Supercell, the company behind Clash of Clans and Clash Royale, has a new title on the mobile stage just in time for holiday travel. It’s call Brawl Stars, and it’s a lot different than their previous titles, and draws on all new characters and style. Playing as brawlers (which have different rarities, abilities, can be upgraded, and need to be unlocked) you participate in various challenges and game modes solo, with friends, or on randomly assigned teams.
A few games in and you only have access to some core “classes” and one game mode. You can play as a standard shooter (This is top down, not FPS) or a bear-summoner early on, each with different attacks and “ultimates” that need to be charged up through combat. After a few rounds, you start to unlock more characters to explore and work up. I unlocked the tanky El Primo early on through a crate, and have been using him as my “main”. Primo does tons of damage at close range and has a giant HP pool, and as I’ve been playing strictly with random people I don’t know, this allows me to take control of an important role in the match.
The first mode you can play is 3v3 gem collection. Gems pop out of the center of the map and teams battle over collecting them. Dying comes with just a short respawn as the penalty, but you do also drop any gems you are holding. The first team to 10 gems starts a countdown, and if they still have 10 gems at the end of that countdown, they win! It’s a simple mode, and one that I enjoy playing defensively as El Primo in – pick up all the gems, walk around, punch when necessary, but essentially leverage my high hit point pool to create a stronghold for the team’s gems. This is probably my favorite mode right now, even after playing others.
Shortly after you begin and get a few games under your belt, you unlock the “battle royale” mode, which can be played in solo or duo and has 10 player matches. Last team surviving wins, but high placement still gives decent rewards. Unlike many other BR’s, there’s not a whole lot to find and collect outside of a single kind of power up that makes you stronger, with a giant stash of these near the central point of the map – making it a hot spot for ambitious players that want early action and an edge if they survive. The map closes in as green poison gas restricts the playspace, and matches are over quickly. I don’t like this as much as the more team-oriented fare, but for BR lovers it’s something to latch onto.
The third mode I’ve unlocked is a sort of destroy-the-flag variant where both teams have giant safes in their territory that can be destroyed. It’s up to you and you team to figure out how to allocate offensive and defensive skirmishes to try and do as much damage as possible or destroy the enemy safe, while keeping your own as undamaged as possible. This team-based mode has fast respawn and can lead to some exciting finishes as the clock winds down and both teams scramble to do just a few extra points of damage.
Mobile games are easy to dive into initially but I find myself bouncing off of as progression systems, monetization, or just repetitive gameplay become part of the equation. I haven’t played Brawl Stars long enough to make any kind of long-term analysis, but I’m enjoying it as a quick bite of action during the hustle and bustle of wintry travel. It’s free-to-play and very different in look and feel than their other base-building/card games, so the best way to see if you enjoy it is to give it a try.