Steel Circus – Speedball for the Champion Generation

Steel Circus is described by developer Iron Mountain Interactive as Rocket League meets Mario Strikers. I silently nod in agreement, but the first seconds of gameplay are enough to come up with a more fitting inspiration: Bitmap Brothers’ Speedball 2: Brutal Deluxe.

Kids nowadays don’t know what Speedball 2 is so they wont know how it defined a generation. The name alone wasn’t going to help market Steel Circus, but Speedball 2 instantly comes to mind. It was your go-to violent arena sports game if your computer happened to be a Commodore Amiga or an Atari ST, but Brutal Deluxe was released in several other platforms. “Insanely fun” somehow falls short to describe it, because it truly had this special something that very few games ever managed to replicate, and none of the sequels or remakes managed to even come close. Ubisoft’s upcoming arena sports game Roller Champions is another interesting alternative.

That being said, I can play along to the above comparison. Steel Circus borrows from different arena sports games and doesn’t score many goals for originality, but the core mechanics and gameplay are on the right track.

Steel Circus Preview Winning Team

No Rules, Great Scotch

Steel Circus is a fast-paced multiplayer game of teamplay and supreme player coordination. There is no room for luck, apart from the extremely rare events where the ball tends to hit the metallic bumper and end up inside the goal, in the best pinball style. These haphazard moments will often decide a match, so it’s advised that you have a decent notion of geometry and the perks of bouncing the ball off walls. There is a significant gap between newcomers and expert players that will take some time to bridge, proof that Steel Circus has a margin for progression and that skill and split-second reasoning is what ultimately matters.

Great team combinations and eye-catching goals are incredibly rewarding. When a play tricks your opponent and results in a goal, you feel tempted to cheer and celebrate – there are emotes for that, obviously. When your adversaries take the upper hand and you’re on the receiving end of a stunning play, you feel humbled and learn from your mistakes. Steel Circus is all about tactics, improving your game and making the best of what each champion has to offer. There is never a dull moment with all the tackles and abilities going on.

While Steel Circus pits three players on each team, each player must embody a different champion. You can’t pick the same character as your teammates, which makes absolute sense. This final closed alpha test offered a selection of six champions, each one with their own unique statistics and skills. The plan is to have over 15 champions for the full release in early 2020.

Each champion has their own power, speed, sprint and health stats, but it will mostly come down to their skills and how you use them. Skills have a long cooldown time, so make sure you’re profiting from their timely use.

Steel Circus Preview Explosion

The latest champion is Acrid, a monstrous being that seems out of the Predator school of creatures. While powerful, he is extremely slow, an issue that doesn’t make him the best attacker. His rampage skill will turn him into a devastating slapping machine for a few seconds, perfect for clearing the field for his teammates. Putrid discharge is more of a damage skill, as Acrid spits a corrosive fluid that takes one health bar from whoever steps on it.

Shani was introduced early in development, but she only made it into the game recently. Hailing from Republic of Africa, this brilliant bioengineer is weak but comes with a handy spear that she can throw and then teleport to its location. She is also able to jump high in the air and strike down like lighting, stunning her opponent.

Schröder is primed to become a fan favorite, with his ability to bend reality for his own personal gain. His origins are as mysterious as he is sneaky, being capable of diving into the floor for a significant speed boost. Entering the floor and switching places with an opponent is his other skill, something that will come in handy when a player feels tempted to celebrate a goal before it happened.

Cap-x02 is a machine that was built to last… and score. It’s an all-round player with no real downsides to speak of. It is also able to summon a temporary barrier to stop other players and the ball from going through. This is very useful for defending purposes if you manage to pull it at the right time. Cap-x02 also turns into a turret for some destructive firepower.

Ellika is a powerful Pacific League officer with large experience in law enforcement. She shines through her sheer power and physical strength. Her skills include throwing her shield in bold Captain America fashion to stun her opponents, and she is also capable of creating a circular prison to incarcerate other players for a few crucial seconds.

