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Brawl Stars

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Brawl Stars
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Supercell game design at its deplorable finest.
Genre(s): Battle Arena
Class-based
MOBA
Top-down Shooter
Platform(s): Android
iOS
Release: Open beta
June 14, 2017
Worldwide
December 12, 2018
Developer(s): Supercell
Publisher(s): Supercell
Country: Finland


Brawl Stars is a multiplayer class-based top-down shooter mobile video game developed by the Finnish developer Supercell. The game initially launched in June 14th, 2017 in an open beta phase for iOS devices and exclusive to Europe consumers, later getting an official release in December 12th, 2018 for all devices worldwide.

Gameplay

Players partake in battles with a collection of characters called 'Brawlers', each with a unique set of attributes; primary weapon and charged Super attack (both exclusive to the Brawler), stats (HP/Ammo), Star Powers and Gadgets (passive and active abilities, exclusive to the Brawler), and Gears (stat perks shared between Brawlers with specific play styles).

Brawlers are organized in seven different rarities in a hierarchy type of most common to rarest, all represented with their own color:

  • Trophy Road (white) Brawlers are unlocked by advancing in the game's primary progression system, the latter Trophy Road
  • Rare (lime), Super Rare (blue), Epic (purple), Mythic (red) and Legendary (yellow) Brawlers are categorized by their decreasing drop chance (Rare being the easiest to find, Legendary being the hardest) in loot boxes acquired when playing or simply purchased in the shop with Gems (the game's premium currency), or Star Points (a special currency that's only obtained by playing). These can also be purchased individually at a notedly higher price
  • and Chromatic (mix of purple, red and yellow) Brawlers are of a special category that decreases their unlock rarity with each new Brawl Pass season (the game's Season Pass system), starting as Legendary, then transitioning to Mythic and finally Epic, staying that way forever. When first introduced, Chromatics can only be unlocked in their respective Brawl Pass until their season ends, when they are integrated to boxes' drop-pool next to Brawlers of normal rarities

Players battle in solitary, duos or can form teams of three to play against. All game modes (solo, duo, 3v3) have their own objectives, rules, match conditions and arena battlegrounds (called 'Maps'). Some examples include 'Gem Grab', the primary 3v3 mode in which players compete to possess gems that generate from the map gradually, and 'Showdown', a battle royale mode played individually ("Solo") or in teams of two ("Duo"), where the winners are those that position in the highest placement possible by eliminating their opponents.

