Review: Kingdom Rush Frontiers – Highly Addictive Yet Challenging

Review: Kingdom Rush Frontiers

Developed and published by Ironhide Games, Kingdom Rush Frontiers is the second game in the Kingdom Rush tower-defense franchise. It picks up the story right from the spot where it ended in Kingdom Rush and takes you to brand-new biomes where you face brand-new enemies in barren desert lands, pirate-infested waters, and lush-green forests back to the deadly volcanic mountains. The map continues from the first game as well and this is what I love about Kingdom Rush because the game always packs so many details that you can just spend hours checking it out. This is our review of the Xbox Series X version of Kingdom Rush Frontiers in which we build some Necromancer Towers and take down giant gorillas in Amazonian jungles.

The base gameplay of Kingdom Rush Frontiers is the same with its four basic towers. You have your Archers, Shields, Mages, and Dwarven Bombardment in four different slots. From there, you will unlock better variants of these leading to two of the final tower types which come with their own unique upgrades. You will need to use these four unique tower types to block and kill enemy waves that are trying to pass through the safe spot of each level. Apart from these towers, you will also be able to use your Farmers and Meteor Strike special abilities and a Hero to fight enemies at your own will. The safe spots are behind a blue line and blue flags which could be one or more depending on the level type. The game is played in a traditional tower defense style where enemies will come along a set path and you will install towers and blockades to eliminate incoming enemies.

Review: Kingdom Rush Frontiers

Since Kingdom Rush Frontiers was previously a mobile and PC game, this is the first console release of the title so the UI as well as the controls have been modified to suit the controller gameplay. However, one of the issues from the previous Kingdom Rush Xbox release has found its way into Kingdom Rush Frontiers as well and that is the high sensitivity of the left joystick to choose different spots for towers. Upon pushing the stick, it moves randomly and along too many spots and if you want to move somewhere, you will need an extremely careful movement of the joystick to move it to a particular spot. This issue was not very prominent in the first game and it feels even more sensitive in Frontiers. Apart from the high sensitivity of the cursor movement, the remaining controls feel okay.

Each of the towers that you place in the game is stronger against certain types of enemies and weaker against certain types of enemies and this goes for each of the enemies in the game as well. Some enemies will be weaker against magic attacks while some of the enemies will only be damaged with normal attacks so you will need to devise a decent tower-placement strategy for each level based on the incoming enemies and their numbers. The same strategy will never work for even the same level at different difficulty levels let alone different levels. Each level brings new enemies, and hidden paths, and sometimes you will come face-to-face with a huge boss. Winning will require a decent balance between new tower placement, how you place them, and upgrading them for later waves. The same towers that might be effective in the initial waves of a stage might not be effective in later levels so you will need to keep evolving your strategy throughout the level.

Kingdom Rush Frontiers further expands on Upgrades as well. Apart from the normal Upgrades tab where you can upgrade your towers and special abilities, this time around, you can upgrade your Heroes as well who come with their points and levels. Playing with Heroes level them up and this in return, grants your upgrade points that you can use to upgrade different stats of your heroes along with their special abilities. Similar to the tower and your own ability upgrades, the Hero stats and ability upgrades will allow you to improve their performance in the game. Each hero has its own unique set of points, abilities, and stats that you can improve. Just like the normal upgrades, you can reset these points at any time to re-assign the points to different abilities to adjust your favorite hero according to the levels where you might be stuck.

Kingdom Rush Frontiers features 16 unique heroes and this time around, you can have cool, dragon heroes as well. Heroes like Ashrite and Bonehart continue to fly in the air and they present a new level of advantage over your enemies since these heroes cannot be attacked by enemies on the ground unless they have a ranged attack. This time around, the enemies are not the only ones with air superiority. You can select the hero by pressing R1 and this allows you to move it around. It will attack on its own and you cannot choose its skills as well. You can only move it around and the rest, it does on its own. The ability to upgrade the heroes allows you to cater to each Hero’s weakness and work around it by investing points into different stats and abilities which counter the Hero’s weakness.

Review: Kingdom Rush Frontiers

Just like the first game, Kingdom Rush Frontiers features a beautiful and active map with plenty of fun little things happening here and there. Apart from the cool map, these cool animations and Easter Eggs continue inside the levels as well. For example, in one of the early desert stages, there are Banthas from the Star Wars franchise and the desert people are also hiding high in the mountains shooting randomly at your enemies. Each level brings excellent details to the point that I always spent a good time at the start of each level just looking around and admiring the small details placed here and there. From the barren deserts to the lush green forests of Kingdom Rush Frontiers, the level design is really pretty and I love the little details inside each of the levels. This shows that the developers really put effort in making the levels since each level has a lot of little bits to check out.

Kingdom Rush Frontiers is the ultimate strategy game and you will need every last bit of your strategic mind and clever thinking to outsmart the invading enemy forces. Kingdom Rush Frontiers is an extremely challenging game and this is evident right from the start of the game. After the tutorial level, the game does not go easy on you. Even on the Easy difficulty, you will need a good sense of how the towers work and use good strategies to win the levels. Since this is a console release, thankfully, there are no microtransactions in the game and what you get is a complete game with zero need to spend any sort of real-world currency. The game has been modified to exclude all microtransactions and you can unlock all content with simple in-game progression.

One of the key aspects that I found different from the first Kingdom Rush and Kingdom Rush Frontiers is that in Frontiers, you can lose your game at any time in a level even if you have upgraded all of your towers, unlike the first game. In Kingdom Rush, when you are approaching the final wave, you are mostly sitting in a comfortable position with plenty of upgrades and advanced-level towers and you feel pretty comfortable however in Frontiers, this is not the case. There were a lot of instances where I lost the game in the final wave of a level because the enemies overwhelmed my defenses one way or the other and I had to come back with a new late-game strategy for my next run. This really keeps you on your toes as you never know what to expect even if you have been demolishing the earlier waves of a level.

Final Verdict:

Kingdom Rush Frontiers is yet another solid addition to the tower-defense titles on the Xbox platforms and I am extremely happy to see that Ironhide Games is bringing even more titles to the platform since the original release. Kingdom Rush Frontiers take everything from the first game and massively improves upon everything. The levels are prettier, the challenge is higher while hero customization offers even more depth into the strategy and gameplay. However, one aspect that Kingdom Rush Frontiers still needs work on is the controls because moving the cursor with its insanely high sensitivity sometimes ruins gameplay and you need a high learning curve just for understanding how to adjust to this high sensitivity. Apart from this, Kingdom Rush Frontiers is a great title and players who enjoyed the original Kingdom Rush release on Xbox, will definitely love to jump into the new title to explore new environments and face new enemies. Highly recommended for players who like solid tower-defense games.

Final Score: 8.5/10

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About the Author: Umair Khalid

Founder of GamesHedge, Umair enjoys a wide variety of video games ranging from RPGs to racing games. Currently busy with The Crew Motorfest and Way of the Hunter.

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