Pocket Tactics Presents: iOS Guide 201725 Jan 2017 15
2016 was an awesome year for gaming and I sure hope that trend continues into 2017. What follows is a number of intriguing titles that make me very optimistic about the coming year in mobile gaming. There are a lot of games in development of course, but these are the ones I am most looking forward to. As the year rolls on it is our intent to add to this preview as games of particular interest are announced—so bookmark this page and check back often!
Note: This is our iOS guide. The Android guide removes the confirmed iOS-only games and can be found here.
Antihero is a forthcoming turn-based strategy game where you control a thieves' guild and vie for dominance of a seedy underworld. You'll recruit and equip thugs, saboteurs, assassins, and urchin and bribe, blackmail, and murder your way to success. It conjures thoughts of Scott Lynch's entertaining Gentlemen Bastards series of books for me. Antihero will feature both single-player and asynchronous multiplayer modes of play, and is currently testing a real-time multiplayer option as well.
The King of the animal kingdom is dead and the battle for his crown has begun in Armello, a digital boardgame that's been nominated for all kinds of awards since its 2015 release to PC , Mac, and consoles. You play as the hero of one of the great animal clans, each a claimant to the throne. The game combines elements of card and board games with the depth of an RPG.
You can explore the world, duel and scheme against other players, and eventually storm the palace to become the newest ruler of Armello. The world is 3D and fully animated and quite frankly looks like something Disney would make. Armello looks great and sounds amazing and I can't wait to get it on my iPad. Watch this video and see if you don't agree!
One of the best games of 2016 was Space Grunts, which brilliantly made a turn-based roguelike game feel much more like a tense action-adventure title. Next up from Orangepixel is a Mad Max inspired game titled Ashworld.
This one will be much more of a fast-twitch shooter but with the same great graphical attention to detail. Pascal, the indie dev behind these games recently commented that he "increased the size of blood particles and improved all explosions and debris effects (stuff now bounces all over). It’s hectic, chaotic, and possibly a bit over the top.. just how I like my games!" Sounds fun doesn't it? Ashworld should hit your mobile device in Q1.
Card City Nights 2
Card City Nights cleverly blended a deck-building, collectable-card game within the context of a single-player adventure. Ludosity, the developer, recently announced that a sequel has not only been in the works since last August but is ready for beta testing. They also announced that Card City Nights 2 will include a feature the original did not: online multiplayer.
Beta testing is in full swing for Card Thief, the latest game from TiNYTOUCHTALES—the maker of Card Crawl and ENYO. In Card Thief you drag your finger across a 3x3 grid of cards to chart the course of a master thief. Your thief must move stealthily, extinguish torches, and dodge guards all in a quest to steal as much loot as possible. Your ultimate goal is to steal the treasure chest card and return it safely to your lair.
Duelyst is a grid-based CCG where you not only play cards to cast spells and summon creatures but also move those creatures around the gameboard to battle opposing combatants and defeat your opponent. Think Hearthstone meets Hero Academy. Managing both cards and miniatures makes for challenging tactics-heavy gameplay that rewards skill over luck. Duelyst is live on PC and Mac and already well known for its huge cast of 16-bit generals and minions. It has a definite shot at siphoning players from Heartstone and building a big player population when it hits mobile devices this year.
The Elder Scrolls: Legends
The Elder Scrolls: Legends is a digital collectible-card game set in the universe that has served as the setting for many role-playing games, including Morrowind, Oblivion, and Skyrim. The game explores the characters, deities, and mythology of that universe. Legends is up and running on PC and plays a lot like Magic: The Gathering and Hearthstone, but with an interesting lane dynamic that really looks to differentiate it. You can read some early impressions here.
The game board is split in two and you must pick a side when playing a card. Cards can only affect others in the same lane, so it forces the player to manage what is essentially two different games. There's a lot of buzz that this twist, along with a recognizable IP, puts The Elder Scrolls: Legends in a position to take on Hearthstone when it releases to mobile devices later this year.
There's a third exciting CCG coming to mobile in 2017: Faeria. Like the others, Faeria offers a twist from the Hearthstone model and has incorporated a dynamic, "living", game board that players shape by playing their land cards. Each type of land—Forests, Mountains, Deserts, and Lakes—is a different color with unique spells associated with it. You play lands, harvest Faeria, and summon creatures to defeat your opponent. A primary goal is for the game to be fast paced and the developers have said the average game takes 11 minutes. Faeria is currently on STEAM early access with very positive reviews and a mobile beta due to start up soon.