Finally, we have the bagpipe-wielding Scottish stereotype Lochlan. Tough as nails as his physique will surely let on, he is able to slam the ground thanks to the robotic fist which replaces the arm that was crushed by a large rock – don’t ask. Playing the bagpipes will affect the players within range, preventing them from moving at full speed.

Champions in Steel Circus are neatly designed and sport a range of skills that should be enough to complicate your selection. You should get used to different champions though, as the character selection is done in a random order, meaning that the first player to pick could eventually choose your favorite.

Steel Circus Preview Score

Welcome to Dodge City

Steel Circus plays a fast and mean game of futuristic handball. Goals come in thick and fast and you can either win a game if you score ten goals or if you are in the lead when the five-minute match is over. Since there is no fixed goalkeeper, it’s up to you and your teammates to coordinate your efforts, possibly leaving one of you further back to prevent any sort of counterattack.

Health also comes into play closer to the end of the match. Suffer enough blows and you will be knocked off the game for a few vital seconds. It doesn’t take long to respawn, but those seconds may prove to be enough to turn the tide of the match. Occasionally a couple of power-ups will show up in the arena, with the players who are lucky to pick them up getting a significant health boost or seeing their skill cooldown time reset.

Tackles are the name of the game, with every player resorting to this move to stun their opponents for a second. There is even an XP reward for the player with the most tackles at the end of the match. However, you also have a dodge button which allows you to feint your opponent and leave him befuddled if the timing is just right.

The single arena currently available is a beautiful mesh of cyan and neon lights, set against a futuristic cityscape backdrop that is more detailed than it has any right to be. It’s stunning and crispy clear at the same time, making me eagerly excited for the premiere of the promised second arena. I look forward to seeing the new setting and backdrop, and the developers are aiming for over six arenas at launch. The current arena usually features three bumpers on each side of the field, but occasionally it shows up completely devoid of any obstacles, promoting straightforward play and goals scored from afar.

Steel Circus Preview Close Goal

I still can’t quite get to grips with the passing and shooting system, but I know this is a personal issue and I realize that the more I play, the better I get at it. Running and aiming isn’t entirely intuitive, and you’ll fail a lot of goals before getting the hang of it. It requires pinpoint accuracy to pass the ball to a teammate, but the best players will make it feel effortless and natural.

I wouldn’t mind seeing the introduction of a mini map. It’s not entirely obvious where the ball is when offscreen, although there is an indicator giving you a vague idea. Knowing where your teammates are positioned is also essential to get a superior overlook on the arena, so a mini map would be extremely useful in this regard.

Steel Circus will be free-to-play, but you can purchase an Early Access package giving you access to all current and future champions. An in-game store also offers several options such as champion skins, emotes and more.

Steel Circus is a game that plays well and is at its best when two rival teams show a clear grasp of the core mechanics and mastery of the individual skills. It offers an equal dose of chaos and tactics, being brutal but never violent, and suited for both a quick match and a substantial dose of competitive tackling. Early Access will hopefully reward it with the player base that it both deserves and needs to evolve, turning it from a niche game into a full-fledged eSports contender.

Will it ever reach the heights of Rocket League or Mario Strikers? It’s quite a steep challenge, but these champions may have a skill or two up their sleeves.

The post Steel Circus – Speedball for the Champion Generation appeared first on MMOGames.com.

Roller Champions – A Brutal Adrenaline Rush on Roller Skates

Some movies are best left forgotten, but others seem so avant-garde that it almost feels like there was some sorcery involved. Rollerball is one such perfect example, a movie where a brutal futuristic sport took center stage – and I don’t mean the dreadful remake, but the 1975 original which was jam-packed with timely social commentary.

Amidst a barrage of Tom Clancy games, Roller Champions was one of the most surprising announcements from Ubisoft at E3 2019. I’ll eat my shorts if the designers didn’t take inspiration from Rollerball in any way, seeing that the similarities are too deliberate to refute.

