As a rule, you probably don’t want to experiment with your defensive fortifications. What if your tinkering were to let in some giant scorpions, undead warriors or barbarian hordes? And that’s probably why Kingdom Rush Frontiers is so conservative. Ironhide’s follow-up to the best tower defence game on the App Store offers little beyond a refreshed enemy roster, tweaked tower functions and a shift to desert and jungle locations, but that doesn’t make the studio’s blend of strategising, planning and desperate micro-management any less entertaining.
As with Kingdom Rush, you can only build fortifications at predetermined points on the battlefield, which shifts the decision-making focus onto what you’ll build, rather than where you’ll build it. The basic tactic of using melee troops to entangle enemy forces while archers and mages do the heavy damage remains unchanged, but Frontiers’ maps throws enough unexpected challenges – enemies barging on screen from new directions, last-minute, surprise boss fights – that require you to make constant use of your more flexible powers (such as disposable reinforcements you can spawn with a tap, and a much more hardy roving hero unit) if you’re to stem the tide.
This core loop of planning and upgrading defences while plugging the gaps in your frontline is enriched by art that imbues surprising amounts of character into your microscopic soldiers, and sound design that turns the clash of swords and crackling fizz of magic spells into a compulsive symphony. It’s not much changed, then, even as the story sees your army pushing into parts unknown, but we’ll forgive Ironhide Studios the second wave.
Kingdom Rush Frontiers is out now on iOS.