Raid Leader: Boss Battles Only
Real-time strategy games have been a popular part of gaming for decades, but like many genres it required a bit of a re-think when it came time to make the transition to mobile devices. Commanding large groups of units around wide areas is simple enough with a mouse on a normal-sized display, but it’s harder to make that work on a smaller screen and touch controls. Instead, most mobile games that hit the same kinds of highs tend to bring the focus in a little closer.
In the case of Raid Leader, that amounts to a small party of heroes and monsters at a time. By fusing in elements from MMO RPGs, these battles still feel like epic struggles where a good plan and quick reflexes are necessary keys to victory. You only have to take care of three units, each representing one of the core roles in any raid battle. It’s vital to take care of all three of your team members, as if any of them fall it’s unlikely you’ll be able to win. A small party, but that just makes each character that much more important to use properly.
Perhaps most importantly, while the three-character group satisfies the basic understood roles of a proper raiding party, it’s limited enough that those with no experience can quickly catch on. Even if you don’t have a prior image of a knight as a protector, his appearance lets you know that he can take a few hits. The lightly-armored hunter has a ranged attack, which gives you a strong hint that she should stay some distance from the monsters. Priests are commonly associated with healing, which is another role we understand should be kept away from direct combat wherever possible. Thus the part each character should play is made clear immediately.
Even those who don’t pick up on these cues will have some time to learn in the first couple of battles. There’s a lot of margin for error in those fights, giving you a chance to get acquainted with the controls and basic rules. Luckily, touch controls are incredibly intuitive for this sort of thing. Dragging your finger from the character you want to use to the target you want them to focus on just makes sense. Abilities are represented by icons next to each character’s portrait and can be used just by tapping them. The enemy’s ability also has a visible icon, letting you know exactly when its most powerful moves are coming.
Customization options for each character are limited enough that you really can’t go wrong no matter how you pick. At the same time, you will have to make some choices. You won’t earn enough coins normally to buy upgrades for all three characters at one time, so you’re constantly having to decide whose upgrade is more important to you. You can always replay stages if you want to avoid such difficult decisions, however.
Raid Leader aims to give you a pocket-sized take on the kinds of epic battles that keep MMORPG players coming back again and again. While it may lack the scale of the full-sized experience, the excitement and strategy are here in full force. It’s the perfect way to keep your skills sharp during those frustrating times when you have to step away from your computer, or for those retired generals who no longer have the countless hours to give MMORPGs sometimes demand. But even if you’ve never dabbled in such affairs, you’ll find Raid Leader to be an enjoyable real-time strategy game for your mobile device.