Video Game Critique!
Topic: Clash Royale
DISCLAIMER: EVERYTHING YOU WILL READ IN THIS CRITIQUE IS MY OPINION. IF YOU DISAGREE WITH ME, KEEP IN MIND I DO NOT INTEND ON OFFENDING OTHERS BY SHARING MY THOUGHTS.
About the Play of the Game:
Clash Royale is a mobile real-time strategy game by Supercell, the same people who brought you games like Clash of Clans and Boom Beach. You play against one other player in an arena that is split in the middle by a river. You use Elixir to spawn your forces, which is gained over time. When you deploy a unit, it will travel across one of two lanes that it is closest to. Units will stop to attack the first enemy unit that enters its attack range (or the unit closest to it if it spawns close enough to hostiles).
The objective of the game is to earn more Crowns than your enemy, which are gained by destroying towers. Two of these towers are at the end of the lanes (one on the left lane and one on the right lane). These towers attack your troops when they get into its range. The third and final tower is the castle, which lies in between the end of both lanes and will attack nearby enemies once it takes damage or after a tower is destroyed. If your forces destroy the castle, you win the game by default. If neither of the two players get more crowns than the other within one minute, 30 seconds are added into the match for Overtime. If neither player gets a crown before Overtime is over, the match ends in a stalemate.
What Do I Think about this Game?
Clash Royale is undoubtedly the latest smash hit for Supercell. Not only does it take little to no time at all to find an opponent, the amount of time spent in battling other players is quite negligible, allowing people to play many, many matches without wasting too much time.
Unfortunately, the game itself is very flawed. Many of the problems I'm not even sure will be taken into account by Supercell. First off, the game itself is meant to be fun and fast-paced unlike any other current-day RTS, but players have found many ways to soil the fun for players of all types. Even when not in a game, there are many things in Clash Royale that I find very upsetting. Whether if it's the return of the infamous "gems" or an outrageously flawed progression system, there's a lot about Clash Royale I do not like.
Game Balance: 2/5 (Bad)
Despite numerous claims by Supercell that say otherwise, Clash Royale has many imbalanced, many of which I'm unsure can even be fixed. The Knight unit is a notable example of this.
The Knight is a rare unit that, after walking for a few seconds, breaks into a charge. While charging, the Knight's movement speed is heavily increased and will deal a large amount of damage to the first enemy it hits. Because of its incredible damage, blazing speed, and beefy health pool, the Knight is a horrifyingly strong unit. What's worse is that this unit can be unlocked early into the game, but I'll get into that later. Few unit summons can properly take care of a Knight, but even then Knights are typically backed up by support units that counteract said counters. But unit balance doesn't even scratch the surface!
A notable issue that has been present in Clash of Clans has also come to Clash Royale. First off, when you win matches against other players, you gain special points that affect your rank in the game. When you rank up, your opponents will be noticeably tougher and you will have access to more units. However, if you lose enough points, the exact opposite will happen.
What's wrong with this, you may ask? In short, players have intentionally let players defeat them so they get paired against players totally unprepared to face them. The result is newer players will end up facing foes they cannot beat, preventing them from progressing further into the game. Unless Supercell can come up with some miraculous plan to fix this issue, do not be surprised to end up facing opponents that are way out of your league.
Overall, the game balance in Clash Royale is very situational and flawed. There are many factors that affect how you can play the game, win matches, and get things done in general. So many in fact, even minor problems have been able to ruin the game for many players.
Progression: 1/5 (Very Bad)
Making progress in Clash Royale is unnecessarily difficult. Because of the progression alone, much of Clash Royale's community refer to Clash Royale as a "free to play, pay to win" game. Gameranx has even stated in "10 Things Clash Royale Players HATE" that, without paying real money to get more gems, etc.; it can take between 4 to 14 YEARS to maximize the power of every card you can ever get in the game.
To add insult to injury, the rewards you get for completing matches can only be gotten by WINNING matches, said rewards are not random (let alone pseudo-random), rewards take too long to unlock, "rare" units are harder to get than they should be, and the game's microtransactions are shockingly cost-inefficient.
Because players have to wait longer than they should to open the gifts they can only get by winning hard-fought matches and because the game's algorithm is blatantly rigged, making progress in Clash Royale may sometimes make you question how the hell the pros were able to get into the Legendary Arena.
Oh that's right! Because they had to give Supercell their wallets and pay up in order to get stuff done! Although it's okay for Supercell to use microtransactions so they can maintain a healthy business, I find it unacceptable that players will have to take as long as 14 years in order to maximize the potential of their armies. If players prefer to not pay a penny for Clash Royale, they should at least not have to lose so many matches to players who spend more money than they should. Free to play games should not be won by paying.
Community: 3/5 (In the middle)
So far, the Clash Royale community has shown to be very pleasant. The players I've gone up against have behaved quite well, not rubbing it in when they win and not having a fit when they lose. The people I play along with in my clans have also been quite polite, and numerous YouTubers have made plenty of videos sharing strategies they like, discussing about game updates, and more.
However, the presence of people who have not spent any real life money for the game is virtually nonexistent. Many YouTubers have even made videos of them accumulating a crapton of gems by paying money for them, then going on spending sprees. Called "chest opening videos", literally all these videos are about is spending gems on chests until they can't get any more chests or until they unlock enough chests.
In my opinion, I feel very concerned that the community is willing to spend so much money to get nothing but cards that they probably don't even use/like. If guys like nickatnyte are willing to give up money they need so they can get a large amount of cards they can get by simply playing the game, I think it's time Supercell made the game's economy much less... wasteful.
Treatment by its creators: 3/5 (In the middle)
Supercell definitely cares about the game. In fact, many of the balance changes they've made over time has definitely benefited the competitive community. They pay attention to how people play the game and they tweak the game so that every unit is used they way they are meant to be. They even try to make every unit a desirable choice for your forces, as well as nerfing units who are more popular among the community than they should.
Unfortunately, they have ultimately failed to acknowledge the lackluster progression and the game's broken economy. Supercell's community has stated time and time again that they are sick of waiting 8 hours to open a chest full of only a few cards, sick of having to pay real money just to save time and open more chests, and sick of having to fight players they don't deserve to fight. But it seems that no matter how much Supercell's fans try to tell them they don't want over-priced microtransactions, lackluster rewards, and scary differences between "pay to play" and "free to play" players, they never seem to state that they are aware of the problem, let alone do anything about said problems. That alone makes me very upset.
Overall score: 9/20 (Below average)