So what is your favorite tower defense game and why?
One of our favorites is Defense Grid. Below you can read Callum's thoughts on why it's so great:
Defense Grid: The Awakening is regarded as one of the best tower defense game on Steam, my experience with it has been extremely positive and can see why it is praised so highly. Many of the tower defense games try to implement some innovation or unique spin to the genre, but Defense Grid (DG) is a very traditional tower defense. Instead of shaking up the formula it delivers a very solid classic TD experience with an interesting variety of towers that function very differently and consequently forces positioning of them to be very tactical. Short-range inferno towers should be placed on critical choke points while Laser Towers need only to target a creep briefly to apply the damage-over-time burn damage, meaning they can be placed in poor locations to still good effect.
Gameplay There is wide variation in enemy and tower types which means players have to manage their composition (Splash towers, anti-heavy), it also means there is room for multiple different tower strategies both in composition and in positioning. The advanced arenas provide many different build locations for where players can focus their towers, if you lose a mission you can restart and try going somewhere else.
Gameplay DG has a great mission variety with map layouts and creep paths. Some have the creeps spawn in from a single spot and need to run through and back again, others are only A to B, some involve multiple creep entry locations, and some include air units. Some missions require walling while others don’t give you the option.
It tells you which waves are incoming so you can prepare the right towers in advance and not get “unlucky” and build the wrong ones. Tells you how many waves in you are.
Presentation, QoL Creeps and Towers have a consistent color scheme for their difficulty; Green/amber/red denotes their strength as you upgrade towers.
Gameplay Complexity of placing Towers is increased because towers can’t fire through others, they can only fire through the limited gaps inbetween them. This means you want to place weaker or certain tower types (Laser, Meteor) behind others.
Gameplay Towers can be upgraded which takes time so you want to avoid doing that during combat. If upgrades were instant there would be no consideration. A lot of the game is trying to identify which towers are being the most effective and focus on upgrading those or saturating that area.
Presentation The towers, creeps and effects are average looking but the background scapes are gorgeous and makes it a pretty and immersive game. This is an important emphasis that other TD’s do.
QoL Lots of quality of life features very important for tower defense: Fast forward, checkpoints, incoming waves, range displays, hotkeys.
QoL Information is communicated readily to the player, they can select a creep or tower and get a summary of all the stats and quirks.
Gameplay Lots of replayability due to different challenges and modifiers that can be applied to each mission, as well as a leaderboard for competing with steam friends and global.
Gameplay Creeps having to collect Energy Cores and escape back to the end and Energy Cores can be transferred from a dead creep to another as it floats back. This means taking losses is more gradual than just whether or not you kill everything as you can lose multiple energy cores while still being in a good spot.
QoL Shows range of every tower when you go to build or upgrade
Gameplay Towers in many locations can be structured in a way to “Wall off” creep movement paths to funnel them in and maximize their running time through the maze and maximizing damage received from towers.
Gameplay More opportunity cost is made by interest, if you don’t spend your money you get extra interest on that but then you may suffer losses, and loses cores reduces interest rate.
- Can block pathing to create tactical walls
- Tells you what enemies are coming so you can counter them more deliberately
- Upgrading towers changes the VFX and weapon type
- Beautiful backgrounds
- Having them pick up power cores and run off with them is less contrived and feels more tense than just running past the edge.
- The maps are positions in a way where some building slots are better than others and you have to be mindful of putting a short range tower in a bad spot
- Have to think tactically about where to go
- Can hover over each unit to give you info, lore and stats about that unit type.
- Different modifiers and mutators for each map, so you can play every mission multiple times to complete all the missions with certain challenges
- Gradually introduces towers over time depending on complexity
- Upgrading is an interesting opportunity cost.
- Leaderboards for every mission
- Rounds are mixed up with different alien types even during each mission
- Consistent color scheme, green/amber/red for toughness of aliens and your own defences.
- Certain towers do well in certain areas. You want to spread out laser towers instead of placing them all together to tag as many aliens as you can. Inferno you want to place on a great corner.
- Fast forward mode
- Strength level of tower communicated on its base
- Towers can’t fire through each other physically so you have to be careful about blocking the most important tower
- When you kill a boss there is a contextual voice line about which laser you kill it with “Nothing a giant laser can’t handle”
- Lots of voice over lines to keep you engaged We should have lots of “Enemy Juggernaut detected”
- Blocking sight can actually work to the benefit of the laser towers
- Some towers can be built on different heights which allows some to fire over others.
- Some maps you can completely determine the flow of where they go, there’s multiple strategies you can play not only of directly flow but also tower composition
- Tesla towers that charge up should be placed at the end to get max damage.
- Having them go back and forwards instead of just through ads a lot more room for creative walling
- Some towers have long range with minimum range.
- Some maps have multiple entrance paths and air units.
- Coming from multiple directions keeps it interesting as you can’t just feel safe forever
- Always Show upgrade range
- Gives you lots of time at the start to prepare
- Auto check points that you can load back to.
- Interest, if players float resources they gain bonus.
Callum also wrote a review of it for Wayward Strategy.
I myself have a general preference for walling but at the same time, I don't like the idea of artificially preventing me from walling which is what most tower defense games seem to do.