Happy Wars Review

Happy Wars suffers from serious technical issues that undermine an otherwise quality core experience.

by

Free-to-play games are nothing new if you're a PC gamer, but console players haven't had a lot of options in that venue. Previous free offerings, including Aegis Wing and Yaris, have disappointed players despite costing them nothing. Happy Wars, a full-on experience that needn't cost you a dime but that could easily end up costing you a lot of money if you aren't averse to microtransactions, is an anomaly within the Xbox 360 library.

The cleric is a surprisingly capable builder.

The general premise in the oddly named Happy Wars is that two kingdoms are at war with one another. They don't have a reason to feud other than that everyone likes to argue about nearly anything you might care to name. Still, tensions have escalated to the point where one king has abducted the other king's daughter. War is perhaps the only appropriate response to such brazen nastiness.

Happy Wars is split up in two main chunks. The first chunk is a single-player campaign that starts with a brief tutorial. It capably walks you through the game process and controls, and then you're informed that you can't play the next story campaign until you rank up a bit by dabbling in the multiplayer modes. If you can't head online, you'll never see more of the game than its tutorial.

The online modes are the only reason to play Happy Wars. You can team up with three or more strangers and friends for some cooperative action against a computer team, or you can play quick matches against human opponents. Either way, the general idea is that you need to move your troops from one side of the map to the other, claiming towers along the way so that you can spawn closer to your destination in the likely event that your character meets an untimely end. Each team's ultimate objective is to raid the enemy castle and smash apart a statue that hides inside, thus claiming victory over the map. A sudden-death free-for-all is waiting in the wings when it is needed.

Single-player missions add a few wrinkles to the standard formula. For instance, in one mission you come across a sorcerer who blocks the way with magical barriers that vanish only once a certain number of near-invincible enemy troops are pushed into quicksand pools and eaten by sand monsters. Another mission is won only when five red robot leaders are eliminated. Winning strategies don't change much even when the objectives vary, however. Mostly, you just want to stick with your team so that no one has the opportunity to gang up against you and so that there are more targets for enemy ballistas.

You can tell he's a mage by the funny hat and glasses.

Fortunately, the game offers enough variety to keep the simple objectives interesting even when you're completing them for the 20th time. For starters, you rank up as you take out enemies and secure towers. Those ranks allow heavier and more effective gear to be equipped. You start out without the option to wear much of anything, but victory in combat grants you in-game currency called "happy coins" that you can then spend placing bets on a spinning wheel and maybe winning prizes if you're lucky. You can also spend currency to upgrade the gear that you've already acquired and would like to keep using. If you feel like you’re wasting too much time trying to find worthwhile booty in battle or by gambling on the prize wheel, you can also invest in “happy tickets” by spending Microsoft Points.

That’s where the anticipated micro-transactions come into play. Unless you’re in a hurry or you want cosmetic items that are only available for purchase using those tickets, there’s no pressing reason to spend real money in order to become a dominant force within the game. You may be tempted to take shortcuts, though, especially if you’re late discovering the game and all of your friends are already more powerful than you are. The happy tickets that you can obtain for $15 worth of Microsoft Points can help a lot in such instances. Tickets allow you to quickly obtain a bundle of weapons, accessories, or one of several types of armor. Purchasing a bundle of each of the five available types will set you back more than half your tickets, and then you’ll still need to level up those weapons by spending coins earned in combat.

That’s when happy tickets can again come to your aid, since they allow you to level up weapons without spending coins; you just need to have a pile of rubbish ready so you can use it as material for the crafting process. The value that you get from any purchased tickets thus depends entirely on how and when you spend them. If you’re frugal, you may be able to max out a set of gear for one of your character classes with $15 or $20 worth of happy tickets. That could in turn save you anywhere from 5 to 10 hours of play, but you still must invest that kind of time to improve your other character classes unless you’re ready to keep dropping Microsoft Points.

What monstrous creature could have had such a large skeleton?

When you're playing online, victory comes most easily if you've outfitted your character with a bunch of great equipment. For instance, you might like to give your mage character an umbrella, but that weapon doesn't immediately inflict a satisfying amount of damage. Upgrading it to the level cap requires a lot of coins (or fewer of your precious happy tickets, if you can spare any), meaning that you have to play for several hours just to obtain the currency that lets you wield an effective weapon. Then you need to follow a similar process for several pieces of armor, and you can also spend still more coins to imbue your equipment with special buffs.

