Review – Transformers: Battlegrounds

An XCOMstyled Transformers game has such promise. A large roster of bots, a hidden base to upgrade and customize, and a campaign against always invading Decepticons. A game like this could capture the feeling of the franchise better than most that have tried. Being perfectly fair, Transformers: Battlegrounds was never advertised to be this game. It was shown off as a combat focused strategy game, with some multiplayer modes on the side. And it does what it tries well enough, but it fails to stand out in any way. Which is the real tragedy, because it could have been so much more.

Transformers: Battlegrounds

So instead of just having you play as Teletraan, the game has you playing as a random human who is being carried around by it. Why not?

As far as licensed games go, Transformers has fared better than others. There’s the amazing War for Cybertron and Fall of Cybertron of course, but there have been others. A personal favorite of mine being the Nintendo DS ports of the first Transformers movie game, which were open world RPGs. But no one had made a Transformers strategy of any flavor before. So I was pretty excited for Transformers: Battlegrounds. And all in all, it basically lived up to my expectations, even if I hoped for more.

The game is fairly simple. The campaign takes you across various locales from the Transformers universe as you battle evil Deceptions as the valiant Autobots. Then there’s a few local multiplayer modes such as Capture the Flag and Survival. One thing to note is that they are all playable in co-op or solo, with no versus modes. Which is a huge missed opportunity in my opinion. Still what the game has is rather meaty. The campaign is of decent length with variety in locations and enemies, and while the story will win no awards, it’s fun Transformers. The multiplayer modes do what they say, with new maps and bot load-out options unlocked as you progress through the campaign.

Transformers: Battlegrounds

Each character has a single ability, but it can be overcharged using action points to deal additional damage or effects.

Still what matters is the gameplay. Thankfully it’s fun, if uninspired. It’s standard XCOM styled gameplay, a perfect example of not reinventing the wheel. Which is probably a good thing, as Narcos: Rise of the Cartels showed what happens when you meddle with things that work. Battles are usually quick, with interesting use of environmental effects and destructible environments. They do a great deal to make each location play differently which is always nice. Likewise, each character plays differently, with their own weapons, specials, and ultimates. There’s some minor loud-out customization unlocked as you progress, but nothing serious or cosmetic. Sadly there’s not a whole lot of playable characters available either, but the major players are here at least.  

Transformers: Battlegrounds is a basic turn-based strategy game, no more, no less. The campaign is decent, if lacking in overarching mechanics that make XCOM so addicting. Likewise the multiplayer is fun, but the omission of any versus modes is kind of bizarre. The gameplay is vanilla, but still fun and the use of environmental effects is genuinely interesting. It’s the kind of game that’s fun, has nothing overtly wrong with it, but just lacks something what would make it whole. A more ambitious campaign experience, more playable characters, versus multiplayer modes, all these and more would have gone a great deal to making the game stand out better. Still as it is, it’s more than enough for any Transformers fan although others will probably just find the game lacking.

Graphics: 6.0

I’m not the biggest fan of this art style for Transformers, but I’ve also seen far worse.

Gameplay: 7.0

It’s aggressively okay. Everything plays as you’d expect, is fun enough, and has decent variety.

Sound: 5.0

The music and voice-acting are bearable, although no Peter Cullen as Optimus Prime is unforgivable.

Fun Factor: 6.0

It’s one of those games that’s fun enough, but you know it could have been so much more if it’d had a little bit of ambition behind it.

Final Verdict: 6.0

Transformers: Battlegrounds is available now on Xbox One, PS4, PC, and Nintendo Switch.

Reviewed on Switch.

A copy of Transformers: Battlegrounds was provided by the publisher.