Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes is a free-to-play role-playing game for mobile devices. The game takes place in a popular Star Wars bar-like setting known as the Cantina. However, in this particular Cantina there are a number of holographic game tables where you can play a small variety of games. There’s not really any plot development to be had further than the few introductions by the sparse non-player characters telling you how to play and challenging you to play more. Please note that this review is based solely off of my own free-to-play experience and any exclusion of content will most likely be due to new updates coming to this ever-changing development of the game. I assume the basics will more or less stay the same. There’s also a lot to take in, even if there’s not really much story to be had, so I’ll do my best to cover everything without going into overly specific details. The best place to start would be with some of the basics.
In the start you’ll be given a number of characters along with some tutorials to get you acquainted with the game. The battles generally consist of your team of five characters fighting against a set or possibly a few sets of enemy characters. The battles are turn-based, but rather than determining them on a simple speed calculation and rotating accordingly there’s a turn meter mechanic. This meter is affected by the speed of characters in relation to one another. It’s a character’s turn whenever their meter is full. There are abilities that can speed up, slow down, increase, decrease, and otherwise manipulate these turn meters. Abilities are what a character uses on their turn. Rather than being based on some mana or magic meter like most RPGs, the use of abilities here run on cooldowns. Whenever a character uses an ability it then goes on cooldown for a number of turns. So that character must have that many turns before they can use that ability again. There are four main types of abilities. Basic abilities are your basic attacks. These can almost always be used on your turn, unless you suffer from some specific status effect such as a stun, because they have no cooldown. Special abilities tend to be more powerful and more useful than basic abilities, but they nearly always have cooldowns because of this. Unique abilities are not activated manually. They either have a constant passive effect or are triggered by certain circumstances. Leader abilities are similar to unique abilities except that they only activate for characters in the leader slot of the party configuration. You can also obtain a secondary one through allies. Certain battles will allow you to put in characters from other players you’ve added as allies or from a random selection of generic bot players for your sixth slot. You control all characters. The only catch is that you cannot double up characters. Only one of each specific character can be in a group. For example, you couldn’t have two Han Solo characters in the same team, but you COULD use Han Solo and Storm Trooper Han together as they are technically different characters. This, however, does not apply to most enemy battles. Depleting a character’s health results in their defeat for that fight. You will be ranked from 1-3 stars on your performance in battles if you win. Losing none of your own characters will result in three stars. Losing one results in two. Losing more results in one unless you are defeated, in which case you obviously get none. Getting three stars allows you to use sim tickets in order to automatically complete the battles again without actually taking the time to go through them again actively. The higher your stars, the more rewards you’ll receive afterwards.
These rewards can be all manner of things depending on the battle you won. One of the most common rewards is experience points. Getting enough XP will increase your player level. This has a number of effects. Many battles are locked until you reach a required player level. Leveling up also increases the amount of energy you can regenerate over time, which is what you use to do most battles. You can also get bonus energy in this way or from claiming it at certain times throughout the day. Your player level also determines the level cap for all of your characters. Rather than leveling your characters by use in battles, you must use another common battle reward known as training droids. You also will need credits, another common reward that is the general currency for many things in the game. Using training droids and the appropriate amount of credits you can boost the XP of your characters, potentially leveling them up. Increasing their level will increase their stats. Simple RPG stuff. However, there are multiple ways to make your characters better. Another method is by equipping them with gear. You can obtain gear and materials for crafting gear through winning battles. Each character needs specific gear that will increase their stats slightly. Getting a full set of six gear pieces allows you to upgrade the gear level of your character, giving them a considerable increase to their stats. You can also obtain ability materials from certain battles that, along with the appropriate amount of credits, can be used to upgrade your characters’ abilities. This can make them stronger, increase their effectiveness, and sometimes even add new bonus effects to them. You’ll also notice that characters have star rankings by them ranging from 1 to 7. The rank of a character determines how much their stats will increase with each level. So a level 50 character at 1 star will have far lower stats than that same one at 7 stars. Don’t worry, the numbers will adjust once you promote them so you won’t ever lose stats based on your order of upgrading. To get more stars you need to get a certain number of character shards. Typically you need 15 to get to 2 stars, 25 to get to 3, 30 for 4, 65 for 5, 85 for 6, and 100 for 7. You can also use them to unlock new characters, as each character has their own specific shards. You will need 10 to unlock a 1 star character and then add the other amounts to determine what rank the character will be upon activation based on the required number of shards to unlock. You can get these shards from specific battles, such as hard mode battles which can only be played a limited amount of times a day, cantina battles that require cantina energy to play, and other specific places.