Exiles of Embermark
Exiles of Embermark first caught my attention last year with their tagline, "fantasy RPG multiplayer in one minute." It is a tactical head-to-head combat game built specifically for mobile and meant to be played wherever, whenever, in action-packed bursts. Gameplay is turn based where each player picks an action—attack or cast a spell—and then rolls initiative to determine who goes first. The goal is to drop your opponent first and there will be a ton of different abilities and gear to customize your warrior with an optimal build.
This isn't just a fighting game, however. The goal of the developers is to bring the setting to life with vivid maps and an immersive narrative for a single-player campaign. To this end they secured the involvement of prominent writer John Scalzi to help develop the game world.
Exiles of Embermark will be free-to-play on both iOS and Android and will feature Hearthstone style IAPs to speed progress so what remains to be seen is how these freemium mechanics affect gameplay.
Hades' Star is a game of galactic exploration and colonization with aspirations to become a great mobile MMO. I wrote about the alpha version in depth here and believe the game shows great promise for multiplayer fun—particularly in terms cooperative and competitive feature. The open beta, which will also serve as a soft-launch for the game, is starting soon(ish).
I love puzzle games and KAMI, by State of Play Games, is one of the best out there. It's a simple, relaxing, and enjoyable game based on the folding of colored paper across intricate designs with the goal of reaching uniformity of color in as few moves as possible. KAMI 2 is coming in 2017 and will include over one-hundred new levels of paper-folding challenge. There will also be a daily-challenge mode and a feature that allows gamers to make and share their own levels.
Wave Light Games, the indie developer who made Demon's Rise 2–our 2016 RPG of the year—is working on a new turn-based tactical RPG. Rather than fantasy, this one will have a sci-fi flavor and is inspired by games like XCOM.
You'll still assemble a crew of fighters from a slew of class options. You'll run your team through super-realistic tactical combat encounters that make use of the morale system and terrain effects the Demon's Rise games are known for. You'll definitely take on some alien baddies. Strike Team is due out in Q2 of 2017 and is definitely one to watch if you like combative role-playing games.
To the Moon
To the Moon is a heartwarming role-playing game about two doctors who travel through an old man's memories in order to make his deathbed wish come true. Released on PC in 2011 this indie game garnered critical acclaim and has an overwhelmingly positive reputation on Steam with over twenty-seven thousand reviews. Not only is To the Moon coming to mobile devices this year, but a sequel named Finding Paradise is slated for release on Mac, PC, and Linux this summer.
Warbands: Bushido puts you in control of a squad of fighters from medieval Japan. It is the first of two games on this list with an artistic style meant to evoke a tabletop miniatures game. Your fighters come in miniature form and can even be painted and customized, though no magnifying glass is required. Warbands' combat features a deck of cards that represent special powers and bonuses and winning multiplayer fights earns you currency with which you can acquire more miniatures and/or more cards.
The game is currently available on Steam Early Access where only player-versus-player skirmish mode is operational, though the developer intends to add a single-player campaign mode with a dozen stories, each 20-60 missions long. Sounds like some serious content. ETA for Warbands on iOS is unknown at this point, but my fingers are crossed for a 2017 look at this one on my iPad Pro!
WARTILE is a real-time strategy game where you command a band of miniature figures in a medieval campaign brimming with mythology, or against another player in battle mode. The game takes place on intricately designed diorama battle boards. Each mini has special abilities that work well in concert with others. Combat makes use of tactical concepts like high ground, flanking, and reach and is quite challenging. The dioramas are very realistic and are meant to represent real-word locales, like mountains in Norway and the English coast. Each board features quests, achievements and secrets to unearth.
WARTILE is currently in alpha testing for PC in advance of a Q1 release with future releases planned for Mac, tablets, and consoles. I've played it on Windows and must say I'm looking forward to getting it on tablets as well. The developer is trying to make that happen in 2017 but there's no guarantee at this point.
Got a game you're looking forward to that wasn't mentioned here? Let us know about it in the comments!