My Galaxy Tab 3 has as of late been delegated to a comic book reader. It’s not a bad thing and it doesn’t mean I’ve stopped using it. Far from it. I’ve been using it more than ever and caught up on about two dozen of the New 52 books. I know the reboot has not been received extremely well in all areas, but as someone who has spent zero time reading Marvel or DC up to this point, I had no trouble enjoying it. Before this, my comic book experience was limited to Mickey Mouse, Alan Ford, Dylan Dog and Zagor. Now, it plays Angry Birds Epic.
A day or two ago, I’ve been browsing the Android thread on The Something Awful Forums, and someone mentioned Angry Birds Epic. The forums require membership, so there’s no point in me linking to the thread directly. Members will know where it is.
From a screenshot or two, it looked like it might play in the style of South Park: The Stick of Truth, at least for a bit. Since I can’t afford South Park, or I could afford it, but I’m not buying a full priced game when there’s some much cheaper stuff that’s just as good, I decided to try it out. It’s Rovio, and it’s F2P, so I was absolutely expecting a skinner box, but I have to say, I’m pleasantly surprised.
After beating 2 out of 5 bosses and playing for a couple of hours, I’m actually enjoying myself. The pay wall has been pushed against a couple of times, but overall, it’s appropriately challenging and still a long ways from getting to annoying without forking out cash.
As is usually is with Android games, there isn’t much to write about in relation to how I play it and what I’m experiencing. Instead, I’ll do my usual overview.
What is Angry Birds Epic?
Angry Birds Epic is a lite RPG.
By that, I mean that it really isn’t an RPG in the classic sense of the word. It’s a strange game with RPG elements.
You start with a single character, but eventually recruit a menagerie of characters, each a different type of bird from other Angry Birds games. Out of this bunch, you get to pick 3 to take into battle with you.
Battles are typical Rovio levels. You move along a map of nodes, with a battle on each node. Based on how well you do, you get up to 3 stars, which then convert to more loot gained for the victory. The fights themselves are turn based. First your party moves, then the enemy party moves, etc.
The RPG elements are there. You, the player, level up. For each level, all your birds get a boost in health and attack. The birds have stats – health and attack. They also have abilities and they can change classes and equip and use items.
However, the battles aren’t really pure RPG battles. A big element is the puzzle – you need to figure out which birds to use and how to use them in order to win effectively. Why effectively? Because the better you do, the more stars you get and the completionist in you will probably want all the stars.
How are the free to play elements?
It’s clear that Rovio has experience with the mobile market. All of the hip F2P elements are present.
There are three types of currency.
First, there are Snoutlings. Snoutlings are the basic currency that the game gives the player the most of. You buy mostly recipes and classes you find in the game with this currency. For the most part, the player will have enough of it to buy everything, but every now and then, it happens that you have to fight a few more battles to buy that one last item in the store you just ran into.
After the snoutlings, there are Lucky Coins. Lucky Coins are the premium currency. With these, you buy those special items that break a decent F2P game and remove any sort of challenge, or they make a bad F2P game actually winnable. For now, it seems like Angry Birds Epic might be a decent F2P game, but I’m far enough to be certain. You can buy stuff that boosts your battle powers, or improves your crafting outcomes with Lucky Coins. You also get a minor amount of Lucky Coins every time you level up and possibly in some other rare cases.
Lastly, there are Essences of Friendship. An Essence of Friendship is s social currency and it’s gained by pestering your friends on Facebook in various ways. It allows the player to reload any bad roll such as a crafting outcome or loot after the battle. It’s not really needed, but you’ll usually want to spend it when there’s a good reason for it.
But it’s not just the currency.
You’ll constantly get Special Offers while playing.
An item might be discounted in the store for a while. Of course, the time on discount will be limited, and it will seem like a good deal so you might get tempted to buy some currency, because you don’t have enough and the time is about to run out.
Every now and then, you’ll also get a watch this video to gain a bonus offer.
In the early game, you’re actually taught how good all those extra special items and offers are. Events will unfold that make buying something or using a boost the perfect move and you actually won’t be able to proceed until you do it. Of course, at that point you will be able to do it, because the early game is designed in a scripted way. It’s only later, when you’d like to use a boost on your own that you won’t be able to and the temptation to fork out to cash will come out.
Angry Birds Epic is an extremely polished F2P game where every aspect of F2P was carefully planned and thought through.
That’s just me, though.
UPDATE 1: Playing through the game a bit further, I’m about to get to the third boss level, one of those with the green flag. I didn’t have issues with the free-to-play elements yet, but now it’s starting to like like there might be some. I’ve found the first class that costs premium currency to buy – the Paladin. For 60 lucky coins, it’s not too bad, but I can’t say I’m happy about it. On the plus side, by just glancing on what the Paladin can do, I can’t really say it’s overpowered or anything.
