Brawl Stars Review: Bite Sized Battles
“Brawl Stars is a third-person shooter game in which you play as your chosen Brawler and compete in a variety of Events. In these Events, you face off against other Brawlers as you attempt to complete a special objective unique to each type of Event.”
Being more of a console gamer, I take a little longer to get around to reviewing Mobile titles. But, for some reason this one had me checking it out straight after the global launch.
I don’t know if it was my obsession with the Battle Royale format, simply something aesthetic that got my attention, but I couldn’t hit the pre-register button fast enough.
That was about two months before the launch, and during that period I checked the availability of the game numerous times in the hopes that it had gone live without me noticing. Finally, it was announced that Brawl Stars was available globally and it was time to join the fight.
I did have to reset my brain before going into this one, recently I reviewed Brawlhalla on PS4 and the two cannot be compared.
A quick glance at the Gameplay.
Mobile games can be tricky when it comes to controller interface and responsiveness. This is not an issue that Brawl Stars seems to face, with all controls clearly laid out and the physical gameplay only featuring 3 common controls.
- Movement (Left Control).
- Aim and Fire/Quick Fire (Right Control).
- Super Ability (Next To Right Control).
Players battle it out in various game modes or Events as they are called in Brawl Stars. The available game modes that can be accessed after a small amount of initial play are:
- Gem Grab (Available immedittely after tutorial)
- Brawl Ball
- Duo Showdown
Not enough for you?
On top of these regular Events, Brawl Stars features Special Events which require entry tickets. These are unranked matches, leaving your Trophy count intact. Large Key prizes are given out for top placements during these matches. Special Events occur every weekend.
During each match, Keys are earned with the amount being determined by your performance. These Keys are used to unlock Brawl Boxes, which contain various Loot items such as new Brawlers, Gems, Coins, Power Points, Key Doublers, and Tickets.
Opening Brawl Boxes is the main way players can obtain new Brawlers with the other method being an in-game purchase.
Brawl Boxes can be unlocked using 10 Gems, or 100 Keys.
All of this may seem like it has been done before, and that is indeed the case, but the way Supercell have developed Brawl Stars has made it seem like purchases are optional rather than essential. Refreshing to find these days in the app store.
Let’s take a look at all the Events on offer?
- GEM GRAB
- BRAWL BALL
- DUO SHOWDOWN
"The team that grabs and holds 10 crystals to the end of countdown wins! Losing lives will spill grabbed crystals."
This 3v3 mode sees two teams start at either end of the arena with a Gem Mine situated in the center. Every few seconds a new Gem emerges from the mine, and both teams fight to collect them.
When a player is eliminated any Gems they were holding are dropped and can be picked up by the other team.
As soon as either team has collected 10 Gems a countdown begins, once it reaches zero team with the most Gems wins.
A straight forward and fun mode, great for an introduction to the controls and movement.
While reviewing this mode I noticed that in almost every match, my team mates would rush the other team and essentially hold them back while I gathered all of the Gems. This was a very effective method and saw us winning almost every game.
"Take down the other nine and be the last one standing. Use any means necessary. Game on!"
This is Brawl Stars' battle royale style Event mode. 10 players in, 1 player out. While it may not have many players competing, you certainly feel the pressure when there's more than one enemy locking onto you. You spawn in a random location and utilize small cover areas and tall grass to avoid enemy fire. As the game progresses, Poison Gas creeps in from the edge of the map, forcing the remaining players closer together. You know the drill.
When a player dies or when a crate is opened, a Power-Up will be dropped onto the floor. This increases the Brawler's health by 400 and increases their attack damage by 10% for the duration of the match.
Here's a quick tip for the new, or less confident player: HIDE!
There is ample amounts of long grass to keep you hidden, and if you time it right and hop from one patch to another, you can outlast most of your opponents. This way you are only dealing with one opponent, and if you are lucky they'll still be recovering from the last fight making them an easy target. If you can have your Super Ability charged and ready your chances of victory will be greatly increased,
"Both teams try to break open each others' safes before the time runs out!"
This is another 3v3 format Event mode in which both teams hold a Safe with a large amount of health. Both teams must defend their own safe while trying to destroy the opponent's. Unlike the slower Gem Grab Event, Heist is full of action and a higher sense of urgency.
When your team's Safe is getting low on health what do you do? Do you continue to defend, or launch an all out attack in hopes of destroying the enemy's Safe in time?
A clear winner can be determined by either destroying the opposing team's Safe, or by having more health remaining when the timer runs out than your enemy. A draw is possible if both Safes are destroyed at the same time, or if they have the same amount of Health points remaining when the timer runs out.
"Score two goals to win!"
Another 3v3 mode. The objective here is to take the ball (which starts in the middle) to the opposite team's goal. The team that scores two goals first wins, but a team can also win by having scored a higher amount of goals than the other when the timer ends. If the timer ends while the teams are tied, the game will go into overtime and all barriers will be destroyed. Brawlers can obtain the ball by getting close enough to it while no other Brawler has it. Attacking with the ball kicks it. Activating your Super and then kicking the ball makes it go further.
"Hunt the other team for Stars. More Stars on heads mean bigger bounties. The team with the most Stars wins!"
Yet another 3v3 Event. The objective of the game mode is to have the most stars at the end of the 2 and a half minutes. Every player starts with a 2-star bounty which is displayed above the Brawler's head. When a Brawler is killed, their bounty gets added to the score of the team of the Brawler that killed them and that Brawler's bounty increases by 1 star (up to 7). When a Brawler dies, their bounty is reset to 2 stars.
"Take down the other four teams. If you are defeated, you will respawn in a while if your teammate is still alive!"
This is the same format as the Showdown Event, only this time you go into battle with a partner.
10 players total, 4 teams to defeat. When you or your partner are eliminated a 15 second respawn timer begins, if the remaining team mate is eliminated during this time your team is out.
Power Cubes obtained from crates are shared between you and your buddy, but once you are knocked down this resets to zero, even if you respawn.
THE GOOD NEWS
- Easy touch control for mobile devices, clear display of controls and features, and all are very responsive.
- Plenty of additional characters, upgrades and extras to be earned, in-game purchases are reasonably priced. Multiple game modes available as you progress.
- Smooth animations, quirky characters and a well laid out lobby.
THE BAD NEWS
- Not as fast paced as a 'Brawler' style game should be.
- A complete absence of any story line meaning no connection with the characters and no emotional investment is required.
- While everything looks great, this game lacks a unique design.