AR Robot

AR Robot – Game Review (iOS)

From the creation of AR Dragon, PlaySide comes another AR game called AR Robot. I was really excited to get my hands on it, I love robots, I love fighting games and I loved AR Dragon. So, I’ve downloaded it immediately and start playing it.

What is AR Robot?

Acrobatic aerial kick, robot vs robot fight in AR
AR Robot is a super photogenic game featuring beautiful acrobatic robot fighting moves!

AR Robot is, well, how can I describe it, a semi-automatic robot fighting game in augmented reality (I am fine with that). Now why semi-automatic, because you don’t have full control over your robot avatar. You can trigger different sets of moves that cost energy (like mana) to execute. Other than that, the robots fight against each other automatically even if you don’t tell the robots which move to execute.

this is a 1-vs-1 fighting game. IT support local gameplay (vs a friend) or online versus other player’s robots.

You can train your robot in mini-games to help level it up in three different categories: Strength, Defense, and Precision. A higher precision means that your robot has a better chance to dodge and block, a higher defense means higher health and higher strength means that your attacks

AR Robot customization screen
The customization screen where you can customize your robot parts, making it more powerful.

deal more damage. As you level up, you will be able to choose which one of these attributes you want to level up. You can also level up any of these stats using the in-game currency: a red stone for strength, blue stone for defense and yellow stone for precision. You can also buy boosters for bolts that give you more experience (500 EXP / 3000 EXP) and help you progress faster.

Each fight cost 1 battery energy. To fill it up, you’ll need to watch an advertisement.

Another option which you can upgrade your robot is by visiting the “Build” section. You can buy better parts for your robots and even change his tint color to look better. The available parts are helmets, arms, chest pieces, legs and “cores” Each item increase your robot stars in terms of strength, defense, and precision.  The parts have rarities, starting with Common (blue), Epic (purple) and Legendary (orange).  Some of the items you can buy with stones and bolts, other by watching ads. Some items require you to reach a certain level to unlock, and you can’t unlock it unless you reach that particular level. For example, buying the “Hammer” legendary hands costs 18,750 bolts and 1500 yellow diamonds, but I can’t buy it unless I get to Level 25.

Defense training mini-game
Training mini-games, help you level up your character.

The last customizable option is modifying and upgrading your abilities. You have three slots each one host a single ability. You start with a “Hook” (level 1) move that deals 258 damage. Small heal 1 which is a healing ability that once used regains 10% of your max health and my favorite, the “Sweep” which costs more power (6) than the other ones, but deals massive 528 damage with amazing animation.

There are many other abilities like the “Aerial Kick” that in Level 1 deals a whopping 822 damage, “Jumping Uppercut”, “Buzzzsaw”, “Hyper Beam”, “Slam”, “Multi Attack”,  “Roundhouse Kick”, “Backhand”, “Uppercut”,  and “Forward Kick.  Some of these moves require the player to reach a certain level and all cost bolts to unlock depends on the Level you want to unlock. A higher level ability cost more, obviously. You can also decide to use three abilities of the same type in all three ability slots.

If you are want to progress fast, you can visit the shop where you can buy packs for real money that contains lots of stones or bolts. There is also a “VIP Pass”, which is a subscription service (3-day trial and then $6.49 per week; prices as of the time of writing) which gives you unlimited battery, double experience, double currency, 2 legendary armor sets, and 5 exclusive tints.

According to the official game page on the App Store, there are 100 million possible combinations to customize your robot, over 90 unique robot parts, 60 paints, and range of power cores to create the bot you want.

Gameplay

Robot uppercut move
My robot making a beautiful uppercut move. Damn, I love the combat animation.

AR Robot was developed using ARKit and supports ARKit 2.0 shared experiences. ARKit 2.0 allows you to play locally against a friend who comes over 1-vs-1.

Playing online means that you are going to fight against other people’s robots, but not directly against them. As you progress you’ll also level up in the competitive scene. I am currently “Bronze” level, which is the most basic one, and watching the leaderboard, it seems that there are 3 silver levels and a top-tier level which looks like a crown with a red stone in it. I am currently at the lowest tier, bronze

As I mentioned earlier, the battle is kind of mostly-automatic. When the battle starts, the robots start fighting against each other without you need to do anything. At the bottom of the screen, you can see that energy points. The energy points fill up from zero to ten. Each ability cost a certain amount of power. Triggering an ability consumes that amount of power and you need to wait until the energy refreshes (which is done quite fast over time) and then execute the next ability. Sometimes it’s smart waiting for a certain ability to be ready than just go with the cheapest one.

Winning in AR Robot iOS game
Just won a fight, feels good, at least when you just start playing the game.

