Earthcore: Shattered Elements

Players:
2
Multiplayer:Yes, via private server (account required)
AI:Yes, multiple single-player missions
Universal App:Yes (there is a single app which works on both iPhone and iPad in HD)
Purchase for iPhone:Use link below to purchase universal app
Purchase for iPad:
Earthcore: Shattered Elements - Epic Card Battle Game (TCG)
Price: Free
User rating:
GD Star Rating
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Not content to let Magic and Hearthstone battle for dominance, Tequila Games is trying to get a dog in the fight with Earthcore: Shattered Elements, a game which will totally change the way you view Rock Paper Scissors. Ready to count to three?

Gameplay

E:SE is, on the one hand, a simple tactical game that we’ve all been playing since we were children – it evokes nothing so much as the old Battle Beast figures of the late 80s. The introduction of tactical abilities, however, makes E:SE more than it appears at first glance.

earthcore gameplay 3

The core gameplay consists of a duel between two players. Each player starts with a base amount of hit points (how many is determined by a myriad of secondary factors) and a hand of 4 cards from a deck of exactly 25. Each card, in turn, belongs to the elements of Earth, Water, or Fire, each element defeating one and vulnerable to another.

earthcore use an ability

Many cards also contain abilities, in which reside a large part of the game’s tactics. Some abilities are Instant, activating when the card is played; others are Passive, triggering when the conditions are correct; and others are Manual, laying dormant until triggered. The first player to play a card will get one final chance to play an ability before the battle is resolved.

earthcore turn resolution

Each card has a Risk value. There are no stats to compare as in most card battlers because each card typed are what determine victory. Play opposite an identical type and you Deadlock; otherwise, the winner deducts the Risk value of the defeated card from the loser’s life total, left to right. Deadlocked cards remain on the battlefield, adding their Risk value to the next round, which if left unchecked can lead to some very high-value battles. Additionally, the middle column has a doubler, and if the first player is victorious in that column, their opponent will take twice the damage they would otherwise. As in most head to head battle games, you win by reducing your opponent’s life to zero.

Implementation

Though E:SE brings a wealth of tactical options, the core gameplay by itself isn’t enough to keep people coming back. As with many games of this type, a number of modes and options are built around this framework.

earthcore campaign map

The single-player campaign is divided into 5 chapters, each of which consists of 10 duels. Each duel, in turn, has three rewards you can obtain, but only by defeating the enemy by certain threshholds – a simple win gets you the first reward, but you must have at least 15 HP remaining to earn level 2, and so on. There is also an online mode once you achieve level 4 or higher, but we found that unless you’ve invested in some very powerful cards, even the low-level opponents will utterly destroy you – we can only assume this game had a popular following in soft launch.

earthcore booster

The basic economy of the realm is gold coins, and a victory is typically worth 250-500 of these. 9,000 buys you a booster of 4 cards, with larger boosters giving you increasing discounts. Monetization is unlike most other CCGs insofar as you can’t actually purchase gold – instead you can spend $2 per day on the Gold Doubler, which gives you double rewards for 24 hours but still requires you to play to earn currency. You can also spend cash for Diamonds, the rare currency, but there doesn’t seem to be much to spend them on except to speed up crafting.

earthcore crafting 2

As with all digital CCGs that aren’t Magic these days, E:SE has a crafting system. In this case it’s tied to Hero cards, of which 20 exist in the game. Each Hero card comes with one power and has slots for two more. If you have a trio of cards that share a power, you can cash them and some gold in to put the power in one of the Hero’s slots. Each Hero with 3 filled slots in your deck will give you a hit point boost as you go into battle.

earthcore crafting 3

The heroes themselves seem to be tied to level advancement, and you shouldn’t even think about entering multiplay without at least half a dozen of them in your deck. Since you don’t seem to be able to buy them with hard cash even if you want to, expect a pretty heavy grind before the Arena represents anything but an instant death sentence.

earthcore help

The game features a fully interactive tutorial, complete with almost unbearably cheesy voice overs reading all the in-tutorial text. You’ll be shown a short video before each tutorial mission, and you can replay these from the rulebook at any time. You can also hit the question mark icon in the upper right of most screens for an informational overlay.

earthcore cards from booster

The game’s art and music aren’t particularly memorable, but they’re well presented for what they are. The real issue lies in stability. The data for your account all lives on remote servers. In and of itself that’s not a problem (outside of the requirement for an always-on connection) but we’ve already seen many examples of cases where an iPad and an iPhone sharing the same account don’t sync data correctly – even when the respective clients have hours of downtime to sync. We’ve also had more than a few crashes midgame. Most notably, every single online multiplayer match we entered, to a one, resulted in a crash on an iPad Air. Granted we were going to lose anyway because we only had one or two heroes and our opponents had six or more, but now we’ve got an undeserved reputation for rage quitting, all because of an unstable client.

Verdict

It’s possible that E:SE is a little too new to pass final judgement. A number of features are listed as “coming soon,” and it wouldn’t take much in the way of updates to smooth over most of the rough edges in the client. Given that extra TLC of development time, there’s a pretty decent mobile game here – enough options and tactics exist to satisfy gamers, but the quick gameplay is well suited to a mobile device. The stability issues, however, really need to get resolved before we can fully endorse this one, and we wouldn’t say no to an improvement in matching you up against players of similar rank.

7.8
Great fun when it isn't crashing

Good Things

  • Actually makes Rock Scissors Paper into a fun game
  • Tactical options keep the game play varied

Bad Things

  • Data is not stable across devices
  • App is not stable
  • Online battling requires a HUGE grind investment - which the game may or may not remember

The Breakdown


Gameplay
9
Interface
6
Artwork
8
Features
8



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