The Survival, Sci-Fi MMO Population Zero is expected to launch on Steam Early Access starting May 5. Players will not only be challenged to survive the wilderness, but time itself will become an enemy.
Unlike many other survival style MMOs, Population Zero will have a clear goal in mind, and players will need to reach that goal within 168 hours (7 days). This is how Population Zero will play out:
The very first cycle starts in a special instanced Drop Zone, a single-player Tutorial
Game cycles last 168 hours, or 7 consecutive days – a light day on Kepler
You have more than enough time to complete the main objective, explore the planet, engage themselves with building, resource gathering and crafting, battle mobs or other players
Each cycle rewards players with account experience necessary to unlock new modes, mechanics and further enhance the gameplay
Win or lose – you still get rewards and experience according to your progress during a session
When joining a new session players will be matched according to their current account level
In addition to having defined goals and rewards, the time constraint in Population Zero will allow for detailed stories that combine narrative and survival mechanics, prevent specific groups from taking over servers, allow developers to experiment and create exciting new mechanics, and allow players to gradually unlock new mechanics and achievements.
To survive, players must repair the power generations on Artemis by completing a series of goals. There are 4 ways a game will end:
Complete the main objective and survive
Fail to make it in time and lose
Get turned into an alien monster and die: frequent respawns increase colonists’ mutation level which will eventually lead to a complete character transformation – the very first death in the form of an alien creature ends the session
Deliberately end the session
For those interested in keeping tabs on Population Zero, it can now be added to your Steam wishlist.
On March 11, 2020, PlanetSide 2 received its biggest update since the game’s release in 2012. The update, titled Escalation, includes a new guild-based endgame system called Outfit Wars, a deep War Assets systems, the cross-empire Sanctuary Social Hub, and the Bastion Fleet Carrier.
The highlight of the PlanetSide 2 Escalation update is the Outfit Wars endgame tournament system that will allow dedicated outfits to qualify for monthly GvGvG tournaments on the new Desolation asteroid map. This will allow players to travel off-planet for the first time, and the new War Asset system will allow guilds to collect resources that can be crafted into assets including:
Bastion Fleet Carrier: This massive interplanetary fleet carrier features mannable turrets, ship-mounted artillery cannons, an interceptor launch platform, and mobile vehicle respawn points
Steel Rain: A coordinated platoon drop pod assault onto a target location
Citadel Shield: A sturdy projectile-blocking bubble shield the size of a small outpost
A.N.V.I.L.: Airdrop a ground vehicle of your choice on demand
Orbital Satellite Uplink: Radio in an Orbital Strike anywhere on the battlefield
“We are excited to provide the PlanetSide 2 community with an expansion that rewards our most dedicated players; past, present and future,” said Andy Sites, Executive Producer on the PlanetSide Franchise for Rogue Planet Games. “The new seasonal tournaments for dedicated Outfits, Cross-Empire Social Zone, and a meta-changing War Asset System add even greater depth and scale to PlanetSide 2’s unique all-out planetary warfare gameplay.”
The latest update to Black Desert Mobile adds North Mediah, the Ancient Maze, increased drop rates, and Patrigio now carries mystical equipment.
Recently, Black Desert Mobile opened up the North Mediah region for exploration. This is a large landmass with tons of new content and quests to engage in. As part of the celebration, many useful items will drop in the North Mediah region including skill books for ascended characters and abyssal gear. Additionally, the NPC Patrigio will now carry mystical gear and weapons for purchase, and players who don’t meet the silver requirements will be able to haggle with Patrigio.
Finally, the Ancient Maze is a brand new battlefield with five levels. After each level is completed, players can decide whether he or she wants to progress to the next one. As each level is conquered, players will be given special rewards including a new pet. If a player dies during the challenge, they will be left with nothing – so challengers need to progress at their own peril.
The 3rd anniversary is coming to MMORPG Revelation Online and with it comes the largest content update yet. Later this month, Skyward World will launch as a free expansion!
10 Player Raid – The City of the Demon Gods: Claim your right to raise hell in this all new instance-based dungeon. Up to 10 players can battle eldritch terrors and fiery demons, including the City’s five most hellish lieutenants as bosses.
New abilities for all seven classes: Need some more power to take on the new adventures in time and space? Players will be able to unleash extraordinary new abilities for the Gunslinger, Blademaster, Swordmage, Vanguard, Spiritshaper, Occultist, and Assassin classes!
Recruit three more Battle Companions: Team up! Characters can team up with a trio of new Battle Companions for their journeys in Voras: Sky, Aniya, and Yue Zhang!
Cross-Server Weddings: Let there be Love! With the introduction of cross-server weddings, players can get married in the spectacular Crystalline Palace, invite guests from any server, try on a beautiful new gown, and tie the knot in style with a dreamy carriage mount.
New Progression System: Book of Enchantments: With the new Book of Enchantments progression system, players can collect enchantments to power up their character and unlock its true potential.
Achievement System Updated: The achievement system has been revamped with an improved UI and navigation, and a new tab showing claimed and unclaimed rewards. As players earn achievements through their adventures, they’ll unlock 13 milestone rewards based on score, with a special mount that unlocks after accumulating 30,000 achievement points.
