Splinterlands Tower Defense Is Looking Quite Promising!
Ever since it was first announced, I was pretty excited about the Splinterlands Tower Defense game. Sadly, soon after we first heard of it, things turned rather quiet around the game. Besides some tidbits we got on the presale page and some small blog posts, not terribly much seemed to happen for the game. Luckily, this mostly seems to be behind us now. They've shown an actual game play video last town-hall, announced that the game will be called "Soulkeep" and also hinted at a playable beta version in the not so distant future. Exciting times for sure and a great time for me to take a first look at what we already know about the game and where I think we are heading with it!
If you haven't seen it yet, the gameplay video can be found here. While the video only is 3 minutes in length, there's a lot to be learned from it nevertheless. First of all, the game will be a "hands off"-TD, meaning that you don't get to do anything during the actual waves. This has pros and cons but I can understand their decision to design it in such a way. With actual rewards and real money on stake, they can't risk people trying to manipulate the game in different ways - or have people complain about loosing a run because of technical difficulties on Splinterlands end. This also puts a higher emphasis on actually planning ahead of waves, trying to set up your defense in the best way possible instead of making changes and adjustments mid wave.
Another major piece is that you will only be able to build towers at certain points on the map. Coming from the classical Warcraft III TDs that's something I don't like very much as I'm used to spam the map with dozens or even hundreds of towers. But this again makes tower selection and placement way more important. With only 10 spots to set up your towers (at least that's the number in the video), picking the right tower for the right spot will be very important. It also seems to put a larger emphasis on upgrading these towers rather than setting up as many towers as possible.
Besides setting up towers, there's also the option to cast spells anywhere on the map and recruit a hero to fight the waves. There isn't terribly much known about either so far, but it seems like spells will have various effects and triggers, meaning that they won't be active when the round starts but will have to be triggered by the right amount and quality of monsters walking into their area of effect. This makes sense as you don't get to interact with the map during the wave and once more puts emphasis on planning ahead.
Overall, it really seems like the games focus is on providing as many strategic choices as possible. Before the game starts, you get to choose what towers and spells you want to bring with. Consequentially, you won't have access to all spells and towers available in the game during any given run. If implemented right, this should add another layer of strategy, allowing you to assess what opponents you will face during the run, what the map looks like, and so on. Ideally, this will lead to a situation where every single tower and spell is useful in the right situation and subpar or even completely worthless in another scenario. This would be a really cool goal to achieve, as many other tower defense games suffer from that exact issue - often times you get away with just spamming 2 or 3 different towers, ignoring the rest for the whole game. So even if that might be a true for a single run, you'll always want to bring different towers for the next scenario, hopefully keeping things fresh for way longer.
The video ends with the player being completely swarmed and ultimately loosing the run in the last battle. It seems like there is always going to be a boss battle for the last round. In the case of the gameplay video, that boss is some kind of huge reaper that keeps spawning smaller ones running ahead of him. They in turn spawn skeletons that are even faster and in the end lead to the players demise. We don't know yet how many different bosses they will come up with for release but I already like that boss a lot as it's not just a regular monster with more hit point but it actually brings some interesting mechanics to the table that you, once again, have to come up with a plan to deal with before starting the wave.
All things considered, I was very pleasantly surprised by what I saw in the video. So far, Soulkeep looks like a game that I would enjoy playing even if it wasn't linked to Splinterlands and didn't provide any kind of rewards for playing it. So in that regard, it looks like it really payed off to team up with Double Coconut and bring an actual game studio to develop the game. As I bought 681 Nightmare packs so far, I'm hopeful that I'll be among the first players to get their hands on the Beta and I'm really looking forward to that!
As not too much is known about the actual reward structure I wont touch on that for now, but I'll make another article tackling that aspect as we get more details. To be frank, though, with the game actually looking really fun, that part is what still has me worried a bit. With only 1M SPS a month, the reward pool for Soulkeep is tiny. At the same time they want to introduce card staking and DEC sinks to the game. Setting this up in a way that feels rewarding might prove tricky. That's not to say it can't be done, but they absolutely can't rely on the SPS rewards to carry interest, so they will have to come up with other concepts to rewards their players and make buying these $8 (in theory) packs a worthwhile endeavor.
And that's all from me for today, thank you all for reading and see you next time!