App Reviewed on: iPad Pro
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Battle royale games are all the rage these days it seems, and nowhere is that more apparent than on mobile. Pocket Gamer is even so bold to say that mobile is the best place for this genre. I’m not sure I fully agree, though I can say I’ve been playing quite a bit of Overdox, which is indeed a mobile battle royale game, and a pretty neat--though flawed--one at that.
Just like other battle royales, Overdox is a multiplayer game where opponents start scattered across an environment and loot their surroundings to gain advantages for when they do find other players. To create a situation in which players have to confront each other, there is a circle that reduces the playable size of the arena over time. Players are free to exit this circle, but in doing so they take continuous damage until they re-enter it, or die.
This is the formula that made mega-hits like PUBG and Fortnite, but Overdox isn’t content being a simple imitator. This game differentiates itself by injecting MOBA (i.e. Vainglory, Arena of Valor) mechanics and systems into the basic battle royale template. Things like an isometric view, hiding in tall grass, collecting gold, killing creeps, and more are big factors in playing Overdox, and I’m pretty shocked at how well they gel together in this game.
Melee mind games
To explain how these genres mix a bit more concretely, here’s the basic flow of an Overdox match: A dozen players spawn in pre-defined places on the edge of a battle arena. From here, players need to make their way into the center of the map (where the circle eventually closes in on), but they also need to make sure they’re gathering credits along the way. You see, to enter the very center of the map, you have to pay 100 credits, which you can gather from smashing pots, opening crates, or killing other players.
Speaking of killing other players, another key difference between Overdox and other battle royale games is the fact that it’s melee-focused. Players can brandish spears, great swords, clubs, and more to use to cut each other down. These weapons aren’t found in matches anywhere (they’re equipped pre-match), but crates and other power ups can grant your character special cooldown abilities that can aid you in battle. You can also increase your power over the course of a match by killing AI robots that spawn in random areas for a chance to boost your “weapon level,” which gives you increased damage the higher it gets.
As you can imagine, upping your weapon level seems like the key to success in Overdox, but it can’t guarantee victory. Being a great fighter in this game involves managing your stamina meter, clever deployment of special abilities, and being able to predict attacks to block or parry them. This can make for some really tense fights that feel unlike any other battle royale out there.
I like a lot of things about Overdox, but it’s free-to-play design is not one of them. This game goes all-in on replicating the Clash Royale model, where you collect equippable loot cards that you can upgrade with duplicates to make them stronger. As I’ve said many times, this system sucks. It creates a multiplayer environment that is literally pay to win, rewarding only the people who have the patience or money to put up with it.
This is extra frustrating considering Overdox wastes no time in giving you gear that lets you make some really cool-looking heroes. It’s even got an interesting system where pieces of armor are divided by particular categories, and having a matching set of armor equipped grants you special bonuses. It’s just too bad that all of this ends up feeling like an extremely transparent way to convince you to spend increasing amounts of money on the game to no end.
The bottom line
Although it shares quite a bit of DNA with battle royale games, Overdox’s biggest strengths come from how it defies genre conventions. The game is marred significantly by its rotten free-to-play model, but that doesn’t quite make it a lost cause. When you can get into matches that aren’t crowded with people who paid to be better than you, Overdox can provide some of the most creative and thrilling battle royale moments out there.