Imperial War: Battle for Voras: The cross-server PvP Madness of Imperial Wars is coming to Voras. Defend or attack during the scheduled skirmishes in this weekly event, where up to 300 players on both sides can clash in an attempt to outwit and outlast the enemy team! Fight for control of four islands, including the Wild Realm, the Guardian Realm, the Noble Realm, and the Realm of Voras. Weekly events and special server titles will be available throughout the Imperial War.
Revamped user Interface & New Tutorial: The Tutorial has been expanded, now featuring characters destined to play a vital role in the new adventures. Additionally, many quality of life improvements have been implemented alongside a revamped UI across the board.
Starting today: Promotions celebrating the 3rd Anniversary: From today, until March 11th, Players can head on over to the MY.GAMES Market to claim daily rewards! We will be introducing a new item one day at a time.
World of Warcraft is now at an infallible turning point in its history. Shadowlands is very much on the horizon, with the release of the first few encrypted alpha builds over the last week. Excitement post Blizzcon 2019 is incredibly high, and people are eager to get into a new expansion’s worth of content. With the somewhat tepid response to Patch 8.3, “Visions of N’zoth,” we are now quickly finding ourselves at a critical junction. One that could very much mean the future for the world of Azeroth.
The last few years of Warcraft have been, particularly, very negative in the eyes of the playerbase. After the rampant and widespread success of Legion, there were understandably a number of focused and specific complaints on systems in the expansion’s life cycle. The major one, understandably, was player agency and choice; most major systems of Legion, including the artifact weapons, were incredibly linear. While some players such as myself enjoyed the idea of a ‘paint-by-numbers’ system that was easily completed, others understandably felt it incredibly restrictive. This was exacerbated by issues with nerfs breaking entire class specializations, on top of the controversial Paragon system.
Battle for Azeroth, to its credit, attempted to correct these very specific complaints by rebuilding these previous systems from the ground-up. The Artifact Weapon system became the Azerite Armour system. Your unique spec-related artifact became the ‘Heart of Azeroth.’ Paragon caches removed rare-drops in order to cut out the feeling of elite gear being locked behind endless grinds. Legendaries, which had littered Legion and turned gearing into a largely disappointing RNG fest, were pruned in totality. Class Halls, which largely succeeded where the Warlords of Draenor Garrison system failed, were pruned and replaced with a ‘War Table.’
Understandably, none of this worked out well in Blizzard’s favor.
Each of the above is, to some extent, a large-scale endgame progression system. While most players could level up their artifact and hit their first gold trait by level-cap in Legion, the Heart of Azeroth could still not unlock all of the traits on your gear by the time you were raid-ready. The Azerite Traits, often locked to specific pieces of loot which were difficult to see drop, were ostensibly tied to your class’ power. Like Arms Warrior in Legion, Fire Mages found a similar fate when their Combustion trait was discovered to be overpowered in niche scenarios. As such it was nerfed into the ground, effectively breaking the entire spec due to how heavily class-design revolved around these RNG-activated traits.
As such, gearing became ineffably boring. Whereas getting a Legendary was often a mixed bag, with the most optimal and ideal being lost in a sea of otherwise useless editions, it was still a LARGE power increase and something interesting. Even after their ‘finished’ progression, Artifact Weapons still had a slew of unlockables and cosmetics to achieve, something which the Heart of Azeroth has never matched. Class Halls and their storylines, for all the time-gating that occurred, offered cosmetics and rewards aplenty for the intrepid player.
All of this depth was wiped away in Battle for Azeroth. So much so that the Heart of Azeroth and Azerite Gear system were reworked in almost sheer totality for Patch 8.2, “The Rise of Azshara.” There was so much lack that, despite a stellar opening gambit in the questing storylines and systems, Battle for Azeroth was rate lower than many previous expansions before it. Even in our own reviews here on MMOGames.com, we rated both the expansion and World of Warcraft as a whole lower than any previous. Repeatable game systems such as Warfronts and Island Expeditions plagued the expansion, adding much breadth but very little depth.
Now we come to Shadowlands, the vital hope in the darkness. This was one of the many new games announced at Blizzcon 2019, where the entire convention served more as a desperate attempt to save stock prices than little else. Now is has the entire weight of a multi-year MMORPG sitting on its very small shoulders. Oddly enough, we saw this not too long ago prior to Legion’s monumental release.
Warlords of Draenor is infamous among the playerbase. Being only half as long, content wise, as any other expansion or launch in World of Warcraft’s long history it was largely considered a commercial disaster. Despite several development issues throughout its life-cycle, it also had major raids cut in the Siege upon Shattrath, a major point for that part of Azeroth’s universe. A final Patch 7.2, “the Fury of Hellfire,” was released prior to the team’s reorganization to focus on completing and releasing Legion.
Now, realistically, we sit on a similar abyss once again. Battle for Azeroth has been in many parts a massive failure across the board for World of Warcraft, reducing it in large part to a game of endless repeating treadmill systems. This is an MMORPG of now very little substance if you’re unlucky, and controversial systems if you are not.
So where do we hope to go from here?
