There are plenty of pretenders to the MMO strategy throne on PC and mobile. And you can see why. It’s a genre that lets players act out their fantasies of conquest, battle tactics, grand strategies and empire-building, but without all the complexities and high entry levels that ‘designed for PC’ strategy games entail.
For four years now, Lords Mobile has been one of the champions of the mobile MMO genre, with over 320 million downloads since its launch in 2016. It’s not just a beneficiary of mindless populism either, earning Google Play Awards for ‘Best Competitive Game’ and ‘Android Excellence Game’ during its tenure.
The success of the game is testament to how much those extra details—and that extra level of granularity—matters. Yes, it sports vibrant visuals, guilds, resource-gathering systems, and Player-vs-Player and Kingdom-vs-Kingdom warfare, but so do many of its peers. What’s really great here is how hands-on the various levels of combat are.
Starting with the PvE, you pick from a pool of 48 heroes (22 of them free-to-play) and assemble them into squads to go on monster-hunting quests and build experience. At these points, the big-scale strategy game turns into an old-school RPG as you’ll need to consider things like equipment loadouts and squad balancing to succeed. Out in the wilds, you’ll face off against formidable bosses, who will give you stern tests as you train your heroes for the bigger PvP battles ahead.
The different hero ‘archetypes’ represent classic RPG classes like tanks, healers and ranged units. It’s a colourful motley cast of characters too, which include a mad ferret called Mastercook Ramsay, a goblin who runs around the battlefield atop a bomb, and fan favourite Prima Donna—a healer faerie who’s indispensable to many well-balanced units. It’s a great way to learn how your heroes complement each other, then once you’re feeling confident you can throw them into the Colosseum to face off against other players’ squads.
These heroic squad forays aren’t just an end unto themselves, but preparation for the colossal battles you’ll be commanding against rival players. The bulk of the game’s battles will involve attacking players’ castles while defending your own. Your heroes can take part in these battles, with one of them assigned as leader, but they alone won’t win these epic-scale affairs for you.
As a defender, you can anticipate enemy attacks through watchtowers, and respond by bolstering your defences, increasing troop numbers, formations, strategies, and even getting your fellow guildmates to help you defend your holdings (just remember to use that anti-scout ability). You can become a Machiavellian master of misdirection - for instance by equipping weaker gear for your army to lull your enemy into a false sense of security, before switching to your best war gear at the last second.
The beauty of Lords Mobile is in the amount of layers and strategy it manages to squeeze into a game formula that’s as easy to play single-handed on the commute as it is hunkered down in front of a PC.
With the 4th anniversary adding a new troop type (T5) to your armies, developer I Got Games is continuing in their quest to make this a deeper MMO strategy game than its rivals. It’s the perfect time to muster your troops, summon your heroes, and enter the fray.