PT Guide: Top 5 Asynchronous Multiplayer Games16 Jan 2018 12
Over the holidays, me and a far-away old friend decided to spend some time together playing videogames. Thing is, due to the ocean between us, the time difference, and our personal schedules, our time together wouldn’t actually be together at all.
As both of us would be travelling and away from our desktops, we quickly turned towards our mobiles and started researching the best asynchronous multiplayer games available. What I found was appalling, and I quickly discovered that while there are several recommendations out there, there isn’t a single well-written, nicely put together list of the best multiplayer games that don’t require players to be logged in at the same time. That is about to change: I present you Pocket Tactics’ Top 5 List of the Best Asynchronous Multiplayer Titles of 2018, assembled via a lot of research, hours of hands-on testing, and the considerable input of our lovely readers over on Discord. Check it out!
Old card game, I know. Here’s a quote from our review:
The brilliance of Star Realms is how it builds on this simple system. Whereas some games will dump novella-length prose on cards to create diverse effects, Star Realms ingeniously uses a faction system that allows cards to have multiple effects based on other cards in your tableau.
With it’s rare significant deckbuilding, space combat, and unique interplay of cards, this is a surprisingly good take on a very overcrowded genre (c’mon, three out of these five entries are going to be bloody card games). The app’s quality, however, is far from stellar, so it takes number five.
#4. Carcassonne [Google Play]
A board game that was adapted once already, Carcassonne saw a new port hit mobile virtual shelves in 2017. According to Matt Thrower‘s review, this is what the game is about:
For those unfamiliar it's a simple mix of tile-laying, collaborative art and vicious one-upmanship. You get a random tile each turn and choose where to place it, ensuring that roads, cities and other terrain features remain contiguous. Then, if you want, you can claim a feature by placing a meeple on it. These are the original meeples, the ones that launched a thousand identikit imitators across gaming. The bigger that feature gets, the more points it scores when it’s complete, then you get your meeple back.
The best part of the mutliplayer interaction comes from the constant need to ration your meeples while hijacking someone else’s features and connecting them to yours. It feels very satisfying to do so successfully -- and very infuriating to have it done to you. Only problem is the lack of custom options, which might leave play sessions feeling a bit bare (and timers way too short).
A surprisingly good game, that surprised both me and Matt alike. From his original review:
Someone did manage to persuade me to play Race for the Galaxy. And to my surprise, I enjoyed it far more than I expected. Each turn, each player picks an action such as settling a planet or developing a technology. All players then get to do all the chosen actions but the one who picked it gets a bonus. Most actions let you play a card from your hand: settle, for example, is just an excuse to play a planet card. You pay for your played card by discarding a number of other cards equal to its cost.
However, it feels like a very passive game. There is not a whole lot of interaction, which kept engagement low and made coming back to it harder and harder. It is a great game, but card games are the entertainment equivalent of a recorder -- compared to the other options available, they’re just not that exciting to begin with.
There’s not a lot I can say to justify this one, as it won three of our nine PT 2017 Game Awards -- including Multiplayer Gamer of the Year *and* Game of the Year. I’ll just leave you with this quote from Matt’s review (again), and you can read the whole thing if that isn’t enough.
If you want to pick fault with this, the sound design is poor. The music is repetitive and the sound clips that play with certain cards add little to proceedings. In every other respect it's an outstanding adaptation of an outstanding game. The pace of board game releases, both digital and physical, in recent years has left me feeling rather jaded. Through the Ages helped rejuvenate me with the pure, fierce joy of play that only very best titles can deliver.
Next time, I'll save myself the hassle and just make a best of list with whatever it is Matt has reviewed lately.
A classic of gaming since time immemorial (1995), Worms has long been a fan-favourite critically acclaimed artillery tactical title. Famous for its ludicrous weapons, cute art-style, and destructible terrain, the Worms franchise has provided players across the world with hours of deep and lighthearted tactical fun.
While the PC series arguably reached its peak with the release of Worms: Armageddon in 1999, the mobile versions came much later. Upon research, I found the immense majority of users preferred 2014’s Worms 3 over 2016’s Worms 4, due to the latter’s aggressive microtransactions and reduction of team sizes. Egregiously, neither of them were reviewed here on Pocket Tactics for me to quote, so I’ll swiftly fill that blank with this entry.
Worms 3 is a tactical turn-based title where players control a small platoon of worms across a randomly generated deformable landscape surrounded by water. Each team has 4 Worms at the start of each game that can be positioned tactically around the level, and a match ends when a whole team is killed either by weapons or by drowning.
Each team has access to an identical arsenal of weapons determined by the game mode, and those are the reason why Worms' mechanics shine. Ranging from bazookas and shotguns to explosive bananas and Monty Python-inspired Holy Grenades, players are able to perform a myriad of movements and attacks to get the upper hand on their opponents. Using ninja ropes or jetpacks to cross the level before dropping a dynamite on an unsuspecting enemy is a charming endeavour, thanks to the franchise's signature humorous style and adorable cartoon art design. That unique plethora of options available and the perfectly tuned mechanics creates unexpected complexity and deep tactical options, turning Worms 3 into a very satisfying game.
However, that's not to say it is perfect. The game is remarkably bare in customisation options, offering precisely zero ways of creating your own match and offering no explanation whatsoever regarding what game modes like "Lightside", "Darkside", and "Heads-up" mean. Team customisation is also disappointing, as some voices like the cute classic Brazilian Portuguese are missing, and cosmetics can not be obtained in any way but via microtransactions. Given the pointless addition of playing cards and coins to the title, I couldn't help but feel that Team 17 missed a gigantic opportunity for including proper progression in the game without trying to milk its customers.
At the end, however, Worms 3 is hands-down the best asynchronous multiplayer experience available on mobile. It's the one title in this list that I had the most fun playing -- and in fact, am still playing to this day.
That's it for today, and we hope this list proves useful. Given how hectic’s everyone’s life is and how ubiquitous mobile devices are, one would have expect asynchronous multiplayer to be an area heavily explored by premium titles; even big games, like Civ or Total War’s turn-based portion would be great fits for the platform, but so far, it seems to be a very unexplored genre.
Have I missed any good games? Would you like to see the list expanded with more options? Let us know in the comments below!