Bad Qualities

  1. To address the biggest negative points, Brawl Stars is a brief example of Supercell's flawed universal practices and inevitable pay-to-win game design. Formula that has sadly persisted since their pioneer creations such as Clash of Clans. Brawl Stars has a notably exhaustive progression system that usually anti-synergizes with the rest of its features as explained below.
  2. One grave mistake that characterizes its defficient game design is the character upgrades system. Class-based shooters rarely work with character upgrades so that's why they generally distance themselves from this mechanic (Team Fortress 2, Apex Legends, Overwatch, etc.) so it's no clue Brawl Stars would fail at experimenting with this combination of incompatible resources.
    • Brawlers have 11 Power Levels, each upgrade being of course more expensive than the last in terms of Power Points (the points you collect for each Brawler individually) and Gold (an additional fee to upgrade them once a Brawler is maxed out on Power Points for the next upgrade) spent.
    • A common mistake is how they offer very few incentives to upgrade the characters. Brawler Power Levels 1-6 and 8 are nothing but stat upgrades (health and damage), while Levels 7 and 9-11 are the only real enhancements, guaranteeing access to Gadgets in P.L.7, Star Powers in P.L.9 and Gears in P.L. 10 and 11.
  3. Special moments of playing in general like Double Token Weekend didn't apply to every weekend, not helping that they are often slow to get, and getting Star Powers with tokens will cost you 2000 Gold Coins.
  4. The 2021 Gear update is often seen as Brawl Stars' worst update of all time. First off, a Gears mechanic (upgradable passive perks that compliment your playstyle) not only sounds grindy, unnecessary, generic and free-to-play unfriendly for Brawl Stars' standards, but the execution was unacceptable with every letter, forcing you to level up your Brawlers to the newly added Power Levels 10 and 11 if you want to unlock and upgrade Gears.
    • Even after the heavy grind, you still have to do those individually for each Brawler despite all five Gears being the same for all of them. This is something that all free-to-plays have deemed as needlessly time-consuming and only favorable to whales and maxed out players
  5. Blatant issues with RNG, as expressed with the players' spawn points in most game modes and the Showdown game mode, where you will mostly rely on RNG for victory, often causing an unlucky loss that wasn't even the player's fault to begin with:
    • For players' spawn points, many Maps rely strongly on the architecture for many strategies to work or to give your team good chances of winning. Each spawn point can benefit a brawler in unintended ways while lowering another's usefulness
    • For Showdown, there are these special items called "Power Cubes" that boost a player's Health and Damage by 10% each. Cubes are obtained from Crates that are scattered around the map randomly, each dropping one cube. Instead of having the player that destroyed the Crate (or whoever harmed it last if the toxic gas destroyed it) instantly absorbe the cube, it drops anywhere near the Crate's radius which makes no sense at all.
      • A slightly better alternative would involve the cube dropping in the exact location where the Crate spawned, yet that's not the case here. An example of this is when two players are fighting over a Crate and they destroy it, whoever stood nearer to the location where the cube dropped gets a higher chance of getting it, while the player that was centimeters away rises their chances of losing the game
  6. Although it is advertised as a Ranked Competitive-type gamemode, "Power League" suffers from luck-based characteristics, as well as some not so skill-based mechanics, destroying the purpose of said gamemode solely depending on the player's skill level:
    • One of, if not the worst downside of playing Power League with randoms means you'll have no clue of your teammates' game progression. While it doesn't sound that bad at first, it becomes unbearable when knowing that each player is allowed to use brawlers of any Power Level. Unlike challenges where the game lets you play with all your brawlers maxed out regardless of the separate power levels that you have for each of them, therefore giving fair chances of victory to all participants, in Power League the power levels stay the same for everyone. This gives an unbelievably unfair advantage to players with better progression as they not only get access to the Star Powers, Gadgets and Gears, but they also get a significant rise of HP and damage
      • A very common scenario has trolls selecting Power Level 1 Brawlers to bring a disadvantage to their team, this has been documented countless times yet the developers never showed interest in fixing this issue that involves both inputs from the developer and community
    • When starting a game of Power League after the random map has been chosen, the two teams take turns to select their brawlers and the team leader bans a specific brawler from the match. A coin drop decides which team gets to choose the first brawler, but since there can't be duplicates regardless of the duplicate brawler being chosen by one member of both teams, this offers a cosmic advantage to the team that gets to pick brawlers first. It doesn't help how the next turn allows the other team to choose two brawlers in a row
      • An aggravating characteristic that derives from this is the fact that playing as the selected team's leader makes you the last to choose a brawler, and by the time the other players get their turn all the reasonable brawlers are already occupied which leaves you with the weaker and questionable brawler choices instead
    • An issue mentioned by BQ#11, random spawn points for each player prevail in Power League, which is another feature that benefits a specific team in unintentional ways
    • During the first phase of Power League (choosing brawlers and abilities), there is almost no real feedback and communication between teammates. One can't suggest what brawler the leader should ban, nor recommend a brawler or abilities to select, which just worsens the flaw from BQ#12.1
      • The closest action to actual teammate cooperation when choosing brawlers involves tapping certain brawlers' icons over and over to let teammates know what your possible choices are, but even that technique can get ignored pretty easily by your teammates, and in very few occasions it will actually be efficient
  7. Acknowledging all the problems that Power League dragged in, the developers made the shameless move to copy the exact system with no changes whatsoever to the Power Matches from the anticipated Club Leagues update, with the only difference that there is a limit of daily matches one can play depending on how many tickets they have.
    • Extending from this, the first weeks of Club League featured a mechanic that allowed playing more daily matches than usual. When you'd run out of daily tickets, you were allowed to buy Golden Tickets (a replacement for the exhausted tickets) and play a bit more daily matches. This has led to most Club Leagues being won by the Clubs that bought more Golden Tickets and lost their games rather than the Clubs that won. Not even the club party bonuses (extra points awarded by playing with Club members) were enough to even the advantage of using Golden Tickets

Good Qualities

  1. The game's selling point, the gameplay variety represented in the huge assortment of Brawlers to choose from, was done right. Each Brawler has a unique play style as seen in their main attack, super attack, gadgets and the revamped gears to make the experience of trying each brawler completely different and unmatched.
  2. Of course, not only gameplay-wise but visually and audibly, all of the brawlers stand out thanks to their unique personalities, looks, voice overs and themes to make them equally interesting and appealing.
  3. An acclaimed aspect of the game is its soundtrack, which is attributed to being of very high quality for a mobile-exclusive game. Many songs fit in with the action of the respective game modes and environments, such as the memorable menu theme.
  4. Cartoony but fresh graphics that not only give that one Supercell vibe, but also rise their standards consistenly thanks to the iconic art style and persistent updates of character models.
  5. As seen in the Brawl Talks, which are the videos addressing the content that's to come to the game in future updates, the development team listens to feedback frequently and does their best to make changes that will improve the game and be liked by the majority of the user base, even if it requires re-making old but iconic mechanics entirely.
    • An example are the gears which have been re-designed from scratch to match each brawler's play style in the style of star powers and gadgets instead of being shared universally by every brawler in the game regardless of how much it affects or synergizes with their play style.
    • Another example that should be noted is the new Power League, which finally has better communication methods with the team before the match starts like suggesting what brawlers to ban directly or requesting to swap brawlers by showing your stats with said brawler.

Videos

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