Bloons Tower Defense Battles… 2?


Sam Meine, Writer


Over the past few months, we have had the opportunity to play Ninja Kiwi’s new game in the Bloons franchise. This is the sequel to the well-loved multi-platform game Bloons Tower Defense Battles (BTDB), the so originally named Bloons Tower Defense Battles 2 (BTDB2). 

Before we get into the thick of things, what even is Bloons? Bloons is a fast paced live strategy game, and one of the first widely spread tower defense games. In the battles variant, you play to stay alive the longest by recruiting monkeys with weapons to pop balloons before they reach the end of your screen while playing against your opponent who is trying to do the same. The person who has the best defense and stays alive the longest wins.

The game in essence is a remaster of its predecessor BTDB. It keeps the same general playstyle and modes of play but updated to emulate the new art style and complexity of the most recent Bloons titles. BTDB2 compared to its parent game is far more fast paced and competitive. Previously, the games were based on the use of medals to play games, to win them, and putting them to the use of upgrading your towers all at once. Now, we have a different system. Instead of using medals for everything from playing matches, ranking in the leaderboards, and a currency for upgrades, we now have a win based leaderboard and matchmaking, as well as an “experience” counter for upgrading towers. Though separating these may sound good in theory, it leads to very grindy gameplay, and a stale metagame.

The most pronounced complaint at the moment is the experience of upgrading towers. This can be gained by using the tower in play or randomly from the game’s loot boxes. Though having to use the tower to make it better sounds better than just buying it with the ingame currency, the fact that it can often take dozens or even hundreds of games to upgrade a single path to the highest level draws out the gameplay and punishes those who do not simply buy their way to them with real money. Ninja Kiwi tried to make this less of the case by not allowing direct buying of the upgrade by increasing the player’s experience multiplier, even these people will still have to play hundreds of games to get to the same place. 

But what of it? Many games do this simply to keep people playing, and most of the higher upgrades can’t be reached easily when in a match anyway, so what’s the issue? Well with that mindset there is none, but there is still more: Lag, the bane of any player’s existence. In the original BTDB the game was “client sided”, meaning that actions made by you are instantaneous, and things you see your opponent doing are delayed instead. In BTDB2 this was changed to be server sided, which means actions made by both players are in real time. However actions must wait until both players are able to see the action made. This makes actions that were once quick and precise much longer and sluggish than normal. Considering that games with certain bloons can end in a matter of seconds due to their speed, the delay of even half a second can lose players games when they could have defended. 

Lastly, we have the issue of balancing. Though not a huge problem since it can be fixed over time, but where once in BTDB there were dozens of viable options used even at the top tier, now there’s only a fraction of that number. All similar to one another in composition and playstyle.

Though it sounds all bad, there were many improvements made over its previous title. Making the game more accessible for newer players, massively improving graphics and effects, making it more modern relative to the other games in the BTD franchise, as well as adding fan favorites from other games. It is obvious that it was rushed somewhat, and with the developers just coming off holiday, we should expect the more menial issues of lag and balancing to be fixed sometime soon. Of course on a free mobile and Steam game we should expect loot boxes, microtransactions and such. Surprisingly, the other expenses don’t cause a huge problem, and are avoidable since you can still compete with the paying players while still playing free. 


In the current state, I would rate it at a 6/10, but when balance changes are made, lag resolved, and glitches patched, I would definitely give this game about monkeys using military grade weaponry to pop balloons a 9/10.