Mon. Jun 17th, 2024
Mushroom Wars 2 review cover

I was recently approached by a PR company and asked if I wanted a review key for Mushroom Wars 2. Honestly, just the fact that it had mushrooms in was enough to pique my interest. However, upon watching the trailer, I was reminded of some of my favourite tower defence games, and knew I had to try this game out. I’m usually more keen on turn-based strategy rather than real-time, but I was pleasantly surprised. Zillion Whales have made a really fun little game here. It was originally released in 2016, but has only recently been made available for Xbox. I played it on a Series X, but the review key itself was for Xbox One, so I’m assuming the performance was capped.

Also, before we get started, I have some exciting news… I have an extra game key! I do a new giveaway every month, and so my February giveaway will be for Mushroom Wars 2. Keep your eyes peeled for that, as I’ll be making that post on 1st February. Anyway, let’s get into the Mushroom Wars 2 review for Xbox One!

Gameplay

This game has ‘war’ in the title for a reason. The gameplay involves all-out war between you and your opponent, where only one side can be left standing. You take charge of troops which can then be used to capture new territories. Your army grows over time, but the same is true of the enemy, so you need to be tactical about what and when you’re capturing. You can attack by selecting one of your own buildings with your cursor and then directing the arrow to the desired target. This mechanism could be a little smoother, but it’s not bad. You can also choose the size of the army you send to attack – 25%, 50%, 75%, or 100%. You can use this same method to reinforce your own buildings.

Mushroom Wars 2 Review Xbox One, Armies attacking.
I like watching the army file out on its brave adventure.

There are three main types of building which I’ll discuss momentarily, and all serve different purposes. There are also different heroes which will have unique skills. Mastering skills is essential for a strong performance. Most game modes are won by killing all enemy troops and capturing all buildings on the map, but there are some exceptions. There’s a mode where certain buildings will be marked as special buildings. The winner is the first side to capture all special buildings at once, regardless of overall position on the field. It doesn’t matter if they have 1,000 troops and you have 10, if your 10 are the ones holding the special building then congratulations, you’ve won. There’s also a king of the hill type mode where you have to hold special buildings for a set amount of time, and the winner is the first side to get the target total capture time.

Conquest mode, capture all enemy buildings. Most buildings start off neutral, then you and the enemy compete to capture them.

Buildings

There are three types of buildings in Mushroom Wars 2. The first is a village, and that tends to be the default. This is where you grow your army, and new troops will be produced over time. You can upgrade your villages (at the cost of troops) until they’re maxed out. Each upgrade means you produce troops faster, and the maximum capacity is raised. As well as villages, you can also build towers. These don’t produce troops, but they will shoot at any enemies in their vicinity. This means they’re effective at thinning out your enemy’s army whilst they’re on the move.

The final type of building is a forge. These don’t have any offensive benefit but they increase the overall effectiveness of your weapons. It’s good to have at least a couple of forges so that you lose less troops when facing the enemy. At any point, you can turn one building into another. Again, this will cost you a number of troops, but the tactical benefit can be worth it. It’s great fun trying to find the perfect balance for the particular round you’re playing. I think three is a decent number, as it’s not so many that you end up confused. I feel like they could’ve potentially made it more interesting with four types, but three is still excellent.

Mushroom Wars 2 review Xbox One, building types.
The buildings change colour and style depending on the owner’s affiliation.

Morale

A really cool feature in Mushroom Wars 2 is the morale system. It affects how passionately your troops fight, and higher levels of morale make them stronger. You can gain morale by capturing new territory and upgrading existing buildings. You can earn a maximum of 5 stars, with each star rating increasing the attack and defence bonus. However, just like you can gain morale, you can lose it, too. When the enemy captures a building or kills your troops, your morale will go down. Obviously, this can happen a lot in a real-time strategy game, so your morale will constantly be changing over the course of the round. It can be surprisingly difficult to maintain 5 stars no matter how well you’re playing.

I feel like the morale system definitely adds an extra level of interest to the gameplay. I’m glad they made it so challenging, too. It would’ve ruined the game a bit if you could immediately get 5 stars and then just keep that rating. Instead, you really have to work for it, and it feels earned.

Heroes and Skills

This is a really impressive part of the game. In total, there are 12 different heroes, each with their own skills. It’s not something I expected from an indie game, as they easily could’ve got away with less. Each hero is fully developed, with an affiliation to a certain faction. The only criticism I have is that a few of the heroes have skills which aren’t particularly useful in a match. Other than that, I feel they’re well-balanced, and their skills are consistent to their theme. This means that all four of their hero skills make sense for that character, a lofty feat.

Mushroom heroes.
These are just two of the awesome heroes available.

Skills can be used after you’ve built up enough energy. You build energy steadily over time, and you get a boost whenever your troops die. This is a clever way of doing it, as it gives a slight advantage to the losing side, and allows them to turn the tide of the battle, keeping it closely fought. I was amazed at the range of skills, too. Each hero has 4 skills, which means 48 in total, and yet there’s no overlap. Each one is completely different.

You have to really consider the best play in any round. Do you use the first skill as soon as it’s available, or do you save up your energy for the higher cost skills that are more effective? It’s a delicate balance, and one of many factors to consider during the gameplay.

Mushroom Wars 2 review Xbox One, Activating hero skills, Ankh.
You can see all four skills in the top left, as well as the buttons to activate them.

