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Five ways that Defense Derby changes the tower defence genre

Five ways that Defense Derby changes the tower defence genre
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| Defense Derby

Developers are always trying to push the envelope with their games, searching for that one little unique point that will make their products special. This does lead to quite a few interesting mechanics, but very rarely does a game come along with enough innovation to change the entire landscape of a genre, which is what Defense Derby has done to tower defences. Here are a few ways how.

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Deep synergy between units

In most TDs, you place your units with pretty much just their individual use in mind. You might place a trap that slows enemies for your biggest towers to deal more damage, but for the most part each piece does its job on its own. In Defense Derby, however, there are a multitude of synergy possibilities going on.

Putting a line of the same faction will boost their power immensely, or grouping up Physical or Magical units together will do the same, you can even do both for double damage. There are troops with passive abilities that will further buff all others of the same type, or ones whose power increases depending on who they are around. Every tower defence is a tactical affair, but the sheer number of combinations in Defense Derby will give your brain a workout.

Completely dismantle the usual static nature of the genre

You might be thinking towers are stationary in most other games, so synergy is easy to attain right? Not at all. You have eight spaces in your castle to station your units in, and you can move your army around inside it at any point. By can, we really mean, you will have to, relentlessly and repeatedly.

Enemy waves will circle your castle to reach the door, and with each unit having limited range, you will need to shuffle them around to keep the enemy in reach, but as you do this don’t forget that you need to keep those synergies up, so your Beast troops need to remain in some kind of line. And don’t forget, you have that one guy who works best around strong units, so you’ve got to slot him in there as well. But by the point you’ve set that up, the enemies are on the other side of the castle so you have to move again. With most TDs being slow, static affairs, Defense Derby gives the genre some much-needed action.

Permanently upgradable characters

By the end of the wave in a lot of TDs, you will have amassed yourself a few powerful structures that you have levelled up, only to see them torn down in the next round and you have to start all over again. There is some of this here, with you being able to merge duplicate units you hire each game to increase their power. However, Defense Derby gives you a permanent way to power up your army.

As you go through the gacha system, you will get a host of the same characters, which you can then combine to increase their powers. You are also able to increase their level through the resources you can collect, so you will end up with a Level 50 Mythic Lupine Berserker in your deck. Any time you manage to recruit them in the game, guess what? Instant Level 50 Mythic to slot into your castle to decimate your enemy. It is a very nice bit of progression that is missing from the majority of the genre.

The random nature of the acquisition

Despite how much you level up your troops, there is no guarantee you will be able to use them every game. You might even go four or five without being able to deploy them. This is because unlike most TDs where you have a list of towers you can buy at any time, building up your army in Defense Derby relies a lot on luck of the draw.

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Most of your recruits will come from the bidding system, which sees one troop drawn at random from all four players' decks each round, and then you have a chance to buy them. This means if you are unlucky, you might never see any of your favourite characters, instead having to cobble together a team from other players' characters. This sounds like a pain, but it is incredibly fun and keeps every game feeling fresh and presenting new challenges.

An interesting sprinkle of PvP

That wasn’t a very long typo earlier, there are really other players competing against you in each round. With tower defences generally being a solo affair, this is where Defence Derby makes the biggest change to the zeitgeist. You will compete to be the last castle standing against three other opponents, all facing the same NPCs chomping at the gates.

With the bidding system acting as the main clashing point between all involved, there are a lot of choices to make each round. Do you spend a lot on that one really good unit that will carry you through a few rounds, or should you bid low and risk losing it, whilst holding out hope a better option will come along next?

Defense Derby challenges a lot of the pre-held conventions of TDs, and despite all these changes, it doesn’t put a foot wrong. Every game you play presents unique challenges and ways to play that will keep you coming back for more. Whilst there is certainly still room for those following the old ways, Krafton has proved a new approach can provide a fantastic experience.

If you’d like to try Defense Derby then you can find it available to download right now from the iOS App Store, Google Play Store, and Samsung Galaxy Store. It’s free-to-play and contains in-app purchases.

Luke Frater
Luke Frater
Considered the most likely member of Pocket Gamer's staff to be mistaken for Daredevil, Luke's role of managing sponsored content isn't nearly as glamorous or heroic as the actions of his superhero doppelganger, but he's still a hero to us.