Defender 2 review - wave defense with magic and a big honkin' crossbow

Defender 2 is a popular wave defense game that seems to have struck a chord with Android gamers looking for a free, customizable, multiplayer experience.

Defender 2 puts players on top of a castle wall with a ballista, with which they must fend off an incoming attack from a variety of monsters. Early on, it’s fairly easy keeping up with mindless drones flinging themselves against the castle walls, but eventually you face down more powerful demons with ranged attacks and challenging new tactics. Luckily, players gather a broad array of new powers and weapons to defend their wall.

Graphics and audio

There’s a lot of original animation and interesting-looking monsters in Defender 2, backed up by reasonably nice stage backgrounds. The user interface has smooth transition animations, but banner ads cramp the active viewing area. Something feels just a little bit off about the overall style of the game; maybe it’s the system fonts, maybe it’s the simplistic premise, or the altogether weird monsters, but something about the flavor stopped me from getting overly excited about Defender 2.

There are a couple of effects that sound suspiciously like ones from other games, such as the Sonic wind-up sound once the cooldown on Fireball was up, and the Counter-Strike HE grenade explosion sound for casting the fireball, but maybe that’s my imagination. Most of the sound effects and music aren’t really high quality anyway, but they’re easy enough to ignore or turn off.

Gameplay and controls

Gameplay is fairly straightforward. Holding a finger down unloads an unending volley of projectiles in that direction, while spells are dragged up from a toolbar and dropped in the play area wherever you want it to be cast. The real bulk of the game is taking the coins and gems you earn throughout gameplay and spending them on a wide variety of upgrades, including lava moats, fancier crossbows, elemental spells, and more power arrows. Of course, you can buy coins and gems through in-app purchases if you’re the impatient type. There are also a variety of titles that players can earn by doing regular actions like buying items and casting certain types of spells. Aside from vanity, these achievements provide real in-game bonuses.

In addition to the linear progression of the single-player game, there’s also multiplayer, whereby players are paired up online and are tested to see who can last longer against a particularly relentless force. This can be challenging if paired up with a well-equipped opponent, but I was generally happy with the matchmaking mechanism. There’s a glass floor in multiplayer matches where you can get a sense of how well your opponent is doing, along with a health bar that sits beside yours for direct comparison.


  • Fast, animated action
  • Tons of customizability


  • In-app purchases and ads

The bottom line

As with any free title on Android, be prepared to deal with in-app purchases and ads in Defender 2. They aren’t the pushiest I’ve seen so far, but they may still be a major turn-off for many players that just want to pay for their game up-front. The core gameplay of “kill all the things” is a little on the dull side, but the extensive combinations of upgrades offers a lot of long-term strategic thinking. Multiplayer is also a well-balanced, fast experience, even if it amounts to little more than a single-player match that runs concurrent with someone else online.

Simon Sage
Simon has been covering mobile since before the first iPhone came out. After producing news articles, podcasts, review videos, and everything in between, he's now helping industry partners get the word about their latest products. Get in touch with him at