Shadowlands is, frankly speaking, going to need to be an expansion of substance. While there are some infinitely grindable elements in Torghast, and a necessary part of an MMO in some sense, the entire game cannot be built on such systems. There cannot be a few systems that stretch far into the horizon for progression, instead there needs to be a greater focus on many smaller things that contribute to player power.
Agency is the keyword that many personalities and writers have tossed about when discussing Shadowlands. Player agency and choice, the ability for players to have control over their gameplay destiny, is going to be fundamentally important. The Covenant Halls, the foundational bases for our adventures throughout the realms of the dead, seem to roll all of the best parts from Legion and the concepts of Warlords together into that balance of depth and breadth. While, as we have seen with the Azerite Gear system, it is intrinsically dangerous to put all of one’s game-design eggs in a singular basket, this may be the expansion’s best, and perhaps only hope. We have, truthfully, seen very little of substance when it comes to the land of the dead.
Starting today, ArcheAge and ArcheAge: Unchained players will be able to access the first solo dungeon in the MMORPG, Hereafter Rebellion, and new Ancestral skills for the Swiftblade class.
In the solo dungeon Hereafter Rebellion, players will command their own armies to stop the threat of the Crimson Army and rescue the souls for Hereafter Prestige and generous rewards. If you would rather take on a group threat, the deadly sea beast Charybdis has escaped from its cage and is now roaming the seas of Erenor. Players will need to band together to defeat this watery threat in a naval raid battle.
Additionally, the Switfblade has received its Ancestral skills, which further increase its damage, and Gamigo is celebrating its first annual Lucius Motion Picture Awards with the ArcheAge community. Submit your short video and enter the contest for a change to win a laptop or other prizes from GIGABYTE.
Pokémon has become a timeless franchise over the past two decades, between video games, card games, anime, media, and toys. It’s transcended and become nearly god-tier, being the highest-grossing media franchise in the world. With such street cred, it’s no wonder that some game developers want to mimic that success. They want to bring a nostalgic vibe to their games over the years. While no one really has the potential to reach Pokémon’s level of success, none have made a better attempt than Temtem. Temtem is a recently-released MMORPG that developer Crema hopes hits all the right chords of fans of the Pokémon franchise.
This is not a review. This game is an indie game in Early Access and ripping into the seams of it this early would be unfair and unjust for such a cool and unique title. This is, instead, a comparison. They’ve really made their name with an elevator pitch saying “It’s a Pokémon MMO”. So, let’s treat it as such. Let’s put Temtem as it currently is (and what it has the potential to be) against the biggest, most well-known franchise in the world. Let’s sit down and critique it as a real compare and contrast. Don’t worry; they do some things really right, even with the game being brand new on Early Access.
Blatant Pokémon Inspirations
I can honestly say that Temtem, for everything it claims to be, really does give a look and feel of classic Pokémon titles. We’re not talking about the modern games that give a little more hand-holding, the-entire-game-is-a-tutorial feel. We’re talking about the first few generations of Pokémon here. You know the ones I mean, with those meaty challenges. The hard-as-nails, ruthless battles from twenty years ago still ring in my head. They don’t hide their inspirations in Pokémon and, in fact, lean into them so hard that (if it were real life) I’d call it a shoulder check.
Ok, let’s put it plain and simple. The game honestly starts out with the player in their bedroom, talking to their mother, then having to meet up at the local Professor’s lab. There, they see their rival (who is totally a jerk) and get their first creature to start their journey. If you’ve played any classic Pokémon game, this sounds really familiar. Although the premise of the tutorial is a copy and paste scenario, some incredibly important details do change.
For instance, fans of the Pokémon games are generally treated to the early rock-paper-scissors of Fire, Water, and Grass. While Fire, Water, and Nature (a combination of Grass and Bug) do exist in the game, the starters offer three different choices instead: Melee (their version of Fighting), Mental (their version of Psychic), and Crystal (a new one that seems to be a little bit of Steel, Ice, and Dark combined into one).
Hit The Pokémon Nail on the Head
Instead of your “friend”-slash-rival, Max, taking another Temtem (you know, like that jerk Blue), you’re told he already had obtained one, which happens to be the rare “Digital” type, Oree. Oree has no direct analog to Pokémon but is clearly a nod to the 90s Pokémon rival series, Digimon. You battle him and really just don’t have a lot of chance at winning this fight. It doesn’t matter because the Professor gives you a second Tem, Tuwai, either way afterward.
They did learn from the modern games a tad bit and implement them in some minor details. For instance, a Temporium can be found in each town (with half centers in less populated areas). Temporiums are basically derived from modern Pokémon Centers. You can heal your Tem team, utilize the storage boxes, and buy supplies. Old Pokémon games kept the Pokémon Center and Pokémart separate. I’m glad they opted to combine them here for convenience.
One thing that Temtem does nearly identical to Pokémon is their Dojos, which work exactly like Gyms. It starts with a puzzle and Dojo tamers (the Temtem word used for “trainers”). This ends in a fight with the Dojo master (you know, the Gym leader). It’s pretty cut and dry, just like Gyms. The difference is that Pokémon Gyms all follow a theme, often basing their gym and puzzles on the specific type, such as Water or Grass. Temtem doesn’t have any notable Dojo themes that are immediately obvious (and if they are, they’re easy to miss).