You can connect to Facebook in order to invite friends, brag and gather the social currency.
You can connect to Google Play Services for achievements.
You can connect to a Rovio Account for save game syncing.
All of this is self-explanatory and there’s little reason to talk about it.
An overview of the gameplay
For this, I’ll be playing through a battle and go through the interface to explain how it all works. Prepare for a spam of screenshots.
As I said, it’s all about the typical Rovio map.
It’s a big map, but this view isn’t very useful. It’s controllable, but it’s easy to miss things, even on a tablet.
While we’re here, let’s explain the icons.
The top left is the current party/player level, free interpretation. This slowly grows as you win battles and gradually unlocks some purchasable recipes or items and increases the health and attack of all of the birds at your disposal. Nothing happens when you tap it.
To the top right are the three currencies. Lucky Coins, the premium currency are first, Snoutlings, the basic currency are second and Essences of Friendship, the social currency are last. Taping any of the three icons takes you to the IAP screen where you can buy Lucky Coins for real money or the other two types with the Lucky Coins.
The bottom left opens the typical Rovio options panel. There’s little to say about that.
The bottom right takes you to your home base. There will be more about that after the battle that will begin soon.
Now this is more like it. This is the usual view and the Rovio map system is very clear. You have levels, you can see how well you did on them and you can see where you need to go next.
See that flag pole without a flag? That’s the only level we didn’t clear yet, and the one we need to go to. There are parts in the game, where you have options on where to go next. These aren’t deep options and it’s usually just a matter of should I progress the game, or should I go for the bonus stuff, but they do exist, so I should mention it.
Also, see that pig above the flag? You don’t see pigs next to every uncleared level. This one is special. It means it will be a special, boss battle.
So let’s tap on that flag.
What do we have here?
The birds on the bottom are all the birds I have right now. You can tell what their class is based on the hat they’re wearing.
You can only take three birds into battle with you and this is part of the game’s puzzle element. Not all birds are as effective against all enemies. In this case, the yellow bird isn’t very good against the Adventurer pig we will be fighting, because it does poison damage and this pig is immune to poison.
Because of our current party composition, the battle would be extra tough, as indicated by the gauge meter on the wooden sign. Obviously, we need to replace the yellow bird with another one. Since we will need healing, I chose the white bird, who is currently classed as a druid.
Things are looking up already. The difficulty gauge dropped down to, let’s call it medium. It’s still going to be tough, but not as though as it would have been.
Just for the sake of clarity, here’s what the birds’ typical roles are.
- The red bird has access to typical tank classes. It does decent damage, and usually has a defensive ability to.
- The yellow bird is the typical mage that damages multiple enemies with the added utility of being able to dispell or heal with some of its classes.
- The white bird is the typical healer. It usually does decent damage to.
- The black bird is the typical berserker. It can do large amounts of damage, but seems to not be able to take the hits as well as the red bird.
- The blue birds are the typical rogue/stealth/ranged class. It usually does good situational damage and also provides some sort of utility.
Before starting the battle, one last thing. See the pie icon on the chart, below the shining chest icon? This shows what type of loot you can expect in the battle. It’s either the best thing you can get for winning, or the most common thing you will get, I’m not really sure.
So let’s start the battle.
Oh, right, the loading screen. That one can get annoying in Angry Birds Epic. Load times are strangely long and common. They happen between battles as well as between most other screen transitions. It can get tedious, but I’m not sure how it plays out on other tablets. Maybe it’s an issue with my Galaxy.
And this is why you should probably play offline. If you’re connected to the internet, you’ll periodically get ads. The static ones are skippable immediately, but for video ads, you have to wait a few seconds before skipping.
And finally, we’re at the battle screen. As I said, the fights are turn based and it’s currently our turn.
Let’s explain the screen.
Top left is the pause/options menu button. That’s self-explanatory. You can restart or run away from the fight from there.
Top right is the consumable items menu button. These can heal you, provide bonuses, kill enemies or fill up the chili bar at the bottom. They can be crafted at the home base with loot that drops in fights, or bought for currency.
Bottom center is the chili bar. This fills up as you do and take damage. Once it’s charged, you can drag the pepper on one of your birds, which will trigger their powerful special move. The golden chili can be bought for 120 lucky coins and it makes it so you start every battle with a filled up chili bar.
Bottom right is the auto-battle icon. Tap this to make the fight proceed automatically.
You control your fighters in several ways.
