‘Brawl Stars’ update does not disappoint

“Welcome to the jungle, baby. You’re gonna brawl!” That’s this season’s tagline for the newest update to the popular mobile game, “Brawl Stars.”

“Brawl Stars” is a worldwide, free-to-play mobile game released by the Finland-based gaming company Supercell. Supercell has been creating mobile games for over a decade now, with its first major success being “Clash of Clans,” released back in 2012.

The newest “Brawl Stars” chromatic brawler, Maisie, center, appears with Meg, left, Max, top-left, Colt, top-right, and Buster, right. All of these brawlers received alternate costumes themed around the new season, Rumble Jungle Heroes. (Image courtesy of Supercell)

“Brawl Stars” was released near the end of 2018 and is the most recent game to be launched globally by Supercell in about five years. On May 1, “Brawl Stars” players were introduced to a major update for the game that not only brought with it a new seasonal brawl pass, but a significant change to the game’s economy.

What can arguably be considered the most interesting and anticipated part of this seasonal update was the removal of one of the currencies in the game, star points, and the addition of a new currency called bling. Bling is a currency solely used for game cosmetics, like alternate costumes for brawlers, pins to play in-battle, or spray images that can decorate the environment. Not every cosmetic can be purchased with bling currency, but there is a wide selection for players to choose from in the catalog, which is also a new addition with this update. With the catalog, players are no longer only limited to the daily in-game shop deals that would reset every 24 hours.

The best part about this new bling system is it allows players to choose which cosmetics to buy. Before, if players wanted costumes or sprays, they would have to wait a whole day and check if they showed up in one of the five shop slots. Pins were worse since they only showed up in pin packs that were sold every weekend. Purchasing pins could basically be considered gambling, since players had to use real money and only got a random selection of three pins. Overall, bling is a good addition to the game for all types of players including players who don’t spend money on the game. It feels like these players were the ones in mind when the development team came up with the bling concept.

As for star points, the currency that bling replaced, it seems like its presence will not be missed. Star points were another currency that focused on allowing players to buy cosmetics, but the selection only included costumes, and aside from one seasonal costume released with each update, it had been years since a full set of costumes had been released. Star points also recently lost value when the old progression system of loot boxes was removed. Loot boxes were the most popular and statistically the most efficient way to spend  star points, so once they were gone it felt like star points were becoming obsolete, thus forcing Supercell to finally make a change after so many years.

The eighteenth brawl pass season titled “Rumble Jungle: The Rescue,” is the two-month long purchasable battle pass that costs roughly the equivalent of 10 U.S. dollars, or 169 gems. Gems are another in-game currency that can be purchased with real money. This brawl pass brings with it another new guaranteed brawler to unlock on the seasonal track. This guaranteed brawler has a rarity of chromatic — a higher rank than rare, super rare, epic, mythic or legendary — and her name is Maisie.

Maisie is the safety assistant at Starr Theatre, and after unlocking and playing with this newest chromatic brawler, it feels like Maisie is a brawler that is very hard to master and use effectively. Her main attack is a rocket projectile that starts off slow and increases in speed until it reaches max range. Her super attack is a shockwave that damages and knocks back all brawlers in the area around her. What makes Maisie so difficult to use is her main attack and its slow startup speed. This slow start gives opponents a good amount of time to react and get out of the way. If players can’t land shots on the enemy, then they won’t be able to charge their super meters for super attacks. For Maisie, her super is the most fun part of her utility kit. Having a brawler with such a fun and powerful super attack that is challenging to use gives Maisie a more interesting and satisfying play style than most other brawlers.

Hank is the second brawler set to be released next month as part of this same update. He is an epic rarity brawler who is an army shrimp that controls a literal giant fish tank. Hank’s main attack is a charging bubble that can pierce through enemies or walls, and his super attack unleashes fish torpedoes in all directions damaging the first enemy they come into contact with. Even though Hank is not officially released yet, after viewing some preview gameplay online he seems a little too strong, so don’t be surprised if the Brawl Stars developer team decides to tone down Hank’s strength prior to his public release.

Other noteworthy aspects to this update are the addition of new and returning game modes, numerous changes to matchmaking and reworked or added abilities to existing brawlers.

Although there are some fun new game modes added for this season, the “Brawl Stars” team decided to take out the game mode Basketbrawl, which was by far my favorite game mode. It is very upsetting that Basketbrawl is no longer in the game, despite being advertised last season as a permanent addition. I still hold out hope that this game mode was statistically popular enough to make a comeback sometime in the near future.

As for matchmaking in “Brawl Stars,” it is based off how many trophies an individual brawler has. To help improve matchmaking, trophies now reset every two weeks rather than every two months, and only a player’s top 20 brawlers will be reset, which is very beneficial for a game with 68 brawlers.

Out of all the reworks and added abilities in this update, the most impactful one — hands down — is the rework to the legendary rarity brawler, Meg. Meg is a brawler with two different forms, with her base form being significantly weaker than her second mechanical form. Before this update, Meg was seen as one of the worst brawlers in the game because she starts off in the weak base form and has to achieve mechanical form. Now, after tweaking Meg so she starts off the battle in a somewhat nerfed mechanical form, some fans of the game are suggesting she could be the game’s best brawler. 

The overall feeling of this update is fairly positive in my eyes and in the eyes of many other “Brawl Stars” community members. That is a very good sign of things to come, as the next update is the yearly summer update that’s usually jam packed with content while the development team goes on Finland’s mandatory one-month vacation for workers.

The game’s Rumble Jungle season is currently in full swing for the next two months and players can experience it today. “Brawl Stars” is a free-to-download mobile game supported by many devices, and is available in both the Google and Apple play stores.

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