The Temtems (or Tems For Short)
The great thing about Pokémon is the feeling that an entire team of designers sat down and really hashed out unique and iconic creatures. Looking at most Pokémon, players can easily memorize them and they notoriously stick out. This is where the modern formula for Pokémon and Temtem diverge a bit, as Crem is a much smaller indie developer.
Temtem has a similar mentality to old school Pokémon, which at times was just a real animal with a color splash and a new name (I’m looking at you, Rattata and Pidgey). Most Temtem don’t feel like they could hold the same iconic candle as, let’s say, Pikachu, Eevee, or even recent additions like Sobble. But, with later Pokémon like Toucannon (literally just an angry toucan) and Ducklett (a blue cartoon duck), many of the Temtem could fit right into the picture without anyone really batting an eye.
Some of the Tems were created by well known Fakemon artists, such as 50 Shades of Heliolisk’s adorable Platypet and its evolutionary line. Some were not, which shows the immaturity of the game yet, with plenty of room to grow. To be perfectly fair, Pokémon has had 20 years to come up with nearly 1000 creatures and Temtem is still working itself out of Kickstarter and Early Access.
Right For Your Right To Battle
As mentioned earlier, this game wears its classic Pokémon feel on its sleeve. But, it totally changes the game and how tactics work within actual Temtem battles. The battles are still turn-based like Pokémon but focus on Stamina instead of how many times a move can be used. For instance, in Pokémon, a specific move could have 5 or 35 times it can be used without filling back up (in a Pokémon Center or via specific items).
However, in Temtem, Stamina is based entirely on an individual fight. Each technique (their term for “attack”) has a number next to it, which uses up a Tem’s personal stamina. As they level up, they get more stamina. But, it’s a slow progression (especially early on). When it depletes, your Tems can’t attack until they rest up or use special items to gain Stamina back. In fact, if you go over your allotted Stamina, it overexerts itself, damaging the Temtem and forcing it to rest the next turn. This makes tactical decisions heavier, especially when hard-hitting moves can demolish a Temtem’s stamina in a single blow. Stamina refills after each battle, though. So, use that to your advantage!
Early on in the game, they offer some pretty good resources in the Accademia (a school you attend to learn about being a Tem Tamer). This is to help new players understand they’re not in the Pokémon world anymore and to learn all of the new weaknesses and strengths. In battles, the UI informs you that something will be effective, super effective, or less effective with colors. Once a move has been done, you may even see a little 2x, 4x, 1/2x, or 1/4x above the defending Tem.
Battles are done as two vs two (2v2) most of the time, similar to the Double Battles within Pokémon. This allows strategy in the normal game. But, it really amps up the strategy when it comes to co-op. I’ll talk more on co-op later when I talk about the multiplayer aspects of the game.
One thing that didn’t carry over from modern Pokémon games is the minor quality of life conveniences like pressing a single-button to throw a Pokéball/ TemCard in battle. You have to go hunting for the particular item in your inventory. It brings back the slow slog memories of old Pokémon games, breaking the pacing of battles.
Stats Play a Big Part
Temtem has nearly duplicated the stat system that Pokémon has popularized, with Speed, Attack, Defense, Special Attack, Special Defense, as well as HP. In addition, Temtem added Stamina too (as mentioned earlier), which is affected by leveling up and other means.
Instead of the EV and IV stat systems of Pokémon, they’re instead called Single Value (SV) for base stats and Training Value (TV) for trainable stats, which go from 1 to 50 and 1 to 500, respectively. Training can bring TV up to 1000 each. This is treated, for better or worse, exactly like Pokémon.
Pokémon Breeders Will Be Happy
Breeding in Pokémon is an international pastime. Players will spend dozens to hundreds of hours perfecting their competitive teams with perfect stats, specific abilities, egg moves, shiny options, and more. Temtem takes that another step in their breeding process.
Five things can be inherited here: Fertility, Techniques, Single Values, Traits, and Luma. Luma is just Temtem’s version of “Shiny”, which is an incredibly rare chance that you’ll get a special color version of a particular Tem. In fact, it’s a much lower chance than Pokémon’s Shinies. So, good luck with the Luma hunt!
Instead of dealing with egg groups where a Wailord and a Skitty can breed with each other, the compatibility boils down to typing, opposite sex, and fertility. Yea, I said fertility. The fertility of a particular Temtem can be found in the Tempedia with a little flower icon and will be affected by the number of times the Tem has been bred, resulting in the offspring to inherit the lowest fertility of the parents. A Fertility Essence can be used to raise the stat, but it’s an extra step in the usual process. Type plays a part with compatibility, meaning Tamers need to make sure they share at least one Type, as well as be opposite genders. The eggs can learn Egg Techniques from their parents just like Pokémon, but items can be used to ensure stats are inherited as well.
Don’t Forget About Items!
