Six Mobile Games with Excellent Expansions28 Aug 2019 1
Even the most long-form mobile game can be viewed as disposable without post-release support. Whether it patches, content drops or genuine ‘expansion’ content, a game that gets ignored by developers is a game that gets ignored by the players.
But there’s plenty of contention about what this should look like - The Trese Brothers have a long history of supporting their games for free for years after it launches, as Star Traders: Frontiers has proven. Others try to release smaller content drops through paid-for IAPs, some good, some bad. If you look at Ticket to Earth, that released with most of the game missing, and it’s only recently that it’s finally taking a more ‘complete’ shape. ‘Live’ games like Hearthstone rely on expansions and new content as the body relies on blood.
Still, it can still be easy to overlook a game, new content or no, as we move on to the next new thing and mobile’s relentless release cycle continues apace. We’ve decided to look at six games with excellent post-release content you should take note of.
A feature on game expansions just has to start with the collectible card game, Hearthstone (Does it tho?-ED). The game’s phenomenal popularity may be past its peak but designers Blizzard certainly know a thing or two about keeping their loyal followers hooked.
To begin with, Blizzard released an alternating sequence of new card sets and original adventures, with about three sets being published each year. However, since the extra cards available in the adventure expansions took a considerable effort to earn it was noted that they were not having the desired impact on the meta-game. Blizzard changed tack by deciding to limit future expansions to themed card sets. However, they also recognised that many players enjoy the single-player challenges and so they introduced new quests and missions alongside the new card sets.
The League of Explorers is probably the best adventure add-on to date, not only is it an entertaining single-player story but it also contains several ground-breaking cards, including the first ones to feature the discover mechanic. The choice of best card expansions is pretty subjective, I must confess to having not played for a while, but I have a soft spot for Journey to Un’Goro, which has plenty of strong but not too powerful cards and many possibilities for interesting card combos.
Ticket to Earth (Review)
Ticket to Earth is a clever mix of a tile-matching puzzler and turn-based tactical combat. The immaculate presentation and highly addictive battles make this one of my all-time favourites. Upon its initial release, some two and a half years ago, the big issue was the lack of content. Back then, only the first of the promised four episodes were available, which took only a few hours to complete.
The good news is that Robot Circus have kept their promise to release the remaining three episodes at no extra cost. The not so good news is that it seems to be taking them longer to complete than George R.R. Martin’s latest epic. However, although Robot Circus can hardly be accused of rushing the release of the extra content, the wait has been worth it.
The two new episodes that have so far been released are of an equally high standard, with new missions, playable characters and enemies to contend with. Throw in a load of new-fangled powers to learn and a brand-new crafting system and you will quickly realise that Robot Circus have not been resting on their laurels.
Now, we just need the final episode to find out what happens to Rose, Wolf and the rest of the gang.
Ticket to Ride (Review)
Ticket to Ride was one of the first modern board games to make its way over to mobile. In spite of the passing years, it is still a polished and competitive app.
If you have grown tired of expanding your railroad empire across North America then there is an atlas worth of new maps to try out. Enjoy the unique topological challenges of mainland Europe or Asia. Or focus on the challenges of individual countries like Great Britain, Germany or India, each with their unique rule additions, such as advanced technology and stocks and shares.
Warbits may look cute and cuddly but dig a little deeper and you will find a perfectly balanced and challenging turn-based tactical game that can hold its own against Nintendo’s venerable Advance Wars series of games.
A free update added a new challenge mode, with a generous helping of thirty new missions across three categories; skirmish, puzzle and veteran. with the ultra-hard veteran levels only becoming available when you earn a platinum medal in the corresponding skirmish level.
Meteorfall: Journey (Review)
There is no shortage of deck-building card games available, but when Pocket Tactics’ 2019 Game of the Year gets some additional free content it is advisable to sit up and take note.
Meteorfall has received two substantial updates. The first, Necrodude, includes a new hero who has the power to summon the dead. Also included are 25 new cards as well as opportunities to increase the strength of your deck. The Demon update includes a new difficulty level, with progressively more challenging levels and even more cards.
Galaxy Trucker (Review)
Not long to wait until the expansion for Through the Ages is released, but in the meantime why not revisit another of designer Vlaada Chvátil’s classics. Galaxy Trucker is a real bitter-sweet experience. You spend the first half of the game manically grabbing tiles and constructing your spanking new spaceship, only to watch it get blasted to pieces in a brutal journey towards your destination.
One of the many great things about Galaxy Trucker is the brilliantly designed single-player campaign. Alien Technologies adds a further 42 single-player missions, which together with 15 new types of technology tiles really extends the game’s longevity. These new tiles include boosts to weapons and shields and fancy new cabins for paying guests. One unique add-on is the space catapult. This rather sadistic addition allows you to fling cargo or indeed crew members into space to repel asteroids. If that isn’t enough, there are also new aliens to sign-up to your crew. Well worth purchasing for anyone who wants to keep on truckin’.
Honourable Mention: Star Traders Frontiers
Star Traders Frontiers enjoys a near-weekly schedule of minor-content drops. It’s harder to quantify in the same way as we’ve done above as it’s just an endless series of patches - the Trese Brothers have yet to really explore anything remotely resembling a full-on ‘expansion’. But their dedication to supporting their work post-release should not be ignored.
Do you have any recommendations for games that have excellent expansion content? Let us know in the comments below!