Developer and publisher Chucklefish released the original Wargroove back in 2019, a time when the Switch was still finding its feet, and tactical games were few and far between. I adore Wargroove, and its blend of charming pixel art and great humor sets it apart in a genre that can often take itself very seriously (I’m looking at you, Triangle Strategy).
Fast forward to 2023, and here we’re heralding Wargroove 2’s arrival. Once again from developer and publisher Chucklefish, this sequel faces a Switch landscape with incredible tactics games such as Fire Emblem Three Houses, Fire Emblem: Engage, Mario & Rabbids: Kingdom Battle and its sequel Sparks of Hope, Advance Wars 1+2 Reboot Camp, the aforementioned Triangle Strategy, and even smaller titles like Into The Breach. So, can Wargroove 2 stand out with more of the same? Well, it helps that its original entry is already so great.
If you haven’t dipped your toes into the Wargroove waters before, Wargroove 2 is a turn-based tactics game where you control a small army of units on a grid-based level. Different units have a variety of weapons, movement capabilities, defenses, and strengths. It’s up to you to best command these units, use the right strengths in the right places, and take advantage of your terrain.
Wargroove and, by extension, Wargroove 2 take a lot of inspiration from Advance Wars, and the series’ pixelated art style especially apes the original art from Advance Wars on the GBA. In 2019, this homage was a nice touch, but now in 2023, and with Advance Wars 1+2 Reboot Camp on Switch, it’s a reminder of just how much I adore the charm that pixel art can imbue. I don’t dislike the chibi-3D art of Reboot Camp, but I much prefer the artistry and carefully curated design of Wargroove 2.
Speaking of, visually, Wargroove 2 looks absolutely fantastic. Yes, that pixel art style isn’t pushing the Switch much visually, but Chucklefish takes all the gorgeous character art and models from the original entry and adds some nice variety and flourishes to each level that further bring this world to life.
The levels themselves feature a wider variety of biomes and environments such as catacombs and the sea shores, as well as new night-time battles, which, alongside greater detail across the board, make this feel like a significant step up from the original Wargroove that you just might miss if you’re not paying attention. It all works brilliantly alongside a fantastic soundtrack, featuring much of the rich and energetic style of Wargroove but with an added sense of depth thanks to a wider variety of instruments to reflect the new factions. You can even listen to it all in the Jukebox, a much-appreciated addition.
As I’ve mentioned, there are quite a few tactics games on Switch, so you may want to know how Wargroove 2 sets itself apart. For starters, instead of simply starting out with units and trying not to get them killed, you can conquer enemy (or empty) locations across the map and use them to your advantage. A regular house earns you money each round while capturing a mill allows you to make money from each surrounded tile with woodland. You can also create more units from the barracks you capture, meaning you can pump out fresh soldiers each turn depending on your gold.
This extra layer of resource management helps to separate proceedings, and it’s especially satisfying to capture plenty of different outposts and watch the money trickle in, allowing you to spend the big bucks on some of the beefier units available, like giant robots or the odd trebuchet. Naturally, a soldier doesn’t cost quite as much, so it’s also up to you to decide whether to splurge early and build your forces, or wait for more powerful and costly units down the line.
This speaks to another of Wargroove 2’s strengths, and that’s the variety of units available. There’s a huge pool of different soldiers waiting for you to command them, and while they’re almost identical in stats between the armies, each has their own spin on them. For example, a regular swordsman is a swashbuckler to the pirate Outlaws, a slasher to the Floran Tribes, and a dreadsword to the nation of Felheim. It gets especially fun with some units, as each faction has its own idea of what classifies as a dog, and so on.
Finally, the other big wrinkle to combat is your commanders. These are powerful units that lead each army, which can also use more powerful moves. Alongside this, they can even charge their ‘groove’ meter and get ready to unleash a wildly powerful move occasionally. Rhomb is a powerful commander from the Faahri army, and their groove crystal heart adds extra damage and movement speed to the mighty mouse, as well as some extra defense. Then you can choose to wait it out and gain an additional groove charge for even more damage.
Learning when to save and utilize these powerful moves is the key to combat, alongside resource management to keep pumping out units and reading your terrain. You gain extra cover if you’re in a wooded area, and others like water level can also change the game. There’s a lot to pay attention to, but Wargroove 2 rolls this out quite naturally across a lengthy campaign.
The prologue of Wargroove 2 tasks you with commanding the tiny mouse army of the Faahri, and while you can (and should) continue that faction’s story, you can choose between multiple different campaigns starring the various factions after you complete the prologue. Each adds new locations, win conditions, and plenty of other little changes that keep the game fresh over approximately 30-40 hours of engaging and challenging gameplay.
