Author's Saving Throw: Dillon's Dead Heat Breakers makes major changes to the gameplay to address the common criticisms of the previous two titles being tedious and frustrating. This includes replacing touch screen controls with standard button controls, allowing the player to hire gunners and set them up before even going on the field, reducing the three day structure to just a single day, making the star rankings optional via replays, and removing the missions with clients.
Base-Breaking Character: The Amiimals in Dead-Heat Breakers. Some fans are glad that Miis are still getting support after hardly being utilized since the release of the Nintendo Switch and the failure of Miitomo. Others feel that they are an unnecessary addition to the game and have also been seen as inferior replacements of Gallo, Boone, and Nomad from The Last Ranger. Some have also accused the Amiimal feature as Vanpool trying to pander to the Furry Fandom, not helped with the fact that the game came out not too long after the release of Zootopia, which was infamous for heightening interest of anthropomorphic animals. And then there are those who felt like Vanpool was trying to capitalize on the character creation system from Sonic Forces, which itself also received polarizing reactions from fans.
Complacent Gaming Syndrome: In Dead-Heat Breakers, expect to have one or two Long Busters (Snipers), one or two Plasma Cannons (rocket launchers), and mostly Heavy Vulcans with a few Impact Blasters on every map. Long Busters have the most restrictive range, but can often take out even mid-tier enemies in one hit, meaning they will be rolling in the KO bonus if placed in a strategic location. Vulcans meanwhile are the weakest weapons, but they're often the cheapest to hire and do their job of weakening enemies for you, your Amiimal, or even other gunners. The Blasters may often be the least used, since their range is so small by the time they can fire, enemies are already attacking the barricade.
Demonic Spiders: Whalegrocks and Thundergrocks in Dead-Heat Breakers, which are walls of health and hit quite frequently. They eat a lot of shots before going down (Even your snipers who deal the most damage), and if your Amiimal engages in them, chances are they will be occupied for quite awhile while you deal with the others. If you decide to deal with the either of them, then they will eat quite a bit of your time, which can be valuable when enemies spawn mid-fight. Both also have their own annoyances too, with Whalegrocks being able to swim in the water and completely ignore both Dillon and the player's Amiimal, and Thundergrocks having a really annoying spread attack in combat. The previous Elite Mooks were sponges that would occupy your Amiimal's time, but these two take it Up to Eleven. The only saving graces is that like the other "boss" Grock types, they never prioritize smashing up the gunner towers and they're slow on the field, meaning that gunners can easily weaken them and they're easy targets for people with the Long Shot.
Game-Breaking Bug: Dead-Heat Breakers has a nasty one involving friends with pending invites, as trying to load Amiimal data for a Mii that doesn't exist on the system causes the game to crash.
Snaggrocks, especially in Dead-Heat Breakers. In the first two games, they would sometimes appear out of nowhere in the overworld (They're also one of the few Grocks that can appear before a raid, too) and snag some of Dillon's money, who would then have to chase them down to retrieve the stolen money back. In Dead-Heat Breakers, they instead suck any gunner tower's energy dry. They move too quickly for most of your gunners to take down, and unless your Amiimal is directly in their path, they will outrun them, meaning the job of taking care of them goes to you. This is actually invoked - they're intended to be annoying.
Gungrocks and Ramgrocks, mainly because the two Grock types prioritize smashing up the gunner towers. Often times the player will have to drop what they're doing just to prevent them from destroying a valuable tower, like a tower equipped with a Long Cannon. Both are also annoying to fight, with Gungrocks being able to strafe Dillon's attacks and Ramgrocks having a counter attack when struck in the front.
For those that aim for 5 star rankings, the Grock types that can go out of range from either Dillon or the gunners like Diggrocks and Fishgrocks can cause frustration, purely because they can waste valuable time towards the ranking.
Narm: Can be invoked in Dead-Heat Breakers with the NPC Amiimals. Most of them are based off of people from your friend's list or your own Miis, so if you have one that's intentionally hideous or based off of someone famous (ie, Edgar Allan Poe, Michael Jackson, or David Bowie) you might see them in the game. The game even says which mii they are, too.
Popular with Furries: You control a fairly badass anthropomorphic armadillo, and in Dead-Heat Breakers, your own Mii is turned into an anthropomorphic animal to become a character in the story.
Jolt, a puffin who runs the recycling centre in Dead-Heat Breakers. He asks you to recycle things that look very similar to one another and has the nerve to dance around and get in your way.
