Warborn: Variable Armour Command is a turn-based tactical game available on Xbox one, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, and PC. Developed by Raredrop games and published by PQube Limited, it was released on the 12th of June in 2020. Warborn is a hex-based tactical game set in a sci-fi universe in which you play as commanders who control mech suits otherwise known as variable armour. The game furnishes a campaign mode in which you play as four different commanders each belonging to their own retrospective faction. One of the most unique elements of Warborn is that it also encases a multiplayer mode in which you can challenge opponents online. It also includes a map editor that provides a hefty amount of content if you enjoy designing your own maps. I really enjoyed the multiplayer and map editor fragments of the game because it adds so much replayability once you have finished the campaign.
For those who are familiar with other turn-based titles such as Advance Wars and Wargroove, Warborn is a descendant of that lineage of games. Warborn is played out in skirmishes in which you will be battling for territory and buildings while keeping the enemy units at bay. For those who are completionists, Warborn does adhere to the classical grading system of its campaign missions, in which the player is granted a grade or rank for every mission accomplished. This is based on how many turns you take to complete said mission or how many units you lost along the way.
This helps provide a large amount of hours if you are wanting to complete every story mission with an S grade. Regardless of if you are aiming for an S rank in every mission or a competitive online player, Warborn is bound to keep you interested for quite some time. I thought it had a deep amount of content that kept me intrigued for a sizable amount of time. Warborn also furnishes a map creator which can certainly add to the amount of time one would spend in-game.
Combat and gameplay
Gameplay in Warborn plays out very similarly to titles such as Advance Wars or more recently, Wargroove. There are bases to capture that allow you to spawn new units and mines to seize in order to accumulate a type of currency necessary to spawn troops. Battles carry out by fighting over bases and mines all the while destroying enemy troops in the most tactical way possible. There is a decently sized roster of variable armour units you can utilize, all with their own unique abilities. For example, there is a scout unit called Pathfinder that is rather frail, but where it shines is in its ability to move across large spaces and scan for enemy mines.
There are units ranging from backline artillery units to support units capable of healing your team and providing them with buffs. The commander units really shine in their toolset of abilities. They range from sniping abilities that offer collateral damage to areas of effect healing talents. Another thing I also really enjoyed about the unit variety was that there are both melee and ranged units. One of my favorite units, the vanguard, is a melee unit with a sword. He is a close-range fighter capable of bursting down the majority of units very quickly. The other extremely unique unit I found was the Invader. The Invader is essentially the debuff king of variable armour. It is proficient in dishing out debuffs such as viruses which are Warborn’s version of a poison status effect, and jamming which disables the enemy’s ability to use any skills. The variable armour units truly are unique in their own ways, there really aren’t any two that are similar to each other.
The visuals in Warborn are very unique and crisp as they are akin to an 80’s style anime. I thought that the variable armour design was very distinctive from that of other sci-fi mech games. I enjoyed playing through the story and unlocking each class to see what they looked like aesthetically and what kind of ability set they had. The game has a very enticing ambiance that gets me excited to jump in every time I reach the title screen, this is due to the environment and art style the developers encompassed.
The atmosphere and environmental designs of the maps are very unique as well. Some of these environments range from mining colonies on asteroid belts to rural cities along mountainsides. I personally enjoyed the constant mixup in domains and the different territories that came along with them.
The soundtrack of Warborn definitely helps play into the futuristic setting the game revolves around. It is very calming and provides a comforting complexion that helps set the stage for the surroundings. I have to mention again that from the moment I hit the title screen the combination of the art style and atmosphere paired with the soundtrack really pulled me into the universe and got me thrilled to get started.
The correspondence in Warborn is unique in the fact that it is so detailed. To list a couple of examples there is politics involved between the factions and there are backstories and history between characters. The first two protagonists you come across, Luella and Sam have a deep history dating back to Luella’s parents knowing and working with Sam. This helps bolster the story because it provides depth and relationships for the characters. I really enjoyed learning about Luella’s dusk enhancement from the dialogue between her and Sam. The dusk enhancement is an eccentric characteristic for Luella and the other playable commanders. Essentially it is a human enhancement that makes Luella stronger and more capable than your run of the mill human.
Warborn is absolutely polished and fine-tuned, but there are a few critiques that I do have to point out. First off, it can get a bit stale due to its repetitiveness, this is because once you have unlocked every unit it really just comes down to learning what unit suits each situation the best and then progressing through the campaign from there. The map variety can become dry as well due to the limited capacity of environments in the universe. Lastly, all of the factions are equipped with the same units, I truly wish that each of the factions had their own unique units or at least a few.
This also led to the game feeling stale because as you would switch between factions the only new unit or aspect you had control over was the retrospective commander of that faction. Lastly, another thing I found odd was that the game does not cover status effects at all. In order to learn about them and how they operate you need to go into the help menu and read about them yourself. Now I do not mind reading up on things to better my understanding, I just find it odd how it doesn’t mention or explain how they work.
Warborn does a lot of things correct, such as it being as polished as it is. I experienced zero bugs in all of my time playing through it. I also really enjoyed the atmosphere of the game and its anime mech style. The soundtrack is paired very exquisitely with the game’s setting and helps draw the player in. Although the variety in units can become dry after a while, they all are truly unique in their own ways. No two units are very similar to each other. The game also does a great job at easing the player into the game and its mechanics aside from a few small details. The writing is also a very well done element in the game. I really enjoyed learning about each and every faction along with their commanders.
To conclude my thoughts on Warborn I truly believe that the game has a lot of positive aspects along with a few negative ones. I do believe that the positive aspects absolutely out way the negative ones. The game is extremely polished and has a great art style and setting, paired with its soundtrack the ambiance of the game is fantastic. The only negative trait I could find was that it is susceptible to becoming stale after a fair amount of time. This is just because you will experience the same units a quarter of the way through the game as you would all the way up until the end. Overall, I really enjoyed my time spent in Warborn and do not have very many complaints at all. It is a solid experience and should be witnessed by those who really enjoyed other turn-based tactical titles similar to it such as Advance Wars and Wargroove.