Pokémon fans will be familiar with the basis of many of the items available in Temtem, with some slight tweaks. Balms work just like Potions, except they heal 25 HP instead of 20. Scent works just like the classic Repel. Instead of using an Escape Rope in Pokémon, one may throw a Smoke Bomb down to get out of a building or cave. Since Tems are not kept in spherical Pokéballs, they’re instead kept in flat electronic cards, aptly named TemCards. Those are kept a nice stack, known as a TemDeck, which can only consist of 6 cards. This all might feel pretty familiar to most fans of Pokémon, if not with some light inspiration from the Digimon and Yu-Gi-Oh! Franchises as well.
In addition to riffs on the classics, many items will help with Stamina (such as Ether), with many helping heal both HP and Stamina at the same time. However, one major item that Pokémon doesn’t have is called the Temessence Vial. This vial is a one-time use item that heals an entire party. It’s refilled each time you heal up at a Temporium, but it’s an out-of-battle last-ditch effort if you’re stuck in the middle of some ruins or in the middle of a field hanging on for dear life.
Multiplayer and MMORPG
Where the most recent Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield have added roving trainers and team-ups in the form of Max Raid Battles, this game takes a more MMORPG approach to other people in the world. Multiplayer, as players will find out quickly, is pretty MMO standard. It includes (or at least will include in future updates) all of the things one comes to expect from an MMORPG. While playing, you’re likely to see tons of other Tamers traversing the land. When you look up a Tamer and hit “Inspect”, however, a really nice menu pops up with a ton of options.
The first thing you’re likely to notice is the battle options, which include both a “Competitive” and “Casual” option, which is great for those looking to battle with friends or randos alike. Since this is a Poké-like game, trading is also available between Tems. You can also add them as a friend. These all feel more natural than the boring menus and long alphanumeric codes that Pokémon fans are used to.
When you go into inspect the player, you can learn everything there is to know about them, down to the outfit and hair they have, stats and wins, when they were last online, and (a function not yet available in the game) their club. Since this is an MMO, it’s only normal to include a guild or clan option. So, clubs will be a feature in the game.
Since this is an MMO, there’s a chat box in the bottom corner of the screen with different options. But, when inspecting a Tamer, you can Whisper directly to them. This is a great way to set up battles, trades, or anything else.
Unlike Pokémon, Co-op play is an actual option in Temtem. You can team up with a friend in the game, working together on quests and battles in real-time. Since the game utilizes double battles at all times in either case, double battles consist of the first three Tems in each of your teams, even though you can still carry six total on you. Strategy is key, so don’t be afraid to utilize your communication channels.
One thing that really feels lacking this early on in Temtem is the feeling of accomplishment. Sure, you can breed and create a perfect killer team, but there’s no real Battle Tower to take them too, or tournament areas, or anything like that. If you want to battle, it’s generally just against random players. Sure, this kind of content may be added in later updates. But, it just doesn’t scratch the competitive itch that Pokémon has perfected.
In the newest Pokémon games, Sword and Shield, players could go into the Wild Area early on and easily waste 10 hours or more doing Max Raid Battles and exploring before making it to their first gym. But, you still feel accomplished by the time you get that far. You don’t feel like you just used that amount of time for nothing. The story keeps you going and pushing to concepts and keeps the flow the entire time. In Temtem, the pacing isn’t nearly as cut and dry. You could go 10 hours before your first Dojo, but you could still be sitting at relatively low-level Tems that might not stand a chance against an onslaught of Dojo tamers and not enough money to get a ton of Balms.
There’s no feeling that you’re actually getting where you need to be. It, unfortunately, takes this feeling from much older Pokémon games that focused pretty hard on the grind. Do you need to level up a Pokémon? Well, go grab a drink. You’re going to be in the patch of grass for a while. This could change later on in balancing and quality of life adjustments, but it’s super noticeable right now.
So, now that we’ve laid out all of the information, we have to ask the harder questions. Is Temtem really like Pokémon and is it the “Pokémon Killer”?
These are easy questions to answer. Temtem has definitely got all the proper notes to make Pokémon fans happy and keep them playing over time. The game is still in Early Access. So, it’s hard to determine exactly how much more they plan to do with the game. They plan to add things into the game that are clearly marked as coming soon or “Work in Progress”. But, solving the quality of life issues and getting their various bugs taken care of immediately come to mind.
We live in a world where everything out there is compared to something. This is why we have roguelikes (games that are compared to the old game, Rogue), Souls-likes (compared to Dark Souls), and so on. I don’t believe Temtem is a “Pokémon Killer”. However, I’d like to propose we consider it a true Poké-like. It has enough similarities that it’s clearly meant to mimic Pokémon. But, it’s got enough differences that it’s not just a straight-up Pokémon clone. I’d recommend anyone that likes the concept and values of Pokémon to give it a solid try.
Additionally, they recently released a great road map of their future plans starting Spring 2020 and going all the way into Summer 2012, which they intend to add a ton of features, fixes, and quality of life additions. Adding things like a Nuzlocke mode, Achievements, Housing, and much more is going to really flesh out the game. They are showing that Spring 2021 will be the “1.0 Launch” which will pull it out of Early Access as well. It may not be “there” just yet, but it’s going to head that way.
