Hi-Rez Studios has quite some weight on its shoulders trying to follow up on the huge success of SMITE. Paladins: Champions of the Realm is that successor and while it strays a bit from the battleground of the gods formula and presents itself as a shooter, at its heart it knows it’s a MOBA and that’s what players want it to be – more unique characters with clear identities and less customization through the collecting card game mechanics. This is a game that will clearly improve, possibly even change quite a bit as months go by, but we’re confident it will ultimately earn itself a very decent playerbase and a nice, cozy spot among fans of shooter and MOBA hybrids.
This is what CliffyB was all about for the last few years – LawBreakers. It’s a shooter, but that was already expected, coming from the creator of the Gears of War series, but this time it’s a fast-paced competitive first-person shooter where skill and team cooperation are said to be determining to the outcome of the matches. Set in a futuristic world where a lot of shit has gone down thanks to an event called The Shattering, law enforcers fight against criminals in five versus five battles where mobility is key – one character has a grappling hook and it is said that you can avoid stepping on the ground for a long time. Half of the cast is female, it is also confirmed, so let’s just hope that we won’t be seeing crazy, tiny armor like we’ve seen in most shooters before – Gears of War was admittedly a game that treated female soldiers properly, so the tradition will probably follow in LawBreakers. It’s a promising game, looks great, and could carve a little nice spot for itself.
Unreal Tournament is coming back and Epic Games is taking the development process in a new, fresh direction. While many studios use the Early Access talk to convince players they will be an active part of development, with Unreal Tournament everyone has a voice right away, and for free – no need to dish your hard earned cash in some unknown game that could turn out to be a scam. In Unreal Tournament, you can contribute in many ways, from the usual bug reports to creating characters, weapons and levels. It’s also said to be a completely free game, where you won’t have silly microtransactions – instead, there will be a marketplace where you can add your cosmetic item, mod or total conversion, with the revenue being split between the creator and Epic Games. If the promises are kept, then this could mark the evolution of the free-to-play model, one where players can buy items but also profit from their creations. It’s not a revolution, as it’s been done a few times before, but definitely an evolution. It also helps that Unreal Tournament looks amazing and it looks very capable of capturing the best of the series.
First Assault Online wasn’t exactly the most desired adaptation of Ghost in the Shell, but it is what it is. While most players were expecting some kind of deep MMORPG, what we got instead was a solid shooter, a pretty standard one with familiar mechanics and a nice Ghost in the Shell skin to round everything up nicely. When we stop cursing and take some time to look at its proper merits, we can find a decent character-based shooter with some clever skills to go along with it and a cunning skill-share system that actually opens up quite a bit of tactics in what initially could look like just another shooter. If you’re a Ghost in the Shell fan, you’ll enjoy it just that little bit more than you probably should.
Fortnite is another Epic Games title and this one is in development for quite a few years. It was revealed in 2011 and was still just in alpha when we entered 2016, so they’re surely taking their time to work on it. It’s a very interesting game, we have to admit, as it’s trying to be more than the usual bland arena battlers that you can see at every corner of free-to-play city. Think of it as Minecraft meets Left 4 Dead, with sandbox elements, plenty of scavenging and building, and finally the attack of waves of enemies. The different classes have special abilities both for building and fighting, so you have to create a balanced team to make it all work out. The Unreal Engine 4 should provide plenty of cartoonish eye candy, so we’re very curious to see how Fortnite will turn out.
The world needs more vehicular combat games. Sure, we have World of Tanks and Robocraft, to name just a few, but after the movie Mad Max: Fury Road, everything changed – we needed a post-apocalyptic sort of combat game with deep customization and crazy, dirty vehicles with scary firepower and tricks up their sleeves. Crossout could be that game – it looks very promising, but it also helps that the developer’s previous game is the very decent Star Conflict. To put it simply, Crossout could be a dirtier Robocraft, with a customization system that may not be as deep as in that game, but it’s shaping up to be impressive nonetheless. Make it fast, furious, with a nice destruction model, perfect matchmaking and a fair cash shop and this one could get the attention of a lot of players.
This one came out of nowhere through a series of character teasers that led many players to believe they were going to get another lame online first-person shooter or MOBA. Well, those players were partially right – Epic Games was indeed getting us one more MOBA to add to the pile, but what a MOBA! The gameplay reveal was epic, pun intended, as the third-person action looked so good, so weighty, so stunning in all its Unreal Engine 4 glory. The tide had turned, everyone and their mom was getting excited about Paragon and suddenly this is one of the hottest games of 2016, and Epic Games has already confirmed that it’s going to be free-to-play, so they’re not shitting us – we’re looking at you, Overwatch. You’ll probably need a beast of a machine to run Paragon in its full glory, but many of you probably already do, so you just have to count the days for the summer open beta, if you’re not playing in the alpha already. We should also mention that Paragon has some sort of collecting card game mechanic, in the same style that Paladins does, but it looks like Epic Games already has a nice bunch of heroes for us to choose from.
It was looking more and more unlikely that we’d get to play Master X Master in the west, but 2016 brought this nice surprise from NCsoft – this game is going to launch in North America and Europe late 2016. A MOBA and action RPG hybrid with a nice, appealing focus on PvE content, Master X Master allows up to four players to play cooperatively or just go at it in the usual PvP mode. Think of Master X Master as NCsoft’s Heroes of the Storm: it includes popular characters from the studio’s games such as Blade & Soul, Aion, Guild Wars 2 or WildStar and should release with over 30 masters, some of them really big and weird, others small and fluffy. This is often called a MOBA, but at heart it’s more of an isometric action RPG so give it a chance as it could surprise you with its charm and fast-paced gameplay.
Gigantic’s development had a few hiccups which resulted in a release delayed to 2016, but this didn’t shatter our hopes of seeing this one ranking high in the arena shooter list – apparently, ‘MOBA’ isn’t such a hot word anymore, so we’ll go with arena shooter. Anyway, Gigantic has a few highlights, one of them being the inclusion of these massive guardians that act as the final objective of each game. You probably know about the other distinct feature already – the stunning visuals, authentic cartoons designed by very talented minds, with perfect colors and animation to go along. It looks awesome, although it can get a bit messy when everyone is shooting in the same spot and visual effects fly everywhere. We would still want to see the gameplay getting a bit of polish, as the early tests suggest it’s not quite there yet, but we’re confident it will improve in time for release.
The Fable series has clearly seen better days before the Journey and Heroes spin-offs, and once again there’s a new game steering from the original idea. Fable Legends goes the action RPG way with obvious MOBA elements including the regular rotation of the heroes. Lionhead expects the game to have a lifecycle of five to ten years, which means that the studio has a lot of faith in Fable Legends. Gameplay is similar to Evolve, with four heroes battling one villain in asymmetrical multiplayer and you can use AI as you wish – you can even play it as a single player game if you want to. The Unreal Engine 4 should provide some nice visual folklore filled with magic and terrible creatures.
Supernova is a sci-fi MOBA… Okay, we’ll wait for you to stop yawning so we can talk a bit about it… Alright, so Supernova actually tries to add real-time strategy elements to the battle arena gameplay, so while you can choose from a range of alien and human commanders, you have to go beyond that by deploying mechanized land and air units, managing technologies, upgrades and build order as in your classic RTS. One of the best things about Supernova is that since the very first alpha test it was already so polished, so solid that it made us truly appreciate it, despite the difficulty to find a match, understandable due to the lack of players at the time. If you want a top-down MOBA that doesn’t go for the usual fantasy style, then Supernova could be that game.