Is there enough new content to warrant exploring Kingdom Rush Frontiers?
Those who played the original Kingdom Rush will remember its cartoon-like graphics, creative upgrade mechanics, and familiar tower defense gameplay. Also memorable are the heroes, who fight alongside the tower-based troops and are now upgradeable outside of battle. Along with the added hero management and interesting new tower options, Kingdom Rush Frontiers adds some more extensive DLC options in the form of purchasing heroes.
There isn’t much to cover with respect to the changes in gameplay between the first Kindgom Rush and Frontiers. Players still drop towers along a predetermined path in an attempt to put sufficient firepower between the enemy and the exit point of the level. The more enemies that are killed, the more money the player rakes in, and this money can be used to purchase new towers and upgrade existing towers. The player can also call in mercenaries, fireballs, and direct their hero unit across the map. The tower upgrades during each round differ from the upgrades applied outside of battle, the out of battle upgrades focus more on boosting the overall statistics of all towers of a certain type. For the most part the game maintains its core gameplay mechanics while adding new abilities and visual flair – the elite towers come highly recommended.
As such, Kingdom Rush Frontiers does not push the genre forward. The game certainly provides the player with plenty of activities in and out of battle, and this entry feels more balanced than its predecessor. Frontiers is also more stable from a technical standpoint, although that may have more to do with my upgraded iPad than any change in the game itself. Most importantly, Frontiers adds enough new tower upgrades and locales to completely satisfy players who quite simply want more of the same addictive tower defense gameplay.
It is easy to level criticism at the developer for the inclusion of the prohibitively priced downloadable content. Purchasing the base game and all of the game’s additional heroes costs over $30 on iPad. While I think the base game is certainly worth the price of admission, I do not think the heroes are worth paying five times the cost of the initial game. The great part about this is that the player has a choice. More suspect, though, is the continued inclusion of ‘gems.’ I am always rubbed the wrong way by paid games that include a secondary form of currency that can be obtained with real-world money. This instantly calls into question the balancing decisions made during the game’s creation, and makes difficult patches more frustrating. I never felt much pressure to yield and pay up for gems, nor did I want to spend extra on the heroes.
Downloadable currencies and content aside, the base game of Kingdom Rush Frontiers is an enjoyable one, and it comes highly recommended to existing fans of the genre.