There has been a lot of speculation during the last year’s SuperCell release of Boom Beach as to where the strategy genre and base building RTS in general is heading in the area of graphics performance. We are starting to see more and more games slowly migrating over from sprite-based 2D graphics to full-blown 3D graphics. While 3D has always found its place in the adrenaline-pumped world of first-person shooters, it has not necessarily found a home in the strategy realm, and perhaps for now we should keep it that way even with the new titles Boom Beach.
3D is simply used by developers to add pretty effects instead of focusing their efforts on good strategy-style gameplay, something that SuperCell value in their games since Clash of Clans release until the recent Boom Beach title. You must keep in mind here that we are talking about strategy games. Games like this have been able to somewhat successfully integrate a 3D gaming system within a game that closely resembles a strategy game, but for the most part these games have a tendency to play like first-person shooters. It’s the same old run-and-gun formula, except now, instead of maintaining yourself, you are forced to maintain a small number of units in a 3D world.
It is easy to be led astray by rotating cameras and dynamic 3D lighting and perspective, but if a developer spends more time focusing on making the game pretty, could that time not have been spent better on play balancing and strategic elements? Strategy players got hooked on games like Boom Beach. They are control freaks. The key to winning their hearts is gameplay and strategy both defensive and offensive. Control and perspective are very important to a strategy gamer.
As 3D cards get better and better, we will probably see more and more games start to rely on them. The immediate effect of this can be seen in strategy games in Boom Beach that limit you in some way. They may hide this under the slogan “gameplay revolution” or some other farce, where they try to tell you that they removed resource collection or lowered the number of units to make it a more tactical game. The reality is that in order to provide smooth gameplay in a fully 3D engine they were forced to restrict these things. So what is truly a loss to the gameplay experience is passed on as a feature. Even with the addition of Boom Beach hack and modding tool that has been explained in detail here, the issue still exist. Luckily, we do not have to be blind to this tactic.
While a good 3D engine can help make a game prettier, more realistic looking and more fluid, it is important to keep the idea of “strategy” as the key to the game’s design. Strategy gamers like to have their wits challenged. They like to contemplate moves and work towards tactical advantage. In order to do this they need a clear view of the battle. Strategy gamers are not necessarily the types of people who rush out and buy the latest and greatest gaming hardware. While 3D slowly seeps its way into the strategy genre, we can only hope developers like SupeCell will try to keep things in the proper perspective, something that we have seen on their game Boom Beach.