Touching and dragging from your bird to the enemy triggers the bird’s offensive ability and targets that enemy. Dragging from your bird to another bird triggers their defensive ability and targets that other bird. Taping your bird makes them use the defensive ability on themselves. Holding the finger on top of any combatant opens a popup that lists their skills and abilities. Sadly, my current system of taking screenshots makes it impossible for me to capture that, so you’ll have to trust me.
Instead, let’s just list all the abilities we currently have.
Red bird (Samurai)
Dragon Strike – Deals 3×33 damage to a single enemy.
Defensive Formation – Targets bird receives 50% less damage and other birds receive 40% less damage. Lasts one turn.
Heroic Strike – Deals 331 damage to enemy with most health.
White bird (Druid)
Thorny Vine – Deals 20 damage. Target also takes 57 damage per turn for the next 3 turns.
Regrowth – Heals target for 60 and all other birds for 27.
Matilda’s Medicine – All birds are healed for 35% of their maximum health. All harmful effects are removed.
Black bird (Pirate)
Pummel – Deals 119 damage.
Arrr! – All birds’ attack power is increased by 25%. Lasts 3 turns.
Explode – Deals 178 damage to all enemies.
The pig (Adventurer)
Whiplash – Immediately remove helpful effects on the target. Deals 138 damage.
Counter – Target counters attacks with its own attack, dealing 200% damage. Lasts 3 turns.
Dirty Tricks – Passive: Immune to harmful effects.
A few things to note. First of all, all values are affected by attack power, so improving equipment directly improves abilities. Secondly, the third ability for each bird is their special move which can only be used with a chili pepper. This move is also tied to the bird directly, not to their class, so changing the class only changes the first two abilities for each bird. I’m not sure how this works with pigs.
Playing the fight
The fight has started and it’s my turn.
First, I use the Pirate’s Arrr! This is my usual choice in most battles. Then I try with Thorny Vine, but realize the Adventurer is immune to the periodic damage from that as well. Oh well, Matilda is still a great healer as a druid.
I start attacking and the Adventurer uses counter. Attacking now causes him to nearly kill my Samurai. It’s bad. I manage to survive for another turn, but then the Samurai drops. It quickly becomes apparent I’ve chosen poorly, so it’s time to try a different tactic. I abandon the fight and start again.
The Samurai is useless. His defensive move is dispelled when the Adventurer attacks, so any bird will always take full damage. The Druid isn’t as useful either, since she doesn’t do decent damage due to the Adventurer’s immunity. The Pirate is OK, but I need someone to dispel the counter reliably.
I go with the blue birds as Tricksters. Their Itching Powder attack dispels any positive effects from the enemy with 100% chance of success and they do good single target damage. They can also boost everyone’s damage by further 15% with Cheer and even remove negative effects, though there won’t be any in this fight. I also switch Matilda’s class from Druid to Cleric. She can now attack physically and heal the party for 20% of the damage dealt with Healing Strike. Her Healing Shield will also heal everyone if a single bird is hit for 15% of the damage received.
Let’s give it another try.
It goes a bit better this time, but Matilda was a poor choice as a Cleric. Her heals aren’t powerful enough to offset the damage. At least it gives me the chance to show the losing screen.
We need better. I can go with either Red as a guardian, to use his attack to deal some damage and also reduce the Adventurer’s attack power by 25%. Oh, wait, I can’t. The Adventurer is immune to all negative stat effects. This means I can either go with Matilda as a Druid and hope her Regrowth is strong enough, or with Yellow as a Rainbird. Yellow’s Acid Rain will be useless, since it does 17 damage at first and then 30 damage per turn for 3 turns. His Healing Rain, however, heals everyone for 30, which might just be enough. I decide to go with the Druid, though. Regrowth’s 60 for the primary target with 27 for everyone else is just outright better.
If that doesn’t work, I can go with Matilda as a Druid, Yellow as a Rainbird and Blues as Tricksters. That will take a long time to get through, but I should be able to win that way.
It works! There were a couple of close calls, but thanks to the Chili Pepper and a couple of wasted moves by the Adventurer, when he used Counter, I managed to win it.
I only get two stars, meaning I get 2 out of 3 slots on the loot wheel. I use all of my available Essences of Friendship to get the chest, but it isn’t worth it. It just contains some crafting materials and 5 Snoutlings.
Other stuff in the game
Now that the fight was won, let’s see what else there is in the game.
There’s a story, but it’s minimal, told through a slideshow, same as other Rovio games. The story really doesn’t matter at all.
Winning this fight made another location accessible on the map – a nearby workshop. There, we can buy crafting recipes for new equipment.
All you need to care about in the screen above is the number next to the green arrow and possibly the small icon that follows after that. The number shows how much the item will increase the stat compared to what the bird that can wear it currently has on. Weapons increase attack and offhand items increase health, so there isn’t anything else to it.
