If you’ve ever watched a dogfight in Star Wars, and lamented the fact you can’t get in the cockpit and destroy your foes in a barrage of laser fire, you simply have to play Spark Era.
It’s a brand new mobile battle royale shooter that’s pure wish fulfilment for Star Wars fans. It might not have the licence (it doesn’t need it), but it’s bursting with the energy of the franchise.
From the moment you boot it up, you’re met with a sweeping score that’s reminiscent of the movies. Moments later, you’re engaged in intense dogfights, barrel rolling to avoid fire, returning it, and using skills tactically to give you an advantage.
Well, perhaps not that quickly. Our biggest complaint with Spark Era suffers is its near-non-existent tutorial, which fails to explain the majority of the base mechanics. Fortunately, it is pretty easy to pick up and play.
How Does Spark Era Work?
Using touch controls, you control your ship’s speed with a virtual joystick on the left, flanked by nifty left and right barrel roll buttons, and adjacent to a secondary fire button. On the right, you’ve got primary fire, skill, reload, and boost.
Boost is particularly handy, as it gives you a temporary speed boost. This allows you to get quickly out of trouble or dash towards a pick-up to get the upper-hand against your opponent.
You can choose from a wide variety of skills, including heal, paralysis, teleport, and invincibility. Each provides a temporary boon that can completely alter your playstyle, becoming a predator that paralyses foes, or a ninja, getting quickly in and out.
The controls in particular are great, and it’s clear that a lot of time has been put into them. Using the joystick, you can set a specific speed that your ship will maintain until you tweak it again, allowing you to to focus entirely on shooting.
You can then use the right side of the screen to aim, and fire using the secondary fire button on the left. It works beautifully on mobile, and avoids the fiddliness, or claw-like manoeuvres you have to occasionally perform in the likes of Call of Duty Mobile.
What Do You Have To Do?
Spark Era is a battle royale shooter at heart, but one that trades boots on the ground for dogfights in space. You pick from one of two modes – solo or team – and duke it out in a shrinking arena to become the last one standing.
The beginning is when things are particularly frantic. Supply drops are, well, dropped into random areas on the arena, and you and your opponents race towards them for weapon and ship upgrades.
Picking up stuff is a little bit fiddly, as you have to come to an almost complete stop super close to the item to loot the gear, but it also offers a nice bit of risk vs reward as you make yourself vulnerable, but can also get some powerful weapons.
The remainder of the match involves hunting down opponents – alone or with a team – and attempting to gear up at the occasional supply drop. Spark Era is really helpful in this regard, as drops you haven’t visited yet are marked with bright yellow icons.
There are also temporary boosters lying around that can increase your attack, defence, and heal you. What’s particularly nice about these is that your team appears to share any that are picked up by any member, regardless of the distance between each other.
Finally, the weapons themselves are very distinctive from each other. You can hang back, sniping opponents, get stuck in with machine or laser fire, or blow chunks out of of everyone with explosive rockets.
Is It Pay-to-Win?
Spark Era is a free-to-play competitive shooter, so it’s bound to raise pay-to-win alarm bells. However, we’re pleased to report that, from what we’ve played so far, you have absolutely nothing to worry about.
There’s a single currency, which you can purchase or earn by playing, and the only thing you can buy with it is new ships. These come in Common, Epic, and Legendary forms, though, outside of weapon preference, the only difference between them is cosmetic.
We compared the stats between legendary and common ships, and found very little to distinguish them. We did note a slight increase in health and shield stats, but nothing that provides a particularly notable advantage.
It’s also worth noting that you can pick up any weapon – including legendary variants – in the field of battle itself. The default weapons on ships are only important during those early stages of gameplay, when you’re racing towards a supply drop.
So, Should I Get It?
Spark Era is an awful lot of fun, and we thoroughly recommend it to anyone who enjoys a good dogfight or battle royale shooter. It’s a decent looking game with excellently-tuned controls, a solid degree of playstyle customisation, and action-packed combat.
There’s a slight barrier to entry thanks to a non-existent tutorial, but it can be easily surmounted by playing. Aside from that, and the occasional crashing or technical jitteriness, it’s difficult to find a flaw in Spark Era.
Even the microtransactions are mostly cosmetic, seeing off any pay-to-win complaints. You can argue that it’ mildly there, with slightly-boosted stats for the expensive ships, but it’s so slight as to not prove noticeable.
So, as we said in the opening paragraph, if you want to live out your Star Wars dogfighting fantasy, go and grab it on iOS or Android right now.