We spend a lot of time on YouTube, so much so that we’re YouTube Premium subscribers so as to get rid of advertising plaguing our viewing experience.

However, while Premium removes pre and mid-roll adverts, in recent years YouTube creators have moved to including sponsorships and advertising in the actual content of the video.

We bring this up because in recent months a mobile game has flooded YouTube with advertising. That game is Raid: Shadow Legends.

Billed as an immersive RPG experience for mobile, YouTubers have been pushing their fans to download and play the game as part of a sponsorship deal.

So after months of skipping through video intros to avoid mention of Raid: Shadow Legends, we decided to give it a whirl.

For those who want the TL;DR version: Raid: Shadow Legends is plagued by microtransactions and isn’t very fun much less “immersive”.

Download and install

The game is available to download and play for free on both Android and iOS devices but it is a rather sizeable download. On Android the download clocked in at 65MB but once we launched the game we were informed that an additional 600MB would need to be downloaded.

As for what specs you need, so long as you have Android 5.0 or later or iOS 9.0 or later, you can play this game.

Despite the 600MB download notification, we were playing the introduction mission shortly after launching the game.

Playing the game

After the introductory mission you are able to select a Champion and you are granted a Mystery Shard which contains a Champion.

A Champion you can earn from a Mystery Shard.

You are then dropped into the Campaign where you need to defeat three sets of enemies before you can progress to the next set of three enemies.

Gameplay takes a turn-based approach much like other mobile games. Champions have two to three skills at the outset. Each of the skills has a cooldown ranging from one turn to three turns.

Winning a fight has a chance of dropping equipment which can be stuck onto a Champion. There are various sets for you to collect that grant bonuses. The trouble with this is that it’s not exactly clear how one can grind for these sets aside from simply playing the game until you get bored.

Equipment can also be upgraded using Silver that can be earned in-game while playing. Upgrading an item unlocks a perk but upgrading has a chance to fail for some reason. For instance we’ve already spent 10 000 Silver upgrading one item with the upgrade process failing twice.

Items you earn are going to need an upgrade.

This presents something of a problem because the perks you can unlock are not known to you. For example, after getting a 1 percent increase to Critical Strike rate on a helmet we expected an even better perk after sinking more resources into the item. We received a +1 to turn recharge rate.

Of course you can buy Silver and many other currencies in the game, so let’s talk about that.

The most confusing microtransactions we have ever seen

In Raid: Shadow Legends there are the following currencies:

  • Silver
  • Gems
  • Energy
  • Tokens
  • Clan Boss Keys

All of the above can be purchased with real money which makes our qualms about sinking money into a piece of gear feel slightly justified. It’s clear the developers want you to spend money without them explicitly saying that.

“You could play the entire game without spending money” you might hear some folks say and to those folks we say, then why add microtransactions that affect progress at all?

While Gems can be used to purchase things like Clan Boss Keys, their use appears to be limited to purchasing other currencies and things like an XP boost.

What do the other currencies do? We have no idea possibly because we’re still noobs in this game but the game also doesn’t explain what everything does.

Plarium does include microtransactions that also carry limits on how often you can make a purchase. The cheapest “pack” you can purchase is R14.99 and there is a limit of one per month on that pack. The next tier up is R144.99 with a five per month limit.

The very first advert I was shown was for the Sacred Daily Pack which costs a staggering R799.99. I could buy Mordhau for three of my mates for that price.

Should you play it?

Our advice is no.

What’s that you need more?

Well for starters the game is boring, even for a turn-based game. As the player all you do is tap buttons and hope that the enemy’s health bar dips below a certain point so that the next Champion can slay them.

It’s also just not as good as some of the other RPG games we’ve played on a smartphone.

For example, we’ve been playing Eternium for some time now and while it isn’t as graphically awe-inspiring as Raid: Shadow Legends, it is a lot more fun and microtransactions aren’t shoved in your face constantly. Even better, you can play it offline.

Raid: Shadow Legends then is not an immersive RPG experience, it’s just another mobile game rife with microtransactions that strongly hint at the fact you need to pay real money for a chance at enjoying the game.

It is being swiftly uninstalled as we speak.

Brendyn Lotz writes news, reviews, and opinion pieces for Hypertext. His interests include SMEs, innovation on the African continent, cybersecurity, blockchain, games, geek culture and YouTube.