There are a few ‘what ifs’ at the core of Rover Wars: Battle for Mars. The first is ‘what if there was an RTS made from the ground up for console’? We’ve heard that a few times in the past (Halo Wars and Gears Tactics immediately come to mind), but Rover Wars: Battle for Mars makes every possible compromise so that it is console-accessible. You play a nimble little rover who can dump out bases, so there’s no cursor hovering and UI navigation. Everything is on one screen, so you don’t have to worry about skimming the battlefield to find where the battle’s at. Everything – aside from your rover – is automated, and there are very few things that you can build, as you only have three troop types and three factories that produce them. This is very much an RTS stripped down to its fundamentals. Rover Wars: Battle for Mars is out now on Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S.
The next ‘what if’ is ‘what if you could make a couch co-op party-game out of an RTS’. That’s not something we’ve come across often, if at all. When we think of a multiplayer RTS, it’s about three-hour long stints in front of Command & Conquer or Starcraft, playing RTS chess across a LAN or the internet. They don’t tend to be accessible party games, and Rover Wars: Battle for Mars is looking to change that. It allows up to eight players to play, and there’s the option to switch sides mid-game, even. This is a very fluid multiplayer experience.
And the final ‘what if’, and possibly the most comprehensible, is the story. ‘What if multiple, rival corporations were all fighting each other to be the first to settle Mars?’. That one seems more feasible.
For a measly £5.79, that’s not a bad little sales pitch. We’re eager to see if a simple Tower Defense/RTS hybrid can make it as a multiplayer party game, and whether the compromises have cut out the heart of what makes an RTS great. It’s going to be hard to maintain variety when the action’s all on one screen and there are only three troop types. Expect a review of Rover Wars: Battle For Mars on Xbox soon to give our verdict.
If you are up for a casual yet spicy cocktail of action and strategy, but not planning to spend hours learning how to play, then Rover Wars might just be your thing. You jump straight into the action with your little Rover to start building factories and hurting enemy units. The tactics in the game are in resource management and the placement of factories. Factories poop out minions that will find their way to the enemy facilities and destroy them. Once you destroy the enemy base, you win. simple. Rover Wars has a neat local multiplayer system. It allows up to 8 users to join the game. To avoid couch conflicts we implemented some brilliant AI to battle cooperatively. There are always 2 teams and each side has a maximum of 4 Rovers. During battle, players can even switch teams or add some AI.