One thing needs to be elaborated on here. When you craft, you first need crafting materials, which you get from winning fights and looting chests. Once you have the materials and craft the item, a die is rolled. On it, you can get 1 to 3 stars and the more you get, the better the item will be. The number here is the best you can get, not the lowest.
The small icon after that shows some minor extra effect the item has, such as 5% extra attack, a chance to stun or dispel, etc.
I can buy one item here, so I chose the Orange Card, since it’s the biggest boost, but I might come back for the other two later.
The home base
The biggest feature of the game is the home base.
This is where you prepare your team, craft items, pester your friends on Facebook and get tempted to spend real money.
Let’s get through this in order from left to right.
The totem brings you to the social screen, where you manage your Facebook, Google and Rovio account connections, pester friends on Facebook and check your messages.
I only show the friends screen here, for obvious reasons. As you can see, I don’t have any friends, except for Piggy Mc’Cool who obviously isn’t a real person, but demonstrates the features you can get if you have friends.
By tapping a friend’s name, we can visit their home base.
There, you can see what kind of birds they have, how far they got with the game and even play the Golden Pig every now and then for free (more on that soon).
Next up is the shop. Here, we can buy everything.
The first option takes us to the currency shop which I’ve already shown way above.
The second option sells extra powerful potions for a moderate amount of Lucky Coins, or not so powerful, but still powerful potions for a lot of Snoutlings.
The third option sells Anvil upgrades for Golden Coins and Crafting Materials for Snoutlings.
The fourth option sells Cauldron upgrades and more crafting materials.
Next, we have the Cauldron, where we can do alchemy.
We can craft regular potions, which is something very useful to have in tougher fights. We can also craft higher quality materials out of lower quality ones.
After that, there’s the Anvil.
Here, we make weapons, offhand items and again, craft higher crafting materials from lower ones. To craft equipment, we need to find or buy crafting recipes.
To the far right, is the Golden Pig.
Here, we can gamble our Lucky Coins away hoping to get an awesome crafting recipe out of it. If the in-game tips are to be believed, the strongest items can only be gotten this way.
To the right of the screen, you can see an interesting option – We can watch a video and get a free roll out of it. In theory, this is great. In practice, it never worked for me.
There seems to be a bug. I never stop or skip the video and let the game bring me back to the screen all on its own, but every time, I get the message that I did not watch the whole video. I hope this gets fixed.
Lastly, around the nest at the center, we have our birds. Taping any of them takes us to their character screen, where we can equip them and set their classes.
As you can see, Matilda has the Cleric and Druid classes available. Currently, she’s a Druid, so her Druid abilities are listed at the bottom. The two other tabs take us to her available weapons and offhand items.
And that’s it. That’s pretty much all there is to the game, really.
The map has a few more locations that complicate things a bit.
Some special map locations
There are doors, for which you need keys. Some of them are for advancing the story and others for bonus stuff. You get keys when you get them.
There’s also a special door that involves having Facebook friends, so I’ll probably never get to open it or I’ll have to pay up with Lucky Coins.
There’s a special shop, Professor Pig’s Lab where new brewing recipes unlock as you gain levels.
There’s also ToonTV, where you can watch videos, for some reason. These are trailers and gameplay videos, or short cartoons. Some are fun to watch, I guess. You can also access this from the sidebar.
And that’s pretty much it. There isn’t anything else to it.
If you start the game without connecting it to any services, you’ll be able to play offline, or at least, I was able to, for hours.
If you connect it to an account, probably the Rovio account, or possibly Google+ for achievements, you won’t be able to go offline anymore. Even if you go ahead and disconnect the accounts, all this will do is to cause you to start the game all the way from the beginning. Sure, you’ll be offline, but you’ll be back at the beginning.
Basically, If you want to play offline, don’t connect to your Rovio account.
Angry Birds Epic seems like a decent game. As far as F2P games go, it’s certainly up there in levels of polish and overall quality. I’m not sure if the F2P elements end up breaking the game, but for now, about 25-30% in, it doesn’t seem like they do.
The mechanics are simple and fun, but there’s depth and strategy, so it’s a proper game. The only potential issue, really, is the potential of the game hitting a pay wall at some later point. If that happens, I’ll be sure to edit this overview and mention it.
For now, I’ll just enjoy the game.
A few weeks later, I won the final boss fight of Angry Birds Epic. There’s yet stuff to get through and the question remains if I’ll ever get trough it, but I have written down my second thoughts about the game in another, slightly shorter article.
My opinion about the game has changed for the worse, slightly, so if you’re interested in more, be sure to read about it in my second article – Angry Birds Epic – Completed?. I’ll also be adding a guide eventually, so you’ll be able to find a link to it either here or in the other article.