Back at the end of June, Zynga released the Research Lab feature in Empires & Allies. These Research Labs allow you to upgrade existing land units to have better accuracy, deal more damage, and all sorts of other helpful boosts, but in upgrading these units your military might have become a bit one-sided. Helping to balance this out is the introduction of the Navy Research Lab, which (as the name suggests) allows you to enter into the same unit upgrading process with all of your battleships, gunboats and carriers.
Luckily, you'll be given your first Navy Research Lab for free. From there, the system should seem fairly familiar. Just choose the type of unit that you'd like to upgrade, and then ask your friends to send you the items necessary to complete the process. Let's say, for example, you wanted to upgrade your Vintage Carriers. First, you'd select it from the starting menu inside the Navy Research Lab, and would then need to collect six items to finish the upgrade research: two each of Upgrade Blueprints, Mission Maps and Blast Shields, as seen below. Each unit type requires different items to be collected, with the Upgrade Blueprints being constant.
From there, you'll unlock the expected upgrade tree that will show you the costs, in resources and time, of actually applying each upgrade (increased damage, reduction to build duration or cost, etc.) to that particular unit. These upgrades will affect each unit you already own, along with all that you build in the future. That being the case, this is one of those features that most players should at least casually pursue, as upgrades mean a better chance of victory not only over the game's AI story characters, but also your friends.
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