DeNA was present at Anime Expo this year, and held a private demo where members of the press got to try out the upcoming mobile game, Attack on Titan TACTICS in advance of its full US release. There wasn’t enough time to fully explore all of the game’s features, so this is going to be more of a general overview of the game than a full review. Based on the time we were given, though, TACTICS seems like a reasonably entertaining entry into the mobile game scene, albeit one with a few drawbacks.
Before I get into the game itself, there’s one thing I’d like to make clear upfront: TACTICS is still a gacha game. For those who are unfamiliar with the term, that means the primary way you acquire characters is by “rolling” with an in-game currency, which gives you a low chance of getting a rare character each time. Each roll gives you a 2.50% chance for a five star (the highest rarity), a 17.00% chance for a four star, and an 80.50% chance for a three star (the lowest rarity). In other words, the vast majority of your rolls will give you low-rarity characters, and it will often take numerous attempts to get the rarer ones. Though you can get crystals just through ordinary gameplay, TACTICS also offers the option to buy crystals. I wasn’t able to play long enough to see how rare crystals are (the press version had functionally unlimited crystals to roll with), but it does seem like there are enough that staying free-to-play is still a viable option, albeit more difficult.
As for the gameplay itself, TACTICS is, as the name suggests, tactical. Each mission is a slightly different tower defense scenario, where Titans continually charge at your base, and you deploy characters and weapons to stop them. Once deployed, characters are largely autonomous until they either run out of time and pull back, or are killed. Each character has their own stats and weapons, which can be upgraded outside of battle, as well as a distinct category of movement. Some are sent to attack a specific enemy, usually to save another character from being eaten, while others continue to run around on the battlefield attacking targets as long as they’re able. Each character also has a unique ultimate ability that charges up throughout the battle and is useful for emergencies. The main challenge here involves making sure you send out enough characters to kill the Titans charging at you, while also managing the cooldowns so you don’t encounter situations where a new wave of Titans is coming and you don’t have enough units to stop them. It’s a surprisingly engaging system overall, even if it’s nothing groundbreaking.
TACTICS also includes a story mode that lets you play through the story of Attack on Titan, albeit in an abridged form. Between the narration and some stills from the anime, there’s enough here to refresh established fans on the earlier parts and give newer fans enough context to know what’s going on, but it’s far from the ideal way to experience the story. Everything is abridged for the sake of time, since it would be difficult to fully portray Attack on Titan’s story in a mobile game. You won’t be lost, true, but I would personally recommend anyone interested in Attack on Titan read the manga or watch the anime first, rather than experience it for the first time through a mobile game. The game currently only adapts the earlier parts of the story, but DeNA has said that there are plans to continually add to the story over time.
On the whole, Attack on Titan TACTICS is a solid entry into the world of gacha games, and will likely appeal to newcomers and established fans alike. Nothing about the game stands out as especially unique or groundbreaking, but it’s all-around polished enough that it doesn’t need to be. If you’re craving more Attack on Titan in the wait between seasons, TACTICS is a good game to scratch that itch.