“In 2014 the fans said, We want an FPS!
And Nintendo declared, Let there be an FPS!
And Nintendo created the F2P FPS, with online play and tactical gameplay, and it was good.”
Nintendo’s first free to play offering is a 3DS spinoff of the launch game, Steel Diver. It’s an arena-style first person shooter (I guess first person subber, in this setting), with singleplayer stages and 4v4 online battles. In many ways, Sub Wars is unlike most other FPS games on the market. Battles are slow, tense affairs, and everyone only has one life, and if they lose it, they’re forced to observe the rest of the match. Submarines only fire slow torpedoes, with almost mandatory shot leading, and even slower homing torpedoes. A number of control options exist that provide a lot of freedom over the control of the submarine, such as varying speed settings, a periscope, and radar. As expected of classic Nintendo game design, Sub Wars can be a little goofy, with magical repair boxes, and underwater speed boosts.
Sub Wars’ method of communication is perhaps the strangest feature of this game: morse code. Yup, if you want to communicate with everyone in a multiplayer lobby, or with your allies in a game, you need to tap away at your on-board telegraph. Fortunately, everyone is provided with a morse code table, and the game automatically translates incoming messages, but it’s a surprisingly novel feature that I feel only Nintendo or indie developers would come up with. And in the context of this game, it fits really well.
Nintendo’s first F2P efforts are commendable, too. Sure, F2P is synonymous with “free to spend increasing amounts of money” in this industry, but Sub Wars’ only payment is a flat $10 fee to upgrade to the full game. While the free version limits the number of single player missions and submarines you can access, you still have unlimited access to the multiplayer component. You can easily spend almost as much time playing the free version of Sub Wars as a person with the paid version can and have just as much fun, too. The sum of Steel Diver: Sub Wars parts all comes together to make a pretty fun and deep (hurr) multiplayer experience. It is free, too, so there’s nothing to lose by giving it a shot!
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