Mushroom Wars 2 Is My New Go-To RTS On PC

7.5
  • Windows
  • Real Time Strategy
2017-10-06
KeyArt_2
Mushroom Wars 2 is available now. Zillion Whales

Mushroom Wars 2 looks, at first glance, like a simple game for simple minds. The aesthetic is sweet and cartoony, and the RTS strategy of managing troop volume appears to be rudimentary mathematics. Wait until you have more units than your opponent, attack a tower, capture it, rebuild forces and repeat. At first. But the more time I spent with Mushroom Wars 2, the more it revealed itself as a game with many layers and approaches. And I can’t recall a game in recent memory that made me go from “this is fucking impossible” to “I am unstoppable” as often. Mushroom Wars 2 isn’t simple to master, but it is simple to enjoy.

mushroom wars 2
The strategy is simple, but the game is not. Photo: Zillion Whales

The game comes with a legacy of sorts. Its predecessor, Mushroom Wars, carries a certain level of cult status among PlayStation fans. One need only look at the spate of billion-dollar mobile blockbusters to understand this concept was ahead of its time in 2009. It didn’t pioneer the genre or anything, but it's easy to draw parallels from the cherubic little mushroom soldiers to the clashing clans on phones today. So it’s no surprise the mobile version of Mushroom Wars 2 came out a year before the PC release, which is what I played for this review.

That sense of familiarity goes a long way. I’d never played the original Mushroom Wars, but I’d heard of it, so Mushroom Wars 2 didn’t intimidate me even though I was new to the franchise. It is a superbly designed challenge, and offers a learning curve that is as well-balanced as anything I’ve ever played. The first few levels establish the basics, then slowly introduce you to special buildings and, eventually, special attacks. This is the form most tutorials take, yes, but the pacing here is just right. As soon as I felt like I had the hang of things, they got a little more difficult. And after about 15 hours, there’s no end in sight.

In fact, 15 hours of playtime feels like I barely scratched the surface. Given how well the difficulty ramps up, and how varied the level design is, I can’t imagine things going faster the further I progress. Fortunately, this isn’t a game that depends on a story (it has one, but it’s not winning any BAFTAs), so I don’t feel compelled to slog through to the end to give it a review after dozens and dozens of hours (looking at you Divinity: Original Sin 2). It’s easy to recognize Mushroom Wars 2 for what it is, an engaging, well-balanced RTS distraction.

There’s also a multiplayer mode, but I didn’t spend any significant amount of time with it. There’s 12 heroes to pick from, and each has a set of unique special moves. I was only familiar with Rudo, the hero you use at the start of the game. But he has two abilities you will use a LOT in the campaign: a defense buff for buildings under attack, and an AOE speed boost for squads of marching soldiers. Assuming the other heroes offer abilities as effective, you could probably find a lot of different strategies in the multiplayer setup, too, if that’s your thing.

Mushroom Wars 2 is probably not on your Steam radar, but it really should be. It does a lot of things really well, from the learning curve to the evolving strategy to the friendly aesthetics to the game length and replayability. The only reason not to get this game is if you don’t have the interest (or patience) for RTS/Tower Defense style games, or if you’re already playing it a ton on mobile. Otherwise, there’s a strong case for Mushroom Wars 2 to be part of your games library for whenever you’re in the mood for this kind of thing.

REVIEW SUMMARY
Mushroom Wars 2
7.5
Mushroom Wars 2 Is My Go-To RTS On PC
Mushroom Wars 2 offers a deep and engaging scratch for your RTS itch.
  • Easy To Learn
  • Tons Of Content
  • Great Vibe
  • Inconsistent Difficulty Between Stages
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