Combining action hero movie tropes and tactical squad-based gameplay, The Collectables is easily one of the best mobile games to launch this year. It’s the second handheld title from the team at Crytek, best known for its work on Crysis, Ryse, and free-to-play shooter Warface. The developer’s Budapest studio launched Fibble back in 2012, a physics-based puzzler with a cuddly cast and oodles of charm.
The Collectables, by comparison, is far grittier thanks to its focus on covert military operations and fictional despots. Starting out with a handful of recruits, you will dispatch them to various parts of the Greenistan archipelago to hunty targets, sabotage equipment, and escort VIPs.
Somehow Crytek has put together a crafty control scheme that only requires one hand to play, even when commanding four squaddies about the map in real-time. Tap anywhere on the screen and your team will move in that direction or, for more finesse, drag individual soldiers to specific locations.
Gunfights also occur in real-time and are fully automated. As soon as an enemy enters shooting range, your squad will begin firing away and the bodies start to fall. Players can make use of a number of advantages to help them overcome platoons of hostile insurgents, including the aforementioned movement mechanics.
When firefights break out in the early stages of the game, players can simply run and gun, moving the entire squad as if it were a single unit. As you progress, different enemy types will slowly start to trickle in, forcing you to occasionally change things up a little.
By dragging squadmates to certain points of the map you can flank enemies and force them into a crossfire. It’s important to note that there is a cover mechanic though it isn’t automatic, requiring players to manually move individual troops behind obstacles. This can be a little finicky at times but is still mostly effective.
Another key mechanic is the game’s namesake. Throughout the campaign you will gather a growing album of collectable cards, available as singles or as boosters. Split into two varieties, these determine which squad members and gear you can take into battle. Squads can be composed of up to four cards, each with their own attributes and levels of rarity.
Equipment cards can also be selected, appearing along the bottom of the screen while in-game. These are temporary albeit powerful abilities that can only be used once per mission and are activated by simply dragging them onto the battlefield. With items such as the Nano Cloak, Dynamite, Throwing Knife, and Riot Shield, there is plenty of room for experimentation. Turrets, for example, can easily pick off your squaddies without breaking a sweat, but you can either use C4 or dynamite to sabotage them or take defensive/evasive measures using other item cards.
Your cheapest option here is to shell out £2.99 which will buy you 750 Gold. With this you can buy Boosters, ranging from 199 to 8849 Gold. Alternatively, you can top up your energy reserves for 399 or buy 1000 units of fuel for 149.
Boosters come in several varieties, the cheapest serving up five random cards with one being a hero. The more you pay, the rarer the cards.
Both hero and item cards can be upgraded using Fuel, one of The Collectables two currencies. It’s not hard to come by as most levels usually offer big Fuel payouts if you repeat them a set number of times. Duplicate cards can be recycled into Fuel too, allowing players to progress as they see fit.
The other currency is Gold which, like Fuel, can be accrued via in-app purchases, or painstakingly farmed in-game. Having played for a few hours, I rarely felt the urge to purchase Gold myself. Though it would have been nice to slice open a few shiny booster packs, I felt my squad were well equipped to hold their ground.
Minutes: You’ll be cutting your teeth on the game’s tutorial stages, gunning down your first insurgents as your deadly merc duo draw first blood.
Hours: With four squaddies you’ll be roaming the shattered isles of Greenistan, cleaning up swathes of enemies and watching the rewards flood in.
Days: The difficulty will slowly ramp with the introduction of new, stronger foes. You’ll definitely feel the grind as you farm previously-played levels to gain resources and upgrade you squad for the challenges to come.
Just because it features the name “Crytek”, don’t expect The Collectables to be a ground-breaking visual feast on your mobile devices. It’s not quite on par with, say, Infinity Blade, but is still rather impressive thanks to its explosive set pieces and masses of swaying foliage. The Collectables’ presentation also benefits from a slick UI and menus, making it easy for players to customise their experience.
If squad shooters or strategy games are your thing then The Collectables is definitely worth looking into. It may not be heavy on casual incentives such as daily rewards but the core, action-focused gameplay and glut of content make it one of those game you will dive back into for either the quick five minute session or half-hour romp.