throughout the game makes the overall experience enjoyable
- Matchmaking unfairness needs to be fixed
- Reduce the significance of paid advantages
- Increase player base by globally launching the game as soon as possible