The history of the battle royale genre isn't a long one. While the nascent parts of the experience have existed ever since players first started killing one another online, it's really only in the past six years that the genre has coalesced into something specific, with distinct parts that define whether a game does or doesn't fit into the specific pigeonhole.
Fortnite and PUBG might be the names connected to the massive online shooters now, but it wasn't always that way. In fact, the genre started out thanks to a number of strange confluences in the pop-culture zeitgeist. And the coming together of those ideas wasn't the preserve of companies and focus groups - a good deal of the battle royale genre stems from its players. It's those ideas, and those players, we need to trace to understand the behemoth that's barreling through the App Store at the moment.
Before last week, if you asked me which game I prefer between Fortnite Battle Royale and PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG), I’d choose the latter just about 100% of the time. Now that we know that both games are primed to hit our mobile screens soon (you can even sign up for Fortnite here), I’m not so sure I’d have the same response. Between both of these games, Fortnite seems primed to be a much better mobile experience than PUBG, and here’s why:
There was a time when the Angry Birds were the face of mobile gaming. Nowadays though, that just isn't the case. You need to scroll a decent way down the top grossing charts to spot an AB title. It's Angry Birds 2. It's in 39th, just underneath Cashman Casino Vegas Slots.
Since the first Angry Birds game came out at the end of 2009, we've seen 19 other titles released either bearing the Angry Birds name or set in the Angry Birds universe. Angry Birds 2 itself is already a couple of years old.
There have been cartoons, there have been crossovers, there was even a Hollywood movie. But now the likes of Candy Crush and Clash of Clans are far more likely to be mentioned in the same breath as the App Store than Rovio's creation. Which begs the question - where did it go wrong?
If you ask just about anyone to name their absolute “must-buy” mobile games, FTL is bound to be on that list. With an awesome premise, tons of replayability, and a tough-as-nails roguelike sensibility, it’s a game you can fire up at any time just about anywhere and have a good time. With the release of Subset Games’s follow up title, Into The Breach, this week, a lot of people have been wondering if this game has the same potential to be a smash hit on mobile, and the answer is a resounding yes. Here’s why:
The first thing you might want to know about Into The Breach is that—as a follow up to FTL—it pretty much completely lives up to the hype. It’s a tightly designed roguelike where you control a team of mecha as they try to defend humanity. For a quick comparison, it feels like someone took Pacific Rim and jammed it into a tiny tactical map that looks like Advance Wars but plays a bit more like Invisible Inc., where all of your hits will land, but you have to plan them out carefully to make sure you don’t die or inflict too many human casualties in the process.
On top of that, it has a ton of unlockables, bonus missions, upgrades, and the same great difficulty curve that keeps you on the edge of your seat constantly while playing. As long as a port job of Into The Breach brings the game to mobile more-or-less intact, there’s no need to worry about whether it’s worth a purchase.
As an experiment, I went ahead and tried a couple ways to shoehorn Into The Breach onto my iPad just to see what it would be like, and I wasn’t disappointed. Even without any port work to make Into The Breach’s controls work for touch, the game works surprisingly well. It's also a game that constantly saves your progress, which makes it easy to pick up and put down on a whim. Finally—and perhaps most importantly—Into The Breach’s bite-sized tactics maps fit amazingly well on a mobile screen. Don’t believe me? Check out the screenshot below of the game running on an iPad display. Even in this compromised, windowed mode, everything about the game's UI is clean and easy to read.
The App Store could use another essential release right about now
FTL came out on mobile about four years ago, and since then there have been a few games here and there that seem like they should stay permanently installed on your home screen, but not many, especially recently. Although there are no current plans for Into The Breach to come to mobile, it would be a huge hit, particularly if it struck during an App Store lull like the one we’re currently in.
Big news dropped this week as Gameloft announced they’ve soft launched Asphalt 9: Legends in the Philippines. This has caused quite a stir primarily because the Asphalt games are among some of the best-looking racing games on the App Store. Heck, you might have already started looking at screenshots and are wondering if you should make a Philippines App Store account just to check it out for yourself. Well, if you are, I’m here to tell you that you shouldn’t, and here’s why:
Over the past couple of days we've seen two massive Android phones announced over at MWC. There's Samsung's Galaxy S9, and Sony's Xperia XZ2. Both of them are pretty impressive in terms of stats, and both companies seem to be focusing (if you'll excuse the pun) on releasing phones with impressive cameras.
But if you ask me, neither of the devices has the chops to knock the iPhone off the top spot, especially when it comes to gaming. Why's that you ask? Well give me a moment and I'll explain exactly what I mean.
The things that the Switch does so successfully are things that I've been saying mobile gaming has needed to do for a while now. It just so happens that Nintendo has got there first. But that doesn't mean that the mobile gaming world doesn't have things it can learn from the Switch. Things like these.
