App Reviewed on: iPad Air 2
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Whenever Gameloft releases a new game, I'm always pretty skeptical that it will be any good at all. The developer has a history of taking existing console games and jamming them into a mobile package that–while usually kind of neat looking–is cluttered with all kinds of nasty free-to-play hooks. This exact thing is true for Modern Combat Versus, though its inspirations are quite as obvious as usual. Instead,Modern Combat Versus is an interesting mishmash of popular trends, but it's marred by the same free-to-play nonsense present in most other Gameloft games.
Clash of Titanfall Duty: Overwatch
As you can probably guess from the name, Modern Combat Versus is a multiplayer-only spin-off of Gameloft's shooter series, Modern Combat. In it, two teams of four players each compete on maps for control of a designated control point. The first team to take and hold the point for a certain amount of time is the winner. Since this is a shooter, the primary way you ensure your control of the area is by shooting enemy players that try to contest the control point.
Where the Modern Combat series had mostly been a Call of Duty imitator, Modern Combat Versus expands its repitoire of inspirations to other mega popular games like Overwatch, Titanfall, and even Clash Royale. So, although you still aim down your sights just like you would in CoD, this game is also has unique characters with special abilities, mobility tricks (e.g. wall running), and an ability system relies on an auto-filling bar of mana. Although these ideas are clearly just ripped from other games, their combination results in matches that are capable of feeling uniquely intense and dynamic.
It's always tricky to make first-person shooter controls work on mobile, but this is actually where Modern Combat Versus excels. The game uses a simple control scheme that involves using a virtual joystick for running and tapping and dragging on the rest of the screen to aim. Sprinting, vaulting, and wall running are all a matter of dragging more on the joystick, and shooting is as simple as just aiming at your target or double-tapping to look down sights and then aiming. Firing happens automatically, though this can be changed in the settings menu.
Modern Combat Versus does feature MFi controller support, but the game actually manages to feel better in its touch form. This could be because there is no auto-fire or other control customization options for controller players, but it's still surprising that the game feels as good as it does using the touchscreen. Everything just works, and it doesn't feel particularly awkward.
Although individual matches of Modern Combat Versus look and feel pretty great, almost everything surrounding that experience is a devious free-to-play hook of some kind. Not all of them are too terrible, but the sheer number of them (and the presence of a few particularly nasty ones) really hamper the experience.
When you win matches of Modern Combat Versus, you earn loot boxes, which can be unlocked over time or by spending premium currency. You can also spend in-game currency to unlock new heroes to play as. These are the more innocuous forms of free-to-play design in Modern Combat Versus. The not so great free-to-play elements include: being able to purchase copies of heroes you own to level them up and increase their stats, how ads pop up all the time out of nowhere, and how the game discourages grinding out free currency by limiting chest slots. Any one of these systems on their own could potentially be bearable, but together, they really make Modern Combat Versus a bummer.
The bottom line
It's not fun to play a first-person shooter against players that can pay to have their characters be better than yours. While this scenario doesn't present itself in every match of Modern Combat Versus, the fact that it can and does happen is a pretty huge issue. Although Modern Combat Versus actually seems like one of Gameloft's more creative and successful outings, the free-to-play structure surrounding the action is annoying and upsets the balance of the game.