Console Quality Comes to Android
NetEase’s huge new builder-shooter title Astracraft will blow your mobile game expectations through the roof. Boasting next-gen graphics, endless gameplay, and hyper-competitive multiplayer, this game is a force to be reckoned with. Build your heart out in sandbox mode or test your abilities in matchmaking. Evocative of Halo game types, Astracraft balances competition with goofy fun.
The complexity and sheer volume of game modes and items are initially overwhelming. But with play time comes comfort. There’s a lot to get used to, but the visuals and mechanics are so impressive you’ll stay engaged for hours. The developers even kept hardcore gamers in mind by setting up combat controls on both sides of the screen. On top of that, there are two button layouts so you can play to your strengths. Even the energetic menu music sounds like you’re about to watch an inspiring DIY home improvement video. Your spirits will float right up to Cloud Nine. Whether you party up with friends or play solo, you’re sure to have an astronomical experience.
Analysis Paralysis…At First
When facing such an expansive game, new players can easily feel confused about their purpose. But the fog lifts once you realize that the point is to define your own role. How does this work? It depends on how you build your character. This game is all about constructing the ideal robo-vehicle. Ideal for what? That depends on the game type you want to play. You can build speedy race cars, terrifying tanks, maniacal mechs, or strategic support craft. Thankfully, you can keep a collection of your favorites to cycle through. They’re all available in your Garage in the home screen.
Building takes practice. When you tap on the Garage button, the pressure of effective construction rests on your shoulders. Sift through a list of pieces, parts, and weaponry to build your character. A small, box-like robotic core is your blank canvas. A grid surrounds the robot. This is where you’ll put your gadgets and gizmos. Building capacity is limited, so pick your components wisely. Tap on each part to select it and then tap on the grid to build. Deselect components in the list by tapping them again. Now, you’re free to rotate and move your freshly positioned parts however you please. The bulk of your bot will likely be made of little white cubes. This game looks strikingly similar to Overwatch so even the cubes are pretty sweet. Once you’ve designed the general shape, add wheels, legs, boosters, weapons, or shields.
Game Types Galore
This game has so many features that the learning curve is substantial. Luckily, NetEase bore this in mind. Before you can even access many of the game modes you must complete an extensive tutorial. While this sounds mundane, it’s surprisingly fun. You’ll learn how to use an arsenal of doo-dads by completing a variety of challenges against the game’s A.I. Each tutorial level rewards your triumph by unlocking new build components. But the learning doesn’t end once you’ve aced the tutorials. Each new game type you unlock has its tutorial before you start competing with other players. This helps ensure that you or your teammates aren’t absolute garbage once you find a team in matchmaking.
The variety Astracraft game types is on par with leading triple-A console titles. Team deathmatch, king of the hill, survival, battle royale, competitive building, and race modes offer endless gameplay. Many of the more competitive game modes track rankings during certain times during the week, so competition is fierce. Additionally, leaderboards pop up everywhere so you’ll always know who’s public enemy number one. But not all public displays of accomplishment are competitive. Much like in Halo, popular maps created by other players are playable. So you can test out other players’ craftsmanship and see what quirky levels they’ve created. Even the NetEase developers actively create new custom game modes. The crown jewels of Astracraft’s multiplayer experience are akin to a timeless Halo classic. The spirit of the legendary Grifball lives on through Astracraft’s Bumper Soccer and DynoBasket modes. Build a weaponized buggy to play motorized soccer or hit the hoops while decked out as a colorful dinosaur.
Groundbreaking But Needs A Few Tweaks
One of the few downsides to Astracraft is the server instability, namely on the North American server. You’ll see this reflected in the in-game chat and Google Play comments as well. It can be difficult to join a game so you might be stuck in solo sandbox mode. And once you finally gotten into a game, it’s hard to know whether you or other players will stay connected. Fortunately, many regulars rightly recommend using the Japan server. This alternative has a better connection but still isn’t perfect. Expect occasional disconnections and lag.
Overall, Astracraft is one small step to download and one giant leap for Android gaming. It brings the expansiveness of console gaming to your handheld device and has raised the bar for future mobile shooters. While the servers are hit-or-miss and the controls would arguably be best suited for a controller, there’s a lot to love. Dive in, build up, and get at it. See you in the virtual world.
Is It Hardcore?
Astracraft is a builder-shooter that boasts next-gen graphics, endless gameplay. Play solo in sandbox mode or climb the hyper-competitive leaderboards in multiplayer.