But as they usually say, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and considering the grand scheme of things, we do need more futuristic sports games. After all, even Rocket League gets tiring after a while.

Roller Champions Preview High Speed Chase

Keep Rollin’ Rollin’ Rollin’

Roller Champions is the kind of game that may deceive you and tempt you to discard it as micro-transaction ridden, pay-to-win garbage. I understand where you’re coming from and it will take a few matches to properly tune your mind into it. In less than an hour you should have a clearer view of the whole picture and that view will probably include the words “thrilling” and “fun.” You will probably want to throw a “#$%#!” in there as well, but that is all part of the healthy. no-holds-barred competitive spirit of Roller Champions.

The E3 2019 reveal came with a demo that was as barebones as they come in terms of content, but it was more than enough to show how the game will play. In that respect, it was fairly finetuned, with the bulk of the work surely falling upon the physics department. The skating feel had to be just right, and it mostly is, with a convincing sense of speed as you ride up walls and dodge rival players, with many falls and hilarity ensuing.

The core mechanics look simple enough, but you’ll soon find that this is a sport where skill and teamwork are of utmost importance. It’s not a simple matter of skating in an oval arena, you must rely on your teammates to clear the way for a successful goal attempt. There are many variables coming into play, one of them called pumping.

Roller Champions Preview Acrobatic Takedown

Pumping is a maneuver where the skater gains speed by bending the knees, something that would instantly make this Daenerys’ favorite sport. You only use it when going downhill, picking up speed until it’s time to start skating again. Pursuing your opponent from behind will take advantage of their draft, gaining speed to ultimately dash and barge onto them, sending the unlucky fellow in a spectacular spin.

When you have the ball, you can press a button to perform a daring last-second dodge that will leave your opponent befuddled. Jumping is another option to potentially avoid the incoming burst of fists and elbows.

Scoring a goal is a matter of throwing the ball through the hoop. It’s not as easy as it sounds since you must consider timing and aiming to successfully throw the ball, not to mention the vicious rival skaters trying to barge you off the track. But this comes with an interesting mechanic that is going to affect the outcome of every match – your goals are worth a different number of points according to the amount of laps your team completes before scoring. You can make a full lap in any direction but losing the ball to an opponent will reset the neon lap counters. A one-lap goal is worth one point, a two-lap goal is worth three points, while a three-lap goal earns you five points. Since the first team reaching five points wins, there is a significant risk/reward factor at play that you mustn’t ignore.

Roller Champions Preview Going For the Goal

If You Win It, They Will Come

Roller Champions puts a clever cosmetic spin to the XP system. Your performance in the arena will be rated according to goals, victories and other factors, increasing your fans, a.k.a. experience points. This will serve to unlock new gear, outfits, animations, customization items and even stuff for your fanbase, such as new celebration and outfits. It would be amazing if you could customize the crowd chants in any way, but that would lead us into dangerous territory that no publisher is willing to risk.

Sadly, the demo didn’t have any of the customization options unlocked. There was no way to mess around with your character – you couldn’t even pick a skater, in fact – and I can only guess what kind of options we’ll get. Hopefully Ubisoft won’t neglect this aspect since it is one of the areas that could make or break a free-to-play game – let’s have enough content to fiddle with without bumping into paywalls at every corner.

The Roller Champions demo featured two arenas set in Acapulco and Mexico. The sunny Acapulco arena feels cheerful and relaxed, but I preferred the Mexico indoor arena by a long margin. It’s best suited to the violent nature of the sport, the lighting is also tighter, and the overall mood is that this is in a more advanced shape graphically speaking.

Roller Champions Preview Mexico Arena Skating

Speaking of graphics, Roller Champions starts with a stylish intro that sadly doesn’t find proper correlation with the actual in-game models. The different personalities are patent, but these champions need a more refined art style, one that will make you hesitant when it comes to choosing one skater. I didn’t notice any specific stats differences between them such as speed or acceleration, but I’m willing to bet that this will happen when unlocks come into play, hopefully in a way that won’t break the game balance.

