Two fairly high-profile games have finished up their soft-launch periods where they were both only available in select countries, and are now out everywhere. First up is EA's Heroes of Dragon Age [Free], a mobile spinoff of the popular Dragon Age series. It's not a deep RPG like other Dragon Age games, rather it's more of a card collecting-style strategy game that features loads of different characters from all throughout the massive Dragon Age lore. Also, it features battles and scenarios that have been mentioned in the various Dragon Age games and books and lets you play through them for yourself.

After my brief hands-on time with the game in October, I came away with the impression that Heroes of Dragon Age would be a nice bit of fan service for those heavily invested in the world of Dragon Age, while being a pretty cool combat strategy game itself for the rest of us. The real question though was its free-to-play model and how that would impact the enjoyment of the game.


The other title which has just launched worldwide is Lawless [Free], which we first learned about back in October just before it soft-launched. Developed by some of the same team behind 2009's awesome Wii rail-shooter Dead Space Extraction, Lawless is a similar on-rails style arcade shooter set in late-90s Los Angeles. It uses a behind-the-back viewpoint and cover system, and features really nice visuals as well as tons of crazy action and explosions. Check out this brand new Lawless trailer to see what it's like in motion.

Heroes of Dragon Age soft-launched in late October, and you can find lots of forum impressions from people who have been playing it since then, if you're looking for more insight. Lawless soft-launched at about the same time, and again, if you're looking for more impressions check out its forum thread to see what people have been saying about it during the soft-launch period. However, both games are free-to-play, so there's no reason not to just give them a download and check them out for yourself. From what I've been hearing, Heroes of Dragon Age leans a bit too heavily on its freemium components, but I've been hearing that Lawless is actually quite a decent f2p model without any hard pay walls. Either way, they both seem worth checking out.

  • Noam Rathaus

    F2P makes me sad :( rather pay X$ and enjoy the game than not pay anything initially only to find out that to enjoy it you need to pay 10*X$

    • dariusjr98

      I understand that many iOS gamers feel this way I do too, but, I know I'm gonna get hate for this, it's time for everyone to stop saying this all. the. time.

      You all are like broken records. Face it: as long as free-to-play is profitable on iOS, more and more F2P games will pop up. In other words, it's NEVER going away, on the mobile market at least. Saying this makes me a hypocrite, because this is also redundant, among other reasons.

      The App Store, regardless, still has a great selection of games, free or otherwise. But it probably won't ever be regarded by the masses as a primary gaming source. It's more of a secondary, and the highest profit comes from the casual audience. There is a minority of hardcore iOS gamers and mobile gaming in general, and the people of TA and other sites are that minority.

      What I'm saying is, F2P isn't going away, so the best we can do is ignore it, or maybe even try it. Not all F2P games are terrible, you just have to let the quality of the game speak for itself, not how much it is reaching for your wallet.

      • dariusjr98

        Aaaaand, in comes the hate...

      • armilla

        Thank you! It gets tiring hearing it all of the time; I think mostly everyone would prefer to pay for games, there's no question about that. However, there are many developers who go the premium route despite the increasing popularity of F2P. I do understand though in the case of a game like Dragon Age F2P could disappoint fans, but I'd rather play a console iteration instead.

      • doublezz

        Eventually AppStore is gonna be another Internet. I don't like it, but more people like it, or easily be attempted. Just seeing how many people are saying "I'll wait for a price drop", "This should be 99 cents" seriously it is telling the developer to find another better way to earn some bread. Now it is happening, and it won't stop. We customer has made a choice, and yep, we ruined.

      • dariusjr98

        "This is why we can't have nice things!"

        But in all seriousness, yeah, you're absolutely right. We brought it to this point, and there's probably no going back.

        I feel like even though making a mobile game is technically "easier" for a number of reasons, it's also more risky than developing a console or PC game. Whereas developing a console and PC indie game could be technically "tougher," but the hard work usually pays off.

        Or I could be completely off the mark.

      • https://www.facebook.com/DigitalDistillery Scot Damn

        I believe the mass casual user base made the f2p bed and they probably love it. The true "gamers" (people who appreciate deep(er) game play mechanics) did not and this is probably why people take issue. They didn't ask for it, but their grandma, sister, and moms best friend did.

        To me the biggest issue is the blatant exploitation of the model. Instead of being creative like the Trese Brothers with their games and actually having a great game in place (Heroes of Steel coming soon - free to play the prologue), the majority of f2p models ruin game play for the sake of better profits. This results in non-game skinner boxes and more and more actual game developers being forced to either fall in line or go to other platforms that are profitable.

        It's cheaper to develop for mobile than obtaining a console dev kit and paying licensing fees. Xbox 360 XNA was the probably the best and most affordable when it existed for releasing your indie game to a console. Maybe things will change this generation though.

      • clompah

        *insert many profanity here and include a joke about your mom*

      • fredfnord

        > The App Store, regardless, still has a great selection of
        > games, free or otherwise. But it probably won't ever
        > be regarded by the masses as a primary gaming
        > source.

        Dunno. We'll see what the rumored Apple television product, and the AppleTV that comes with it, ends up looking like.

