It’s a really delicate balancing act crafting a F2P title that delivers a fun, satisfying experience without leaning too heavily into money-grabbing pay to win tactics. A game designer could have the best game in the world, but if it’s tied to a greedy, egregious monetisation model, then that’s enough to poison the well of a great game. With Last Planets, have developer Vulpine Games got the formula right, or should this strategy iOS game be nuked from orbit?
Last Planets is a base-building, tower defence/offence strategy hybrid that is reminiscent of strategy behemoth Command & Conquer. However, a much closer gameplay analogue would be F2P military strategy PS4 exclusive Guns Up!, by virtue of the game’s focus on taking on online player’s bases. The major differentiating factor here is that your base of operations is your own individual planet, and it is your job to protect it from other invading players, whilst raiding other online competitors and AI bot’s planets.
To achieve this, players must develop their base from a simple, lone planet, into a thriving, highly defended, veritable Fort Knox. Mines, turrets, shield generators, tesla towers and a handful of other defensive units can be built and placed to safeguard your home world from pesky intruders. Much like Guns Up!, enemies who attack your base do so without you physically controlling your towers. Your defences are automated, though you can view any raids upon your base in a drop-down option from the home screen, which is usually an effective way of highlighting weaknesses in your defences and adapting your tower defence systems accordingly.
Along with protecting your base, another important aspect within the game is to invade other planets and lay waste to their defences. Once you’ve built a Portal — along with a plethora of other useful buildings — you gain the capability of training up troops to assault other competitor’s planets in real-time strategy combat a ’la Command & Conquer. Once deployed, your troops are given a limited window of two-and-a-half minutes to invade a base chosen from a planetary map-world where you’ll find a mixture of AI and online player’s planets. Each planet is given a numbered rating signifying the difficulty level of the planet in question, and after a brief scout of the base, players are given the opportunity to invade it.
The core combat gameplay works quite well. It’s nice building up small armies from the diverse range of distinct troops that are on offer and it’s fairly enjoyable taking down bases and developing your own, too. It’s also decently presented with a quaint, no-frills cartoon aesthetic, accompanied by some pleasant and relaxing ambient audio. However, the main problem that rears its ugly head -- particularly after the first couple of hours -- is that the game leans way too heavily on its monetisation systems to glean a satisfyingly smooth gameplay experience from it.
If you’re playing the game -- like me -- without coughing up any money, then prepare to wait... A lot. Without the necessary resources, some buildings require hours to build. You can speed things up with gems, plastic and credits, which the game throws at you in the opening hours. Sadly, these resources run out pretty quickly and as a result, you’ll be spending much of your time waiting, which is just as tedious as it sounds.
Like I said earlier, it’s a tough ask crafting a F2P title that nails that balance between game design and pricing model. Unfortunately, Last Planets misses the mark and focuses too much on the latter, with an end result that just doesn’t respect your time, especially for those who don’t plonk down their hard-earned cash.
Last Planets (Reviewed on iOS)
The game is average, with an even mix of positives and negatives.
Last Planets is a mildly entertaining cocktail of base-building strategy and tactical offensive real-time combat. However, the game demands too much of your time and money to become any more than a fleetingly absorbing F2P curio.