Tower of Power: Hands-on with Defense Grid 2

While tower defense games proliferate on PC, they’re something of a rarity on consoles. But when one hits, it can hit big. Hidden Path’s 2008 Xbox 360​ release “Defense Grid: The Awakening” was played by over a million people and will be succeeded by “Defense Grid 2” for Xbox One later this year.

Part of the reason for the success of “Defense Grid” on Xbox 360 can likely be attributed to its controller-friendliness. “Keeping the game fully playable with a single stick and a single button has been a key part of letting everyone easily jump in a play the game right away,” said Hidden Path CEO Jeff Pobst. “As you play further you find additional features that can help you out on the other buttons and stick of the controller, but it’s a very simple base control scheme that players find extremely intuitive.”

Playing through several levels recently, I found “Defense Grid 2” to hew close to the original, placing familiar Gun, Inferno, and Laser towers on select spots of the map. Alien hordes march or fly dutifully through this gauntlet towards your stash of Cores, attempting to ferry them off the map. One of the hallmarks of “Defense Grid” is the way skilled players can herd advancing enemies along the longest path possible, thereby increasing the amount of time they’re taking fire from your towers. This is made easier in “Defense Grid 2” with the introduction of a toggle-able path indicator, which is very useful when plotting where to spend your precious Resources.

As you might expect in a sequel, “Defense Grid 2” will introduce new alien and tower types across its 21 levels. Hidden path is also introducing moveable platforms, necessitating on-the-fly strategy shifts as the grids evolve, and for the first time, you’ll be able to rotate your view of these levels.

But the most significant addition to “Defense Grid 2” is multiplayer capability. Co-op play allows players to tackle maps together, either on the same couch or via Xbox Live. Competitive modes aren’t Tower vs Alien; both players take on the aliens independently, with successful defenses on one side translating to more enemies for your opponent to handle.

Hidden Path will also leverage the power of Xbox One to make you a better player. Pobst explains: “With the cloud features of Xbox One, we’re able to keep more statistics and information about how a player beats a level and then show that information to the player so they can compare their score curve from a play through against their previous best, their last play through, the play through of their friend, or perhaps the play through of the person right above them on the leaderboards.”

Those stats will be useful for advanced players, as completing levels is one thing, finishing with all 24 Cores intact is much more challenging. It’s that quest for perfection that’s likely to keep players coming back long after they’ve seen every level.

‘Defense Grid 2” is coming to Xbox One this Fall.