App Reviewed on: iPad Pro
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I’ve been lumbering along in my game of War Tortoise 2 for about a month and a half, and in that time I’ve conquered about seven outposts. This has not necessarily been for lack of trying, either. War Tortoise 2 relishes the slow march of progress, to the point that the whole game is designed to be a sluggish, incremental grind. If you can adequately prepare yourself for that reality, there is some enjoyment to be had with War Tortoise 2, but more than likely it will test your patience.
Death rides a tortoise
The world of War Tortoise involves anthropomorphic creatures that seem to be locked in some eternal war. You play as a mouse that pilots a hulking tortoise outfitted with heavy armor and all manner of turrets and cannons. To help you fend off the endless onslaught of foes, you need to capture strategic points, hire fighters to protect your turtle, and gather materials to build a network of outposts that can give you some back up as battles get really tough.
You can have direct control of this action, which mostly just consists of aiming a turret reticle at an enemy in the distance until it dies, but you can also put the game in auto-mode, which you’ll want to do often. Your armored tortoise crawls along the landscape, making treks between any two points take forever, and there’s lots of other stuff to do in that time besides aim your gun. As you kill enemies, you gather tons of money and other resources which you’ll want to constantly be funneling into upgrades if you want to keep pace with enemy firepower.
The true core of War Tortoise 2 is its myriad systems and paths for upgrading your tortoise. There’s clicker-style upgrades that level up units and gun damage at the tap of a button (provided you can afford it), some good old loot boxes with gear for your tortoise, and alternate resources like wood and mutations that can be used to build permanent upgrades like roads and passive stat bonuses respectively.
Where many other management games with tons of upgrades might rely on creating satisfaction from players constantly seeing forward progress and numbers going up, War Tortoise 2 is more challenging than that. You can die in this game, and if you do, many of your upgrades reset and you have to do them all over again. That said, each death also grants some fairly significant permanent bonus, making the “shoot, die, repeat” loop feel somewhat tolerable.
I don’t mind that War Tortoise 2 is repetitive and involves resetting my progress over and over again. Tons of great games rely on this kind of grind, but it’s hard to swallow in this game because the moment-to-moment action isn’t particularly engaging. You mostly just tap menus until you run out of currency and wait for your tortoise to crawl along to its next destination. This makes War Tortoise 2 sound like a clicker—which in a lot of ways it is—but the game doesn’t feature the ability to make progress while you aren’t playing it, meaning you have to sit and watch everything unfold in slow motion to get anywhere.
To be fair, each time you return to War Tortoise 2, you can get a small boost to kickstart your play session. This usually comes in the form of a free reward offered in exchange for watching an ad (or opting to pay $ 2.99 once to get these rewards ad-free). It also seems that these rewards get a little more generous the longer you’re away, but it’s not clear how that works exactly. Regardless, the result is that War Tortoise 2 makes cases for playing it in both short bursts and extended sessions, though they feel at odds with each other, to the point that neither end up feeling particularly satisfying or productive.
The bottom line
With its endless amount of upgrades and simple gameplay, War Tortoise 2 falls into a category of game I tend to label as “something to do.” It’s not super engaging, it’s mildly satisfying, and probably is the kind of game that fits the bill for someone who just wants something they can check in on while binging Netflix. That said, the game’s sluggish pace can make even distracted play feel painstaking.