Matters are complicated by the existence of three character classes, each with its own unique fighting style and skills. Warriors carry shields and rely on melee attacks (in addition to special moves), clerics can heal and revive their allies, and mages are generally most useful when firing projectile magic from a distance. Characters also possess team attacks, and the battlefield can be populated by as many as 30 players at once. When a match is in full swing and everyone is working in concert, there can be some truly spectacular brawls. Tornadoes can fill the entire screen with destruction, as can meteor showers and even arrow barrages. Sometimes the chaos on display is just plain beautiful.

Unfortunately, though Happy Wars has the potential to be a fantastic experience that is well worth your time and perhaps even your money, connection issues and poor matchmaking are presently holding it back in a big way.

A proper matchmaking system ensures that teams are somewhat evenly matched, but Happy Wars often pits novice players against veterans. In some cases, you see a team consisting entirely of players in the single digits going up against a team full of experts who have reached the apparent level cap of 40. The difference in equipment that players on the respective teams can equip means that the low-level team faces certain slaughter. That's not fun for anyone involved. As a match begins, the teams are labeled according to their relative strength, so it's not like the matchmaking system lacks the information to assign matchups properly.

Just like real war, kill statistics are extremely important.

Connection issues only serve to exacerbate that problem. Since the game launched, a notice has appeared on the main screen to apologize for the amount of time you must wait before entering a match. The problem is being worked on, the notice assures, but that notice has been live for a long time now, and there has been no obvious improvement. You commonly spend a few minutes waiting while teams are formed and mismatched, and then half of the people listed are dropped as the match begins. If a party of friends is playing, half of that party will likely be dropped, and then the party doesn't reform unless someone invites the friends to return to the lobby and they are actually willing to do so.

Happy Wars will cost you nothing but time if you're not prepared to spend Microsoft points to hasten the experience, but even that investment is difficult to recommend because of the game's matchmaking and connection issues. If those flaws are ever eliminated, the core experience that should remain works well and provides chaos and customization that will likely keep you entertained and engaged for quite a long while. If proper fixes are never implemented, though, there's nothing left to do but sigh over the squandered potential.

The Good
Crazy brawls
Deep customization
No cost of entry
The Bad
Uneven matchmaking
Dropped and delayed connections
Lack of varied campaigns
5
Mediocre
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0 comments
ElFlechero
ElFlechero

Hey, I tried this game yesterday, and the matchmaking was quick and easy, getting a party together was smooth, and we didn't have any connection issues so far. It was actually really fun. I don't think a review update would be amiss, if you're willing to test it--that seems to be your biggest issue.

DGregster
DGregster

I just wanted to say that the connection issues have been entirely fixed and it runs great now. The balanced matchmaking is a lot better but not perfect as with pretty much any game. I definitely recommend it.

ClioHughes
ClioHughes

Well, I'm downloading it now, and it's free at the moment. I guess I'll like it anyhow.

RainJermainekkk
RainJermainekkk

This game is awesome fun, deserves more than a 5. I bought 170 happy tickets at 1200 ms points, I bought lots of happy card packs at 18 tickets each and tbh the items were not great. of the 9 packs i opened I got 1 really good warrior sword that had a base attack of 500 and the demonic book shield with a base of 500 for dam resistance and magic resistance. both those items are now lvl 10 and the sword does 975 damage and the book resists over 1000 for each melee and magic resistance. apart from those 2 items the rest was junk. I would not reccomend buying tickets because you unlock a sword and shield with around the same attrbutes as my specials ones by completing all campaign missions. The campaign missions for these are very difficult however, and will requre a high lvl and very good items to complete lol. im lvl 30 and still cant complete the 2nd to last mission. The worst thing about this game tho is the matchmaking, often taking up to 5 -10 minutes just to find players and start a match, by which time most people have left the lobby. The most annoying thing is playing a multiplayer game for 9 mins just to lose connection to players then kicks you out. apart from that i would say get this its good, and if your going to buy happy tickets, buy the special packs for the classes, they only 20 tickets for a full set and def worth it to start off.

l4dgamerfan
l4dgamerfan

I think it's a fair review, and here's why. It doesn't matter how good a game is, if it doesn't work. And this is a fun and enjoyable game, but multiplayer is a pain with all the connectivity issues and lagging out. Good game, I'd give it a solid 7.5/10 when it works.

