Note from OG: Here we are again taking a look at a mobile game that looked to have promising yuri potential. However, since I still do not own a tablet as of this writing I could not check the game out myself. Luckily, someone readers here may be familiar with did and she accepted my request to drop by and talk about the game in question. She even brought along a comrade of her own to assist in this endeavor. So without further ado here are Mai88 and Raida reviewing Girls’ Frontline!
Ladies. The battlefield is yours.
Browsing anime image hosting sites will most likely have led you to squads of girls with guns before, and maybe you’ve always wondered where they come from? At least that’s what it was for us, we’ve always wanted to look further in Girls’ Frontline, a Chinese mobile game depicting anthropomorphized firearms.
In this review, me and my fellow girls with guns lover, Raida, will talk about what Girls’ Frontline is about, how to play it, and if there’s any Yuri content to expect.
Girls’ Frontline is a mobile game developed by the Chinese Mica Team and initially published by Digital Sky in May 2016 on Chinese servers. The Korean version exists since June 2017, and open beta for the English version started in 8th of May 2018 and ended on 22nd of May, published by SUNBORN Network Technology. A Japanese version has been released on 29th of June. The game is available on both Google Android and iOS. The English version is sadly only available in Australia, New Zealand, the UK, Canada and the US, though the game is still playable outside these regions with downloading the .apk.
I’ve started to play the game on 11th of May but never tried to look into the Chinese version, so you can say I’m a newbie in that regard. Raida on the other hand already started to play this game in Chinese around a year ago.
In 2030, a radioactive substance, also known as Collapse, spread throughout the planet, causing destruction in the whole world, until World War III broke out in 2045. Post-war, robotics and AI technology began to develop into human-like Tactical Dolls (T-dolls), serving both as civilian support and soldiers.
The game starts with the AR-team (Anti-Rain) trying to escape from the enemies while capturing the enemy base. You play as a new commander who excels in tactical control, so you’ll be in charge of handling missions for Griffin from now on.
Primary objective for the first chapters is to recover the AR-team. The plot thickens later with Griffin trying to find out the secrets behind Sangvis Ferri (SF), a former t-doll company that got taken over by an AI that went rampage. SF is also the main antagonist in the game. There are 10 chapters in total in the Chinese version, whereas only 7 chapters are released in English as of now. Each chapter has 3 difficulty modes (normal, emergency, night battle), and the difficulty mode for each chapter divides itself into subchapters/stages. There are also map events that are limited for a certain time period, which add a bit of more background story to certain t-dolls and squads. For example, the recent map event Operation Cube was about the 404 squad infiltrating enemy territory.
The story itself is displayed in a visual novel-like mode with characters being displayed behind a small text box. You can replay the story whenever you want.
As already mentioned, every chapter is divided into stages/maps. You (blue) have a Command Post which you have to defend against the enemy (red), and the goal is to take the enemy’s Command Post. Each round you have a limited amount of Action Points which are used up to move or deploy more echelons. You can get more Action Points by deploying more echelons or take over Heliports.
In this game, we have different gun classes:
HG: handgun (buffer, tank)
SMG: submachine gun (tank, dps)
AR: assault rifle (dps)
MG: machine gun (dps)
RF: rifle (dps)
SG: shotgun (tank)
Each class has certain buffs for other classes, like AR will complement SMGs and vice versa. Although HGs are really weak, they can buff every class, making them useful in every formation.
An echelon can consist of maximal 5 t-dolls. Similarly to Kantai Collection (in the following shortened as KanColle) or any other “girls collecting” games, your goal is to gather many t-dolls through production/drops or exclusive event rewards. As of now, there are 128 different t-dolls in the game. Of course you can’t forget about rarities. We currently have 2* to 5*, with 5* being the rarest and usually the strongest type. Even then, it’s totally possible to beat the early maps with a 2*/3* team, while mixing in 4* or 5* later on. My main teams currently consists mostly of 4* with some exceptions like PPK (2*) or M14 (3*). As long as you know your t-dolls’ strength, there’s no need to get the rarest types.
Another reason why it’s recommended to start with 2*/3* t-dolls is the needed upgrade material in form of cores. At certain levels, you can “dummy link” your doll, multiplying your t-doll’s strength by adding another “dummy”, with x1 as the start value and x5 as the maximal level of dummy linking. Since you need the same copy of the t-doll to dummy link, or alternatively a lot of cores, dummy linking 4* or 5* t-dolls is quite a hurdle in the beginning.
Additionally, feeding spare t-dolls to your main t-dolls increases their base stats.
Aside from t-dolls, you’ll also need resources to deploy, repair or produce t-dolls. Equipment production comes later when you’ve cleared certain night battle stages. You’ll get resources by doing logistic missions, which is just sending off your echelons for a certain time and gaining the displayed rewards there, with a possible chance to get 50% more.