I’m convinced that many gamers scoffed when Ubisoft announced Roller Champions at E3 2019. I was one of them, rolling my eyes as I thought that this mix of Rollerball and Speedball 2: Brutal Deluxe seemed too derivative and bland to stand a chance. 

Mea culpa, then, as I learned the basics during the first few matches and suddenly, I was having a lot of fun pumping and dodging, delighted by the sheer speed and acrobatic take downs. I felt the adrenaline rush and I can see it earning a decent fanbase capable of turning it into serious eSports material. I just love a good underdog story and Roller Champions has all the makings of one.

The post Roller Champions – A Brutal Adrenaline Rush on Roller Skates appeared first on MMOGames.com.

Spellbreak – Magicka and Mayhem

Within a crowded, highly competitive genre, it takes something truly special to stand out. The ruthless Battle Royale genre exploded with the release of PUBG first and Fortnite Battle Royale next, and every year leaves countless bodies in its trail. It’s a tendency that repeats itself in regular cycles, as we have seen not so long ago with MOBA games and digital card games.

However, it’s not all doom and gloom; occasionally we discover a hidden jewel, a game that is far from a quick cash grab and won’t conform to being irrelevant. Instead, it shows some real ambition and could even take a serious stab at the Battle Royale crown. That game is Spellbreak.

Spellbreak Marla

Harry Potter Goes Battle Royale

Spellbreak is the new game from Proletariat Inc. Founded in 2012 by game-industry veterans hailing from acclaimed studios such as Harmonix, Turbine, and Insomniac, its first game released in 2015: the popular iOS MMO World Zombination. This was followed by StreamLine, an action game built around streaming, and StreamLegends, and RPG extension for Twitch.

Things got interesting when Proletariat revealed the first glimpse of what would become Spellbreak. The definite name was only publicly revealed in last September, but it seems like a perfect fit for a game about spellcasting and… er, breaking enemy spells, I guess. This is a Battle Royale game featuring epic magic battles and impressive spell combos, with a fantasy art style that reminds me of Motiga’s sadly canceled MOBA game Gigantic, but it often gets compared to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Development is focused on PC for now, with other platforms being considered, but nothing is set in stone yet.

But why did Proletariat choose to enter the merciless Battle Royale genre? According to Seth Sivak, CEO and co-founder, Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds had a great deal of importance in this decision, as it pushed the genre into the mainstream. Proletariat was carefully watching as H1Z1, Arma and other games followed suit and wondered about creating its own competitive multiplayer rogue-like game as well, while throwing some RPG elements into the mix.

As for the magic spellcasting, that was a different issue entirely. While looking at other games that included magical effects, Proletariat concluded that most of them either featured slow-moving old wizards or that the spells were nothing but a thinly veiled cover for guns. Their goal was for the player to feel like an “absolute badass battlemage” with fun combat, massive fireballs and incredible shock waves – judging by the explosive pre-alpha gameplay, they are on the right path.

Now with More Spells

Nothing screams RPG more than classes, and Spellbreak features a class system with the goal of carving a picture inside the player’s head. Players should have the image of a class in their head and know how it plays like. Classes are meant to be “thematic, evocative, and aspirational”, as Design Director Jesse Kurlancheek puts it.

Currently Spellbreak has 11 classes, one for each school of magic, along with five others, with plans for several more, both tied to a school of magic and not. The twist? You get to pick two classes, a primary and a secondary, each one coming with a passive ability and three scrolls/abilities that you get to choose and level up during the course of a match.

As the match unfolds and you earn skill points, you must spend these in two scrolls randomly selected from your primary and secondary classes. This is the time when you’ll face a difficult decision, as you can either level up a scroll you possess or choose a new one to be added to your character. Ultimately it all comes down to your playstyle and your current abilities, and the way that you want to mix and match them.

