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Tuesday, September 2, 2014

PAX Day 2: Gigantic, Dreadnought, and Warriors

Despite having four days to potentially scour PAX, I find that there is far too much to truly experience in that time so I had to be a little selective. Much as I would love to be playing Heroes of the Storm I pointedly chose not to spend much time at the Blizzard booth because 20 or so minutes or playing would just make the desire all that much greater and my patience all that much weaker. Plus I figured that playing Warlords of Draenor might ruin some of the story for me. So sadly I have nothing to report on that front. Instead I got a good look at a few other games, Gigantic, Dreadnought, and Hyrule Warriors.

And yes I know we're technically at Day 4, I'm on vacation!

Gigantic step out of the box

So Gigantic is one of the "billion" MOBAs I talked about last post, but I give it a lot of credit for being one that is stepping slightly further outside the box than most. Though under a strict definition of MOBA you might exclude this game.The basic premise is that each team has a giant monster "Guardian" that they are trying to protect while destroying the other team's. The game is broken into two periods, the "laning" phase and the "clash." During the laning phase the teams fight over control points to power up their Guardian, whom at max power will go over and temporarily make the other team's Guardian vulnerable to attack.

There are no creep waves, no last hitting, only one lane, and it uses an active third-person-action style of combat, hence the exclusion from a strict MOBA definition. However there are a dozen characters whom play on teams of five and you level them up, so it preserves those elements. The variety is huge; from a melee assassin, a melee tank, to a sniper and lizard-man fire mage. The game feels essentially like a MOBA but with more FPS style twitch to its combat.

I enjoyed it, despite my team not doing very well in the demo game we played. The game has its issues such as hit detection, some UI elements being lacking, and lack of clarity as to objectives, but I think it has potential. I look forward to seeing what it's like in a few months when it comes out as alpha.

And one last shout-out; they had 20 machines set up for ~20 minute matches and the line went fairly fast. My commendations to the planners who set that up, it was a far cry better than the booths of many larger devs (who had about the same number of machines but much slower lines). 


Deep down inside everyone* wants that video game that simulates the experience of the Battle of Endor in Return of the Jedi or the space battle in Serenity. I certainly have, and while games like Homeworld and Sins of a Solar Empire come close, they focus too much on the RTS and you lose the feeling of being in command of a ship because you are focused on so many of them. Along comes Dreadnought, which puts you in command of a single capital ship amidst such a battle....almost. At the moment it is a relatively small scale (5v5) battle on the surface of the planet (and I am entirely willing to suspend my Physics degree and love of astronomy for this). So it's a step in the right direction...but I do hope we see larger scale combat (20 on 20?) in the future.

I never got a chance to play it, partially because they had a good sized line and only five machines set up, and while I could do a post on how PAX dev booths could improve on this, I'll simply say that the long wait deterred me from trying and I satisfied myself with watching people play. From that I figured out that you don't have a TON of control of your ship (you can't give orders deck by deck or anything) but you do have a variety of weapons (that are effectively cooldowns and auto-attacks). It's disappointing that they did not design the game to allow more "deck level" orders because it's a choice at least partially made to accommodate the limitations of a controller.

The ship types run the gamut from large dreadnoughts to light corvettes, with each taking similar roles to other team shooters. Dreadnoughts are tough and slug it out while corvettes speed around and try to do damage while avoiding it and sniper cruisers sit back and shoot from afar. Dreadnought looks like a lot of fun, I look forward to its beta as well.

Dynasty Hyrule Warriors

Being entirely honest, when I saw Hyrule Warriors over someone's shoulder I first thought I was seeing some iteration (or at least mod) or Dynasty Warriors. The resemblance is simply uncanny. Well as it turns out it is, because Tecmo Koei, the creators of the Dynasty Warriors series have teamed up with Nintendo for this one. After watching people play it for a while I can say it is essentially Dynasty Warriors in Legend of Zelda clothing.

Especially the corner map
I find a certain amusement in the fact that Nintendo is going to hop into the market that Tecmo Koei has almost solely occupied for 17 years and simultaneously create new consumers in that market and take much of it over mostly due to the leveraging of their own name. Never let anyone tell you that branding doesn't matter. This isn't to say that Nintendo can stick it's name on anything and sell it like hotcakes, they still have to provide a passable product, but I have no doubt that Nintendo can deliver that. Theirs will just be propelled higher than anyone else would be purely on the power of their name.

I have always been fond of the game-type. If any genre could truly be accused of being a power fantasy I'd think it's the one where you slaughter upwards of 500 enemy soldiers in a single battle without breaking a sweat.

And an amusing tidbit, apparently Zelda is always modeled with spanx or tights under her dress to prevent players from sneaking up-skirt shots.

*Search your feelings, you know it to be true.

1 comment:

  1. I've been keeping a side-eye on Gigantic for a while. The MOBA genre is so terrible right now for casual play with friends. I am really hoping a few more casual-oriented experiences will take off, because I really like the genre overall.