Another feature are the dorms your t-dolls will rest in. With the time, they’ll gain more affection the more comfortable the room is. Furniture and posters can help raising the comfort level, which you can obtain via gacha.
You’ll also gain more batteries that way, which is needed to upgrade facilities or produce a certain item that can add exp to your t-dolls. Your friends can also visit your dorm and give you a like, earning friendship points by doing so. Friendship points can be used to change your profile/avatar/background etc.
What convinced me and a few others to try out the game was the astonishing artwork found on the official website and other sources. They really did a good job in depicting the t-dolls on the wallpapers in a badass way. The ingame character art on the other hand is handled by a lot of different artists, varying in style. Still, since art is perceived subjectively, some will like the art of certain t-dolls better. As the game is not extremely difficult, personality and art can be a more decisive factor than battle performance in choosing what t-dolls to use. Take M1903 Springfield for example, a 4* rifle, her performance is way lower than her 4* rifle-colleague SVD. Even then, she’s way more popular, probably due to her caring Onee-san attitude. And even if the t-dolls are not being used in combat, you can still have one of them as your adjutant (secretary).
It’s possible to obtain certain costumes in gacha too, which you can gift to your t-dolls. By doing that, the t-dolls can change in their appearance.
Do mind that some character art is censored in the English version, like PTRD in the picture above.
Aside from the character portrait arts, you also probably saw chibi forms of the t-dolls in previous screenshots. These are used in choosing your formation, in live combat, when moving on the maps, and in the dorms.
The menu navigation and user interface is neat, clear, and easy to handle. I’m actually quite impressed about the interface being this user-friendly. You’ll see that the developers and designers put a lot of thought into the design. While the game is mainly played on the phone (or tablet), nothing seems to be out of place or hard to navigate. One downside I can think of is the lack of any detailed guide that shows you where certain functions are. We had to find out most things by ourselves with trial and error, with occasional tips being displayed on the loading screens.
There’s not much to say to the soundtrack as it shouldn’t distract too much from the actual gameplay. The music studio is Vanguard Sound, a Chinese music producer known in the doujin music scene. The genre is generally electronic.
The sound effects itself are fine, although I doubt that the sounds resemble real guns.
Almost all girls are voiced and have different lines for different actions, only your logistics girl, Kalina, doesn’t seem to be voiced. To get the voice data, you need to download it manually first, though. There are a lot of famous VAs involved and I had fun looking up some voices I knew from somewhere, like Aoba from New Game voices SR-3MP (Yuuki Takada). Every VA is listed in the index menu along with the artist.
After Raida’s research, we didn’t find much in the lines of the t-dolls. We can safely say that as of now, there’s nothing, so don’t even try to look for any yuri doujinshi.
Nonetheless, the commander’s gender is never specified, similar as in KanColle. Most of the girls are quite keen on the commander so if you think the commander is a girl, with tight yuri goggles you can still see some. Sadly as we know, a female commander is quite in the minority. Like in KanColle or most other anime games, you can also marry your t-dolls.
Despite that, there might be some subtext at best between a few dolls with their sisters, for example UMP9 and UMP45. Some of the background information for the t-dolls come from interviews or the artist itself. For example shuzi who’s responsible for G36’s art likes to pair her with Springfield on drawings.
And judging on a comment by a Korean player, there might be some heavy subtext awaiting in future events.
Maybe with some luck, our Japanese fellows will get some Yuri doujinshis out for C95.
The game is very addictive in the beginning, but as every mobage, it also reaches the endless grinding point. This time in form of getting cores for upgrades and exp to level your girls which can become quite repetitive and boring. As of now, we both have cleared all maps and have enough strong girls to form several echelons, so after that there’s not much to do except for farming cores, trying to get more 5* girls or accomplishing quests of the rather badly designed “point” events (where you just have to do things like “clear maps 100 times”). Talking about events, the recent and only map event so far was quite a change of pace, but after finishing the event it was back to the grinding.
Nonetheless, the game itself is perfectly playable as f2p, as their main income comes from the cosmetics. Additionally, the fact that there’s actual gameplay in form of a mix of real time combat and strategic map moving can make it a more enjoyable alternative of KanColle.
Overall, the game’s a solid option for any kind of mobage player because it’s f2p friendly and a perfect way to kill some of your dead time. The UI looks clean and the motions are smooth. While we can’t expect much on the yuri front, it still has a wide variety of girls, so there’ll be at least one you’ll like.
Note from OG: thank you again Mai-chan and Raida for your help! Here is to the series somehow getting an anime in the future similar to that of KanColle.
Follow Mai-chan on Twitter. I do not know what Raida links to plug but I am sure she will provide some later.