Battlerite knows all about big teamfights. Regardless of any given MOBA’s peculiarities, they all come down to a series of dust-ups. These carefully coordinated battles are often the determining factor in a match, and they’re a significant part of what makes MOBAs compelling as a spectator sport.
The appropriately named Stunlock Studios have taken those big moments of a typical 30-60 minute match and transformed them into a 10-minute single-elimination arena brawl of pure adrenaline-pumping chaos. It’s tense, challenging, enjoyable, and free-to-play.
My Fame score was too high. When I drew the Infamous card again, I was faced with a choice: fight my way out of an angry mob of peasants, or submit to a trial by fire. I opted for the latter and was presented with a rotating beam of light along a pendulum of moving blocks. When I failed to stop the marker on the right block, the Dealer cackled with glee. My heart sank as he drew Pain card after Pain card and my health dwindled into nothing. I should have murdered the damn peasants.
Hand of Fate 2 is, like the original, a world literally made of cards. The campaign is presented as a world map divided into 22 challenges, or levels. These challenges provide specific objectives, and rules, and dying fails the entire challenge. Each challenge places a series of cards facedown on the table, like a digital board game. You move your token from card to card with each one revealing a new encounter that could mean potential gold, food, loot, or combat.
Battle Chasers: Nightwar tackles the tedium of traditional JRPG turn-based combat by turning every fight into a tense interplay of meaningful tactics. Despite some frustrating elements and balancing issues, Nightwar provides some of the most satisfying RPG battles I’ve experienced all year—and looks nice doing it.
THQ’s demise in 2013 left a number of game developers displaced, including Vigil Games, creators of the Darksiders series. Two studios spun out of the ashes of Vigil Games: Gunfire Games, who are making Darksiders 3, and Airship Syndicate, whose first game, Battle Chasers: Nightwar, launched last week. It’s a combination dungeon crawler and JRPG, featuring turn-based combat, randomized dungeons, and a striking art style based on a late ’90s comic series.
Over Skype I spoke with Joe Madureira, Airship Syndicate’s creative director and CEO (as well as writer and penciller of the Battle Chasers comic), and Steve Madureira, the lead designer and animator for Battle Chasers: Nightwar—two brothers who have been making comics and games since they were teenagers.
There are dozens of ‘me too’ free-to-play MOBAs vying for your attention, and Master X Master looks like any other at first. It launched in June as MMO publisher NCSoft’s answer to the genre, and features a standard 5v5 lane-pushing match on a single map called Titan Ruins.
The best part of Master X Master is the surprisingly enjoyable cooperative PvE mode, which elevates an otherwise mediocre lane-pusher into a rewarding, bite-sized action RPG.