Blizzard Entertainment, the creators behind the ever-popular World of Warcraft, have come together to write yet another love letter for the series. Aptly titled Warcraft Rumble, the latest mobile chapter brings with it an enormous selection of miniature collectibles, battlegrounds, and a surprisingly digestible progression system that, unlike a lot of mobile adaptations, doesn't rely on pay-to-win schemes to graduate its players. And that's great, truly, because I'm only just about recovering from my previous mistakes that left me in something of a financial rut. Thanks, Disney Speedstorm.
Anyway, having scrubbed the Eastern Kingdoms and the other bite-sized pockets of Azeroth, I can just about bring myself to bid farewell to the Guild that I came to study and cherish, and with my sincerest regrets, chalk up a few conclusive words on the matter. Question is, was Warcraft Rumble worth the time and effort, or was it a shallow stepping stone en route towards a much grander, deeper body of water? In the tone of Michael Buffer: “Let's get ready to RUMBLE!”
In case you've yet to brush up on the details, Warcraft Rumble is a mobile tower defense game in which you obtain miniature collectibles, and work your way through leveled zones around Azeroth dethroning tyrants and other bad-mouthed combatants. The objective of the game, thankfully, is rather simple: mine gold, and with it, hire units to take to the board and gradually work towards reaching the opposite side. As the overseer, you must navigate each map and allocate your troops accordingly, using Meeting Stones to tighten the gap between yourself and the enemy, and gold mines to speed up your income and acquire more powerful allies to conquer the battlefield. That's it, in a nutshell, and it's surprisingly easy to pick up and play, all things considered.
In my mind, Warcraft Rumble captures all the same tropes as its pre-World of Warcraft installments: there's a base to capture, an army to build, and a whole lot of gold to mine. Granted, it isn't all that difficult to grasp, but for what it's worth, I did find that, after beating the first dozen or so levels, I came to a point where the same old strategy just wasn't cutting it anymore, and that, if I wanted to progress, I'd need to start chalking up new rosters and game plans. And that's what kept me on my feet for the duration of my time in Warcraft Rumble: the fact that every battle was unique, and that each new enemy would pose a different threat for me to study and overcome.
An Army Fit For an Empire
Tackling battles in Warcraft Rumble means building an army—a six-piece collective with which you can slot onto the playing field and level up over the course of several Quests. The good news here is that, contrary to popular belief, there are zero pay-to-win walls that prevent you from progressing in the game. Rather, the game hands you a batch of troops to work with, and essentially rewards you with additional gold for completing battles to purchase new units at a later stage. Also, at no point does it task you with forking over ludicrous amounts of gold for other characters, either; every new troop I purchased was always within reach and affordable after just a few short Quests.
Having said all of the above, there is an option to purchase gold with real money, though for me, it hardly felt necessary to progress deeper into the actual story. In fact, I was able to comb through the first thirty to forty battles without even really switching up my roster. And even then, I only needed to make the odd adjustment to be able to confront the tougher foe or environmental puzzle. Add the fact that I could also take respite beneath an umbrella of Side Quests and Dungeons to level up my troops in my own time, and I honestly couldn't ever see the point in taking out my wallet, at all.
More Than a Side Quest
In addition to the core game mode, Warcraft Rumble also offers an extensive range of Quests to partake in, Dungeons to scrub through, and Guilds to engage with for additional perks and seasonal gifts. For this reason alone, I found that, even after I couldn't quite master a particular battle, I always had something to do — even if it meant replaying older battles for the sake of adding a few levels onto my newer troops' shoulders. And fortunately, at no point did I ever feel the need to bow down to a tongue-in-cheek microtransaction to give me a little nudge, either. I was always moving, and I was always working towards assembling the bigger picture.
Of course, if the battles themselves weren't any fun, then I never would've taken the time to build up such an army. Fact is, though, the simple-but-digestible blueprint that Warcraft Rumble holds dear is a whole lot of fun to connect with. Plus, with the Daily Quests offering me new reasons to return to older battlefields, I rarely found myself growing weary of the same worlds and enemies. And if I wasn’t replaying old levels for more gold and Combat Experience, then I was duking it out in PvP to earn Crests for my Guild’s War Chest, if only to make the odd contribution to its infrastructure.
The one thing that I found those most appealing in Warcraft Rumble that it never came grinding to a complete halt. With a new level to play after each consecutive victory and another batch of Quests to work through with each new unit under my belt, I found that I was never left to idle for extended periods of time until the next round came rolling in. And to be fair, that’s something that a great deal of mobile games tend to lose sight of: the ability to keep players immersed for drawn-out sections of time without feeling the need to drive a wedge between the player and the finish line. I didn’t find that, which meant I was able to casually work through the motions until I finally unearthed the final confrontation and the rewards that came with it.
Don’t get me wrong, I could’ve quite easily made the voluntary decision to purchase better troops and abilities right from the get-go, which would’ve allowed me to reach the conclusion a lot quicker than simply grinding it out, piece by piece. But, it was the fact that I was never made to feel pressured into buying anything that sold me, and, in all honesty, made me want to continue playing until the bitter end.
At the time of writing, there are only the 54 units to collect, which means you can complete the entire roster in one play-through. But even then, that doesn’t mean there’s little reason to retire the game once the collection has been fleshed out. In fact, seeing as there are more seasons on the horizon, I for one don’t see a reason why you’d need to part ways with it at all. Again, that’s sensational marketing, right there.
It isn't very often you can marry the words ‘mobile‘ and ‘free-to-play' together and not feel the looming gaze of a pay-to-win barrier hanging over your shoulders like a bad scent. Much to my surprise, though, Warcraft Rumble isn't one of the same breed, as it more or less offers a full-fledged experience without tapping into poorly-timed microtransactions and progression roadblocks. And honestly, that was a real breath of fresh air; I could rest easy, knowing that I wouldn't need to unload my wallet every time I booted up the game to play a few rounds on the go. To that, I say, thank you, Blizzard.
Given the fact that Warcraft Rumble is more than just a bog-standard tower defense game with all the seasonal trimmings, I can quite easily recommend it to anyone who’s either a die-hard fan of the Warcraft franchise, or just a mobile-loving gamer, in general. Sure enough, there’s a whole lot to love here, and it certainly helps that it’s incredibly easy to roll with, and not to mention comfortable with just allowing players to, well, play — and without the tapestry of unfair rules or pay-to-win schemes to weigh it down.
To answer the question, is Warcraft Rumble worth playing? Yes, it most definitely is. In fact, if I was to staple just five of the best mobile games of 2023 to a single list, then it’d be a no-brainer. If you’re after something that’ll keep you busy for weeks, months, and perhaps even years, then you can’t really go wrong with Blizzard Entertainment’s latest release.
Warcraft Rumble Review (Android & iOS)
For the Horde, For the Win!
Thanks to its next to non-existent pay-to-win schemes and addictive gameplay elements, it’s easy to recommend Warcraft Rumble to anyone who’s even remotely interested in the brand or the realm of tower defense games.