PerBlue Entertainment's Disney Heroes: Battle Mode is an upcoming free-to-play hero collection auto-brawler that takes advantage of both Disney and Pixar licenses for its theme. I have been able to get my hands on a working pre-release version, so I figured why not give some insight on what this game has to offer before it officially releases so that our readers will have a good idea what to expect. So without further ado, here are my thoughts on the beta of Disney Heroes: Battle Mode.
At first, I wasn't too enthused about doing a hands-on with Disney Heroes: Battle Mode because it looks like yet another uninspired FTP hero collection game (spoiler alert, it is) that targets children with a plethora of gambling mechanics and other shady practices. I doubly frown on this endeavor because it is Disney pushing this garbage out. But then I tried to sideload the game, and I was locked out thanks to a recent update for the version I sideloaded being unavailable for my region. That's when I decided to get my hands on a working APK just to see what is so important that this game had to be region locked for updates while it is still in testing.
Now I don't typically hold grudges, but I obviously couldn't pass up trashing this beta when (after playing it) it's crystal clear that it was designed from the ground up to appeal to children while simultaneously including aspects that nag those kids with numerous inconveniences until they cough up their parents' money.
The story is very ho-hum. The basic premise is that a virus is corrupting every pixel in the game, turning your heroes' friends and family against them. Despite the story not offering anything groundbreaking or exciting, it is the only part of the game that actually incentivizes me to continue playing. So take that opinion that as you will.
The graphics are alright. They adequately mimic the look of Disney's properties in a clean 2D style. I can't say they offer anything special, but sadly the same could be said about the majority of the content in this game. At the very least these graphics aren't too demanding, so once it is released, it should be able to run on a wide range of devices no matter their specs.
The controls are about as good as one would expect. This is a game designed to work with touchscreens, so simple taps on the screen will get you where you need to go. As far as I can tell, there is no support for physical controllers, but I doubt the devs even considered additional control methods other than the touchscreen inputs that work best for this type of title.
The gameplay is where I completely lost my interest in exploring this past the necessary time required to get a good feel for what it has to offer. As expected with an FTP hero collection game you will be spending a lot of time collecting and upgrading your team. You do this so that they remain powerful enough to take on the many enemies scattered across the game's numerous stages.
Each stage is basically the same as the last, short of a few different backgrounds and enemy designs that are contained in each of the new chapters you unlock. The way it works is your team of 4 heroes will auto-battle against 3 waves of enemies, and the only input you have is the four power moves displayed as cards at the bottom of your screen. This style of gameplay gets old rather quickly as there is very little left up to the player, and honestly, I am finding little reason to continue with the mind-numbing grind when no matter how far you progress the gameplay stays the same.
In order to upgrade your characters, you can equip them with the badges you earn while playing. Once you collect enough of these, you can upgrade your hero to a new color level, which should make them a little stronger. You can also improve each of their skills with the in-game currency of gold, but if you do this too often, you will quickly run out of funds.
There are also a few other modes in the game that are separate from the main story, such as team-based missions or special campaigns. These extra modes will take a lot of time to unlock because you have to level up your team to a certain point so that these areas become accessible, and the current levels they are set at are rather high. I suppose most of this stuff could be considered mid to end-game content, but I can't say I have the stamina to bother reaching that point thanks to how long I would have to grind to unlock them. As is it took me a few hours just to reach Team Level 9.
The monetization is as bad as you would expect. The in-app purchases range up to $99.99 per item. There are also two types of currency and a stamina system, not to mention premium loot crates. The first currency of gold can be earned while playing the game, and more can be purchased through IAPs, but you have to hit level 12 before this feature is unlocked. The secondary currency of diamonds is also purchasable through IAPs, and it is of course used to acquire everything else you would want, such as loot crates or more stamina.
After spending more than a few hours playing through Disney Heroes: Battle Mode I can't say I am that impressed. The production value is good, which mean attractive graphics, an alright story, and solid touchscreen controls. But past the fashionable veneer is a boring hero collection auto-brawler that just drags on and on. PerBlue Entertainment hasn't provided enough of a reason to play through this kid-friendly adventure besides collecting all of the heroes and finishing the story. And sure, there are a few extra modes to play through for those of you that are brave enough to trudge through the story mode, but is that really enough? Maybe if we were able to make it through the game without a purposefully long grind, this would be acceptable, but as is it's simply too much effort for such a low payout of satisfaction. But hey, if you would like to check it out for yourself, feel free to hit that pre-registration button on the Play Store so that you will be alerted when this officially releases.