Apart from free-to-play mobile tower defence games, I’m not sure there’s a more crowded genre in gaming than MOBA. At the top of the pile, you have League of Legends and Dota 2. Smite is probably the #3 MOBA though Heroes of Newerth would probably give it a run for its money. You’ve also got the like of Strife and Infinite Crisis too. There are probably plenty of other that I can throw in there but I don’t want a 1,000 word intro.
The problem is that while each game has its little intricacies, they all feel fairly similar at the end of the day. You play one member of a five-player team on a three-lane map with towers that you must power through in order to destroy the central structure of the enemy base.
Heroes of the Storm doesn’t completely revolutionize the basics of a MOBA. It’s still a five-on-five match to destroy the enemy team’s core. However, Blizzard has taken the standard Point A to Point B approach to MOBAs and turned it on its head. What results is the most unique MOBA on the market right now.
It’s been about seven months since we last seen Battlefield Hardline. Back in June, EA tried to capitalize on the post-E3 hype of the BFH reveal by almost immediately launching an early beta of two game modes and one map for the upcoming game. At that point in time, the game was due for an October 2014 release.
In the time following that beta, EA, DICE and Visceral announced that the game would be pushed back five months to March 2015. As February began, EA took Hardline back to beta one more time in order to get a last big batch of feedback before it is launched in March. It looks like some lessons from the first beta were learned by Visceral has many more to take into account over the next month.
Don’t look now but I’m pretty sure the game demo is dead. In its place are “betas” that accomplish a multitude of things simultaneously. They act as a demo without needing to polish a vertical slice of the game. That’s because they can slice out a portion for QA testing by the general public without paying professional QA testers to find problems with the game. And by limiting access to betas, devs and publishers drum up demand relative to supply to goad people into pre-ordering the game to get into the beta.
Shockingly, this doesn’t bring us to Heroes of the Storm. That’s a column for another day. It does bring us to Evolve. Turtle Rock Studios left E3 with the whole world in its hands after cleaning up most of the major E3 awards. However, 2K seems hell-bent on throwing it all away with their utterly confusing and transparently greedy pre-order, season pass, deluxe edition and DLC scheme.
So when Turtle Rock gave us one last chance to get a taste of Evolve before its February release date, everyone who could jumped at the opportunity. But was this one last taste of Evolve enough to convince me to spend $60+ on the game from the Left 4 Dead developers?
As part of Ubisoft’s ongoing corporate strategy to introduce new franchises in new genres, they’ve decided to take on Need for Speed with their take on the street racing genre with The Crew. While it seems to borrow elements from the Need for Speed franchise, the emphasis on story missions, car customization and co-op play sets it apart from the only rival in the arcade street racing game genre.
Having spent a few days with the closed beta and a few years with Need for Speed games, can Ubisoft’s offering compete with EA’s resident racing series?
I know that it’s been a few weeks since the Battlefield Hardline beta has wrapped up but I think I’ve documented (either here or on The Lowdown) how busy I was during the month of June. Now that I’ve finally got a little bit of free time, I’m going to start pumping out reviews and other long-form pieces with a bit more frequency.
So let’s start with the beta for Battlefield Hardline. It was launched with great fanfare at the end of EA’s E3 keynote and was so popular that the Battlefield website crashed as people tried to get into the Beta. With all that hype, it would be hard for BF Hardline to live up to it. And, wouldn’t you know it, Hardline didn’t live up to the hype.
I’ve never played a MOBA before but with the release of the open beta of the DC Comics MOBA, Infinite Crisis, I thought now was a good time to get into the genre. Most people are judging compared to the big MOBAs, League of Legends and DOTA 2. Without that comparison base, what would I think of my first MOBA?
I think I’ve mentioned it a couple of times before that I’m not a fan of MMOs. If the subscription model (that requires you to pay the equivalent of four games to play for that first year) and microtransactions aren’t enough to scare me off, the grinding and fetch quests seal the deal.
I’m not unwilling to put my previous experiences aside to give MMOs another try. For example, I got into last weekend’s beta session for The Elder Scrolls Online and was willing to give that a try to see if I’d like it.