Mobile games such as RAID: Shadow Legends have become exponentially more popular in the past few years. A decade ago we amused ourselves by slingshotting enraged avians and eviscerating defenseless fruit. These days, there is a flood of service based games that demand about the same amount of your time that desktop MMOs used to (and still do). Gacha games continue to stand as one of the more popular sub-genres. They are defined by a business model that is reminiscent of trading cards games. Customers spend money for a chance at acquiring and upgrading powerful characters and use them to compete in challenges or battles.
RAID: Shadow Legends is a turn-based RPG gacha game that contains many of the genre’s iconic game design patterns that have proven to be successful for some time. The developers of RAID: Shadow Legends, Plarium, released the game in July 2018. In January 2019, Plarium released an official mobile app that enabled RAID to be playable on Android and iOS.
In RAID, you control a group of Champions that battle against computer controlled enemies. Between rounds of combat, you upgrade your Champions power. RAID enables you to do this through a variety of means such as rank upgrades and skill enhancement.
View the official launch trailer for Raid Shadow Legends here:
With roots in Japanese culture, a very large number of gacha games are developed in Japan and have anime inspired art styles. RAID subverts this trend by opting for a dark fantasy aesthetic based more on Western themes. RAID boasts an array of collectible characters (Champions) that span across 16 factions. Character design of the Champions is diverse and includes common fantasy beings such as Orcs, Trolls, and the Undead. A player’s roster is far more likely to contain a wolf like hellspawn than an anthropomorphic method of transport clad in a swimsuit. The women of RAID have likely spent marginally less time in the care of a chiropractor than their anime counterparts.
The game’s characters are represented by animated 3D models that complement the gritty fantasy world of Teleria. The models themselves are above average in terms of texture quality (there is some clipping but its not obnoxious). The sound effects may not be groundbreaking, but sword clashes and magical attacks still provide a sense of “weight” to your Champion’s attacks.
Loading times appear to be fast on flagship phones (tested on Samsung Galaxy S10+). Time from app launch to main home screen is between 6-8 seconds. Game occasionally hangs between screen or has slight delays when pressing menu options.
Above all else, the single most important aspect of RAID: Shadow Legends is that it continues the Plarium nomenclature of “Word: Noun (of) Noun” that is used by its predecessors such as: Vikings: War of Clans, Sparta: War of Empires, Stormfall: Age of War and Throne: Kingdom at War. One dilemma that may perplex players on an extensional level is determining whether or not RAID is a game founded upon the concept of war.
The random nature in how you acquire characters is the staple aspect that binds all gacha games together. Every game has a slightly different summoning system. This makes it difficult to compare them to each other. The summoning method in RAID: Shadow Legends uses Shards to acquire Champions. These come in a few varieties that somewhat resemble banners found in other games.
As a turn based RPG game, RAID uses combat systems that are common of the genre. Champions take turns using one of their skills. After they act, the next Champion in line receives the baton. A mechanic called the Turn Meter determines the order that Champions act. This mechanic enables faster Champions to perform actions first. Not all Champions have the same capabilities as each other with most specializing in specific areas. An Attack Champions might focus on dealing damage, while a HP Champion excels in survival.
Many similar games have some form of an element system, where an element (e.g. Fire) is assigned to every character. The elements have an advantage over certain elements, but are weak to others forming a relationship similar to rock paper scissors. Within RAID: Shadow Legends, each Champion has an assigned Affinity type which serve as the game’s “elements”.
There are 3 basic Affinity types:
Magic (Blue Comet)
Spirit (Green Bolt)
Force (Red Skull)
A champion with an Affinity advantage deals increased damage, has an increased chance to critically strike, and the effectiveness of their attacks increases. A stand-alone 4th Affinity named Void (Purple Triangle) has neither an advantage nor a weakness against other types (including itself).
Energy – The standard stamina of RAID used to participate in most of the game’s content. It recharges over time up to a maximum. Energy can overflow beyond the maximum (e.g. 120/100) limit, however you will not recharge Energy until the current value falls below the maximum limit.
Arena Tokens – Tokens allow entry into the Arena. You can pit your team of Champions against AI controlled teams formed by other players. The tokens visually look like gold coins.
Silver – The main currency in RAID. A large number of activities require Silver, particularly upgrading Artifacts and opening Shards.
Gems – The premium currency in RAID. Gems have the capability to expand inventory slots, purchase Shards to summon characters, and most things you would expect. Upgrades to features such as the Gem Mine and the Sparring Pit require Gems as well. Remember, you get free Gems whenever your account levels up!
Quick Start Guide: Setup
The RAID: Shadow Legends app on Google Play (Android) or on the App Store (iOS). Plarium can also be played on a laptop or desktop computer through the Plarium Play Launcher (Win/Mac). The game requires additional data downloads after instillation. When using a mobile phone, be sure to use a Wi-Fi connection to avoid data overage. When the data finishes downloading, you should be all set to begin the game and enter the world of Teleria!
Starting the Tutorial
Upon running the game for the first time, you will be greeted by a short voice acted animation. This segues into a tutorial combat scenario where four Champions are pitted against a single enemy. The tutorial is pretty par for the course, however it is short and lets you explore the game freely early.
The second wave contains four enemies which block your path. To defeat them you must use a character’s secondary ability to clear them out. The third and final encounter pits you against a menacing dragon! Before you even have a chance to move, the dragon consumes and devours one of the four Champions! Your Champions experience utter defeat when the dragon’s releases it’s flame breath.