Design-wise, sheep are the most disliked Amiimals in Dead-Heat Breakers, as they can only sport an afro-like hairstyle, which completely obscures any hairstyle the Mii it's based on has. This can be VERY bothersome when two sheep Amiimals have nearly or completely identical faces.
The brake mechanic, which is done by holding the stylus down on the touch screennote In the first game and The Last Ranger./holding down the B buttonnote In Dead-Heat Breakers. while in rolling mode in the overworld of stages. While it is the expected way to get out of rolling mode, most players use the Claw Brake to get out of rolling mode, which is done by pressing the L buttonnote In Dead-Heat Breakers, it is instead done by pressing the L button while holding the B button. to instantly switch back to non-ball form, though it does take a couple of seconds for the animation to finish. The problem with braking is that using it has a slight delay, which can be rather bothersome when trying to slow down to collect Scruffles or when trying to run into a Grock you missed. What doesn't help is that you have to wait until Dillon completely stops to get out of ball form.
The first game has many of these, some of which were fixed in The Last Ranger:
The controls, but this is mainly a problem for lefties. There's no option to change the settings, and it doesn't support the Circle Pad Pro, making the game even more difficult than it needs to be. Thankfully, this has been addressed in The Last Ranger, which allows the player to switch between left-handed or right-handed. Dead-Heat Breakers is a bigger improvement, as it completely forgoes touch screen controls in favor of button controls.
The "savings" mechanic. As you are forced to start a village with a fixed amount of cash, this causes the player to more often than not be unable to afford any towers on the first day. This has been addressed in The Last Ranger, where failing a stage will cause the starting price to rise.
The map is extremely small and the icons cannot be touched to see the health of a tower unless the player goes to the Map menu.
The star ranking system. In order to progress, the player must collect stars, which are awarded by completing a stage, and more of them can be obtained by beating the stage in a certain amount of time and successfully completing all 3 quests of said stage. Unfortunately, as wiping out all of the Grocks during a raid can take a very long time (Made even worse with the savings mechanic, see above), it is very easy to get a low star ranking on your first playthrough of a stage, which more often than not won't net you the amount of stars you need in order to progress, thus forcing you to retry a stage until you get a higher star ranking in order to get the required amount. Luckily, The Last Ranger has the option to buy stars from a shop nearby the first stage on the map, which will raise your star count and save you time from replaying stages to get a higher star ranking. Dead-Heat Breakers makes the star ranking system completely optional, as they are only awarded when playing a stage for the 2nd timenote Do note that revisits to previous stages are counted as separate playthroughs, so the 1st visit of a stage will have a different star rank than the 2nd visit., plus the fact that they only unlock bonus stuff such as concept art.
Dillon's Dead Heat Breakers has a few of these:
Creating an Amiimal. When creating one, your Mii is covered by a barrel that you need to escape out of by mashing the A button. Doing so will result in your Mii transforming into a random animal, which you can decline if it's the one you don't want to be. The problem is that you cannot freely choose which animal you'd like to be. You have to decline the animal you don't want and repeat the whole process again until you get an animal that you like. To make matters worse, each Mii is restricted to only 4 animals solely based on their face, which may mean you might not be able to get the animal you wanted to be unless you change your Mii's face.
By tapping the Player icon on the bottom screen during stages, the player can send your player Amiimal to a specific spot on the map. When battling a Grock group, however, tapping the icon will instead automatically call them to help Dillon fight said Grock group. This can be very annoying when a Grock group is near a tower or the main base while you are fighting another Grock group (Especially if you are fighting a Boss Grock).
The final boss of the first game, the Ultimogrock. Unlike every other Grock, it cannot be battled upon contact, due to being completely out of Dillon's reach. In order to battle it, you must use your towers to shoot it down until it falls to the ground or have it approach the village the first time so Russ can throw the Victory Charm at it. Upon doing either, you can enter its mouth and start the fight. To defeat it, you must keep damaging its core until its health runs out. However, the core can summon pillars to completely block Dillon from damaging it, not helping that these pillars can also harm Dillon while in the middle of slashing or grinding the core. Not only that, but it can summon Crysgrocks to try and stop Dillon from attacking the core. Sometimes, the core will be completely guarded by pillars, and you are required to destroy a Bossgrock named "Diamongrock" (Sometimes TWO) in order to get rid of the pillars. To make matters worse, you are only given 120 seconds to take out the core or else the Ultimogrock will get right back up and be out of reach again, forcing you to wait for it to get taken down again. Couple that with its absurd amount of HP, and it is very unlikely that you will ever defeat the Ultimogrock on your first attempt.