The progression of the game itself is generally done in the light side battles, dark side battles, and cantina battles. The light side battles and dark side battles both use up your normal energy. There are multiple sets of battles in each that require you to beat the previous ones before they unlock. Hard mode variants of each level of the battles can be accessed after you complete all of the normal battles in that section. The cantina battles have no hard mode variants but otherwise progress in a similar fashion and require special cantina energy to play. Both normal and cantina energy restore over time, but cantina energy takes longer to generate and bonus cantina energy comes much less frequently. The trick is that in light side battles you can only use light side characters, such as Jedi or Clones for example. In dark side battles you can only use dark side characters, such as Sith or Imperials. Likewise, you’ll generally fight enemies of the opposing side. In cantina battles you can use all characters regardless of their side. On top of having light side or dark side designation, there are a number of other classifications for characters. They often will have multiple of these designations. For example, Clone Wars Chewbacca is light side, scoundrel, and tank. Some characters have synergy based on these types. In fact, sometimes you’ll need specific designations and characters in order to compete in certain battles.
There are other types of battles outside of the main ones that unlock as you advance. The squad arena allows you to pick your team of characters in order to compete against the teams of other players. These are strict five on five matches and are considered to be player versus player, however the enemy team is always controlled by the game’s artificial intelligence. Only the attacker, the actual player, does the active battling. Beating these teams will increase your rank in the arena. Other players defeating your AI team or teams of players above you will knock your rank lower down. At a certain point in the day you’ll earn rewards based on your current rank. There are also daily challenges that require certain character classes like healers, tanks, etc. in order to compete for rarer and more specialized gear materials typically relating to the classes that can compete. You unlock harder versions with better rewards as you level up. There are Galactic War battles you can do each day, which is a series of progressively more difficult battles. In these battles you’re allowed to continue on as long as you have available characters. Their health meters will carry over from fight to fight. If a character of yours is defeated, you may continue by putting in another or even replacing an entirely defeated team. Once all of your characters are defeated or you beat all of the enemy battles then the war is over for the day. Each successful battle will give you a chest of goodies to open afterwards with increasingly better rewards as well. You can do mod battles which will allow you to unlock mods that you can put onto your characters to help further improve their stats. These mods tend to have an inherent bonus indicated by their symbol but only if you have enough in that set. So you can mix and match or go all one route to get percentage stat boosts. The mods also have six different shapes and each character has only one slot for each shape. These mods tend to have base stats on them as well that are random, along with secondary stats that are revealed as you level them up through paying credits. They also have a variety of ranks, generally offering better stat boosts for higher ranks but cannot be ranked up. You can also unlock mod challenges, which are harder mod battles that tend to require specific character types to try but also yield greater rewards.
Ships are a fairly new addition to the game, so I can’t say much about them yet. At this point they tend to work very similarly to other battles but instead of fighting characters you use ships. These ships are piloted by specific characters you have and are typically unique to said characters. They also seem to behave somewhat like their piloting characters. For instance, the Resistance Pilot can expose enemies with his special ability. Likewise, the Resistance X-Wing can expose enemies with its abilities as well. There are also large command ships that act like leaders, which require a specific fleet commander pilot. These large ships are not attacked, but can attack enemies and buff allies. You can even call in reinforcement ships if you have enough for backup. Defeating all of the enemy ships results in a victory. Upgrading ships requires special ship training droids and ship materials. You can unlock and upgrade ships by getting blueprints which more or less act like shards would for characters. There are also similar ability materials specifically for ships as well. So while it’s very new, it’s only slightly different in many ways. The power of the ships seems to be tied to the power of their pilots as well. More things may come, but these are the initial basics. You can battle in the fleet arena which is the ship equivalent of the squad arena. You can also do ship specific challenges daily as well. This is all that’s really there as of yet. The one other place for battles is in the raids.
These are guild raids. Eventually you’ll be able to join guilds. Some require invites while others are free to enter provided they have open slots. In guilds you work alongside other player members to try to do a few tasks. The main task is completing raids. In raids, your entire guild teams up in their own separate battles to try and wear down a fierce set of enemies that can both take AND deal massive damage. There are 7 tiers of these raids. The higher the tier, the greater the challenge as well as the reward. The tier number also reflects the minimum rank requirement for the participating characters. You can battle a total of five times a day with characters that have not yet been defeat that day. The raid can go on until it is either abandoned by a guild official or until you win. The only exception is in the tier 7 raids where you have a limit of two days and no character refreshes. Players get rewards based on their ranking of how much total damage they contributed to the raid. The raids often reward raid-specific gear or materials. To start a raid, your guild needs to have enough raid tickets. These are obtained by spending energy in battles. Every day each member can generate up to 600 raid tickets for the guild. There’s also a guild exchange that allows you to ask for some specific materials from your guild for 24 hours. You can also donate some of your own materials to others that are requesting in the exchange as well. The guild can also get a bit of another reward by working towards guild activities. These reset daily and are on a rotation of tasks to focus on, such as doing so many light side battles, finishing to many galactic war battles, or spending so much cantina energy. Collectively contributing more will increase the payout at certain benchmarks, rewarding the highest contributors with a bit more payout than the lower ones. This payout is guild currency.
