App Reviewed on: iPad Pro
User Interface Rating:
Replay Value Rating:
It seems tough to try and make a multiplayer tank combat game knowing that World of Tanks and World of Tanks Blitz already exist. This hasn’t seemed to deter Panda Arcade though, who have recently brought a 3v3 battler to mobile called Pico Tanks. What’s more is this game manages differentiate itself from the Wargaming’s uber-popular brand of tank combat by offering something more light-hearted and arcadey, and it’s actually quite fun. It’s just too bad the game also has a monetization model that prevents multiplayer matches from being balanced.
In Pico Tanks two teams of tanks battle things out across one of three modes: Team Deathmatch, Hold the Flag, and Fetch the Cargo. Although each of these matches have different win conditions, all matches revolve around the action of using your tank to blast away at enemy tanks.
Controlling your tank is as simple as moving a virtual joystick, though using your arsenal is a little tricker. You tank’s projectiles move somewhat slowly, so you need to lead your targets with shots. Also, you have a cooldown meter that limits how many shots you can fire in a row. These factors—plus a system of bonus powers like shields and repair kits—allow for some depth and interesting combat scenarios without ever making Pico Tanks feel overwhelming.
To add further depth to the game, players can unlock new parts for their tanks and customize their vehicle to their liking. Some of these parts are purely cosmetic, like flags you can attach to your armor, but others can be different kinds of cannons, or even alternate treads, both of which can affect the properties of your tank dramatically.
Pico Tanks is carefully balanced to ensure that no particular tank parts are categorically better than others. This helps to make sure matches are filled with a diversity of tanks, which in turn keeps prolonged play feeling fresh.
The war business
For as much careful consideration Panda Arcade put into their parts balance, I wish they hadn’t slapped such an imbalanced free-to-play model on top of Pico Tanks. Just like Clash Royale—and tons of other free multiplayer mobile games that have come in its wake—Pico Tanks has an upgrade system that allows players to increase the stats of their tank’s components using a specific kind of currency. This currency can be earned through playing Pico Tanks, or you can simply buy it via in-app purchase.
Allowing for players to get better gear than their opponents ruins the balance of multiplayer games. This would be a poor system even if players couldn’t spend money to get a leg up on the competition, but Pico Tanks allows exactly that, and it feels slimy.
The bottom line
Despite its pay-to-win tendencies, Pico Tanks can still be a reasonably fun multiplayer game. The nuances of its tank combat and customization options demonstrate there is room for a different kind of tank game out there. I just wish this one wasn’t monetized to tip the balance of matches in favor of whoever spends the most money on it.