FINNISH tablet game developer Supercell has produced an incredible follow-up to its 2012 hit Clash of Clans.
Titled Boom Beach, the game’s visuals, sounds and core base-building gameplay mechanics will feel immediately familiar to Clash aficionados.
Where it differs is that Boom Beach is designed to be enjoyed in your own time, without the hassle of having to join a clan and donate troops to fellow clanspeople.
Builders have also been given the boot meaning you can only build or upgrade one facility at a time. While at first it feels slow, it’s an approach that won’t see you hurrying to spend the $40 or so that was required to buy builders in Clash.
In fact, as I teeter on the brink of hitting level 20, I’m yet to pay for anything. The game gives players a generous daily dose of Diamonds, the in-game currency which allows you to more quickly build or upgrade facilities on your base.
The way you train and fight with troops has also been revamped. Camps are replaced by troop carriers to fit in with the distinctive World War 2 theme.
Any troops that survive combat are returned home and you only need to replace those who are lost in battle.
Also, no longer do you search for an opponent. Rather, you work on removing the fog of war from a world map and then set out to capture each island on that map.
Islands are occupied by a mixture of AI and real world players. It’s a very asymmetrical experience as you can’t cast revenge on anyone, or pick a new opponent on a given island for at least half a day.
But it’s a pleasant change from the now-overdone battle search found in Clash clones.
Battle is an interesting beast because troops always land on shore and must destroy or bypass machine gun and other turret emplacements that stand between them and the base’s supply depot.
I found invading bases more difficult in Boom Beach, and at times I’d look for ways to avoid tackling defences, which is possible if your opponent has a poorly laid out base.
Each battle ends with a scorecard of resources acquired and troops lost. Along the way you’ll acquire fragments of special diamonds that can collectively be used to purchase Idols.
Idols give you a resource production boost which in line with the number of Islands you occupy determines what you’ll earn by the hour.
With Boom Beach, Supercell manages to hit the right notes again when it comes to balancing upgrades with battle.
While an upgrade might take several hours there is no reason why you can’t battle for control of remaining islands and other players’ resources.
For all of Boom Beach’s improvements, its end-game is unfortunately a solemn experience, bordering on a drawn-out cash trap. As buildings and bases take longer to upgrade, you’ll spend more time waiting than playing.
And without the clan system, there’s certainly less content to keep you hanging around in the long term.
Supercell does free-to-play better than any developer I know. But even it, with all its incredible talent, needs to make a living, and inevitably there’s a point where your interest in Boom Beach begins to fade unless you’re willing to spend more Diamonds.
So with one eye firmly fixed on future updates, I’d still strongly recommend that you download Boom Beach and enjoy what you can. It’s a class above other mobile city builders, even if it’s end-game keeps you waiting.