World at Arms gets Xbox Achievements on Windows Phone – Here's our review

Last week we broke the news that Gameloft would be updating Order & Chaos Online for Windows Phone at long last. In the same story, I mentioned that the publisher also has plans to update some of its non-Xbox titles to include Xbox features. We named Asphalt Overdrive as one game that will be switching to Xbox-enabled, but also promised there would be more.

Today the first game in the "more" category has become an Xbox Windows Phone title: World at Arms! A military-themed city building game with a strong player-versus-player focus, World at Arms is even more enjoyable with Xbox Achievements. It's free to play and compatible with 512 MB RAM devices, to boot. Read on for our detailed impressions of the newly-enhanced game.

Build and conquer

In World at Arms, your nation is embroiled in a war against the villainous Sony hackers, I mean KRA. To stop their advances, you'll have to build a thriving military empire. But before you can form alliances with friendlies and take down enemy players, you'll have to establish and grow your home base.

The base has several types of buildings to construct:

  • Housing (income): These ostensibly keep the rain off your soldiers' heads, but more importantly, they generate gold (soft currency) over time. Cheap ones pump out tiny quantities of gold quickly; expensive ones pay more but take longer to dish it out.
  • Energy: As with Game Insight's My Country series, each building you construct has an energy cost. Buy power plants (which are relatively expensive) in order to increase your building capacity.
  • Military: Different types of buildings generate different units. At first you can only build infantry and land-based vehicles like tanks and APCs. Eventually you'll unlock the ability to create air and sea vehicles as well.
  • Oil Supply: Attacking enemies (AI or human) costs oil, Build oil wells and gas stations to mine and store this precious resource.

Everything takes varying amounts of time to build, and varying amounts of time to produce whatever they make. That's mobile city builders for you.

Attack the block

World at Arms has a single-player campaign in which you fight battles against AI opponents and progress through a simple story. More campaign missions will unlock as players level up and complete specific quests.

Battles are simple. Manually choose units or auto-assign them to your team, start the fight, and both sides will blast away at each other. There is some interaction during fights though, as you can pick up crates that appear or tap exploding barrels to damage your enemies. Sometimes you'll have to swipe a missile down from the sky as well. They're fast and fun little skirmishes.

The game has a big PVP component, so you'll be asynchronously attacking other players much of the time. Players can place bounties on each other (there's an Achievement for it), so defeating a player with a bounty will get you big rewards. You can then invade the downed opponent's base, getting a peak at it, and earning a tiny bit of gold and hearts (social currency).

In-app purchases

Being a free to play game, World at Arms has several types of currencies and resources to manage. Gold is the main one, which you can mine easily enough. Then there's oil and energy, which we discussed before. Hearts earned from social interactions and invasions can be spent on special units.

The premium currency is medals. Each type of building you can buy with coins also has a premium version that costs medals. Buy a premium housing building and it will generate more money than a regular one, etc. Players can even buy a mech, but only with medals.

It's a mostly fair system. Spend a little money if you want to move through the game faster, or just play for free at a slower pace.

Facebook Integration and social features

World at Arms supports Facebook integration, which serves a few purposes. One: it enables cloud saving, which means your save file will transfer between devices. Very important in mobile games.

Two, the game's social features use Facebook. In other words, to add someone to your friends list who you haven't met through normal battles or chat, you'll have to invite them through Facebook. As far as I can tell, the game doesn't use your Xbox Live friends list at all. A missed opportunity.

Unlike most city building games, this one also supports global chat! By default, the chat window occupies the bottom of the screen. You can watch as your fellow players trade strategies and chat away. The game has an overzealous auto-censor function, so like half of what everybody says is blocked out by asterisks. Still, the ability to chat with each other is a nice way to pass the time while you're waiting for your units to complete and such!

Xbox Live Achievements

The big new feature in this update is Xbox Live integration. You'll know if you got the update because there's now an Xbox button on the right side of the screen during gameplay. Tap the button and you'll be taken to the Achievement list.

The Achievement list offers a wide array of Achievements, only some of which are Xbox Live Achievements. These are indicated by an Xbox symbol, naturally. A few of the Achievements will unlock quickly, but most of them are quite time consuming. Some even have multiple stages, indicated by bars to the left of their names. Generally, you can also track how far along you are (such as how many units you've produced), which is quite handy.

A handful of Achievements involve doing things like attacking players who have attacked you one thousand times. That will take just about forever, even if you boost it with a friend or two. It's a shame that Gameloft would add Achievements only to make some of them PITAs. But I suppose they want us to keep playing and being tempted to buy medals!

Join the Windows Central faction!

Once you reach level 10, you'll unlock the ability to create or join factions. These are World at Arms' version of clans. Up to 50 people can join in a faction – quite a lot more than Royal Revolt 2's skimpy alliance member limits!

We've already raced to level 10 and created an official Windows Central faction for you to join. The faction name is WCentral (due to character limits). Once you unlock the ability, please head to our World at Arms faction forum thread and team up with us in-game!

The war is just beginning

World at Arms is one of many, many city builders. Gameloft already has a similar Xbox-enabled game on Windows platforms: Kingdoms & Lords. So far, the combat system, chat support, and factions make World at Arms more engaging than Kingdoms & Lords.

It's great that Gameloft has taken an existing game and given it a new lease on life with Xbox support. Now that we can earn Gamerscore from it, a whole new group of players will be engaging in World at Arms. I doubt most will stick around for the eternity that a few of those Achievements will take to earn, but they'll probably enjoy it for at least a while.

Let's hope that Gameloft gives the Xbox treatment to more of their best games, especially Spider-Man Unlimited and Dungeon Hunter 4!

Thanks to David Silva and Usama Jawad for letting us know about the Xbox update!

Paul Acevedo

Paul Acevedo is the Games Editor at Windows Central. A lifelong gamer, he has written about videogames for over 15 years and reviewed over 350 games for our site. Follow him on Twitter @PaulRAcevedo. Don’t hate. Appreciate!