So when given a sequel to game I personally didn’t find very engaging, I was a little sceptical, but I must commend Zillion Whales in their effort to refine their formula. They’ve made their simple little strategy game into a contender in the online battle arena of multiplayer online battle arenas.
Mushroom Wars 2 I must say is a huge step up graphically from its predecessor. Everything looks like it’s hand-painted, and even the mushroom men running around on the screen look to have more fluid animations. When starting up the game, you’ll be greeted by a beautiful launcher, with character art fitting in with the hand-painted style while displaying some great animation.
Of course graphics aren’t the main reason you play a game. The core mechanics of Mushroom Wars hasn’t changed in the slightest. Villages will generate mushroom men, towers won’t but will blast enemy mushroom men, and forges also won’t, but increase the defence and damage of the mushroom men sent out. Building can be upgraded or changed using the mushrooms stationed there, but the real strategy comes with trying to capture more while retaining enough to defend said buildings.
With a host of new maps, including hills for your troops to climb, Mushroom Wars 2 does bring a degree of freshness, but that’s short lived. What they have included though is Heroes, of which four were available to try. Just like you were able to choose your race in the previous game, so too can you in the second, only this time around they’re tied to a character which grants you a set of four unique powers, such as locking a building, burning travelling troops, or even freezing a village’s production. Using these abilities to your advantage will mean total domination of your opponents.
Once you’ve played a map a few times, you begin to know the strategies; where to take over, where to defend, where to put a tower or forge, and so on. What does add to the replayability though is the rank ladder. Once the top of your current league is reached, down to the bottom of the next one you go. With the small playerbase I predict there’s going to be though (still zero players in the first Mushroom Wars multiplayer), I doubt this iteration will be long lived.
In the end, the Mushroom Wars 2 Beta was thoroughly enjoyable, and while the premise of the game may not be quite to my tastes, Zillion Whales has done an incredible job of revamping the gameplay while still retaining its core. Chuck that on top of an amazing overhaul of the graphics and art style, you’ve almost got a masterpiece. Sadly, with what seems like an online only launcher (access to tutorials disappeared after beta server shutdown), and the low playerbase of the previous PC game, this e-Sports minded RTS doesn’t look like it has a long future ahead.
Please note that this was based on a closed beta, and many things can be expected to change once released. For example access to the campaigns was locked, and such this was purely based off of the multiplayer experience.