Clash Royale, just another waiting game

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Clash Royale is about as high profile as you’re gonna get on the App Store. Made by the folks behind Clash of Clans, which is still one the top 5 grossing games in the App Store. I never played Clash of Clans butClash Royale seemed a little more my speed…and it is, but it’s also not.

Clash Royale

If I’m talking about gameplay speed, then it’s great. Clash Royale is a tower defense-ish type of game where you’re trying to destroy your opponent’s castles. You do so by sending over your fighters but they’re also playing defense if need be, kind of like hockey. The play is easy to catch on to and understand. The graphics are solid and sticks to the style from Clash of Clans.

But It’s also somewhat of a card collecting game. You define your army by which cards you choose to play, 8 of them, to be exact. If you want a lean army of lots of small guys, you can do it. Or if you’d prefer a team of slow, powerful giants, you can do that too…it’s nice and flexible that way. And for once, it’s a card game that’s easy to grasp. They have simple stats and upgrade paths. Too often it seems these card games require you to pay attention to tons of stats to build your army and I’m just not down with that. Royale has a good balance.

Unfortunately, where Clash Royale fails is where every other “free” to play game also fails…play timers. Almost every reward in the game is on a timer. So much so that there’s a point you reach very quickly where there is zero point to play because winning gets you nothing. That, my friends, is just a bad way to make a game.

Sure, you can pay some money and unlock things quicker but that’s also a game in itself, right? The challenge of getting far without paying a dime. Sure, it can be done, but only if you want to wait. There is some pride that comes in playing without paying but that only lasts so far, and Clash Royale doesn’t really have an ending. You just keep playing and upgrading…so there’s a natural fall off point anyway, but the timers just speed that process up.

Clash Royale

If it looks familiar, that’s because it is…in many ways.

I’m playing a lot right now because there’s enough mystery of seeing what cards I unlock next but already after only a week it’s starting to lose its luster because of having to wait. On principle, I’m not going to pay to continue playing a game that has no ending (or death).

I put another quarter in Pac-Man because I died and have to start over. I put more money into Smash TV because I’m close to the end and want to continue and beat the game. But in Clash Royale, I fail to see what the reward is for paying to speed things up.

And maybe it’s just me…that I don’t see the end game in these types of games. I play Metal Gear to follow the characters and watch the story. I play Street Fighter to prove to my friends that I can beat them up. I play Crossy Road (when I’m bored) to try and beat my best score. But what’s the goal of Clash Royale…just to see what cards you unlock next? That motivation just doesn’t last long for me. It’s great for a week or two while the game is still a novelty but once I get things figured out, I abandon very quickly because I don’t see the point.

So is Clash Royale a good game? Sure. It’s fun for a while seemingly very well made…wait, about that…the production quality is really high but there’s also no option to play without being online, which is very crappy. So as long as you don’t mind always sucking up bandwidth while you’re playing, you’ll be fine.

Naturally, Clash Royale is “free” to play but, as I’ve said before, I’d rather just pay $5 out right for a full game that I can play without getting nagged or hitting artificial timers.

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Brian is a staff writer at TMA. He races Hot Wheels at RedlineDerby.com while watching cartoons with his kid. You can follow @morningtoast on Twitter.

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