Here is one example. You may be forced to choose between Squall and Armor Piercing scrolls. Squall allows your mage to do some extra damage while up in the air, but Armor Piercing is self-explanatory and extremely tempting. Considering that your Tempest class already has the Updraft ability, which makes any whirlwind launch you high into the air, which one would you prefer? Are your current opponents wearing armor? It’s a tough call and one of the many that you will eventually have to make.

Spellbreak Magic Combinations

What Kind of Sorcery is That?

Spell combinations are a vital mechanic of Spellbreak. There are six types of magic a.k.a. schools available (fire, poison, ice, lightning, earth, and wind), translating into a vast array of combinations that skilled players will want to dominate in a heartbeat. A picture is worth a thousand words, so take a look at the artwork above to get the gist of it.

Spellbreak’s mechanics somewhat remind me of the now defunct MOBA Magicka: Wizard Wars, which allowed you as well to combine spells in a battlefield, but from a top-down perspective.

The easiest example of a spell combo is using a fireball and a poison cloud. Combining the two will result in a green flame burst that will seriously affect anyone in the vicinity. Most combinations can be created by a single player, but everything is cranked up to eleven when it comes to Squads or Duos. Proletariat is keeping this mode under wraps for the time being, but it’s easy to imagine the potential that it holds for extreme two-player combos.

Spellbreak Duel Poison Cloud

Looking back at the 11 classes, only a few were officially detailed so far, with glimpses or occasional mentions of others such as the Tempest. The Pyromancer, Conduit and Toxicologist are the classes that deserved an insightful, in-depth look.

The Pyromancer’s passion for everything fire should come as no surprise to anyone. However, his passive Phoenix’s Rebirth allows you to come back to life with 50% HP for the first time you die, complete with increased run speed and invulnerability for a few seconds, but you’re also unable to attack. Evidently, this almost feels like an unexpected second chance in a world where there are no second chances.

The Conduit is a student of the lightning school of magic and won’t hesitate when it comes to shocking his opponents. His passive Lightning Fast increases sprint speed by 20% and one of his scrolls allows him to become immune to lightning storms and even gain mana when struck by one. Thor would be proud – in fact, the developers mentioned that the inspiration for this ability came from watching a Thor movie and thinking just how amazing that would be.

The Toxicologist is all about gooey, poisonous stuff and spreading sickness around. Corrosion is his passive, eating away 3 armor a second for 10 seconds. However, the downside is that this doesn’t work if your opponent doesn’t have any armor. Of course, one of his abilities involves becoming immune to poison clouds.

Spellbreak Marla 2

Esports School of Magic

The fierce competitive nature of Spellbreak means that it was designed with the esports scene in mind. However, this isn’t a crucial point and there is only so much that Proletariat can do by putting the building blocks and basic mechanics in place and working in tandem with the players to take it to the next level.

Spellbreak should differentiate itself from other Battle Royale competitive games through its magical interaction system, says Seth Sivak. He adds that there are tons of combinations that push the game to a tactical level he hasn’t seen before. It’s not about getting the faster skill shots but more about thinking through and opting for the best tactical decisions given the current situation.

While Proletariat is heavily invested into communicating with its fans and regularly reveals details about the game’s mechanics and classes, there isn’t much talk about lore. Being a predominantly PvP game and even pending towards the more competitive scene, could Spellbreak entirely ditch the world building and character bios aspects? Not at all, Sivak said.

However, it is extremely challenging to convey the message, as players don’t have access to NPCs or cutscenes just as they would in a linear story-based game. So, the plan is to start with the game map and the characters themselves, trying to provide rich backdrops as to where they come from, answer some pressing questions such as to why they are fighting, if everyone in this world has magic powers or if it is a sort of Harry Potter universe where only a chosen few harness these powers.

Spellbreak explosion

This left me with one substantial question lingering in my mind: will Spellbreak have any sort of PvE? To that, Proletariat simply replied, “not at the moment,” so there’s that. While similar PvP-focused game KurtzPel will include a simple PvE boss raid-based narrative, Spellbreak will ditch it altogether. Quite a shame if you ask me, considering the accomplished art style and potential for a magic-based action MMO. Oh well, I guess we’ll always have Wizard101.