So let’s talk about the currencies. There are many different kinds beyond the more general credits that are used for many things. You can get guild currency from raids and guild activities. This can be used in the guild store to get rare gear and characters shards. Spending cantina energy will reward you with cantina currency you can use in the cantina store for some specific characters and a few other things. You get arena currency from the squad arena for the arena shipments which consist of specific characters and some other things as well. This is also the case with galactic war tokens used in the galactic war shop. The ship shop has it’s own currency won through the fleet arena that is used to buy blueprints, shards, and gear. There’s also a shard shop that unlocks once you get a character to 7 stars. Every shard you get on a character that is already at 7 stars can be converted into shard shop currency to buy highly rare shards and gear. There are also ally points you can get through using allies in your battles. Added player allies will give you twice as many at a time. They can also be purchased in the galactic war shipments as well. These can be used in tournaments, which consist of setting up a defensive squad and then battling through with an offensive squad to try and beat enemies to get points. The ally points are used to refresh your characters to continue fighting and increase your rank in the tournament. These tend to give out highly exclusive shards for brand new characters. You can also use ally points to buy bronzium data card packs.
Data cards are found in the data card store. The packs can contain a variety of things suchs as characters, shards, gear, mods, blueprints, ships, and more! Some of the packs must be purchased with actual money, which is one place the game makes a profit. Aside from those and the bronzium packs, the rest take crystals. These crystals can also be bought with real money, but they can be obtained freely in a few ways. You can complete daily activities in order to claim a few, along with some other goodies. Your arena rewards will also give you an amount based on your rank. And there are even achievements that will often reward you with some at certain benchmarks, along with other nice benchmark rewards. You can also use the crystals to refresh various shipments and battles, refill your energy immediately, or buy certain shipments from the main shipments shop. The main shipments shop does have gear and shards but will also have some lower level materials for sale using credits as well. Plus, you can get crystals, credits, and training droids from daily log in rewards. The more days you log in during one month, the better the rewards get. They also will offer shards for a new character that will unlock at the end of the month if you were there for the whole thing. The one other thing to mention are the events. Every once in a while special events will pop up. These can vary in level restrictions but tend to mostly be focused on having the required characters in order to participate. They are usually very limited in time as well.
Well, I think that’s FINALLY about all of the stuff I can get into without going into crazy specifics. If it’s not clear already, this game has really impressed me. It’s a mobile, free-to-play game from EA. That’s a lot of obstacles to overcome on my end as far as expectations go, but I really enjoy it. The game has so many different ways to go about playing that it makes you always feel like you’re making some kind of progress somewhere. It never really feels like you’re mindlessly wasting time grinding. The battle system is great, especially with the turn meter and cooldown mechanics. It keeps you from having to manage a bunch of numbers. Even the characters give visual feedback when they’re below half health or stunned. The possibilities for team combinations and strategies keeps it constantly engaging and the fact that some battles force you outside of the comfort zone of your main team is a great way to show you this. Working with a guild can be quite a fun and rewarding experience too. The setup of having the game be based around holo tables is a brilliant way to use the charm and appeal of the Star Wars universe without having to worry about timelines or canon. And the best part, aside from its naturally very fun and addicting nature, is that it gives you TONS of things to do EVERY day even if you don’t pay a cent! Most free-to-play games like this will give you a lot to do for a day or two and then turn it into a grindfest until you pay, but this one continues to give you so much to do that you might not even WANT to play other things. It might go from the game you play between games to the game that you mainly play. It’s really THAT good if you get into it. Plus, the turn-based gameplay lends well to the touch controls. Also, it looks neat. So it’s really quite good, but it does have some issues.
While the incentive to pay in the game is very slight, it IS still there at times. Incredibly limited events or characters reserved to random data card pulls are easy signs that they want you to pay money. If you don’t want to miss out, you’d better fork over some cash. If you want to get ahead in the game faster, paying money can also turn it into a pay-to-win game real fast. The squad arena and fleet arena battles are based on timers, which seems a tad counter-intuitive to a turn-based game and doesn’t mesh well with sloppy touch screen interface. It can also be a bit of a drain on your battery and your data plan. A more minor nitpick is that you may find yourself with periods where there’s nothing to do. It’s good for those who hop on for a bit at different points of the day to just play a chunk here and there, but if you’re really getting into it you may find yourself opening it a lot with nothing to do unless you pay money. I guess it’s just a sign that maybe I should give them my money, but it’s a free-to-play game so no freaking way! Other times there can be so much to do that you might miss it due to your personal schedule being too full. So be warned, this game is not one you can consistently play for long, uninterrupted periods, but it’s also not one you can ignore and only play now and then either. It requires daily attention in moderation for the best results. Also, as with any online game with a chat function, beware of dickholes. I don’t need to tell you that, but I am.
Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes is great. I find myself hopelessly addicted to it at this point. I’ve never had so much fun with a mobile game before in my life and I HIGHLY recommend trying it out because… well… it’s FREE. The way they handle the combat, RPG elements, and general progression is so fresh and interesting to me. If you’re a fan of Star Wars, why not give it a look? Maybe you’re looking for a good free-to-play game or just something to do on your phone. Maybe you’re a fan of interesting RPGs. Whatever the case, don’t be shy. Check this one out. It’s pretty damn cool. Who knows? Perhaps there are more surprises on mobile than I thought.