Autobots, roll out! The Transformers return for an all new video game adventure. Despite a long string of third-person shooters for the robots in disguise, Transformers: Battlegrounds opts to shake things up.
This time around fans are being treated to the tactical turn-based strategy genre. You can check the game out right now on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.
Transformers: Battlegrounds Details
Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PS4, Xbox One, PC
Reviewed on: Nintendo Switch
Publisher: Outright Games
Genre: Turn-based strategy
Modes: Single-player, multiplayer
ESRB Rating: E 10+ (Everyone 10+)
Transformers: Battlegrounds is a turn-based strategy game that roots itself in the genre most commonly known in comparison to the X-COM franchise. Players take turns navigating the “battleground” whilst spending action points on movement, attacks, and abilities. Each character has basic attacks, along with some special ability unique to them.
Ultimately, the strategy of the game involves some amount of risk and reward. Do you choose to charge headlong toward the enemy? Blasting them down where they stand before they can do the same to you? Or do you lure them in while ducking into cover, leaving them exposed and vulnerable, ripe for the plucking.
This one is for the kids
The key difference between Transformers: Battlegrounds and most turn-based strategy titles is difficulty. In just about every way, the former is a much easier experience than many players might be accustom to. Essentially, the primary audience for Transformers: Battlegrounds is clearly younger players.
In that sense it does a great job of easing the younger crowd into the genre. For example, when you target an enemy with an attack, you never miss. This definitely contradicts the most frustrating staple of gameplay in a game Like X-COM. Those games tend to place a probability on whether or not your attack will succeed, and more than one player has been thrown to the depths of despair when a 95% probability attack from close range fails to land.
Furthermore, the limit to attack variety also makes the game a bit more digestible to new players. There are no complex loadouts for players to manage. Beyond that, the lone special ability of each character shoe-horns directly into impending challenges. This spells out upcoming strategy for players rather than making them work too hard to solve each level’s puzzle.
One path to victory
On one hand, I definitely appreciate how Transformers: Battlegrounds welcomes a new generation to the fold. I love the idea of new gamers enjoying classic strategy gameplay rather than sticking to the faster pace and action of shooters. Young gamers deserve more than Fortnite and Call of Duty clones.
It may make Transformers: Battlegrounds a bit tougher for strategy vets to enjoy however. You can up the difficulty, but this really just makes enemies stronger and thus level objectives more linear. The depth of strategy to approach challenges in different ways just isn’t there.
As a result, higher difficulty just exposes the fact that for the most part there’s a single ideal path to victory. Players on higher difficulties then essentially need to identify that path and make a mistake-free run.
Still, older fans looking for a bit of childhood nostalgia may still be curious to see if Transformers: Battlegrounds has anything to offer them. However, it’s worth noting that the animation style and story actually takes their cues from the current Transformers Cyberverse cartoon series. Just further evidence that this game really does gear itself towards the new generation.
The robot menagerie
During the course of the 6 – 8 hour campaign you’ll gradually unlock a team of new allies. Of course the highly recognizable Bumblebee is the first Autobot into the fray. He’ll eventually be joined by the hallowed Optimus Prime, Windblade, and more. Even the Dinobot Grimlock offers his services.
Unfortunately, you’ll play as the Autobot faction exclusively during the course of the campaign. A healthy roster of Decepticons exists to be sure. Megatron, Soundwave, and the rest of the crew all participate with their own abilities. It’s kind of a shame to have this vast diversity available without giving the player the opportunity to utilize them during the story. It could add some necessary depth.
Luckily the range of available characters opens up for Transformers: Battlegrounds’ Arcade mode. There’s a nice variety of games to play here that involve the players either taking the role of Autobot or Decepticon. Capture the Flag, Grudge Match, and the endless horde mode “Last Stand” add some additional replayability to the game.
Local co-op multiplayer is also available in Arcade Mode. There’s no online component however. You’ll have to invite your friends over in person if you want to play together.
Transformers: Battlegrounds is a fun introduction to the strategy genre for younger players
It’s pretty obvious that the target audience for Transformers: Battlegrounds is the younger generation. It’s full of concessions to typical turn-based strategy gameplay that make it extremely approachable. That and the fact that it ties itself to the most recent cartoon universe further shows just who the game takes aim at.
That’s definitely not a bad thing though. I’m really happy that developers are willing to take aim at a new generation and introduce them to a less popular style of play. This especially in an age where the safe bet is to lean on the faster pace of shooters or other action genres.
That said, it’s arguable that Transformers: Battlegrounds could have upped the ante a bit while remaining an all-ages affair. A prime example of this is Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle—another household franchise that took on turn-based strategy for new players and veterans alike. The latter did manage to create a fun and easy learning experience while leaving in more challenging tactics like shooting probability.
For this reason, Those who consider themselves pros at games like X-COM will likely want to give this one a pass. The challenge and depth just isn’t there. However, if you want to pass your passion for this type of game on to a younger player, Transformers: Battlegrounds is a decent entry point.
+ A great game for easing new players into turn-based strategy
+ A fun variation of games in Arcade Mode supplements the campaign
– No challenge for veteran players
– The opportunity to miss shots would add depth
– Only Autobots are playable in the campaign
OVERALL ASSESSMENT OF TRANSFORMERS: BATTLEGROUNDS
Lasting Appeal/Replayability: 3/5