Things can get tough really quickly, but Chucklefish boasts some seriously impressive quality-of-life options in Wargroove 2. Alongside three difficulty options, you can finetune things like damage or currency much further to better suit your playstyle and free time. Plus, there are even some nice options for color blind users, which should help many to parse the different units on an occasionally cramped field.
The story itself is a lovely jaunt through a world that often is much more nuanced than the bright colors and silly characters often portray. The story rewards you with codex entries on each commander and unit as you progress, adding some fantastic background information to every character you interact with. There’s a whole army of amazing people to meet here, each thankfully backed up with fantastic art and some pretty funny writing. Everything you love about Wargroove is here and better than ever.
Now, if this were all Chucklefish offers with Wargroove 2, I’d still give it a happy and hearty recommendation. However, you’d better believe there’s more. Once you finish the main campaign (or if you want a break or a challenge), dive into the Conquest mode for a rogue-lite take on Wargroove 2’s fantastic tactics bones. Here, you start out with very few units, and after quickly beating each board you move across a randomly generated world map offering different additions and boons.
This is such a fun little extra element, and it’s not all just to kill time. As you progress through Conquest you earn starglass shards, which you use to buy new units for further conquest missions. Plus, you can ramp up the difficulty to get a starglass shard multiplier, so it’s entirely up to you how you play.
The fun doesn’t stop there either, As Wargroove 2 also supports up to four-player multiplayer, either locally or online, so you can take on your pals in some thrilling tactical wars. The Wargroove 2 AI isn’t bad at all, but there’s something so fun about facing off against the uniquely devious minds of human opponents. It all works pretty great, though we didn’t get a chance to test locally yet, nor a whole lot online.
Finally, if you ever run out of things to do, Wargroove 2 features not just a map creator but an entire campaign creator. That’s right, you can curate your very own levels and then string them together in one overarching world. It’s seriously impressive, though it’s a bit of a shame that there isn’t an option for touch controls. Super Mario Maker may spoil us, but creating levels at the simple touch of your fingers is particularly satisfying, and it saves time.
We can’t speak much for user-generated content just yet, but the breadth of available options is pretty huge, and even a brief dabble already has me pretty excited about what the community is going to create. Wargroove 2 already has several long campaigns and a pretty robust rogue-lite mode, so coupled with multiplayer and the huge replayability offered by user-generated content, tactics fans can expect to be enjoying Wargroove 2 for years to come.
Sadly, it’s not all praise, as I did encounter bugs at several points during my gameplay. On more than one occasion the game froze and needed me to quit to the Switch’s home menu to get back in the action. I also had one experience where I repeatedly met the win condition of the level, only for it to tell me I hadn’t and hit me with the ‘Defeat’ screen. Now, depending on the difficulty you choose, you can also retake an entire turn, which is really helpful. However, once you reach the defeat screen you have to start the entire mission over again, which can sometimes be an hour of hard work down the drain.
Mercifully, you can choose to skip battle animations and simply bump into other units on the overworld, and you can also choose to skip cutscenes when you replay levels. Also, there’s the option to change movement speed, and you can hold B during most actions to speed them up.
However, it’s a bit naff having to repeatedly tap and hold B, especially when it then does other things during gameplay. Chucklefish has left plenty of buttons with no actions mapped to them, so I’d really rather one option, such as R or ZR, was a dedicated fast-forward button to easily turn battles up to max speed when replaying or needing to hasten your gameplay before bedtime. But these are minor quibbles in a game that has frankly exceeded all my expectations.
If you love the original Wargroove, then Chucklefish’s impressive sequel is sure to enamor you with its smart changes, attention to detail, and just impressive commitment to improving almost every aspect of gameplay. There’s a huge campaign here filled with great characters and some really touching moments, all given additional weight with beautiful character art plus a gorgeously whimsical and stirring score.
There are a few issues, but Chucklefish’s previous form with the original Wargroove gives me hope that Wargroove 2 is set to relieve a slew of improvements and additions down the line. Simply put, if you’re a tactics fan looking for something with a touch of humor, a chance to create your own levels, and a unique spin on the genre, Wargroove 2 is a bottomless well of engaging and addictive gameplay that every tactics fan should play. This is how you do a sequel, folks.
Hopefully, you’re getting ready to get groovy with Wargroove 2, but if you need even more great battles on the go, be sure to check out our guide to the best tactics games on Switch and mobile.
Chucklefish builds on a rock-solid foundation, and Wargroove 2 manages to both iterate and innovate in a satisfying manner. Coupled with the smart challenge of Conquest mode’s rogue-lite offering, riveting online multiplayer, and a truly intimidating wealth of creation tools, this just might be the most impressive package of any tactics game on Switch. Hopefully, a few updates can address the very few bugs and UI issues we aren’t quite as fond of.