Mobile games are typically thought of as being in the category of “casual,” mainly due to the system implements that are put in place. Players often are required to complete some menial tasks, then forced to wait a set amount of time before being able to to proceed to the next task.
Or, you could always spend some money.
The new app Battle Command, available on Android and iOS, follows this same formula, but implements an interesting social interaction that isn’t necessarily common. Often, these apps simply to blitz your Facebook page with requests for help from your friends; that is available here as well, though it’s not as intrusive as some titles. Instead, players can form their own alliances, groups of players who can help each other with tasks like speeding up building upgrades (those take time), supplying troops (these also take time), or simple game tips and tricks through the integrated chat system.
The gameplay itself mixes elements of real-time strategy with base management to create a unique blend of single player content merged with player versus player (PvP), but the overall objective seems to lean more in favor of the PvP. You can earn oil and steel -- used to upgrade your facilities -- through harvesters you setup on base or you can venture off and battle some increasingly difficult objectives that will reward you with a particular amount of resources. The catch is that once you complete an objective, you won’t get resources for doing it again.
Further, the soldiers you create, again using resources you farm, are expended in each battle they’re used. While this creates an economy of sorts, it’s still frustrating when you expend 100% of your soldiers only to learn you needed only a fraction of your force. As you play, you’ll learn quickly where to place your soldiers for an attack and how many to use so that you’re not wasting time or resources, something that isn’t entirely explained to players at the beginning of the game.
But why the need for an alliance? Beyond the simple fact that you can grant each other time-based benefits or donate soldiers, what’s the point? Simply put, the point is bragging rights. As you complete PvP missions, you’ll start to earn individual awards and, should the rest of your alliance pour themselves into PvP as well, you’ll see yourself start moving up the leaderboard.
Truly, Battle Command implements many of the same features that other free-to-play, wait-versus-paying games implement. It’s the futuristic setting, complete with colorful scenery and high-tech weaponry that will pull you in. The sci-fi feel is great for combat scenarios, but the times when you’re in the base end up feeling like a chore. As you get deeper and deeper into the gameplay, the times get longer and longer, eventually leading to situations where you can complete only a couple upgrades per day. As a casual time sink, Battle Command can be a perfect distraction. For something deep and engrossing though, this isn’t for you.