App Reviewed on: iPad Air 2
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It seems that the legacy of Clash Royale has not yet been forgotten. Beast Brawlers is a game that essentially lifts all of the progression mechanics from Supercell’s uber-hit and dumps it into a multiplayer brawler. While the action-oriented gameplay of Beast Brawlers does have some appeal, the core mechanics of the game feel a bit thin, especially when they feel so dependent on the game’s free-to-play structure.
Beast Brawlers is a multiplayer-only game where four players are dropped into an arena and must complete for certain objectives like collecting orbs or scoring the most kills within a certain time limit. In every game, players choose from a variety of beasts to control, which they can switch out between respawns.
Once players choose their beast, they are free to move around the arena to try and complete objectives. The controls here are fairly streamlined. There’s a virtual joystick for movement and just a few on-screen buttons to activate a special ability or consumable item. To attack, players only need to move their beasts close enough to opponents and they will start dealing damage immediately.
Unlock and unleash
When you first start playing Beast Brawlers, you’ll only have access to a couple beasts, but this changes once you start winning matches, earning loot boxes, and opening them. While you won't always be earning new beasts after every win, but each loot box has a chance to contain—among other things—new beasts for you to use in battle.
Each of these new creatures feel like they have their own playstyle, so unlocking new ones always feels like a significant change to the game. From a spider that can slow opponents as they poison them from a safe distance to a stealthy wolf that can turn invisible and deal critical strikes to foes, there’s a healthy amount of variety in the game, even for one that has such streamlined controls.
Fighting the grind
The action in Beast Brawlers is nice, light fun, but the trouble with the game lies in its Clash Royale-style progression system. As you play, you earn chests, which have to unlock by waiting hours. Inside these chests are in-game currency, consumable items, and beasts. The currencies are used to upgrade your existing beasts and buy new talents for them, the consumables can be equipped to specific beasts for combat boosts, and getting new beasts gives you a new option in battle while getting duplicate beasts contributes to your ability to level up your existing units.
Using this kind of progression system, you create imbalance between players that favors those that efficiently grind or pay, and this kind of system is hard to make work in a competitive multiplayer environment unless you have a huge player base and/or quality matchmaking tools. This—plus a more robust strategic layer of gameplay—is what makes the progression in Clash Royale not feel as exploitative. In Beast Brawlers though, things feel imbalanced, especially given the game’s relatively simple gameplay.
The bottom line
Beast Brawlers is not the first game to copy Clash Royale’s money-making model, and it most certainly won’t be the last. Although it has a pretty intesting foundation, Beast Brawlers ultimately feels like it’s weighed down by a progression system that throws its base systems out of whack.