Apart from this omission, which may or may not be important to you, Spellbreak enchants. There is so much potential to its spell combining gameplay, and the fact that its artistic style is often compared to the likes of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is another triumph.

It’s too early to say if Spellbreak will be free-to-play just like Fortnite Battle Royale. For now, you can sign-up for the pre-alpha or purchase a Founder’s Pack if you believe in the game. It doesn’t take a magic spell to make me think that it could become one of Battle Royale’s flagship games.

The post Spellbreak – Magicka and Mayhem appeared first on MMOGames.com.

Overwatch Season 10 Makes Brigitte Active

Those already in the know have likely begun all of their placement matches and other initial steps for Overwatch Season 10, but just in case you’re not otherwise aware, the new competitive season is adding a couple of notable additions. Namely, the Rialto map and the game’s latest support hero Brigitte.

overwatch season 10

We finally will get to see whether Brigitte’s kit is going to bring salt, rage, tears and baying for nerfs as the latest hero makes her way to the Competitive active roster. After one quick glance at the thread titles in the Overwatch Competitive discussion forum, it looks like people are well on their way to high blood pressure.

In addition to the latest worst thing to happen to Overwatch Competitive, the Rialto map is due to arrive to the Season 10 rotation. That, however, won’t be available until later; Rialto will arrive to the game on Thursday, May 3rd and then will be brought into Season 10 in a later patch after players have had some time to learn the map.

Finally, Competitive 6v6 Elimination will run for a few more days until Monday, May 7th. Participants will receive a unique spray icon and CR based on their highest earned tier once this branch of Competitive wraps up.

Our Thoughts

Seriously, though, Brigitte is already causing huge levels of needless stress for Competitive players, so we expect there will be adjustments to the character at some point down the line. Of course, these are the knee-jerk reactions of a playerbase that hasn’t had time to adjust and so we suspect the meta will coagulate once Season 10 has had more time to cook.

Source: official site

Articles Related to Overwatch

Play of the Fortnight: Brigitte Makes an Impact on Overwatch
Symmetra to Switch Roles from Support to Defense in Overwatch
Rialto Map and the New-Look Hanzo Land on Overwatch PTR

The post Overwatch Season 10 Makes Brigitte Active appeared first on MMOGames.com.

Overwatch Season 8 is Getting New Adjustments

It’s a new year and a new competitive season for the ultra-serious players of Overwatch. As is often the case, Overwatch Season 8 is heralding a few new changes to the competitive scene that look to help players get to the right matches more readily.

overwatch season 8

Maximum SR differences for the game’s different tiers have been reduced this season overall. Bronze through Diamond tier are now at 1000 SR, while Master is at 500 SR and Grandmaster is at 250 SR. The intent with this change is to ensure players at lower and higher tiers are placed with appropriate teammates and opponents of equal ability.

For those who are Diamond tier or above, personal performance SR is being removed entirely. According to a forum post, this was done in order to make sure players at those tiers aren’t so focused on their own metrics and focus instead on gaining a win.

“At the higher levels of online competition where every point of SR matters, we want players to not be distracted and worry about how to optimize around the personal performance adjustment,” reads the post.

Our Thoughts

These are minor tweaks that should have some pretty big impact on competitive Overwatch, particularly in regards to the Diamond tier and up. It will be interesting to see how these tweaks affect the overall feel of season 8, but it’s also likely going to be a while before we know what these changes bring. In the meantime, GLHF to those in the ladder!

Sources: official site, official forums

Articles Related to Overwatch

Play of the Fortnight: What Could Be Coming in Overwatch 2018
Overwatch League Skins Set to Go On Sale
Play of the Fortnight: Thoughts On New Overwatch Hero Moira

The post Overwatch Season 8 is Getting New Adjustments appeared first on MMOGames.com.