Arrr, Matey! Load the cannons, blasters, missiles (or whatever) and fire away as ye battle your way through space in PlunderNauts. Space has become the new “high seas” and ungoverned galaxies are ripe for the plundering, so let’s see how PlunderNauts stacks up as Backflip Studios’ newest free-to-play game.
PlunderNauts Game Overview
PlunderNauts is a line drawing strategy game where you guide your space pirate ship through head-to-head battles, currently against computer opponents only. But there is a lot more to this game than meets the eye. While it is a free-to-play offering with the standard multiple currencies (gold which is easily earned and antimatter that is more difficult to come by), as well as an energy system that limits your gameplay, I was able to play for a decent amount of time before forking out any cash.
It is a bit of a head scratcher why Backflip Studios launched PlunderNauts without multiplayer gameplay – most likely because it was not ready at launch date. But, once multiplayer comes to this game it will become a totally different game. Currently, you battle your way through galaxies taking over planets from other pirates, that is if you win the battle. You guide a Starship that has turrets (various types), can house fighter crafts that attack enemies, and have “tech mods” to assist you in various areas, as well as crew that adds an edge to your fighting abilities in some way.
There are also materials that are gathered and can be purchased from the ever-changing store inventory which can be forged into unique tech mods, armor, turrets, etc. As you blast your way through battles, you will eventually meet some more difficult enemy bosses. There are big benefits to beating the bosses, namely rare or uncommon items that cannot be purchased.
I played through the entire first galaxy without spending any money, and when I did make a ($0.99) purchase it was for a consumable 1x power-up that sucks antimatter from enemies. While the power-up did the job, to me it is not something I could see myself using regularly because of the cost. I would expect the other consumable power-ups to cost the same and possibly even provide less of an advantage.
As far as buying coins and antimatter – meh! You earn plunder in the form of coins (gold) for winning battles and for keeping planets under your control. I would not waste money on gold because you can earn it through playing the game. However, antimatter can be used to recharge your ship, to speed up forging, and to purchase new Starships.
Additionally, there are objectives that provide payouts in both antimatter and gold that are plentiful. I was easily able to upgrade my Starship, forge new weapons, armor and fighters up until I reached the 4th plant of the 2nd galaxy. That’s when I hit a wall. I feel the only way past this point is to fork out some cash to get antimatter to upgrade turrets, fighters, and what have you. Or, grind through battles for planets that get recaptured until you have enough antimatter or gold to purchase a significant power-up to win a battle on 1 of the 2 planets (where I found myself stuck on). So how do you play PlunderNauts anyway?
Okay, Captain. You are in charge of a pirate Starship outfitted with turrets (cannon, blaster, laser, missile, etc), tech mods for specific benefits (shield, increased ship speed, faster turret cool down time, etc), fighters (smaller ships launched off your ship that attack enemies), and a crew member that brings a specific defensive or offensive characteristic to the table. To battle, you simply draw a line to bring your guns into range to damage your enemy; it’ pretty stupid-simple.
But there is a bit more strategy to it than that. Your turrets have limited shooting time, you have a specific engine speed, and there are objects that can help to hide you and others that may damage you – so you have to plan your attacks with a little more finesse to win. The early battles are quite easy and are basically a tutorial to get up and running in the game. But once you approach your first boss battle, you’ll quickly find a need for a bit of strategy to win.
For example, a boss may have 4 blasters that are all on 1 side of his Starship. Naturally, you do not want to be on that side of his ship. Using your ship’s speed, turrets, tech mods, fighters, crew, and, of course, your line-drawing abilities to predict enemy movement you can be successful. Of course, another big part of this space battle game’s strategy is figuring what materials to mod in the Forge to make more powerful weapons, defensive items, and materials that you can sell for big cash.
As a single player game, PlunderNauts is mediocre but still a lot of fun. Unfortunately, like most free-to-play games there is a wall at some point that appears impassable until money is spent, which is a big discouragement to me from a “fun factor” point. I don’t mind spending money on a free-to-play game, but I don’t want to be forced, which is the way this game’s difficulty appears to be gauged. The line-drawing game control works but is a bit clunky literally, causing me to smash my ship into the enemy, which can be to your advantage, but most times is not due to the damage incurred.
What will turn this okay game into a hit is multiplayer gameplay. If there is equal footing, as I would expect through multiplayer gameplay, I would anticipate a bigger hit for Backflip Studios with PlunderNauts. With upgrades and plunder equal, as well as being paired with a player of equal class, I could find myself playing this game and spending money to fix up my ship at times to be more competitive.
And F.Y.I, multiplayer gameplay is coming! I received a popup message while playing that said “multiplayer action is coming.” Honestly, I think they should have waited to launch the game until multiplayer gameplay was ready.
Either way, PlunderNauts is fun for a little bit until you get stuck, that is why the multiplayer is needed so bad. But if you want to check it out for yourself, you can download it using the App Store link below.
Download The PlunderNauts App Now!
About The Developer
Backflip Studios develops and publishes absurdly fun mobile games for iOS and Android devices. Our portfolio of top ranked games, which include hit franchises such as Paper Toss, DragonVale, NinJump, Ragdoll Blaster, and Army of Darkness Defense, have been downloaded over 300 million times and are played by more than 30 million active users per month. We were honored to have Apple recognize our DragonVale game as the #1 Top Grossing iPad app and the #4 Top Grossing iPhone app of 2012. Backflip Studios is hiring for several positions in Boulder, Colorado, where the company is based.