Campaign

I would definitely recommend starting with the campaign, just to ease yourself into the controls. For the first few levels, only easy mode is available. These first few rounds get you used to the gameplay, and work as a tutorial. Every few levels, you’ll be introduced to a new aspect of the game, and can practice getting the hang of it. I like that Mushroom wars 2 doesn’t throw you in at the deep end. It would’ve been cool to have the opportunity to play the early levels again on a harder difficulty, but I understand why they’ve been kept permanently easy. I also really like that the game throws in boss battles every now and then, which adds more variety. The bosses have their own special skills which makes their levels that bit different and more challenging.

Boss battle, evil frog. The frog would stick his tongue out and murder your troops when they moved between buildings.

The campaign is played over four story arcs, with 50 levels in each. Honestly, I do feel they get a little bit repetitive, although at least they introduce you to different game modes. You can play the harder difficulty levels once you’ve completed some of the early rounds. In medium mode, you can no longer see how many troops the enemy has at each of their bases. You also no longer get a warning when one of your own buildings is being attacked. Removing these features makes the gameplay more challenging and you have to strategise smarter. Hard difficulty is the same, except you also no longer get a notification when a building is ready to be upgraded. This encourages you to pay closer attention to your territories. Expert doesn’t remove any other features, it’s just insanely difficult. The enemy plays really well, and it’s tough to outwit them.

Mushroom Wars 2 Review Xbox One, Campaign levels. You work your way through all the levels, earning stars based on which difficulty you choose.

Multiplayer

I definitely was not expecting an indie game to have online multiplayer, so I was pleasantly surprised. I don’t know anyone else who owns the game, so I didn’t think I’d get to play with others. However, Mushroom Wars 2 includes a random match-up multiplayer mode! You can also play custom games with your friends, but I wasn’t able to test that feature. The game also offers a 2v2 multiplayer, but I could never seem to find a match for that. Still, the 1v1 multiplayer is excellent, and so I’ve got plenty to say about it. It loads really quickly, too, so I think it must be cross-platform, although I’m not certain.

You can choose your gameplay mode from the menu screen.

Multiplayer has a star system, whereby you gain stars for winning matches, and lose them when the enemy beats you. Once you’ve played enough rounds, it’ll match you with someone of a similar skill level. I love this feature as it means you get a healthy level of challenge. Much as I enjoy winning, it’s more satisfying to know I’m playing against someone skilled. The basic gameplay is the same as in campaign, but the enemy makes more human movements. It’s fun to predict their moves, and try to figure out their playstyle. You also can’t see how many troops they have at each base, and you don’t get attack warnings.

I would’ve liked to see more maps in multiplayer, though. From what I can tell, there are only about four maps in total, and you can start at either side of them. It meant that after a while of playing, the maps seem a bit repetitive. Perhaps Zillion Whales could consider adding more in the future? However, considering that this is just an Xbox release, and the game itself has been out for years, that’s doubtful.

Mushroom Wars 2 review Xbox One, The match completed screen, you gain star rating when you win.

Graphics and Audio

The visuals in Mushroom Wars 2 are very impressive, particularly on the menu screens. The character designs are detailed and stunning, and I could totally envision printing out some of the stills and using them as posters. This is particularly true of the hero select screen, where each hero has been expertly created. You can get a real sense of their relevance to the story just from looking at them. The cutscenes use an adorable art style that feels reminiscent of water colour. There’s no dialogue or subtitles, so it’s hard to figure out what’s happening, but they’re still beautiful to watch.

Cutscene artstyle
I just want to cuddle those little mushrooms!

The music, too, really fits the theme of the game. It’s cute and playful, and it’s upbeat enough to keep your attention. There’s a fantastic opening tune when you load up the game, and a very similar tune during matches. There are slight differences, though. During matches, your troops make funny sound effects. They have this high pitched grunt when they’re attacking, which I bet they think is intimidating, but it sounds exactly how you’d expect an army of anthropomorphic mushrooms to sound. When they take a building, they emit a sweet little cheer.

The graphics during the matches aren’t winning any prizes, but they get the job done. It’s a relatively minimalist style, but I like it. You can clearly see the buildings and which side possesses them (indicated by colour). Your army is visible whilst on the move, and the cursor causes a ring around the selected building so you can instantly spot it. The visuals are exactly what they need to be – functional.

Mushroom Wars 2 review Xbox One, Level design.
There’s plenty going on at once, but it’s not cluttered.

Verdict

Overall, I really enjoyed Mushroom Wars 2, and it’s a game I could definitely see myself playing again. I always consider whether I’d play a game for fun if I weren’t reviewing it, and I would with this one. I love the simple yet effective tactical side of it. It appeals to my enjoyment of the strategy genre without being overly complex. I also think it’s great both for those who are new to real-time strategy as well as seasoned veterans. Having the different difficulty levels means you can tailor your gaming experience to your personal skill.

Have you played Mushroom Wars 2? Which other strategy games do you enjoy? Join the discussion over in our Facebook community! And don’t forget to follow us on Twitter so you can be notified when the giveaway starts on February 1st 2022.

Mushroom Wars 2

£16.74
8

Verdict

8.0/10

Pros

  • Clear and pretty graphics
  • Excellent multiplayer mode
  • Impressive range of heroes and skills
  • Well-balanced strategy mechanics

Cons

  • Campaign can get a bit repetitive
  • The story isn't particularly well explained
  • Some of the hero skills are a bit useless

By Screen Hype

Hi! I'm Melika Jeddi, a content writer and aspiring author. I've created Screen Hype to share my unique brand of entertaining articles with the world, and to create a fun space that everyone can feel a part of :)