Here’s a look at the complete content roadmap, in tidy and neat fashion
We would love to hear what features you’re the most excited for!
The battle royale genre may be beaten to a pulp with a seemingly perpetual stream of new releases, but apparently there’s room for more. This year, we’re going to witness an interesting showdown between two new games, each one with its own merits in this battle for the last game standing: Hunter’s Arena: Legends and Pearl Abyss’ Shadow Arena.
Hunter’s Arena: Legends is the first game by Korean outfit Mantisco, a PC exclusive crafted with the always reliable Unreal Engine 4. A closed alpha in late 2019 showed the game’s promising mix of action RPG and battle royale mechanics, and a recent closed beta revealed the progress made by the development team in the meantime. What it may lack in originality, it more than makes up for in sheer energy and ambition, not to mention its killer looks.
Hunter’s Arena: Legends Preview | Run to the Forest, Run
The standard battle royale game modes show up for Hunter’s Arena: Legends. You have your solo and trio options where 60 players battle for supremacy, and a free for all mode limited to four Legends is also under development. However, the unusual addition of a tag match is a welcome departure from the tried-and-test modes, adding an unexpected beat’em up flavor to the game. Think of it as a sort of Street Fighter or Virtua Fighter mode, where you pick two warriors and step into a confined arena in a frantic tag team match.
Starting with the basics, you must pick one character among the available selection of Legends. During the closed beta we had a decent range of fighters, most of them focusing on melee, but a couple favored long-range combat and a single character was versed on mid-range action. The cast is considerably diverse and resourceful, drawing inspiration from different sources but mostly from fantasy and eastern mythology. The ensemble is appealing enough, with a massive panda galloping at high speed or a cute young girl named Dara who prefers to fly everywhere instead of running.
The action RPG side of Hunter’s Arena: Legends is going to take your character through several levels of abilities and skills. There is a huge mastery tree that you unlock as you gain levels, strengthening aspects such as weapon attack and health, among many others. This is the touted RPG progression system of the game, one that is bolstered by your performance in the battlefield.
The beginning of each match sees the gates of a small city sitting in the middle of the forest open, letting all players out into the wild in a frantic rush for the grind. You must make the most of the meager seconds of forced peace to hunt down monsters, getting as far as possible from other players so that you don’t turn into an appetizing first target. Eliminating creatures, hunting bosses, and raiding dungeons are activities that will earn you experience points and levels, improving your stats and providing you with valuable points to distribute among many skills. The more you farm and stay alive, the stronger you will be when the circle shrinks and only a handful of players are fighting to be the one left standing.
The combat system isn’t extremely in-depth but provides enough opportunities for combos, cancels, and swift comebacks. I’m not a great fan of using the same button for attacking and defending, but I quickly grasped the concept and understood the intention of the whole high risk/high reward intention. Timing is crucial, as you find an opening in your rival’s attack pattern and counterattack with relentless force, breaking his guard.
While there are a few intricate strategies and skillful combos to use when you are playing solo, it’s when you are a part of a three-man squad that Hunter’s Arena: Legends truly shines. Organizing a group that covers all the basics (melee, mid-range, and long-range) and meticulously sticking to the plan, relying on strength by numbers and never straying from the winning path is how the game lives to its full potential. Several new strategies that you had only dreamed of open up for combat, as each team member dutifully performs his assigned role on the battlefield.
The vast arena has thousands of monsters waiting for your blade or other weapon of choice and has different activities and resources at your disposal. When you are playing trios, death is not the end; there are shrines where your teammates can revive you. Wild horses patiently wait for your command to use them for fast travel, and you can even take a friend along with you for the ride. Some points in the map provide gliders for you to journey long distances and quickly get closer to a boss that just spawned, for example.
If you prefer to partake in a more intimate kind of brawl, the tag match is there for you. You pick a pair of fighters that you deem complementary and enter a picturesque arena where they will fight another duo. The battles are one on one, putting forward the skill and timing that you have hopefully learned in the battle royale mode.
Hunter’s Arena: Legends Preview | Little Time for Sightseeing
The least that can be said about Hunter’s Arena: Legends graphics is that they are gorgeous. The environment is diverse and extremely beautiful, gifted with a realism and attention to detail that puts many current games to shame. From lush forests to the stunning river or the arid regions, there is always this realistic style to the settings that sits particularly well with the fantastical characters. The way that the leaves are blown by your attacks in the arena is remarkable, and the weather effects are impressive, more specifically the thunderstorm and the puddles that ensue. A day and night cycle provides a nice change of style, adding a sense of the passing of time as you see the legends counter steadily diminish.
Each one of the legends is thoroughly detailed, with incredible attention to the hairworks and the cloth that softly waves as you move. Running is a gentle process that begins with a cool animation and suddenly you are zooming around the battlefield in Sonic the Hedgehog fashion.
In other words, Hunter’s Arena: Legends has the style and seemingly the core mechanics as well. Each character feels unique, with a set of skills that paves the way for intense cooperation, and a huge mastery assortment to keep you invested for some time as you strengthen your character.