So basically the game is all about unlocking new parts, abilities, and stats in order to defeat other opponents and rank as high as you can. You also need to make a smart decision and time your abilities right to survive against more demanding opponents.

You probably wanted to know whether I enjoyed playing it, My answer will be a bit tricky. This game taught me that being addicted to a certain gameplay doesn’t mean that I am enjoying it. I know, it sounds odd but that how I felt. I enjoyed seeing the robots fighting against each other in AR, seeing other player’s robot invading my living room or better, outdoors. I also enjoyed unlocking new abilities and I like the progression in the game.

Let’s check out some AR Robot action1

Things I didn’t like

My robot character get hit
Some robots eliminated me like in 5 seconds. Seems that the ranking system might be unbalanced, but I didn’t stay long enough to asses it well.

Having said all that, I got bored with this game so fast and even I fed up watching tons of advertisements to help me level up faster and unlock some inviting upgrades that require watching ads, I still came back for a few more rounds. It’s then that I knew that some part of the game makes me want to play it, but another part just made me stop after a short period of time, telling myself that this is not going anywhere.

The game felt monotonous and repetitive in the wrong sense of the word.  There wasn’t any depth to the fight at all. Not that I expected to have a Mortal Kombat X taking place in my living room in AR, but this is just made from the ground up for monetization purposes and the game pace and offering dictates it, it’s all around its DNA. It’s not hard to understand that I wouldn’t even consider (excuse me for saying that) the ridiculous subscription option.

I do see some people knowing that they get an early start and will put money into it to become the top in the world. I am fine with that and of course, there will be those who will love it, but I didn’t. The first hour was kind of exciting, but because I had high expectations but things start going downhill really fast and eventually I just quit, it just became ridiculous for me to continue playing it. Nothing motivated me to continue playing, I didn’t feel like I am actually fighting real players.

I would definitely appreciate this game more if I had more control over the character, with more complex fighting maneuvers, being able to fight against other players online in real time, get invites for fights, have tournaments with rewards, daily bounties, etc. This game just felt like it didn’t care about the player. I don’t mind having ads in games, but I felt that this game just has very little value, let alone subscribing to it, hell no.

I don’t remember myself being so frustrated with an AR game before.  Now, it’s important to say that I am sharing my own experience and I know there will be many people who will love it and have a blast playing it.

On the positive side

Leveling up in AR Robot
Time to level up my little robot buddy!

On the positive side, the game does a lot of things right, like the UI is simple to understand, there are lots of customization and a large variety of items to unlock (I’m sure more will come soon), the design and the acrobatic animations of the robot looks really sleek. The sound effects are no bad either but could be way better in my opinion (maybe more metallic). Visual effects look decent.

The game is also extremely photogenic. I took some screenshots from videos and I enjoy watching them on my iPad, this game looks really good.

It felt interesting going to a fight now knowing who you’ll be facing with. I felt satisfying somewhat to win a fight, progress and have the ability to unlock new items. I love that in many games, this doesn’t change here.

All of that won’t help to save the game for me.  Even the new update (v1.02) that now enabled the bot to earn trophies and currency when you are offline (which is a nice feature), still won’t make me go back and play it.

Conclusion

After playing it for a while I said to myself: “That’s it, I am done with it”. I know that part of my frustration was because I had such high expectation. The art for this game on the app store looks really good, knowing that it’s f from a favorite developer made it even more exciting but I didn’t expect the overall experience to be so disappointing. I did like the presentation a lot but this, of course, isn’t enough to hold a game and make it entertaining and make you want to come back for more each day.

There are things that the developer can do to improve the game to make it appeal more to players like myself and I mentioned some of those above. The thing is that the game idea is good it’s the execution that is lacking in my opinion. I do appreciate implementing local multiplayer using ARKit 2.0 though, and it’s part of the game that I think many people will really like.

Judging by the rating and number of ratings on the app store, it seems that people love it. I am not among those and all I can do is share my honest personal experience with you. Whether you should try it or not, well, I say why not; the game is free after all. You might like it.

I personally don’t recommend this game, but I am also, at the same breath, would say that you should give it a try. The game has some good things going for and I had my slice of enjoyment playing it, but unfortunately it didn’t last very long, in fact, it was very short. Lots of bells and whistles but no substance.

This game reminds me of another game that I”ve played (in terms of the build-fight type of gameplay mechanics), a non-AR game called CATS: Crash Arena Turbo Stars, but the later has much more depth, and although fighting is automatic, it’s way more satisfying and fun to play, that game I do highly recommend, but again, it’s not an AR game, just so you know.

You can download AR Robot from the App Store here.