Android theme park management sounds about as safe as trying to keep dinosaurs in tiny escape-proof cages, Michael Crichton sure enjoys penning Frankenstein stories in theme parks. The TV show based on his novel Westworld (which was made into a movie once as well) is now getting a mobile game from Warner Bros and Behaviour Interactive. It's a theme park sim at its core and your objective is to manage the hosts (androids) and cater to the wishes of the visitors.
You create hosts to populate the various areas in the game. First up is the beginner's area, Sweetwater, where you'll be able to build a good bunch of buildings such as the Mariposa and the Sheriff's Office. These buildings will attract with different wants and you'll need to match up these desires with the skillset of a particular host. By doing this you'll earn coins, XP, and potentially items such as code for a new host, crafting material or similar. The actual system for managing, updating, decking out hosts is pretty well made and while heavy on the grind, there's a lot here to engage with for those who enjoy slowly building an increasingly able army of androids.
There's a great deal of satisfaction both in the lottery of seeing what you'll get from a host code and levelling them up. You can buy premium ones with the premium currency as you'd expect in this sort of game, but you'll earn quite a bit of that currency even if it's also used for lots of other quality of life updates that'll you want. Your life is made a lot easier with a few high-level hosts, and you can buy these outright for a rather hefty price (some as much as a full-priced retail console game), putting the mega in microtransactions. But getting five-star hosts isn't all that difficult as you'll be able to cannibalise lesser hosts in order to upgrade your favourite in the handy "rebuilds" room.
The game is not without controversy as Bethesda sued the publisher Warner Bros. and developer Behaviour Interactive for using copyrighted code from Fallout Shelter in the game. Behaviour used to work on Fallout Shelter, and there are certainly some commonalities between the two games. The look of the characters, the camera perspective, the movement, the rooms. We're not familiar enough with the actual code of the two games to know whether actual code from Shelter was used here, but even if there are cosmetic similarities and the management aspects are similar, the actual game is very different and most gameplay mechanics are different from those in Fallout Shelter. It's certainly not a reskinned version of that game.
For instance, in Fallout Shelter there's a lot more strategy in how you place your rooms and where you position your dwellers, whereas here's it's mainly a tactical exercise of matching hosts with guests. The same can be said of the buildings you place above ground. There's no real way of creating your own Westworld here, instead, you unlock one building at a time which you can then place and upgrade. There's not much strategy here, rather it's a micromanagement heavy affair.
The problem here (the same as with Fallout Shelter early on actually) is that beyond the well-made progression of hosts there isn't much to keep you hooked long term. The journeys, which could have been Westworld's answer to quests, is merely a case of matching more hosts to an objective and then having the outcome presented. There is plenty of story here, but the way it is being presented in small snippets as you complete one of a myriad of minor objectives in various obtuse questlines just means you'll likely just click passed it in order to do some more clicking on hosts.
It should be said that so far there's been plenty of events and activities to liven things up. The Man in Black tends to slip in more often than not and if you please him you'll get fragments of Dolores' code. Other premium hosts are delivered in a similar fashion through pleasing VIP guests or reaching event objectives. However, it all feeds into progressing hosts and getting better hosts, and we keep asking ourselves what's beyond that. It just seems that better hosts are a way to gain more coins and eventually gain even better hosts with no real objective to strive for.
As it stands, even if Westworld is full of things to click and manage, it comes across as a bit pointless. If you're a big fan of the series you might enjoy the banter between the characters - Doctor Ford, Bernhard, Lee, and the rest - but for natural reasons the game is set when the park is still in its prime and while the hosts may glitch it's an easy fix in the diagnostics room. Therefore you won't find answers to your questions following the season two finale of HBO's show in this game, instead, you'll find plenty of management, clicking, upgrading, grinding - the sort of stuff we've grown accustomed to in freemium games of this sort. If you want a smooth ride, pay up! But it's also early days, and hopefully, more strategy and meaningful high-level gameplay will be added on top of the solid foundation that's already here. Time will tell.
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