Shadowgun War Games is supposed to be mobile’s answer to Overwatch, but the problem with copying another developer’s game wholesale is that you have to absolutely nail it. Or, at the very least, provide some level of innovation. Shadowgun War Games achieves neither of those things, and, in its current form, is nothing more than a pale imitation.
Let’s start with the positives though: it absolutely smashes the presentation. On a modern Android phone or tablet, it looks absolutely gorgeous, with bold colours and decent special effects. Similarly, the UI is minimal and sleek, though we won’t praise it too much as it’s literally just a copy and paste of Overwatch.
Everything else though, veers from disappointing to complete disaster. Our biggest issue is the laughable lack of characters at launch. Overwatch arrived with a whopping 21 heroes, which were wide and varied. Shadowgun War Games lands with just five, and there’s a surprising lack of depth.
You’ve got your jack-of-all trades Slade, a damage-soaking tank in Revenant, support specialist SARA, speedy assassin Jet, and long-ranged sniper Willow. Don’t get us wrong, the characters do feel considerably different to each other, but there’s not a lot of room to manoeuvre when it comes to creating your own playstyle. Also, if this is just a clone of Overwatch, why not just wholesale clone the 21 balanced heroes that already exist?
Shadowgun War Games Absolutely Smashes the Presentation
It doesn’t help that the measly two different modes of play require very little in the way of actual strategy at this point. You’ve got Team Deathmatch and Capture the Flag and that’s it. Again, why not just copy the modes already available in Overwatch? That’s what Paladins did, making slight changes here and there, and it worked.
Team Deathmatch requires no actual teamwork, and is just 10 players running around butchering each other, while Capture the Flag provides minimal teamwork at best. You’ve got a natural flag grabber in Jet (though Revenant can use his special ability to provide a tankier version) while Slade and SARA can provide support, leaving Willow to protect the base.
In theory anyway. Capture the Flag just feels like more Team Deathmatch at this point. There are no systems in place to ensure a certain number of support, tank, and damage dealers exist so the teams are balanced. Then again, why bother when there are so few characters in the first place?
Next up is the controls, which are horribly imprecise. Sure, this isn’t a tightly put together shooter like Call of Duty Mobile but we’d expect to be able to comfortably aim a crosshair over our opponents nonetheless. Try as we might though (we tweaked a heck of a lot of settings and played across a phone and tablet) we just couldn’t get the controls to feel right. Aiming is sluggish and jumps around a lot, and messing with the sensitivity, smoothing, or acceleration made very little difference.
The Controls Are Horribly Imprecise and There’s an Alarming Lack of Heroes and Modes
Now for the icing on the cake: the monetisation. Developer Madfinger wants you to fork out a whopping $10 for its Battle Pass, which provides XP boosters, skins, currency, and more for what is, essentially, an unfinished game. For reference, that’s two Google Play Pass subscriptions and almost twice the price of RuneScape Membership, which provides access to two different games.
Ultimately, Shadowgun War Games is just not ready for launch. It’s not ready to be put under intense scrutiny and it’s certainly not ready for monetisation. Madfinger has shown a baffling lack of understanding towards its audience with this release, and are going to have to perform a pretty impressive feat to turn it around.
Madfinger, here’s some help: drop the Battle Pass to $2.99, double the character count and modes within a month, and introduce a system that forces at least one player on each team to play as a tank and support character. Also, play Overwatch. Get a feeling for what an actual hero shooter plays like and take a look at the modes Blizzard created to encourage teamplay. Oh, and while you’re at it: fix the controls. Call of Duty Mobile is the reference point for tight virtual shooter controls.
Do all of that, and perhaps we’ll have a mobile Overwatch on our hands. Right now, it’s simply another dud that isn’t ready to leave beta.