The final boss of The Last Ranger, the Wheelgrock, has the same problems as the boss mentioned above. Due to a protective shield, it cannot be battled at all at that moment. To get rid of the barrier, Dillon must safely push the cart carrying Russ, Gallo, Boone, and Nomad back to the village to deliver the Powerstone to a mark near the entrance that is referred to as "The Bowl of Armedo" (Actually called "The BOW of Armedo). After doing so, a large bow will reveal itself near the mark and Dillon uses himself as an arrow to launch himself towards the Wheelgrock to destroy the shield. Once it collapses, the player can battle the Wheelgrock. Like the above mentioned boss, the player must destroy its core in order to defeat it. To protect the core, the ginormous Grock uses top-like hazards that roll in circles around it, as well energy balls that aim at Dillon, the former of which can completely block Dillon's roll attack and both can completely harm Dillon when in the middle of slashing or grinding the core (The energy balls can also harm Dillon even when using a rolling attack, too). To make matters worse, the player now only has 90 seconds to take it out (Making it even more unlikely to beat it on the first attempt). Failing to do so will force the player to rely on towers until it topples over or have it approach the village the first time, which will result in Gallo, Boone, and Nomad charging at it with a cart full of dynamite to bring it down, thus giving Dillon another chance to defeat it. Couple that with its extremely high HP, and you have a boss that can take even longer to defeat.
All 3 of the quests in Last Stand. The first quest, "Croaky Jr", has Madam Croaky requesting the player to find a gem called "Aurolia", which is the rarest gem to find in the game, and more likely than not, you won't be able to find this gem in time to give it to Madam Croaky. The second one, "Operation Caretaker", has Colonel Buster betting the player to not have 3 tower destructions throughout the whole stage, which can be really tough since tons of Grocks can roam the stage during the Raid (Made even worse when attempting the stage the first time, due to the limited amount of money you start with). Lastly, there's the final quest, "To Dillon...", which is given out by Rachel the Reporter. This quest involves Dillon having to take out 4 Grocks at once with a single Arma-Charge...TWICE. Considering that it's not very often that 4 or more Grocks can position in a place where you can take them all out at once, this quest can be extremely obnoxious.
Surprisingly (And thankfully) averted with the 3 quests from Ovalton, the final stage The Last Ranger. The first quest has Colonel Buster betting the player to not let Gun Tower 6 get destroyed at all, which is actually a lot easier than it sounds, as there are only 2 dens from which Grocks can spawn out of that are close enough to attack it. The second quest has Kathy requesting that any of the repaired train tracks cannot be destroyed again. The strategy to this quest is to simply wait until the 3rd day to fix the tracks, and even then, only two Rail Ramgrocks ever appear on the 3rd day. Lastly, the final quest has Rachel the Reporter requesting Dillon to simply defeat 4 Young Wheelgrocks (Which only appear on the third day when the Wheelgrock is present) with a grind attack. While Young Wheelgrocks can be a bit of a pain to take out, doing this quest is a lot easier than trying to defeat FOUR enemies at once with a single Arma-Charge TWICE.
That One Level: Last Stand, the final stage in the first game. With its rather annoying quests (See That One Sidequest above), its constantly high number of Grocks with each day, and the final boss (See That One Boss) taking an extremely long time to take out, attempting to get a 5 star ranking on this stage will drive you insane.
Tier-Induced Scrappy: The Impact Blasters. Early on, the player will pick them simply because they're cheap and deal a decent amount of damage to the enemies at the time. However, as Dead-Heat Breakers progresses, the player will often only use them to fill up an empty tower or help defend the main shelter. Their main issue is that they have a horribly short range in practice - by the time they get an opportunity to fire, a grock is already attacking their barricade, and they'll almost never be able to hold off a hammer grock from destroying their barricade.
Sebastian, a client from the first two games, is supposed to be a duck, but looks more like an ostrich.
It is unclear as to what species the Watchers from the first two games, as well as the similar looking Naomi from Dead-Heat Breakers, are supposed to be. They are definitely mammals thanks to their noses and ears, but those're the only things that help.
Miss Eliza from The Last Ranger. She is supposed to be a raccoon, but thanks to her very brown color-scheme, as well as having a more humanoid body compared to Deputy Daley from Dead-Heat Breakers, it's quite easy to not think of her as a raccoon.