The Overwatch League is a pretty big deal. It's an attempt to really push eSports into the mainstream, by turning them into, well, regular sports. But slightly less sweaty. It's a lavish affair with teams from all around the world, and more fanfare than your average LAN party.
Now, currently mobile dominates the world in terms of revenue share. It accounts for just over 40% of all the money spent on games. That's the biggest single slice of the pie, and around ten percent more than console gaming makes. So why doesn't mobile gaming have its own Overwatch League?
If there's one thing that Pokemon GO did well, it was bringing people together. I still remember seeing groups of people around the marina near where I live in the weeks after the game came out, all of them trying to grab some water Pokemon. There was a community, a bunch of disparate people brought together to catch some make believe monsters.
Even recently, with the game losing some of that initial wow factor, events have pulled players together to try and catch them all. Which is what makes Niantic's decision to pull support for the game from iPhones and iPads that can't run iOS 11 all the more perplexing.
The community matters
Games like Pokemon GO thrive on their community. I mean, when you strip it down to the bare bones, it's really just a map with a few shiny trinkets spread around it. But the added competition of real-life players, of pitting your training skills against your friends, is part of what made the game sing from the off.
And now the step has been taken to hobble some of that community. To basically take the game away from them. Of course, I know that a lot of people will won't care. They'll have a device they can still play the game on, but the galling thing is the precedent that this is setting.
Some new games already won't run on the 6S, which came out in 2015. And that shows how big a problem serious game players could end up facing in the years to come. We can't all afford to update to the newest iPhone every time it comes out, but lagging just a couple of years behind shouldn't present such a massive problem.
More than a game console?
Yes, the iPhone is more than a device for playing games on, but look at the lifespans of videogame consoles. In the case of the PS3 and Xbox 360, they stretched into double figures. Seriously. When the Xbox 360 first came out, the iPhone didn't even exist. And since the iPhone came out just over a decade ago, we've seen 18 different models.
Bear in mind this is a game you can play on Android 4.4, which came out in 2013. If you're on an Apple device, you need to be running an OS that only landed last year. So here's a final thought. Communal games like Pokemon GO are some of the easiest to unravel.
It's not about losing huge chunks of players, but just a few here and there. When meet ups get smaller, people are less interested in going. And if your phone can't run the game any more, then you're definitely not going to bother. While there are obviously reasons behind Niantic's decision, this feels like the first cracks starting to show in the great gaming edifice that was Pokemon GO.
It's always tempting to have the best thing. As game players we're almost conditioned to chase the biggest processor, the most power, the next generation. Even mobile gaming isn't immune to this push to progress - there are games on the App Store that don't work on an iPhone 6 any more.
Which means the iPhone X should be the device at the top of all of our want lists right? It's get the sharpest processor, it's as future proof as an Apple device ever gets. It's the top of the toppest range of smartphones. We should all be clamouring to get one.
Let's not thwack around the undergrowth here, Nintendo has done alright when it comes to mobile games. Super Mario Run is probably one of the best auto-runners on the App Store, and you can see why by clicking here for our review. And Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp and Fire Emblem Heroes are both solid experiences.
Now re-read that first paragraph. I just described two Nintendo games as “solid experiences”. That's not something that usually happens with the big N's output. Sure it might not throw out games left right and centre, but the ones that do come out are almost always top of their class.
2017 was a great year... for games at least. Putting together list of 10 of the best mobile games out there was somehow even harder than it was last year. After playing 350+ games this year and reviewing 213 of them for 148Apps though, I've somehow been able to put together a list of ten games that were my absolute favorites from this year. Check them out below.
With the exception of Vainglory, few mobile games have managed to make their mark in the world of mainstream esports. However, 2017 was a pretty eventful year for competitive mobile games, and many have set their eyes on 2018 as the year that mobile games will finally have their breakthrough in esports.
iPhone App - Designed for iPhone, compatible with iPad
We're going to try something new here at 148Apps. Each week, we'll take a look back at a game taht might have been out for a while, but that we feel deserves a bit more recognition. It's all part of our mission to make sure that you're aware of the best mobile games out there.
This week we're shining the spotlight on Love Nikki-Dress UP Queen, an incredibly addictive fashion game that has a lot more going on than first appearances might suggest. This game is hugely popular in its native Japan, and its audience is growing steadily bigger in the west as well. It is a game largely about fashion, as you travel the world to schmooze with stylists and designers and collect a huge clothing collection. The game has a huge community, where you can compete against other players and help others build up their style. Here are three reasons why you should check out Love Nikki if you haven't already.
Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp, Nintendo's latest mobile game set to arrive at the end of this month, was announced in a Nintendo Direct a few weeks ago, and it has folks quite excited. It's a complete Animal Crossing game that you'll be able to play on your iPhone or Android.
The game's free-to-play system did draw some attention when it was first revealed, but we're here to tell you that there isn't much to worry about, especially after having played a good bit of the game in soft launch. Here's why.