Star Discord Review | pocket player

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While the creators of the OG space exploration RTS that Star Discord draws inspiration from are in hot water right now, that hasn’t stopped indie developer Illogical Games from doing their own thing with the popular IP.

Part love letter to StarCraft and part Minecraft-esque experience, Star Discord attempts to take everything there is to love about Earthlings and adapt it all to mobile – but if indeed the effort is valiant , does it really pay off in the end?

Contents:

STAR DISCORD VISUALS

Indie team Amarul Natenan designed this StarCraft lookalike hoping to create the same real-time strategy feel, but optimized for mobile. While Star Discord certainly isn’t trying to overpower the graphics of the Blizzard title, it certainly does its best to keep the vibe fairly familiar.

For one thing, SCVs have been renamed to FCW, and the buildings, while lovely and low-poly, are still reminiscent of Terran structures. As a StarCraft fan myself, I find this all very welcome, although there are a few things that haven’t been renamed yet (the text requirements to build a War Factory, for example, tell you that you have to build a barracks first, which is actually called a training camp in the game).

The square visuals are also quite adorable, adding to the game’s accessibility as it’s suited for a more casual RTS experience on mobile. The background music is also excellent and enough to get your adrenaline pumping as you devastate your enemy’s bases and victory is at hand.

GAMEPLAY STAR DISCORD

Star Discord’s main campaign serves as a hands-on tutorial, as you’ll be introduced to each unit in small chunks. Maps and unit selection become progressively more complex as you progress, as do your enemies’ abilities. Once you feel like you’ve mastered the game, you can also challenge other players in unranked PvP matches.

Ads appear after each battle, which is actually no big deal – a match can last anywhere from five to twenty minutes, so having only one ad between matches is very, very generous of the developer. And while there’s only one race at the moment, the developer has expressed plans to expand more races in the future, which would be an absolute treat.

Showcase of the seat unit

Of course, while the campaign tells you about the units, structures, and general mechanics of the game, it doesn’t help much when it comes to mastering the game’s controls. You practically have to tinker with them yourself, except for the random hints that appear at the start of each mission. You can also check out the text tutorial, but it’s a little hard to memorize all those commands right before you start a battle.

STAR DISCORD CONTROLS

This brings us to the game’s main problem – the controls. This is, as expected, where most of the difficulty lies, as the game has undertaken this massive effort to port a huge RTS to a mobile device. I’ve played this game myself on my ten-inch tablet, but I still get the dreaded big-finger slip-ups from time to time. I can only imagine what it must be like to play on a real phone with a smaller screen.

Luckily, you can adjust the size of the UI in the game settings so the buttons aren’t everywhere, but then just squint to see the text you just shrunk completely. In particular, the minimap is the biggest issue for me, as it blocks out a lot of your screen in the top left and can really prevent you from micromanaging units or even just scrolling to that area.

Marines attacking the building in Star Discord

Speaking of scrolling, you can also adjust how you want to navigate your map (I wish there was a trick to being able to do this, as it took me many tedious missions before I discovered that you could adjust this in the settings). You can choose to “scroll” your map as you would with a mouse, or you can reverse it and do something more intuitive with your touchscreen, in that you can swipe the screen to view certain parts of your map. I have mine on the latter, as it’s a touchscreen and my instinct immediately wants to swipe rather than scroll – but it all depends on your preferred style.

That said, the biggest thing you need to practice doing here is deselecting, deselecting, deselecting. Coming out of RTS games on PC, you just click from one unit or structure to another without really thinking about it. Here you’ll need to deselect any existing selection, or you might end up sending a FCW you just commanded to build a supply silo directly into enemy territory. It’s just a matter of getting used to this new mechanic eventually.

WHAT IS THE CALL?

But perhaps the biggest problem I encountered here is that the unit AI isn’t that smart – at least not yet. When you order a group of units to move to a certain location, they will do just that and only that. They won’t care if an enemy unit attacks them along the way – they will move blindly to where you ordered them and likely die in the process. Star Discord Base Review

Now, if you think you can just mic them to counterattack, it’s not that simple. For example, base Ranger units tend to be smaller, so when tapping an enemy Ranger to counterattack, you may not always be able to tap that exact enemy unit the first time – or worse, you may accidentally press down on the ground next to that enemy unit, causing your entire army to move to that location rather than counterattack. This has happened to me more times than I would have liked, and it can be very frustrating.

One solution would probably be to make attacking a priority for troops rather than moving, but since I’m not a developer, I don’t know how easy or hard that might be. It would probably also help if things were more automated, as this is a mobile game and cannot have the same luxury as a PC game.

For example, maybe setting units to auto-attack or FCWs to auto-spawn would already make the game easier to navigate. While the Control Groups feature and the Building Planner are welcome, it might also be a good idea to set an auto-expand or upgrade feature for structures and units, just to reduce micromanagement in a mobile game.

Overall, Star Discord needs a bit more finishing, but it’s an impressive effort, especially for an individual studio. There might be a reason why StarCraft never made it to mobile due to clunky controls, but this game tries its best to fix all of that – and I’m very, very happy about that.

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