Toy Soldiers: War Chest could've been a great followup to Cold War, but technical issues and questionable DLC practices hold it back from reaching its full potential.
Signal Studios has struck a winning formula with the Toy Soldiers games. Both the original and the follow-up, Cold War (read our review), were great games, expertly blending fast-paced action with the typically slow tower defense genre. Fans of the first two games have been eagerly anticipating Toy Soldiers: War Chest for quite some time now, but it seems as though the transition from Microsoft to Ubisoft as publisher has had some unfortunate consequences.
Before we jump into the issues with Toy Soldiers: War Chest, first and foremost let it be known that, by and large, the core gameplay formula is unchanged from previous iterations. Players are still setting up turrets and artillery while defending against waves of enemy soldiers and vehicles that are trying to invade their toy box, and it's just as fun as it ever was.
This is especially true in the game's multiplayer and co-op modes, which support both split-screen and online play. Conquering the campaign with a buddy proves to be the game's strongest point, and provides many hours of enjoyment, even though the campaign only boasts 12 levels in total.
Besides the campaign, players can partake in survival maps that task them with surviving as long as possible against increasingly powerful waves of enemies. There's also versus multiplayer for both online and offline play, wherein players take turns attacking and defending the toy box. These game modes are nice, but War Chest lacks the hilarious mini-games from the previous entry, so it ultimately has less content than its predecessor.
All that being said, Toy Soldiers: War Chest suffers from a problem that was also apparent in the previous versions. Despite being a tower defense game, there is an inherent lack of strategy. Besides the occasional boss that throws a wrench into things, don't expect many defeats playing through the campaign, especially in co-op, as having two people to micromanage everything makes the game that much easier.
The foundation for War Chest is more than solid, but the game suffers from some technical problems and has some questionable DLC and online practices that didn't exist in the series until Ubisoft took control of publishing duties.
The technical issues include abnormally long load times and a weird problem where the text on the right side and top of the screen is cut off. This appears to be an issue with the video ratio, but there is no way to fix it. Going into the PS4's settings and adjusting the screen size from there does nothing to fix the problem, and there is no way to adjust screen size in-game either.
Perhaps the game's most frustrating technical issue is a glitch that affects the progression of co-op partners in split-screen, which occurred with every character except the starting one. Basically, the XP earned by co-op partners is not saved from one level to the next, meaning that they can't upgrade their characters and unlock more powerful turrets. This is obviously very frustrating, especially during the later stages when more powerful turrets are required to be successful.
When it comes to Toy Soldiers: War Chest, players have the option of purchasing is the vanilla version or the Hall of Fame Edition, which comes with all the DLC characters. Alternatively, players can purchase the DLC characters (which includes the likes of Ezio from Assassin's Creed and G.I. Joe) separately. These licensed characters are cool, but don't add enough to the game to justify paying the extra $15 for the Hall of Fame Edition.
Furthermore, co-op and multiplayer partners can't even access these characters. Usually when DLC is downloaded on a console anyone on the console has access to it, but this is not the case with Toy Soldiers: War Chest.
Microtransactions have also been introduced to the series. The game uses an in-game currency called tokens that can be used to purchase new items and weapons, but these tokens can be purchased with real-world money if players find themselves coming up a little short. Seeing free-to-play elements like this in a paid game is a little disheartening, though, to the game's credit, accumulating a fortune of tokens through legitimate in-game means is easy enough.
As someone that has greatly enjoyed the previous games in the series, Toy Soldiers: War Chest is a disappointing experience. The forced use of Uplay for much of the online content, DLC purchases being locked to the account that purchased it, and a myriad of technical issues hamper the quality of the game. For Xbox One owners, it's probably best to just wait for the Xbox 360 backward compatibility to be implemented as the infinitely superior Toy Soldiers: Cold War will be BC on day one. For PlayStation fans that haven't yet had a chance to experience the series and are intrigued by the concept, War Chest's core gameplay is solid enough to warrant a purchase after a price drop, but there's no real reason to shell out the extra cash for the Hall of Fame Edition.
Toy Soldiers: War Chest is available now for PC, PS4, and Xbox One. Game Rant was provided a PS4 code for this review.