Transformers: Earthspark – Expedition

Robots in a different guise

Based on the newest cartoon series, Transformers: Earthspark – Expedition is light, colourful fun for younger fans of the show.

As a person of a certain age, I have fond memories of the original run of Transformers and its legendary movie. Beyond that, I’ve little experience with the more recent shows, but have enjoyed a few of the games such as Transformers: Fall of Cybertron and the excellent Transformers: Devastation. This newest entry in the franchise, based on the recent Earthspark show, doesn’t reach the heights of that latter game, but it’s certainly fun in its own right.

If you aren’t familiar with the show, there’s a brief setup at the start of the game about how two children found an artefact that created new Transformers with whom they now go on adventures, fighting the evil Mandroid. However, Transformers: Earthspark – Expedition doesn’t have you play as any of these, instead putting you behind the wheel of series regular Bumblebee. It might have been nice to have played as a few different characters, even the new ones, but I recognise that this is a game made by a smaller team than the likes of Transformers: Devastation. Anyway, you take Bumblebee to stop the returning Mandroid who has found powerful Energon cubes that he intends to use to destroy all Transformers.

Transformers: Earthspark - Expedition
The visuals are pretty nice, evoking the colourful nature of the cartoon.

I keep bringing up Transformers: Devastation as this game shares an awful lot with it. Transformers: Earthspark – Expedition is also a brightly-coloured, fast-paced spectacle fighter. You’ll spend a lot of your time fighting different varieties of Mandroid’s troopers using close combat combos, timed dodges, and super moves. Being that this is aimed at a younger audience than some of the recent Transformers games, the combat is really rather simple. Light and heavy attacks, a ranged attack that can stun, and a dodge roll that can briefly slow down time when timed correctly to allow for fast counterattacks. 

Combinations of light and heavy attacks unleash different combos that can hit multiple enemies or drive foes away from you, but really you can get through the game without doing anything fancy. On hard mode you actually do need to be a bit more careful, but normal mode put up little resistance, and I’m sure easy will allow a younger player to breeze through. You’ll also collect health, defence, and damage boost kits that can be quick-used with the D-pad meaning you’ll rarely struggle so long as you watch your health.

You’ll be doing all this fighting in an open-world environment that feels very Ubisoft. Each of the three maps has a main boss to fight, often one of the classic characters like Skullcruncher or Grimlock, but that will be locked off until you’ve depleted Mandroid’s influence in the area. You’ll do this by completing side missions, collecting items, and of course clearing out enemy camps. Thankfully there aren’t so many on a map that they get tiresome, and you can complete most tasks on a map the first time around in a couple of hours.

Transformers: Earthspark - Expedition
Combat is pretty by the numbers, but battles are often over before you can get tired of them.

Most of this involves fighting, but some of the side missions have races and platform challenges, and the collectables are quite enjoyable. Cards feature nice artwork and details about characters, and you can even find Glyphs that can unlock cheat codes. A lot of these you can’t reach until later in the game when you can come back with new abilities to navigate to new areas. Completing some of these side activities is additionally worthwhile as you’ll earn upgrade tokens to unlock new combos, abilities, and cosmetics. Again, you can get by just fine without these, but it’s nice to have additional skills to play with.

I have yet to mention one of the main features of a Transformer, and that’s transforming into vehicles. The reason for that is because it’s a bit rubbish in Transformers: Earthspark – Expedition. You’d think that turning into Bumblebee’s iconic Corvette would allow you to get around the stages quickly, but the truth is that the car is actually slower than running in most cases. When you get the nitro upgrade you can get around faster for a few moments, but I spent most of the game dodge-rolling from place to place due to it being faster. The only time I used the car was to access areas that required it. This even extended to the racing side missions. I did better rolling through gates than I did racing through them. It feels like a really missed opportunity to give players the chance to speed around from fight to fight, but sadly it’s not to be. 

Other than this, the gameplay is fun enough, if a little one-note. Enemy variety is there, but you’ll fight most of them in the same way unless you lean into trying to break the Sekiro style stamina bars. Battles are flashy enough thanks to lots of attacks flying around. Bumblebee is pretty sturdy and can handle most of them with little issue. A younger player will probably enjoy this quite well, but older gamers will likely want something to sink their teeth into a little more.

Transformers: Earthspark - Expedition
The map is about as Ubisoft as it gets, but there isn’t an overwhelming amount of stuff to pick up.

The only other issue I ran into was technical. For some reason, each time I launched the game, my graphics settings would have changed. Sometimes I would start in 1080, others 900, and my framerate settings will have reset. It’s not a big problem to reset them, but it’s a little irritation that I could have done without. On the subject of graphics, Transformers: Earthspark – Expedition looks very pretty. Lots of bright colours and smooth animations mean the action always looks good, and I never found my framerate slipping even when there were a large number of opponents in a busy area. The sound is pretty solid too, and though none of the show’s voice cast are present, the voice work on offer is good. There is a little issue with the, admittedly pretty good, music overpowering the voice over to the point that it can’t be heard clearly enough. There’s also an oddity that only two Transformers seem to have the iconic transforming sound effect in spite of a number of characters turning into other things.

It’s hard to complain too much though with this being a comparatively budget priced offering. It ticks the boxes for a fun, light kids game that clocks in at under five hours but features a lot of collectibles for completionists. A grown up player might find this a bit light on challenge, but a youngster will likely enjoy taking Bumblebee around the world, smashing up robots and trying to scoop up everything available.

Transformers: Earthspark - Expedition

Transformers: Earthspark – Expedition is available now on PC, Xbox, Playstation, and Nintendo Switch.

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