Wartune is a flash game that is ostensibly about “epic hybrid turn-based RPG/strategy” but is primarily about clicking on menus to get in-game currency so you can grind faster. It’s a missed opportunity that quite clearly sacrificed quality for money-making gimmicks.
The actual combat is inspired by MMOs or possibly Ogre Battle; you select your units from a short list (a whopping two available until you hit level 10) and they as well as your character attack automatically. Player input is limited to holding down the 1 key and occasionally another as you use one of your pre-selected skills.
Fights in this game are so hilariously tedious that you have the option (blitz) to get the game to complete dungeons for you in exchange for gold and a waiting period. Even the game’s creators know that its combat is generally unfun and included ways to get around it so you can go back to farming and extraneous stuff. But first, more details about the fighting.
In Wartune (presumably named such because Warsong was already taken), preparation for battle is more important than skill (yes, I know it’s a strategy game and not Street Fighter II, but gimme a break here). If you’re going to PVP, you need tanks (whether you are one or you hired one) and damage dealers. You only have two units available at a time (except in one of the multiplayer dungeons for which I spent upwards of an hour waiting for a party) and a small selection of abilities.
Not every game is going to have complex skill trees like Diablo 2, especially free games, so I’ll cut it a bit of slack. There are few skills available but there is a surprising variety to be found within them. As a sorcerer, do you load up on area-affect spells, single attack spells,or healing? Should knights tank up and focus on defense or improve their damage output? Unfortunately, some are nearly useless and some overpowered; a Google search of Wartune message boards will quickly yield the best build for each class and level, but there’s still a bit of flexibility. If you picked some of the less useful skills, you can mercifully respec them free before hitting level 25.
Some skills have QTEs that increase their power. Like, it asks you to press a key and you press it, but the keys are always chosen from WASD. These exist only to make sure the player isn’t AFK; there is no penalty for pressing the wrong key so when a QTE prompt comes up you can just mash WASD and get the boost.
There are very simple, very linear dungeons with normal enemies, bosses, and some slightly-randomized treasure drops. You’ll need to blitz these and do something else for five minutes if you want to stay awake. The “world boss” (which occur three times a day) battles are even more bland than regular ones, being an endurance match with dozens of players, instant death, and infinite lives. They don’t really suit the game at all except as a method to keep players logging in at the right times of the day. If you’re hoping for World of Warcraft-like instances where your party has to work together, look at the multiplayer dungeons, but even those are limited by the game’s overly simplistic combat system.
Players are quite friendly, probably encouraged by the benefits found in being friends with others in the game. The tree of ancients, multiplayer dungeons, and guilds offer many boosts that wouldn’t be possible alone. I wish some more online games offered a greater incentive for players to be excellent to each other. I’m looking at you, every DOTA clone ever made. Maybe the fact that you can’t exchange items with other players prevents a lot of abuse. The game’s creators will do the panhandling here, thank you, just sit back and watch your hirelings auto-attack those minotaurs.
In the first paragraph I mentioned that Wartune makes you jump through hoops in order to get to its bland combat. This game has so many carrots on sticks that it could power enough bunny treadmills to electrify Manhattan. Right from the get-go you are plastered with ads begging for your sweet dollars in exchange for in-game conveniences. Money to get some unique items, money to reduce cooldown times on building construction, money to get rid of the glowing boxes on the screen asking you to spend money on the game. No joke; the main screen contains half a dozen buttons that require real money and several more where it’s extremely helpful. The reminders that you are non-VIP filth are all too common.
There are multiple types of in-game currency, some of which are hard or impossible to obtain without spending real-life money. Aside from that, I thought it was kind of cool to require gold for buildings, daru to upgrade troops, insignias to buy stuff at the arena, and a smorgasbord of other tokens and items. If everything used gold it would be too simple, but it would definitely eliminate some of the clutter. Experience and gold are gained much more quickly by Farmville-ing than by killing monsters, though. You call this a dungeon crawler? More like a click-baiter.
More stuff unlocks as you gain levels. But it’s more carrots, more sticks.
Despite limited daily adventures (as in Kingdom of Loathing), encourages players to spend all of their time online by having certain events (group fights, world boss battles) only at certain times of the day. If you have tons of free time and want to waste away getting addicted, this game has you covered. You won’t run out of superfluous things to do for quite some time.
Menus are designed to be… not cumbersome, but certainly to require more flipping through them than necessary. I can’t access Bounty Quests from the list of quests; unless I’m doing something wrong, I have to go through a separate menu (Daily Events) to access it. Guess what? You can pay real money to make this process easier. R2Games wants that filthy lucre more than Romanian rulers want to shove spikes through people’s assholes.
Wartune represents more wasted potential than a Black Sabbath reunion and enough naked greed to make Riot Games look like the guys who make Nethack. If it had lived up to its tagline it could have been something truly great, but unfortunately what we have is a shell of a game and within is a gaggle of beggars lusting after your credit card. Despite all my gripes, Wartune is still somewhat addictive, but it’s the fleeting pleasure that comes from watching numbers go up with little effort on your part. There’s not much to the game once you strip away the necessary grinding on your part and the money-grubbing of its creators. It could have been so much more. Give me direct control of my troops, and give me more options for troops while you’re at it. If they want me to come back, they need to reduce the piles of menus and gimmicks and turn Wartune into a real strategy game. You know, with thinking involved, not grinding and pay-to-win foolishness. If you want a real epic hybrid turn-based RPG/strategy, try X-Com, Baldur’s Gate, Tactics Ogre, or Final Fantasy Tactics. Wartune is still pretty new and it has the potential to be greater than it is, but for the moment it fails to satisfy.