South Korea isn’t particularly known for its battle royale games, but Hunter’s Arena: Legends seems poised to carve a spot, possibly alongside Shadow Arena. There’s no shortage of ambition in this title, with a hint of fan service here and there to catch a specific crowd, but overall it is a strong offering that cuts no corners in order to provide a rich and compelling battle royale experience. In the end, the success or failure of this game may rest upon its pricing, an unfair but oh so true examination based on the multitude of similar games that have fallen by the wayside. Mantisco clearly has the skills, now let’s hope it has the marketing talent to put forward as well.
The Battle Royale, MOBA spinoff of Black Desert Online, developed by Pearl Abyss, is now live! Choose your favorite heroes from the MMORPG and enter the Shadow Arena!
In Shadow Arena, 40 players compete against one another in a battle to be the last one standing on the battlefield. Players can choose to fight as one of nine characters, each with their own unique fighting style. To climb to the top of the pack, players must defeat monsters and collect loot to upgrade their gear. However, securing victory comes down to a player’s superior skill execution and strategy. Shadow Arena combines MOBA, battle royale, and MMO genres to create a new type of PvP action.
Currently, the game has 2 modes: Solo and Team. Each of these features skill-based matchmaking that provides stronger opponents based on performance.
It’s been six and a half years since Path of Exile initially launched, creating a fascinating adventure that picked up many fans over the years. In fact, this past year alone has seen excessive growth for the game, with just over 500 million hours played. This year should be no exception, as Delirium is set to enter the picture.
Set to release this March for Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC, this new expansion promises to be one of the biggest yet. With its addition, both action combat and customization options will be pushed beyond their usual boundaries.
That said, when we spoke to Grinding Gear Games’ Chris Wilson, he explained that the story wasn’t going to be let out of the bag, so to speak. According to him, he prefers to let players “experience it on launch day,” in order to go in without knowing what the surprises really are.
Now, let’s take a look at the different aspects of the gameplay, and how they come together with this new Path of Exile expansion.
Looking Into a Mirror of Delirium
Ever hear of Alice Through the Looking Glass? Well, in Path of Exile you come across the Mirror of Delirium. When you first come across it, you’ll discover a reflection of yourself within it. Now, if you touch the Mirror or go through it, you end up entering the state of Delirium for a short while. And here’s where things get really interesting.
As you cross over into the Mirror, you’ll begin to notice some changes to the environment. Namely, with a mist that gathers around you. This is put in place to heighten fears, as the state of Delirium is made to basically bring your greatest fears to life. (No, not cookies that want to eat you — we’re talking real monsters.)
You’ll have to deal with original foes that you’d normally come across in Path of Exile. But, on top of that, you’ll also have to face off against new ones that specifically strike you in a state of Delirium. As a result, the screen fills up rather quickly with these foes, and you’ll have your work cut out for you.
As you go further into the mist, the monsters will actually begin to pile up further. But, in return, you’ll also be able to access additional mods the further you go. These, in turn, will boost your combat and assist you with taking down your foes. The deeper you go, the more risk you take; but also the more rewarding these mods become.
Now, you’ll want to keep an eye out for the larger beasts in the game, which appear as you manifest yourself even deeper into the Delirium. They utilize powerful telegraphed attacks. They can be somewhat easy to avoid unless you’re surrounded; and if they hit you, they’ll do a significant amount of damage. You’ll also want to watch out for both normal and Delirium monsters with mods, which gives them various kinds of both debuff-on-hit effects and on-death mechanics.
You’ll also have to contend with bosses when you deal with Delirium. As expected, they become even tougher than before, and sometimes even contort depending on where you face them. For example, you come across one called the Brine King in act six. He’s capable of not only doing punishing damage, but also opening up his back, revealing an all new Delirium Horror.
Delirium can also have effects with items that have previously popped up in Path of Exile. These include Ambush Strongboxes, Betrayal Encounters, Incursion and Beach. So you’ll want to prepare accordingly for when you come across them. They’ll prove to be extremely difficult. However, you’ll also reap better rewards by getting through them; so they’re worth the effort.
Controlling the Fear
What’s neat about how Path of Exile: Delirium seeps into other elements of the game (and its rewards) is that you still maintain control when it comes to combat. Those of you familiar with Breach should get an idea of what’s in store with Path of Exile’s latest addition, since it feels like a larger version of that. The stacking of content really piles on the difficulty, instead of sitting apart like a separate segment within the game.
And the difficulty changes in Delirium as well, ranging to areas like Delve or Metamorph. This keeps things interesting, compared to how Breach usually stays the same. As you fight your way in this state, you become better with your character and see more reflected growth. And not just in the mods, mind you. The more you build, the better you get rewarded for your efforts.
There are specific Delirium items depending where you visit within the level. These include currency items, rare armor pieces and map items, among others. If you rack up enough of a kill count with the monsters, you’ll see these rewards. But as you get one, the progress goes back to zero and you’ll have to start all over again as you attempt to build them back up. It’s a give and take, really.
You can also find Delirium encounters when it comes to end-game maps, so keep an eye out for those as well. You’ll also want to keep an eye open for Orbs of Delirium. You can apply these to certain maps, increasing the density of the area, pushing up the difficulty and reward scale. What’s more, you can see the reward theme clearly for each Orb.
