Blast boats out of the water in Rovio's raucous Battle Bay

Free-to-play games often look appealing, but it’s difficult to know at a glance whether the business model is insidious and fun ruining, or reasonable and worth pumping a few bucks into. With Freemium Field Test, we’ll take a recent free-to-play iOS game, put it through its paces, and let you know if it’s really worth your time (and money).

Rovio is best known for Angry Birds, but that franchise falls deeper into irrelevance with each passing entry. The latest, Angry Birds Evolution, is an almost impressively misguided attempt to give the brand a gritty makeover… because what’s been missing from the pull-and-fling franchise is surely a harder edge and 100-plus new characters, right?

Luckily, the company is starting to look past its fading cash cow, as well, and Battle Bay is a much more appealing iOS debut: it’s a five-on-five boat brawler, in which you’ll navigate choppy waves alongside real online allies to try and sink your opponents. Battle Bay is slick and easy to understand, and it makes a strong impression—but it also has a lot of freemium elements in play. Does Rovio’s new experience remain satisfying after the first few matches pass?

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