Choosing your First Hero
The tragic result of these four Champions serves as a new beginning! You must select one of the tutorial Champions to be your first ally. All of the four Champions are Rare and have a rank of 3★. You may choose from Elhain, Kael, Galek, or Athel.
Elhain – Elf with a longbow. An offensive attack Champion who outputs both single target and AoE damage to devastate her enemies. Her skills encourage landing critical hits, making Elhain a great candidate for those who like big damage.
Kael – Dark Elf spellcaster clad in purple. Unlike the other starter Champions, Kael specializes in DoT effects and thrives in longer battles. Two of his three abilities inflict poison and killing enemies with a finisher grants him more tuns.
Galek – The dual wielding Orc. Galek is an excellent choice to push through early game content, however he his late game is a bit weaker. He can increase his own speed and has both single target and AoE damage like Elhain. His devastating attacks lower a debuffed enemy’s defensive capabilities.
Athel – A spear and shield wielding knight. She has the ability to buff herself thereby increasing her own offense and defense capabilities. Athel has moderate AoE damage and can also debuff enemies to increase the damage they take. Some believe Athel to be one of the weaker starter Champions, but choosing your favorite character should take precedence over tier lists and power rankings
Summon your first Champion by activating a free Shard from the Summoning Portal! The provided Shard is a Mystery Shard and can summon Champions of Common, Uncommon, or Rare rarity. You should continue to follow the in game instructions, however once you upgraded the second piece of gear, the on-rails tutorial ends allowing you to navigate the main interface freely.
A large potion of the game has you staring at RAID’s main home screen, which contains a castle called The Bastion. The castle’s physical portion contains structures while the screen itself has buttons, both of which lead you to pivotal interfaces. Understanding the Bastion doesn’t take long and the UI has a decent layout.
Under Champions, you can view all of your collected Champions as well as your Artifacts. Selecting a Champion allows you to view their stats, their equipped Artifacts, and their Masteries.
The Index contains information about all Champions in the game. The categorization of the Index sorts Champions by faction, and then rarity within the faction.
Players may form together within Clans, where they can collaborate and earn additional rewards. A leaderboard compares Clans and ranks them based on productivity. When a player is not a part of a clan, they will be able to search and browse for one on the main interface. Players may check-in with their guild for small bonuses.
The Shop is the main store for purchasing the game’s micro transactions. The shop consists of packs, boosts, passes, account upgrades, and resources, with costs ranging from $0.99 to $99.99. The “Microtransactions” section expands on the shop in greater detail.
The Battle button in the lower right side opens up a whole host of game dungeons and content. This is where you can find the main campaign. The section “Content and Dungeons” provides a more detailed look into these areas.
Missions, Quests, and Challenges
RAID has 3 primary task systems that provide rewards of different types. Each task system has slight differences, but they are all designed to reward you for making progress throughout the game.
Missions provide new players with a reward based progression system. Completing individual missions gives you rewards, and when you reach certain benchmarks you will get even more!
Quests are repeatable activities that give steady but consistent rewards. The three main quest types are: daily, weekly, and monthly. Daily quests give the smallest rewards and weekly quests give slightly better rewards Monthly quests are the hardest to complete but finishing all 5 monthly quests rewards a Sacred Shard which guarantees an Epic or Legendary Champion! A small number of achievements also exist that give one time bonuses for simple activities like changing your account name.
Challenges are somewhat of a hybrid between missions and quests. They can only be completed once, but multiple are available at one time. completing all the challenges of a certain level within a category gives additional rewards. There are 4 different categories: Champions, Artifacts, Dungeons, and Arena.
Within the Portal, you will be able to spend Silver and consume Shards to summon new Champions! Additionally you can fuse together specific Champions to create new ones that are stronger.
The Great Hall is a source of account wide upgrades for your Champions. There are 4 different upgrade trees, one for each of the 4 Affinity types. Each tree has 6 the same upgrades (HP, ATK, DEF, C. DMG, RESIST, ACC). Medals earned from PvP allow you to purchase these upgrades up to 10 times each. Upgrading any bonus increases the corresponding stat of all Champions you own of the Affinity type listed.
One of the most important buildings is the Tavern. Inside the tavern, you can enhance a Champion by giving them experience, increasing their rank, improving their skills, or Ascending them. The type of enhancement demands an assortment of resources that you can usually farm within Dungeons.
Champions can be sent to the Sparring Pit to gain experience passively over time. You will only have a single slot initially unlocked, but up to 4 additional slots can be purchased for 300 Gems each. Upgrades to slots increase the rate that champions receive experience, but these improvements will cost Gems as well.
The Mine gradually produces Gems over time once unlocked for an initial cost of 500 Gems. The Mine has up to 2 more upgrades for more gems for those interested in a long term investment.
The Market offers an assortment of items that includes Artifacts, Champions, and more. You will have to spend Gems to increase the number of items that are available, but a new player should consider checking the Market frequently as you never know what you’ll find!
On the right side are Events and Tournaments, which offer even more rewards. Events give prizes for reaching specific milestones and are periodic unlike challenges or missions. Tournaments embrace the gacha grind and encourage players to play game content for prizes based on how they stack up to others.
Oh and the Campfire. It doesn’t do anything (at the moment).
This guide is not a sponsored article. The information within this guide is derived from the perspective of a newer players who has not been previously familiar with RAID and is based off of personal experiences. If any regular players notice any erroneous information, please feel free to leave a comment!