Ultra_Taco
Ultra_Taco

Fun game, great price = great game

 

:)

Inferi-Fang
Inferi-Fang

This game is fun! I don't agree with the review.

Iamshmee
Iamshmee

I just played like a 4 hour stint of this, and it's honestly really fun. It's hard to get ahead without paying into it and that's the main downfall I can see. Not being able to get ahead in the story campaign till you have a higher rank online is a letdown as well, but it's pretty fun all in all. Also matchmaking didn't have too many problems while I was playing, it was pretty fair all in all.

TigusVidiks
TigusVidiks

I just tried it, and it actually suprised me. The game is good. Don't let this rating fool you. Very interesting, specially considering it's free. And it's actually adictive and fun. Look at the user ratings.

blackace
blackace

Since I'm a Gold Member, I'll give it a try this weekend. I'm not expecting much from it though.

TheologicVs
TheologicVs

I've played quite a bit. I'm a level 8 and although it is surprisingly light hearted fun, I must admit that the technical issues are significant. The matchmaking is outright terrible but once in game everything runs smoothly. The creators posted a header a couple days ago mentioning that they are working on the issues.

holtrocks
holtrocks

I am enjoying it its free and not pay to win so download it and try for yourself its really not bad at all.

Evil_Sidekick
Evil_Sidekick

I like the "No cost of entry" in the Good tab.

 

Hey, it's not free, the all F2P on XBL is a complete lie.

Don't forget, you have to PAY to be a gold member to play this game.

The game would only be F2P if EVERYONE would be able to play it.

 

Microsoft is lying to you for the 101 time

fekkme
fekkme

Played this for weeks (you know in that beta thing) and I hated it. Should have been great but it requires you to know a load of key combos to do anything and it just gets boring learning them all

Pukshd
Pukshd

I try, cuz is free, but i just won several achivements, and nothing more, i'ts really, but really unfriendly, clunky, i fell this was just such boring just for the fact is F2p, but they wrong Ex: TF2

Wensea10
Wensea10

Thanks for the review; however this game looks promising, especially since its gameplay is in luscious environments.

TheologicVs
TheologicVs

 @Evil_Sidekick I just realized that no one can even play pvp online on any game without a Gold Membership in the first place =P 

FGrazina
FGrazina

 @Evil_Sidekick Os jogos "oferecidos" pela Playstation Plus também não são grátis por esse ponto de vista!!!

Jaxith
Jaxith

 @Evil_Sidekick

 Microsoft's not lying to anyone.  The fact that you need to be a gold member to play this game is moot, since no one's going to buy a gold membership just for this game.  But for the people who already have gold memberships, it's free to play.

 

I don't like that Microsoft expects people to pay to use their online services either, but it's really not *that* big a deal.  Don't worry about it I say.

Scottisme
Scottisme

 @fekkme

 I played it for an hour and I was done with it. Why would you play a game you didn't like for weeks?

IceJester45
IceJester45

 @Gelugon_baat Don't you wonder how much Sony paid GameSpot to keep this game's score low? Or, aren't you going to say something along the lines of, "So, MS didn't want to pay you off for this game, huh?"

 

Those comments seem to be lacking here. Somebody's gotta say it. It isn't GameSpot, otherwise.

blackace
blackace

 @Jaxith  @Evil_Sidekick Sony has the same thing with PS Plus. You get lots of FREE games, but you have to be a PS Plus member. No different really. What I hate about M$  membership is you can user Netflix, HuluPlus, IE or any other significant APPS unless you are a GOLD MEMBER, which is completely stupid since Nintendo and Sony systems allow you to use all their apps without any members. I already pay for Netflix, why do I have to be a Gold Member to use it on my XBox 360, when I can use it on my Wii, PS3 and 3DS with no membership fees. I'm sure M$ is taking heat from this and I wonder if their next game console will be different.

fekkme
fekkme

 @Scottisme  @fekkme didnt play it all the time for weeks and as i was using the frequently updating beta dashboard i used it to see if anything was different. so for weeks i had had it and been playing it

IceJester45
IceJester45

 @bmart970  @Gelugon_baat I'm not a very good troll, you say? I suppose that makes sense, given that I wasn't trying to Gegulon_baat with my comment.

Happy Wars

  • Xbox 360
Happy Wars is a casual multiplayer action game in which a large number of players control comical characters in fun battles.
ESRB
Teen
All Platforms
Blood, Violence
Check out even more info at the Happy Wars Wiki on Giantbomb.com