As fans the world over await the December 18th release of Episode VII with feverish anticipation (myself included), many have turned to the recent onslaught of media offerings to get their interim Star Wars fix. With a slew of new EU novels, multiple Marvel comic books, a new animated series and the blockbuster release of Star Wars Battlefront, Star Wars fans have been fed a continuous stream of Star Wars content over the past year. But what of those Star Wars fans that are more inclined to consume content on their mobile devices? Electronic Arts sought to leave no stone un-turned in that regard, but after having spent some time with their recent mobile “RPG,” Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes, I am of the mind that this was a stone best left undisturbed.
Editor’s Note: You can watch our video of the gameplay for Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes at the bottom of this review.
There is no plot or story to advance the player’s objectives in this game. Yep, you read that correctly; a so-called “RPG” set in the Star Wars universe and there is ZERO story to be found.
In their marketing materials and storefront descriptions, Electronic Arts describes Galaxy of Heroes as an RPG. Such a description is somewhat misleading. Galaxy of Heroes is a spiritual successor of sorts to Heroes of Dragon Age (also developed by Capital Games), in so far as both titles revolve around collecting heroes and using them to assemble a squad for JRPG-style battles.
Heroes can be equipped with different items to buff their stats, while training bots allow the player to level up acquired characters. Obtaining victory in battle is one-part allocation of leveling resources and one-part building a team in which each hero fulfills one of the traditional class roles of an RPG squad (tank, healer, DPS etc).
Game modes are wholly battle oriented. Those who were disappointed by the lack of a proper single player campaign in EA’s other Star Wars title, Battlefront, will find that EA has taken the same approach to Galaxy of Heroes. Even though the game includes a “campaign”, there is no story (or Dana), only battling (and Zuul). The campaign mode consists of three parts; Light Side Battles, Dark Side Battles, and Cantina Battles. There are also two PvP modes (PvP Squad Arena and Galactic War) and Daily Challenges.
The campaign modes pit your squad against a series of AI squads in a round-robin matchup that increases in difficulty with each victory. Your squad does not start off fully healed after each battle, and therefore you are tasked with keeping your team alive throughout each battle until a mission is complete. PvP requires no real explanation; your squad faces off against the squad of a human opponent. Those interested in bragging rights may find themselves driven to best their human competitors, but there is not much else offered by the PvP modes.
Light Side Battles are referred to as such because your squad may only have Light Side characters. Similarly, Dark Side Battles only allow you to use a squad comprised of Dark Side characters. Cantina Battles offer similar gameplay, but with shards (one of the in-game currencies) as a reward for success in battle.
Completing Daily Challenges is essential to playing through the game without having to spend real currency. As such, the game comes down to being a grind heavy session for those that do not wish to pay out-of-pocket to progress past the pay-wall. No matter which mode you choose, you will find yourself doing the same thing; assembling a team of heroes and fighting a turn-based battle.
Ostensibly, dispensing with the typical elements of an RPG (chatting with NPCs, quests, towns, STORY) in favor of focusing on the combat seems to be a boon for those that want to enjoy a fast paced game with all of the strategic nuance of an RPG and none of the narrative. Sadly, the turn-based mechanics for Galaxy of Heroes induce a state of ennui hitherto thought impossible for a video game based upon the Star Wars license. With no real objectives or plot, battles and grinding quickly become a dull affair after the first thirty minutes. After two hours, what was novel about the game becomes increasingly annoying.
There are no complex controls or latency to worry over. The game is entirely menu driven and turn-based, with no gameplay mechanic involving exploration or free-movement. In other words, “tap, tap, tappity tap.” Unless one is having problems with the digitizer of their touchscreen device, there is little to hinder one from effectively navigating the game.
Visual fidelity isn’t everything, and there is always the need to consider any art direction choices that may contribute to a game having a stylized look. That said, one can’t help but feel underwhelmed by Galaxy of Heroes, which has an aesthetic that can best be described as taking its cues from the early era of PlayStation 2 games, and not even the ones that have aged well such as Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy.
There is nothing stylized about the look of Galaxy of Heroes; textures are washed out and character animations are so lacking in fluidity that I can’t help but feel that the game runs at less than 30fps, which is rather jarring and distracting. I played the game on my LG G3, and though the phone was released a bit over a year ago, its chipset (Snapdragon 801 with the Adreno 330) is capable of pushing far more demanding titles with ease. That fact only further soured my impression of the game’s visual presentation.
Does every game require a showcase of the latest in graphics technology? No. There are many stellar mobile titles that have simplified visuals and look stunning (Monument Valley and The Adventures of Poco Eco come to mind). That said, Galaxy of Heroes is not in the company of such esteemed works. Consequently, the game simply looks dated and choppy, and that detracts from the overall immersion of the experience.
If you enjoyed Capital Games’ previous effort, Heroes of Dragon Age, then you will likely have a good time playing this game. Those who appreciate time-wasters may find something here since the campaign missions can be played in a “pick up and go” fashion, making this title ideal for five minute sessions. Otherwise, Star Wars and RPG fans will find themselves bored by the lack of a proper campaign, and gamers in general will find little of interest when it comes to Galaxy of Heroes.
– Ideal for short gaming sessions
– A pay wall that can be avoided if one is dedicated to doing a bit of grinding
– There is still a pay wall
– No proper campaign
– Wasted use of the Star Wars license
– Dull turn-based combat
– Dated graphics
– Sluggish animations
Final Score: whyyyyyyyy…..??????
Not even the most ardent Star Wars fan could be convinced to willingly suffer through this game for more than a few hours before opting to delete it from their device. There are better options in the Play Store for gamers seeking an enjoyable Star Wars or RPG experience, including Kabam’s solid Diablo clone, Star Wars Uprising, and the venerable smash-hit, Knights of the Old Republic.