The goal of being able to apply Orbs of Delirium and tweaking each map is to challenge the community, particularly the most skilled Path of Exile players. Wilson explained that the team encourages this, if only to see just how much players will push themselves when it comes to tackling these outrageous new challenges. But, again, you’ll pick up Currency Items, Delirium rewards and more as you do so.
And these can add up to even more challenges. Some Orbs of Delirium will actually drop Simulacrum Splinters. With these, you can form the Simulacrum and create a special new end-game challenge just waiting in the wings. What that is yet, Wilson isn’t saying. Again, it’s all about surprising players on day one.
There are also cluster jewels. With these, you can actually increase the power of your skill tree. Simply place them in the necessary external sockets of the tree, and new passive skill clusters will open up, with even more slots to put jewels. These offer the most significant change to characters for Path of Exile since Ascendancy classes first came around way back in 2016. You can also reroll jewels, in case you want to find one that’s ideal for your character.
The Jewels of the Exile
Wilson then went on to provide a few examples. First up are fire resistance passives, as well as minor passives (with additional properties) and notable passives, which can create additional sockets. Once you get to the larger clusters, you’ll start to really open up what the minor passives can do for you, doing some modding in the process. The more you progress your tree, the more it can really open up when it comes to potential.
Eventually, you’ll reach the Keystone passive known as the Hollow Palm Technique. This opens up a new play style in the game, in this case being an unarmed monk-style combat. This is excellent for those that want to give melee strikes a try, as this character is quite powerful, based on what we’ve seen thus far.
Wilson explained that “The more winding the path you take to get to the socket, the more powerful the result is.” Considering the immense size of the skill tree overall (you’re going to be a while, newcomers), there are all sorts of possibilities. And that’s before you even get to unlocking the new play style within the game.
As part of the expansion, Wilson then broke down how there will be touch-ups to Conquerors of the Atlas. He explained that the Atlas changes introduced in December’s Conquerors of the Atlas expansion were big hits with fans, but weren’t quite perfect. Improvements have been made since that time, with a variety of little patches that fixed everything from Conqueror spawning to scaling the difficulty and rewards to the proper level, depending on the chosen variation.
But there are more to come with this addition. This includes changing the Conqueror spawning to be more “deterministic,” according to Wilson. This introduces a new user interface element with a breakdown of how many maps are left to be completed before you take on the boss.
Other things include the addition of a Sextant 3:1 trade-up vendor recipe, perfect for those that are into concoction; as well as additional incentives for those that tackle higher Awakening levels. Again, you’ll want to be primed and ready for this, but you’ll be promptly rewarded for doing so.
There are also improvements coming with the Vaal Side Areas, first introduced in the previous expansion. They will now spawn more as rare, with a number of modifiers in tow. What’s more, there will also be extra boss life/defenses, along with extra rewards and giving monsters greater densities. So, yeah, your work will be cut out for you.
In addition, the Metamorph challenge league, initially introduced last December as part of Conquerors of the Atlas, will also become part of the core game. That way, you’ll have better access to the content when you’re good and ready for it.
Skill Up and New Items
Skills will be introduced with Delirium, namely with the Blade Blast and Kinect Bolt. Let’s take a look at each one.
With the Blade Blast, you’re actually able to leave blades behind. What’s more, you can actually use other skills to interact with them. For instance, one modification and suddenly your blades will be able to explode, creating additional damage for any enemies within their blast radius. You can also trigger this blast via Cast on Crit, or setting up the Unleash + Spell Cascade support gems to create more explosions, as well as rain-like “blade falls” on opponents. Set up a number of these and you’ll do significant damage via chaining. You can also tune these with the Animated Weapon skill.
Next up is the Kinect Bolt. It’s a wand skill that lets you send a forking bolt towards enemies, doing physical damage with the help of your wand. Level it up properly enough, and you’ll be able to combo it into shots, and use support gems such as Barrage. Two additional skills are also set for reveal, but they’ll be shown off closer to release.
Delirium will also come with 13 new items, including four that are equipment that can become a cosmetic set together. A Skin Transfer can get this done for you, so that you look like the main antagonist you come across in the expansion. You can also use Perfidy as a melee-focused body armor, providing yourself additional protection.
You can also acquire the Algor Mortis UNique Gloves to open up additional cold/lighting build opportunities, along with Sap, which creates an alternate lighting ailment. You won’t give up Shock to use this either, so that’s extremely helpful.
You can also create “chilling areas” with a combination of freezing storm and lightning, which can leave the enemies literally out in the cold. And, finally, you’ll find the other nine items within the game with help from special Delirium jewels.
In short, there’s a lot that this expansion will unpack, setting the tone for Path of Exile updates to come in the months ahead. While Wilson didn’t detail that far ahead, he did promise that the new expansion will have a lot to offer. It’s set to hit PC first on March 13, and then arrive a week later, March 20, on consoles. It’ll be free of charge to players, so don’t miss out on the fun.
If you need a better idea of what kind of madness awaits with Path of Exile: Delirium, scope out the launch trailer below. We’ll see you in mirror-land!