For the last few weeks, my other job has either taken away my game time or just sucked the energy out of me so that didn’t feel like playing anything when I get home. I’m sure that many of you have been there, too. If you’re like me, you still want some time to game because it helps you relax or gives you some solace from the day-to-day. Perhaps, the mobile game Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes is the game you should try.
That’s not just an intro bit; I really have been quite busy with other work and real life these last couple of weeks, but I didn’t want to neglect Star Wars gaming while I waited for things to slow down. Over the last 15 years, there have been very few days when I didn’t play a Star Wars online game. But these last few weeks, my access to my computer has been limited, but I had my phone. It’s a Samsung Galaxy S9; it can handle most mobile games. So these last few weeks, I decided to sidestep my usual Star Wars MMORPG, and play the Star Wars mobile game in my free time. And since it is multiplayer, I can talk about it here on this forum. So here are my impressions.
Step into the cantina
The primary premise of the game is that you are in a cantina playing holos boardgames featuring heroes from around the galaxy, past and present. So it’s a game within a game. It’s a little weird, and I’ll reluctantly admit that it’s one of the things that kept me away from the game in the first place. But after the initial introduction to the various areas of the cantina, your Twi’lek guide named Fey Zara takes you into your first battle. Of course, it’s with light-side characters, and I’ve never been a much of a light-side player, so eventually I made a squad of baddies which is what I’ve featured in these images today.
As you gain levels, new games types open up around the cantina. But so far, they are all variations on a turn-based, squad-vs.-squad battles. Some have heavy limitations like the entire squad has to be certain levels with specific aspects like being Separatists, or maybe there are light limitations like they all have to be Dark Side. But my favorites are the battles that require no restrictions at all. I have zero justification for it, but I love teaming up a Jedi Consular with Count Dooku, a Nightsister, a Royal Guard, and Chewbacca.
Select your squad
Of course, before you step into battle, you have to choose your team. When you jump into a battle from the cantina screen, you will be given a default group to take with you, but if you have enough characters, you will be given the opportunity to trade some out. An interesting addition to the squad selection meta is the squad leader. The character in the first slot determines which buffs the group has. If the character isn’t a leader, then there are no buffs, and unfortunately, many leader buffs only affect specific types of allies. For instance, Count Dooku’s leader buffs give bonuses to other Separatist characters but give nothing to other characters.
At later levels, you will be able to borrow a hero from other players. These borrowed characters will have their leadership bonuses added to your group, which can definitely be a boon to a squad that has a particularly weak leader.
My first paywall hit when attempting to unlock new characters. Initially, I believed that you could earn characters pretty quickly because the rewards indicated that you would earn character shards when you complete a mission. However, it takes multiple character shards to unlock a character — some as low as 10, others can cost up to 80 or more. Also, once you have a new character unlocked, you still have to level it up, which costs credits and equipment. Although it’s not necessary to buy a character or anything early in the game, there are always temptations. For me, it was the obvious hole in my five-person squad. But there is also making sure that you have enough credits or other currency to train your characters. Of course, you don’t have to buy anything, but the game pummels you left and right about how much easier the game could be if you just bought something. But that’s a lie – it’s still very grindy unless you spend obscene amounts of real life money.
The combat makes this game. I have not run into any aspect of combat that I disliked. The characters look amazing, the effects are sharp, and the strategic meta is really on point. I enjoy the turn-based aspect because it allows me to get interrupted, as I often am, without negatively affecting the gameplay. Character roles are logical and interesting. For example, my Nightsister character is a healer, but every heal she does heals the group but causes her damage. When another character taunts, you cannot target any other character other than the taunter until he’s dead or the buff goes away. There are stealth abilities, AOEs, debuffs, guards — just a wide variety of abilities and combinations. Too many group-based games focus on tank, heal, and DPS. It’s fun to see a game that puts a lot of emphasis on support. I’m glad the holy trinity is in there, but if you only attempt out DPS the other team, you will fail.
All that said, I really like the game as a snack, but when I attempted to make it a meal, all the seasoning begins to taste like salt. There are far too many different currencies, all character growth hides behind lockboxes, and many of the gameplay arenas blend into each other because the differences are too subtle. I understand that the developers need to make money off the game, but adding all the complicated currencies and components appears to be an attempt to obfuscate shady monetization.
My suggestion is this: If the turn-based battle part interests you like it does me, don’t play too many battles at a time. Play it on the bus to work or during a lunch break, but don’t make it your go-to game. It’s a good game and probably deserves some money, but hyper-progression will only make you unhappy and poor.