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Azur Lane Review: An Unbiased Take on the Hit Gacha Game

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Games.lol
Posted on January 19, 2021

Azur Lane has always been the centre of attention when it comes to scantily clad anime girls. The game has also outstanding fan arts that became the source of memes in the anime, mobile, R34 and gaming communities. So, what the heck is Azur Lane even? Is it a dating simulator? An AFK gacha game? Maybe an h-game? Well, yes, but also no. If I were to describe the game, I’d call it a bullet hell game with tons of fanservice. And I love it (mostly because I’m a trashy weeaboo – same as the degenerates that only downloaded this game for the sake of the mommies).

However, beyond the fan service and skimpy outfits lie a great game that requires strategic thinking and micromanaging the right equipment for the right ships. Let’s dive right into the game and see how Azur Lane became a popular hit among anime fans all over the world.
 

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Azur Lane Game Overview

From a non-player standpoint, you wouldn’t know what Azur Lane is supposed to be: could it be a turn-based strategy, and afk clicker game or something extensive as World of Warships? To answer that question, Azur Lane is more of a bullet hell game with a slice of Battleship. The game is based on the naval battles of World War II, and the real-life ships are the anime girls in the game. Imagine your grandfather sacrificing himself for the sake of the future generation only to have the ship he served on become a cute waifu 70 years later.

Azur Lane Main Gameplay

As stated, Azur Lane plays more of a bullet hell game with a side of turn-based Battleship-esque mechanics. You will need to build a fleet to a maximum of 6 ships. A fleet consists of 2 divisions: vanguard and main. The vanguards are the frontlines: Destroyers, Light Cruisers and Heavy Cruisers. The main fleet is the backline consisting of heavy weapons including Battleships, Aircraft Carriers or hybrids.

Additionally (and optionally), you can bring in a Submarine fleet too. They serve as the back-up for the primary and vanguard fleets to reduce enemy quantity and effectiveness. Are there such a thing as Azur Lane’s best ships? Well, there’s a meta but if I were you, pick the one who you think is the cutest.
 

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Map Exploration

Once you assemble two fleets, you must now go into the watery world and set foot in enemy territory. Every chapter features multiple maps. Each map will include a set of enemy placements. You will need to destroy these enemy fleets until the boss shows up. Defeating the boss and the fleets will earn you up to 3 stars to advance to the next map. Finishing all the maps in one chapter will lead you to another set, gradually making the game more challenging.

The more you advance, the more challenging the game becomes. Your enemies spawn more, bosses become more unpredictable, and the later chapters will require you to think properly on the right equipment.
 

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Gunplay

So, how does the gunplay work? To start, your vanguards will automatically fire once they find an enemy. You can control the vanguards using the joystick/d-pad on the lower-left. Most of the vanguards are equipped with torpedoes, and you can deploy them manually at any time during a clash.

The main backline fleet also does their work with the aircraft deployment and artillery bombardment buttons. Clicking the aircraft deployment button will activate your aircraft carrier to clear out as many enemies on screen as they can. As for the artillery bombardment, that’s what the Battleships are for. Hold the artillery button to aim and release it to fire. It’s like a mini sniper game that feels rewarding whenever the shots are successful.

Think of it as like a more casual version of Touhou (and we all know that Touhou has very unforgiving bullet-hell gameplay). Overall, the gunplay feels fun and casual – not too afk, yet not too micromanage-heavy. The fun begins when you finally get to the later levels.

You may also toggle the game in manual or auto mode. Auto mode is the afk part of the game where the computer will manage the fight for you. It’s an excellent method if you are grinding for materials or a specific ship while you are at work or school.
 

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The “Other” Gameplay

Another aspect that keeps the players hooked onto the game is the relationship system. The more time you use a specific girl for battle, her relationship with you increases. Anybody who is assigned as your Secretary (and one that you can interact within the main menu) will also get an increased relationship with you.

The higher the relationship, the more stat bonuses the girl gets. Ultimately, she will fall in love with you at 100% affinity wherein you can get to marry her. Yes, that’s right, you can marry the girls here. Polygamy at its finest (unless you are loyal to one girl then we respect that). Sorry dude, no actual honeymoon here.

On another note, you can also upgrade each girl’s stats with the use of salvaging other ships or Limit Break their levels. Some of the other girls even have Retrofits; a way to upgrade them even more and even drastically change their splash arts.
 

