Power Rangers Battle for the Grid Review, Gameplay Videos and Esports Potential

Chris Roling@@Chris_RolingFeatured ColumnistMarch 31, 2019

nWay Games

It is bold to introduce a new title in the fighting game genre these days. Even bolder, doing so with a franchise like Power Rangers.

Developer nWay Games has charged ahead with Power Rangers Battle for the Grid, banking on gameplay first as the hook and a roadmap of planned content for its fans. 

Battle for the Grid takes an interesting approach, splashing heroes from different generations of the franchise on to a 2D fighting space. It runs well and looks good enough, but the majority of the initial reaction will center on the small roster and missing quality-of-life features.

It is a big ask, though a franchise as historic as Power Rangers has a way of persevering and looping in a dedicated fanbase. Battle for the Grid might not be an outlier in this regard.


Graphics and Gameplay

From an overall presentation standpoint, Battle for the Grid gets some of the important stuff right but misses out in other areas.

There is a nostalgia factor to the visuals, especially the backgrounds. Colorful stages with in-universe settings are great touches. But the contrast with the more realistic looking fighters often clashes. Also nostalgic, but perhaps not in a good way, is the sparse soundtrack, audio presentation and lack of voiceovers.

Those character models are passable and understandably unique but also seem like they were transplanted right from a mobile game. Not necessarily a bad thing—the animations and fluidity of combat looks good and makes for quality gameplay when reading and reacting to the on-screen action.

A three vs. three format isn't new to the fighting-game genre. Each participant has their own health bar, and players are free to juggle in assists and outright swaps like most others in the genre with this format. Characters not in the fight regenerate health and can help break up an offensive string by an opponent.

Overall, it isn't terribly complicated. There are basic combos with a controller's face buttons—a combo of face buttons initiates a grapple and another a super move. It walks a good line between pick-up-and-play potential given the likely youth of its potential audience and depth of systems for the fighting game diehards it might attract at the same time.

Mastering some of these more difficult mechanics like EX moves could lead to a satisfying ultra that summons a Megazord, Mega Goldar or Dragonzord. The top-tier players will master the advanced things as always, and zero-to-death moves are surely already being uncovered.

But it isn't all good.

Some depth systems found in other fighters are simply missing. There doesn't appear to be a combo-breaker mechanic other than involving a different teammate. There are exploits in the gameplay loop that will be addressed via patch.

Battle for the Grid runs great. Not that anyone expected it to suffer, but fighting games without stutters and little in the way of netcode issues don't come around often. Here the frame rate remains crispy regardless of mode, which is one of those critical details a fighting game has to get right.

Solid core gameplay, albeit missing a few features, and running well are the selling points of a game lacking elsewhere.


Arcade and More

There is no story mode here, which given the game's title, is quite strange. What is the Grid? Who is battling for it?

The name seems to imply a narrative out of the box, but a few one-liners between opponents is all players will see. This occurs in the Arcade mode, which is exactly what it sounds like.

There, players run through a gauntlet of matches until winning it all. The A.I. isn't much of a challenge here, enabling even button-mashers to run the table. Loot doesn't exactly shower the player as a result, though completionists will get checkmarks next to the characters' names.

From a quality of life standpoint, there is not a lot to digest here. The poor A.I. from Arcade translates to the tutorial, which is sparse in its depth and functionality. As soon as it feels like it is just getting going, it ends. In training, there isn't a replay system to watch back and review or share. It still serves its purpose but doesn't meet the genre standards.

The roster is arguably the biggest negative. Twenty-plus years of franchise history to draw from here has only resulted in a base-game roster of nine characters. And for the diehards, some of the selections for the base game will surely come off as strange. Maybe the idea is to appeal to as many generations of fans as possible, but putting some of these newer faces next to the Mighty Morphin feels strange.

And as an aside, there are only five stages. It feels like a minor quip in the face of the roster concerns, though.

There are undoubtedly going to be season passes and DLC that flesh out the roster. This isn't terribly surprising given the successes of things like battle passes in battle royales right now, but the context of the franchise makes it disappointing.

Unless the game seriously latches on with the fighting game community, a drip-feed of notable characters in a game launching with only nine in a three vs. three format might not be enough to keep casual fans playing the game.

Fans don't have a ton of options to link up, either. There isn't a lobby, friend or rematch system in the game at launch. Matchmaking is said to feature crossplay at least, though these other core absences make it hard to see it working. Finding a game isn't hard, but keeping a fun session rolling is, for now, only possible in local settings.


Esports Impact

There is always room on the esports scene for a tag-based fighter with a rather high skill ceiling that presents well-known characters to reel in viewers.

And Battle for the Grid has a lot going for it. The gameplay is snappy and easy to understand. The visuals are colorful. From a performance standpoint, it doesn't drop frames or have notable input lag. There are some online issues to iron out, but local tournaments could be possible.

While limited, the roster leaves room for some creative deployments from pro players. Tommy and Jason, predictably, are the all-around characters. Mastodon Sentry is a zoner who doesn't let opponents in close. Goldar is the massive damage-inflicter, if he can get close.

Despite the clear distinctions aimed at emulating other games and luring in the hardcore, this is an offensive-minded tag fighter. It makes for a good viewing time and a fun one to master. The gap between watching a pro and trying to emulate them won't be as big as with other fighters by any means.

But long-term esports impact is tricky and will come down to developer support. If a hardcore element latches on to this game and creates a vibrant community, it is bound to receive continued balance passes and additions in all areas. That's the best-case scenario, and one made possible by the fact that the gameplay and performance is crisp.



Battle for the Grid has the feel of a game that was rushed out, which is understandable given the quarter of the year it has chosen to occupy in terms of fighting games.

This first effort from a developer diving into the deep end is admirable for the way it plays and runs regardless of the subject matter. That will do some of the work to drive players to the game—the hardcore element will sniff it out regardless.

If players can overlook the limited roster and handfuls of deficiencies, Battle for the Grid is worth the time and has major upside. The limited modes, roster and stages won't be enough to hold the attention of casuals for long, but hardcore fighting fans who enjoy the gameplay will find enough here to stick it out.

A sleeper candidate bogged down in a semi-golden era for fighting games, Battle for the Grid, at the very least, has the two most difficult aspects of the genre nailed down well.