Hands on with the next game from the makers of Clash of Clans

How do you follow-up a hit like Clash of Clans? If you’re developer Supercell, you think long and hard about what made the formula work. Then you do it again, but better. You learn from your mistakes. You tweak, you perfect – and when all is said and done, you deliver a game like Boom Beach to the App Store.

Sneaking in a Canadian soft launch late last week, Boom Beach takes the winning ideas of Clash of Clans and fuses them with some changes that players have been clamoring for. It’s not uncommon to hear players mutter things to themselves like “why do my surviving troops disappear after a battle?,” “why can’t I tell my troops where to go?,” or “I’m never going to get further in the single player campaign – I’m absolutely stuck!”

At the very least, frustration like this have plagued my own Clash of Clans experience from day one. Boom Beach is quick to address such problems: surviving troops return to your landing craft, ready for your next assault. Once you unlock signal smoke, you can give your troops an indication of where you want them to go. The single-player campaign offers plenty of freedom, letting you pick and choose from a variety of battles. In its changes, Boom Beach feels like a checklist of solutions to the little wriggles that bothered players in their last game.

Cosmetically, the game has swapped the warriors and wizards of Clash of Clans for a more modern military theme. The game gives off a very Pacific Theater/World War II vibe, but the setting and armies remain purely fictional. You’ll be going up against the evil Blackguard, an army headed by a dude that looks suspiciously like M. Bison (who, in turn, was already a caricature of early 20th century dictators).

We’re less than an hour into our playtime (thanks to the game’s early release on the Canadian App Store), but in what we’ve played, there are some notable changes to battles that should provide Supercell fans with a fresh opportunity to develop strategies. For one thing, you seem to attack exclusively from the beach. This means that you won’t be attacking (or defending) from four directions. This may change as we get further in the game – but we hope it doesn’t. It’s a neat twist that forces us to rethink our approach to such games.

Boom Beach

Players will also be given a gunship, which you can use to shell buildings from in support of your troops. As your troops destroy buildings and other items, you’ll earn credits that can be used to buy more ammo for your gunship. Again – there’s a nice new level of strategy that enters the game here.

There’s no word on when Boom Beach will be entering a wider release, but when it does, be prepared: our early impressions are that this easily trumps Clash of Clans, which is no small feat. Expect to sink far too much time into this one when it hits worldwide.