If you’re looking for an online PVP multiplayer videogame, you’ll be spoiled for choice. Competitive online games are as common in today’s gaming landscape as true crime podcasts; without differing content/context they’re all the same. And like a podcast, online PVPs have to keep their audiences engaged and coming back for more. Now a new contender has swept in with cartoonish visuals and more compact maps to push everyone into the action. Warlander may just be the hottest game to play this month, but the question is: can it bring in a constant stream of players?
Developed by Toylogic Inc. and published by PLAION, Warlander is a fun-filled, kid-frendly action, hack-and-slash, PVP, multiplayer game with occasional server lag and day-one players overpowering newer players in public matches. The latter may be reduced after a few months.
Absent of a story, you play on the teams of the Blue Unicorns or the Red Lions in a bum-rush to either destroy or protect a power core in beautiful medieval fantasy-themed maps. To win the match, your team must secure control points used for rapid re-deployment after death, barricade and defend walls to slow the advancement of the enemy team and strategically flank squads to gain an advantage.
You can choose between three classes: the evenly matched Fighter, the weak support Cleric, and the OP ranged attacker Mage, with the opportunity to customise the cosmetics and gear loadouts of five characters in each squad (or ‘Deck’).
Matches tend to last around half an hour, beginning with the whole lobby voting on map type (Offensive, Balanced, or Defensive), then several groups of five on your team pick their roles; meaning whichever team unanimously chooses to defend their base, attacks the opposition, or plays the ‘Special Ops’ which basically means the infiltration squad.
Once you start a match, you’d think everyone would be doing their voted jobs, the ones they picked for themselves, but no. The moment the gates open, everyone bursts into fighting without any strategy, defeating the purpose of having roles in the first place.
As cohesion is the main strength to Warlander’s gameplay, everything has to be done as a team. Building siege weapons, manning turrets and repairing defences are the only few things you can do solo but take a long time to complete. Combat also relies on having well-managed squads working together to overwhelm the enemy and pushes the proverbial battle lines in the preferred direction. If you go at it alone or with a minimised squad, you run the risk of dying either by a much larger force or aforementioned server lag.
After a match, you’re rewarded experience points, usable items, and cosmetics, alongside gaining progression points in the game’s season pass, plus currency for the in-game shop. After all, what would a free-to-play, online game be without their season passes and cosmetics?
Warlander has a generic season pass, similar to The Crew 2 by giving pass owners the ability to unlock all the rewards while non-season pass members receive a small fraction for the same amount of experience. The shop also reminds me of another game’s store, Vermintide 2; however, in Warlander you can buy useful equipment to increase your character’s abilities as well as items used in the customisation screen like hair colour and clothing. While I’m sure Warlander will have a larger variety of items and cosmetics in the future, what they have at the time of writing this review isn’t that appealing to own.
After playing for a while, there aren't any bugs or texture issues I can report. Again, besides lag, the audio and visuals weren’t affected when you're surrounded by the action. I could hear my hammer strike a damaged ballista with the clanks of metal to wood in perfect timing while a battle raged below me. The character animations are dynamic as every movement, ability and attack is deliberate to the class's mentality. A game where the mage’s fires projectiles with finger guns is a game that doesn’t take itself too seriously.
So, can Warlander bring in the players to keep thriving? Yes and no.
While it’s fun to play and has great waiting times to get into a match, it can be challenging when playing with people who know how to use tactics versus those who don’t, you’ll most likely get bored of the repetitive gameplay and the amount you have to grind to make proper progress.
If Warlander could streamline the game to have more than just tower defence maps, something like how Chivalry 2 uses the outcome of the previous match to decide a new map and/or game mode. Both giving players more variety to play with and establishing a baseline lore to why the power cores are so special to have several doors to bar people from them.
Overall, Warlander is a good free-to-play game to kill some time with friends or simply rumble with the masses in public lobbies. Let’s just hope the latter doesn’t become redundant.
Warlander (Reviewed on Windows)
This game is good, with a few negatives.
If you want to play a free PVP online game then Warlander is worth playing while there’s a player base surrounding it.