Deathwatch: Invasion Review

I don’t play video games much anymore. Back in the 80’s, I got fascinated with games like Wizards Crown & Phantasie on my Apple IIe. Later, in the 90’s, I got a 486 and played the hell out of games like Warcraft II, Quake, and even Duke Nuke’um. That eventually lead to the monstrocity that is Everquest. That game single-handed sucked away the better part of a few years of my life and caused me to swear off MMO’s completely.

Well, sort of. I held WoW off for a year, but eventually caved. I also played some City of Heroes and Warhammer: Age of Reckoning before remembering of my lack of self control.

It got bad for a while on my phone as well. Phone games are generally quick to play, but they’re always with you, so a couple of years ago I decided to delete all of the games off of my phone to increase my productivity, and it’s helped out.

Well, back in September, I went to a conference out of town that involved 14 hours of travel, so I figured I’d splurge and throw a game on my phone. The game I chose?

Deathwatch: Tyranid Invasion.

I actually dabbled in this game on my ipad when it came out, and it was ok, but after making it through eight or so missions, my first character died and I gave up on the mission, ignoring the clearly worded prompts that everyone would lose all of their XP (which I hadn’t spent at all). That was enough for me to swear off the game entirely.

But, since I had plenty of expected downtime, I figured I’d give it a shot again.

That was a mistake.

The game was fine. I don’t know that it’s amazingly rich, mind you, but I enjoyed playing it. I’m probably not the best person to review a video game, based upon my relative inexperience as of late, but it got me hooked. I wound up playing the entire thing through on all three difficulty levels.

Spoiler alert: it took more than the plane ride to accomplish that. In fact, it took both plane rides, a significant amount of evening time, plus even some time after I got back home.

I even got to the point where I started farming XP, and trying to get new packs of cards, in order to unlock the tier four Ultramarine characters.

Before you ask–yes, I considered playing with other chapters. Heck, my core team through the first playthrough consisted of two Space Wolves, two boys in blue and a Blood Angel. The thing is, once I started unlocking tier three Ultras, they all had abilities that were boosted by having more Ultramarines on your team.

That, coupled with the fact that Ultramarines are just cooler in every way, secured their spots on my roster.

No, seriously. The Space Wolves seem really good, and there is some great gear for the Blood Angels, making either of those (or a mix of the two), fairly compelling. I just happened to get a bunch of good Tier 3 Ultras available to me before the others appeared, so I went with them.

I found the first playthrough quite interesting. I was shocked (and scared) when the big bugs started showing up (nothing was as terrifying–or as difficult–as the Carnifex). Though the game had limited options, they did a good job on story/mission design to help me believe it was more than just “kill more bugs” every time. There was a mix of:

  • Take and Hold
  • Defend an Objective
  • Meat Grinder
  • Interact with Waypoints
  • Rescue Missions
  • Boss Fights

Enough, at least, to hold my attention. When I got to the “grinding” stage (not required, but I opted to do it in order to level up some of my Tier3+ characters), I would’ve liked to have seen an “endless waves” style mission where you could just kill things and earn experience, making it progressively harder. As it was, my preferred mission for XP was Mission 2-2 (I forget the name and have since uninstalled the app from my phone, but it’s the one where you need to plant two bombs to blow up the bridge). My preferred mission for griding out cards/packs was the one where you slay the Broodlord, as I could do that fairly consistently with one shot from my Heavy Plasma Gun.

Overall, I think it was a fun game and would recommend if you have a signifcant amount of downtime. I can’t say it’s better or worse than other games, but if you’re at the point where you’re grinding XP, might I suggest going out and seeing the sun? Spending time with your family? Hell, anything else…

Wishlist for features:

I can’t imagine that there is that much development for this game, since it’s free and pay-to-win. But if there were, I would hope for the following changes to the game:

  1. Add some sort of endless mode. That way you can use it to earn XP without having to consistently reset.
  2. Make a way to unlock characters more easily. I completed the game without seeing many of the tier-4 characters. It would be nice that, once you beat the game on the hardest difficulty that you either automatically unlock them all, or that, upon the next time you get a pack of cards, you get to choose the character you want. Frankly, I still wouldn’t keep playing (what’s the point? I already beat it), but it might entice others to stick around longer.
  3. Remove (or reduce) the grind for higher level characters. The higher tier characters have a higher end-potential than a starting character, but sometimes provide questionable upgrades. For example, my melta-gunner was a tier 1 character for the longest time. I skipped tier2 and tier3 characters because my tier 1 character just had the accuracy that I needed for that gun (and, like I say below, I don’t think the tier-4 meltagun was an upgrade). That means that whenever you move to a newly unlocked character, he’s likely a step down for a while–which means more grinding.

God, I hate grinding.

Tips for new players:

  1. The game has predetermination. If you close the application in the middle of either your team’s or the Tyranid’s activation, when you reopen it, if you do the same thing, you’ll get the same results: every shot that hit before will hit again, and seemingly do the same amount of damage. My guess is this was done to stop people from gaming the system (didn’t like how that played out, reset it and try again). The thing is, that you can still game the system if you want to. Instead of trying the same actions again to do more damage though, you just have to try different combinations. If you learn that you can’t kill a mob this turn, maybe you instead run away from it.Personally, I didn’t use this much, but it did come in handy in some particularly tricky missions towards the end.
  2. Accuracy is probably the most important stat. In my experience, +crit is generally the best solution long term, but in this game, accuracy seems like the most important stat. This is because higher tier weapons all have innately lower accuracy. So, even if you’re hitting all of the time at low levels, consider upgrading your accuracy for higher levels, or you’ll be missing a lot.
  3. Know when to use low tier weapons. Since higher level weapons miss more, they’re not automatically better than the tier below them. For example, I think the tier 4 melta gun is just worse than the tier 3 option, due to it’s reduced range and accuracy. Likewise, I never used anything about the tier , master-crafted grav gun. This is because the basic difference between tiers is that you get more damage (and potentially more crit), but it’s not significantly higher. Grav just isn’t a source of damage in this game, and you’re basically using it to ensure that you can slow the enemy down. Because of that, it doesn’t matter if you do an extra 20 damage most of the time, but you want to ensure that you at least slow them down.
  4. Loot Tables are Largely By Mission. This isn’t universally true, as I got some random epic loot during various missions, but from my repeated grinding of several missions made it evident that each mission has some specific loot that drops most of the time. I would wager that there’re probably about three items for each mission that drop consistently, with a small chance to drop others (possibly anything?). So, if you want a specific upgrade, search online for loot table options to find out what drops in which mission.
  5. Stand on Spawn Points. This one took me a while to figure out, but it’s a doozy. If you’re standing on a spawn point of an enemy unit when it’s supposed to appear, it won’t appear. This was particularly important for the last mission of the second-to-last scenario (I believe it’s 8-4). It’s the one where you have waves of bugs crashing down on you that start with some hive guard and finish with multiple Tyrant Guard. I tried this mission a couple of times, and just got trounced. It wasn’t until I pushed down to the bottom/center of the map to stand on their spawn points that I was able to beat them.
  6. 90% damage reduction is king. I had a couple of units that had abilities to absorb 90% of physical damage in a turn, plus a few upgrades that gave me one turn of 80% mitigation. Those were really key in how I was able to beat the harder missions on the highest difficulty level. Some of those huge mobs can one-shot you, so without this, you would need to stay well out of range/line of sight. I would think that it would be incredibly more difficult if you had to beat the game without at least one guy that could tank for you.
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