      • Earth Vs. Me

        That's all true, but I don't think it's too much to ask for developers to know their audience. F2P is fine for casual puzzlers and social games, but it made absolutely no sense for EA to release Ultima Forever as a freemium title. That's just one example of a title that appeals to SERIOUS gamers, who would prefer to pay a premium price for a hardcore game. Publishers just aren't getting that certain properties appeal to casual gamers who dislike paying anything upfront while others appeal to gamers who HATE F2P. They're just seeing a general popularity with freemium, and assuming it will work with all demographics.

    • thomin

      It's not just the hidden cost. I could live with that as long as it stays within reasonable boundaries. The outright evil aspect of F2P titles is that they are designed to frustrate the player.
      With a classical game, you have developers doing their best to create an enjoyable experience. Some succeed, some don't but at least they try. F2P titles on the other hand are by their very nature from the beginning built to give you an incomplete experience. They use the sleaziest tactics from psychological studies to come up with "games" that motivate you just enough to stick with it a bit longer, only to then throw a paywall into your face.

      And you're right, this message has to be repeated as often as possible until the very last victim of F2P understands what is happening there, that this business model is destroying the gaming experience we've come to love. These games are not designed to engage you but rather your wallet.

  • falco

    These two games are horrible, no thanks

    • dariusjr98

      Have you played either? Lawless actually looks very interesting.

      • themostunclean

        I thought the same until I saw "Mobage" was a part if it. Props to the guy below who also mentioned this.

      • dariusjr98

        Yeah, I felt the same way around the time Lawless was first announced, but it doesn't hurt to try.

  • Maniacfive

    I've got a lot of love for DS:Extraction so I'll pick up lawless based on that.

    • Maniacfive

      Scratch that. Just saw 'Mobage'. I'm out.

      • themostunclean

        Ditto.

      • Morgan01

        Wasn't the name EA enough to discourage you?

  • metalmandave83

    Both are good games. I prefer f2p.

  • eventide

    Not really diggin it. 'Played' for 5 minutes and deleted. Really hope to high heaven the console game doesn't suck. This franchise has so much potential but EA.

  • Echoen

    Lawless: no energy timer but lives do, if you fail a mission. I have yet to lose more than 1 life even in a 30 minute session.

    Currently rank 8, done 30 out of the 50 missions. Haven't felt the need to buy IAP since my uncommon grade weapons do fine getting 1-shots in the head. Premium will make it all a joke, at least at this point of the game. 3-starred everything thus far.

    You gain enough money and exp to level up your characters (leader and wingman) and your guns after every game.

    Yes, this is still Mobage.

    • https://www.facebook.com/DigitalDistillery Scot Damn

      Sounds like a re-balance is in order in their favor. I'd love to be wrong though.

  • Cocosoy

    Heroes of Dragon Age - Every aspect of this game was designed to grab cash from the players. This is one of the worst F2P game out there in terms of being greedy. Every single free unit is pathetic and the energy timer is just outrageous. With full energy bar, you can only play for about 5 min., then you need to wait for HOURS to play again. How encouraging is that? EA is the worst company in the US for a reason. I am just surprised they are willing to ruin one of their most successful franchise for some quick cash grab.

    Also, the game is 99% auto-pilot, you CAN NOT making any meaningful decisions let alone control any units during battle. You can only manage your squad in a very limited way. (No equipments at all). There is NO GAME PLAY.

    Avoid Heroes of Dragon Age please, because you WILL FEEL compelled to buy the IAP. That's just how the game was designed. The paid booster pack - don't be fooled by the name, you only get ONE unit per pack. And it cost about $4. 90% of the so called epic units are just useless. So you need to spend at least $400 to get the "real end game good heroes".

    Before you download this game, ask yourself "Am I willing to dump $500 into an IOS game that has no gameplay at all?"

    • Morgan01

      Would you expect anything else from EA?

  • Devok

    Bag, stop your bitching, it's free, what else do you want? It's hard to find free stuff now days. Just download and enjoy the game.

    • Jack_Crow

      "It's hard to find free stuff now days."

      What.

      • dariusjr98

        I lol'ed.

  • GaussEX

    Interested but not available in Taiwan for some reason..

  • Zeillusion

    I think hereos of dragon age is an awesome game, sorta like a 3d blood brothers / card game. I like games like that; you earn different hereos with skills & stats. Build your squad and watch them juke it out. I'm a hardcore gamer & casual. I'm not usually for f2p but I love the game. I'll dish out money for premium rather than iaps though. I'll support a f2p once in awhile if the company deserves it. (If it's a good game and just a cash grab)... But yea , I'd recommend it. Pretty fun

  • http://rekzkarz.com/ REkzkaRZ

    The game says it's 66mb, but the first thing that happened for me (iPhone 4 which is *PACKED* with apps) is that it opened & started downloading stuff. I deleted the app when I filled up ~ 150mb. I could have let it finish, but I doubted I would have kept the game anyway -- just wanted to try b/c I was curious.
    I really don't like Apple allowing apps to post their size as the download from Appstore size rather than the full application's actual size. FAIL
    Can someone say how big this app is on their iPhone? (Should show in iTunes when you sync.) Thanks.