The original Royal Revolt (developed by Flare Games in Germany) was one of the first truly high quality games for Windows 8 and RT (it also appeared on Windows Phone). The game play combined smooth touch-screen combat with mild strategy elements, making for an addictive reverse tower defense game. Other than a steep and unfair difficulty curve and some iffy English translation, the first Royal Revolt was just about perfect.
Royal Revolt 2 for Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8 and RT drastically changes gears to a completely player-versus-player raiding focus, much like Cloud Raiders and Clash of Clans. Luckily, the addictive core game play survives almost completely intact. With an endless array of opponents to attack and defenses to upgrade, this sequel has become a mainstay on my daily playlist. But as good as it is, Royal Revolt 2 still has some room for improvement…
Protect and defend
Unlike the first game, Royal Revolt 2 has an actual tower defense component. You now build the battlefield that invading players will follow on their way to your castle. Attackers receive a portion of your gold (soft currency) for every tower and defensive structure they destroy. If a raider manages to knock down your castle gate, they walk away with a sizable portion of your loot (but never all of it). But they only have a limited time to complete the attack.
Laying down the defensive path could be a little easier. Stones and ruins block portions of buildable land. It costs gems (premium currency) to clear the path, so not everybody can afford to make room. The length of the path, number of towers and barricades/traps, and health of the Castle Gate itself are all determined by the gate's level. Individual towers and defenses must also be leveled independently.
Meanwhile, your base has many non-defensive structures as well. Taverns generate gold over time, providing baseline funding for your various upgrades. Farms produce bread, the resource needed to go out on raids. Bread in turn must be stored at the Silo. Keeping the Silo and all four farms fully upgraded will allow you to attack as frequently as possible. Energy mechanics like bread are a drag since they limit how much you can play, but I suppose they are necessary to keep players from steamrolling each other.
The Troop Academy is where players can research and upgrade each type of military unit. Royal Revolt 2 currently offers eight types of units, with more planned for the future. Each unit type has a morale cost that determines how quickly it can be used during attacks as well as how many slots it takes up during defensive waves. In theory, the cost and benefits should all balance out, and each unit should have a rock-paper-scissors-style foil.
I don't think Royal Revolt 2 quite achieves that balance, though. The more expensive ranged units (Pyromancer and Mortar especially) just have way too much of an advantage over everything else. Sure, the actual player can run up to any ranged unit during battle and kill it in one hit with a decent spell. But attacking units will just die over and over against the Pyromancer's burning shots and the Mortar's poisonous projectiles (with splash damage!). Even though attacking melee units could potentially run past a choke point of ranged defenders, they usually just stick around and die. Attacking ranged units tend to die just as consistently.
Even the player can easily get caught in a hail of fire or poison shots, his or her life sapped out uncontrollably. Sometimes there is literally nowhere to run and avoid the flurry of projectiles. You can't heal yourself during battle, other than running away from enemy fire for several seconds or reviving by spending gems. The healing spell only works on other units, not yourself. Buffing the heal spell and nerfing the ranged units would go a long way towards creating a better balance.
Matchmaking and (lack of) social features
One advantage Royal Revolt 2 has over Cloud Raiders is its matchmaking system. Yeah, it does have a matchmaking button that brings up a single random opponent of similar ranking. And you can pay some gold to find a new opponent. Here you actually get to see the opponent's base layout and gold right on the matchmaking screen, which really helps in deciding if you want to attack or not.
But that's not all! Players can always enter mini-tournaments along with 14 other random players. You get to attack anyone from that list with no gold cost, although mostly they tend to be useless targets. After the 1- or 2-day tournament ends, the top few people win some free gems.
You can even save any player to your favorites list and attack him or her at will. Or find someone of similar rank by scouring the global leaderboard. Actually browsing the leaderboard is slow and unwieldy. But at least we have options for finding targets that don't cost gold.
Adding enemies to your favorites list is the current extent of Royal Revolt 2's social features. Other versions allow players to request bread from friends via Facebook, but Flare Games (annoyingly) has yet to offer that feature on Windows platforms. Not fair! The developer promises that we will get clan support within a few months though. If properly implemented, clans could add a lot of fun to the game.
Lack of cloud support
Royal Revolt 2 requires a constant online connection, being a multiplayer-only game. All or most of every player's data is stored on Flare's servers, so that players can attack each other asynchronously. My save data and yours are on the cloud right now, technically.
Unfortunately, Flare does not allow players to create an online profile and retrieve their profiles from other devices. If you uninstall or buy a new phone, you won't be able to start up where you left off in the game. Want to jump back and forth between Windows Phone and Windows 8? Too bad. That save data you created on the game's servers will remain inaccessible to you. That's exactly why I stopped playing Flare's Throne Wars, because I switched to a new phone and couldn't retrieve my profile.
The lack of proper cloud support is awfully consumer-unfriendly. As I've said, player data is already stored online. All the developer has to do is create a login system or enable login through an existing system such as Facebook or Microsoft accounts. Enabling Facebook login can't be that much work for a developer. We've seen enough games from tiny studios do it; Flare is a pretty big mobile developer.
So close to excellence
Royal Revolt 2 is a really, really good game. The art style and graphics are beautiful (despite how much worse the shadows look in part 2). The core gameplay of running through levels, summoning troops and casting spells in order to destroy opponent defenses, never gets old. The game has received a couple of significant updates already, and the developers have teased both single-player levels and clan support for the future.
A really good game, but it could easily be better. The English translation once again seems not to come from a native English speaker, resulting in awkward dialogue. The balance of units needs adjustment, and the player's offensive capabilities don't grow nearly as fast as opponents' defensive capabilities. And most of all, the Windows Phone and Windows 8 versions need both Facebook support (just like iOS and Android) and cross-platform cloud save support. Windows fans should contact Flare Games through the company website and Facebook to request those important features.
- Royal Revolt 2 – Windows Phone 8 – 59 MB – Free – Store Link
- Royal Revolt 2 – Windows 8 and RT – 157 MB – Free – Store Link
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