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Graphics & Visuals

Most of the time, the game is set in 2D. Only the waters and particle effects have 3D effects. Technically there is nothing groundbreaking here when it comes to a graphical presentation like how Honkai Impact 3 or Fate Grand Order does. But, what it does have are cute chibi versions of the girls.

To nobody’s surprise, the best visual presentation here is the girls. The splash arts are amazing and alluring (and “beyond alluring” for the extremely active part of the community). Every ship girl has detailed down to the brim thanks to the renowned artists from Pixiv and Twitter – who are most reputable for their R34 content.

The weapons in the depot do look nice to ogle at too.

Azur Lane Sound Design

Music

Arguably, one of the most vital points of Azur Lane is the music. Because, holy crap, does this game have music that can rival full-priced AAA games. The welcoming music of Weigh Anchor in the main menu feels so calming and approachable. Yet, it becomes contrastingly intimidating and exciting when you hear Solomon Night. Port and Sortie sound very Naval and capture the atmosphere of the game perfectly. Even with over 1000+ hours of the game, I never get tired of the songs.

Azur Lane Sound Effects

It does not sound as bombastic as World of Warships or as explosive as War Thunder, but it is due for its anime-style bullet hell system. The guns sound amply powerful, the waiving of the airplanes feel like they will fly towards you anytime, and the explosions feel very satisfying.

Voice Acting

If the splash arts of the girls don’t get you mainly riled up, then the voice acting will. Azur Lane has an extremely all-star cast that weeaboos will recognize. Yui Ishikawa (Attack on Titan, Violet Evergarden), Ayane Sakura (My Hero Academia, Tokyo Ghoul, Show By Rock), Sora Amamiya (Konosuba, Monster Musume) and Rie Kugumiya (Gintama, Toradora, Fairy Tail) are among the voices in the game. And, oh boy, do they do a very good job of bringing the characters to life.
 

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Gacha

I’m pleased to tell you that Azur Lane is one of the F2P friendliest gacha games ever made. The multiple ways to earn cubes ) for free, generous apologems (or apolocubes in this case), and high up rates. For standard pulls (Light, Heavy and Special), the probability of getting an SSR is 7%, Elite on 12% and Rare on 26%.

On limited events, a specific SSR can be as low as 2% while Elites are at 2.5%. The rarest UR (Ultra Rare) is on 1.2% but can be redeemable after 200 rolls. Not bad, right? Much better than FGO and Honkai Impact 3’s rates. The only gripe in this gacha is that it does not have a “guarantee” per 10x rolls.

Cons of the Azur Lane

While the game itself is inherently fun, there is no denying that it can be very grindy and monotonous in the long run. One case is the exclusive Priority Ships – also known as Grind-to-Earn ships. For example, the Iron Blood Heavy Cruiser Roon needs an overall 3 million XP from Iron Blood cruisers on top of the blueprints and other resources. As of this writing, I am still halfway through getting her.

Another case of long grinds is the infamous World 3-4, also known as Fox Hell. This is the only way to earn Carriers Akagi and Kaga. The worst part is they are both SSR which makes the chances of getting them very low unless you dedicate your time to keep on fighting in this map. Thank God for the auto mode though.

Summary

Azur Lane is a welcoming gacha game that both newcomers and frustrated FGO/Arknights/GBF/Honkai players can seek refuge. Well, all thanks to its F2P friendly pulls. It may be a bit janky with its inventory and upgrading mechanics. Still, it is undoubtedly a fun casual bullet hell strategy game with the best fan service.

The fan service is so strong that Azur Lane fan arts always show up in the Pixiv trending page. Or for the most part, well-known digital artists creating excellent drawings of them. If a small gacha game like this can host a significant convention, place ads in the Shibuya train station, make its anime and a PS4/Steam spin-off game, you know it’s successful in both popularity and profits.

Azur Lane entertains players of different tastes whether they prefer tomboys or fairest ladies, cute small ones or the ara ara oneesan types. No discrimination in this game.

Now You Can Azur Lane It on PC

No, this isn’t a gimmick or some scam but having Azur Lane on PC? Without the use of a program like Bluestacks or NOX? Yes, you can play the game on your desktop for free. Just download the game through Games.lol and experience the best shipfu simulator today.

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