Dropzone

Game review by
David Chapman, Common Sense Media
Dropzone Game Poster Image
Strategy/action hybrid looks for identity in complex game.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

While there's an overall threat in bug-like alien Kavash, entire point of game is interplanetary equivalent of a gold rush, with everyone scurrying around trying to harvest an exotic material from Jupiter's moon with their own personal motivations in mind.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The Kavash are more like dangerous wildlife than scheming villains. Various Core Hunters, though, represent a range of human personalities. Some characters are a bit more heroic in their personalities than others, from roguish ragtag group of space pirates to rigid coldness of military forces, but none is a squeaky-clean role model.

Ease of Play

Simple controls; not difficult when controlling a single character, but three character squads can get a little hectic as players have to switch back and forth while repositioning, healing on the fly.

Violence

Features nonstop violence against both alien, human opponents. Defeated foes explode in bursts of either green goo (Kavash bug) or fiery robotic wreckage (other Core Hunters) before disappearing from field or, in the case of player characters, respawn. No real gore shown.

Sex
Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

One character has an in-game portrait with him smoking a cigar.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Dropzone is a downloadable hybrid real-time strategy (RTS) and multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) game for Windows-based PCs. Players battle against alien creatures and other teams in single-player and multiplayer matches. The game features the use of various futuristic sci-fi weapons and abilities, with teams in constant combat. While the game is violent, it doesn't feature any real blood or gore, with alien bugs simply splattering into green goo and human characters exploding in robotic rubble, both of which disappear shortly after defeat. The game has a fairly robust tutorial, which is needed to learn the more complex nature of the point-and-click/keyboard controls.

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What's it about?

DROPZONE is a game that works to combine the best elements of real-time strategy games with the unique gameplay of a multiplayer battle arena. The game puts players in charge of a team of up to three Core Hunters, operatives racing to harvest a unique new energy source ("Cores") from Jupiter's moon, Europa. This space-age gold rush pits Core Hunters against mercenaries, private military forces, and even the Kavash, strange insect-like creatures native to Europa drawn to the power of the Cores. Players can compete in fast paced player-vs.-player matches, co-op contracts, and Infestation matches, which pit players' teams against ever-increasing hordes of Kavash. With hundreds of Gear and Rig options available to players, as well as a host of unique Pilot abilities, it's up to players to fully customize their squads and try to dominate the flow of Core throughout the system.

Is it any good?

Much like what happened with peanut butter and chocolate, mashing up two unique flavors can sometimes lead to something pretty tasty. That's what the developers at Sparkypants Studios hope to accomplish with Dropzone, a new hybrid of both RTS and MOBA games. The game is an interesting blend, offering a little something new to fans of either genre. MOBA gamers can experience controlling multiple characters on the battlefield while using new tactics to flank enemies, and RTS fans will learn to customize units' abilities and level up on the fly. The drawback to this is that by adding features of each genre to the other, certain aspects of both can't help but get lost in the shuffle. The fast pace of the gameplay and the lack of strategic army building takes the long game out of the RTS arsenal, while the resource gathering (in this case, "Cores") and constant switching among multiple units adds an extra level of complication to the otherwise straightforward MOBA experience. Depending on what draws you to either genre, you'll either find a nice mix of elements you can't get enough of … or spend most of your time feeling like something's missing.

Regardless of which side of the RTS/MOBA fence you fall on, one thing that everyone should be able to agree on is that Dropzone has a surprising amount of content. With hundreds of bits of Gear, 12 Pilots, and five RIG classes, there are a lot of ways available for players to customize their teams. The game's bite-size match lengths, which top out at 15 minutes, also should give players plenty of chances to tweak their load-outs and strategies through trial and error. Before diving in, though, players should take time with the tutorial missions, as there's also a surprisingly steep learning curve to Dropzone. It's one thing to control the abilities and actions of a single hero, but trying to stay on top of three at once while also maintaining control of the map, delivering payloads, and scouting the map can quickly get overwhelming. And that's even before tossing AI enemies and player-controlled opposition into the mix. If you're willing to put the time into it, though, and you can step away from what you think an RTS or MOBA experience should be, Dropzone is an entertaining chunk of sci-fi action worth checking out.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about violence in video games. Does a game with more constant action and violence but less gore have a lesser overall impact than one that might have fewer but more visually intense violence? Why?

  • Talk about the competitive nature of certain video games. What are some ways to foster friendly competition in games? What should kids do if the competition stops being friendly?

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