I may not always enjoy Call of Duty games but, when I hear the name, it sets certain expectations. I think high budget, Michael Bay like action, and huge explosions. What I don't anticipate is waiting for timers, building bases, and simple Clash of Clans style strategy combat - but that is what Call of Duty: Heroes provides.
The now-typical free-to-play strategy game template has been rigorously adhered to by Call of Duty: Heroes's developer Faceroll. You have an HQ that you must level-up to grant access to increasingly diverse weapons and units. To do this you must build and develop other buildings to generate resources, creating a mind-numbing feedback loop that demands you login regularly to tap mindlessly at the screen.
While this gameplay loop may not be the highlight (for me), there is fun to be had. The more engaging mechanical elements come from taking part in the game’s 22 missions, attacking other players bases, and constructing maze like layouts for your own camp to outsmart anyone who may invade you to thieve resources.
Just a tap of the trigger
Call of Duty: Heroes’s base construction is a simple and versatile affair. A menu icon brings up the available structures, and taping on them sees them appear in the world ready to be dragged into place. Once built (be prepared to wait for timers) you can upgrade the structures to grant access to addition resources and more advanced weaponry.
It is fun for time management fans, however, if you are more interested in the guns and shooting side of Call of Duty: Heroes you will want to be doing the missions. Once again these uses a simple tap interface. Units can deploy anywhere on the map outside the enemies fortifications. Troops are automated, so there is not a lot of strategy, but some planning is required for success.
Hero units are also hand to mix things up. These special units are able to be moved independently and have an arsenal of special abilities to use. My personal favorite is Price (of Modern Warfare fame). He is able to call in a helicopter gunship from which you take control of the mounted machine gun to lay waste to the camp you are attacking. It’s a small addition to the familiar formula, but a welcome one.
Bang, ratatat, and ka-boom beach
Perhaps Call of Duty: Heroes greatest asset is its presentation. While, for some, the realistic style of the world may be off putting, the modern/slightly futurist look will appeal to many. Despite their diminutive size, each unit looks impressive and has a distinct enough look to be told apart even when zoomed out. This allows you to quickly differentiate them battle to better direct the limited control you have of your army.
The audio matches this attention to detail. Each weapon has its own distinct bruuupt, tuk-tuk-chew, or kerpoee, again helping to separate them. Too accompany this comes the music, which again is good but has an almost inappropriate (but in keeping with the franchise) sense of grandeur.
Oh, what a lovely war
While there has clearly been a great deal of care and attention lavished upon Call of Duty: Heroes's design, it is a very by-the-numbers free-to-play strategy game. Bar one or two thematic additions, you can find everything done here done elsewhere with equal (or greater) skill - but the name and style will probably win over a certain audience for whom the more cartoon like alternatives don't appeal.