When Steambirds Alliance showed up in my Steam discovery queue, I was surprised by its description. It was tagged as an MMO, but also as a shoot em up (schmup). I happen to enjoy bullet-hell style games, and have played them since childhood, but I didn’t see how you could turn this sort of concept into an RPG, let alone an MMO. Color me interested, particularly when I found out that it was in Open Beta and free to download to try out. I had absolutely no idea what to expect, but after a session with the game I found it to be intriguing. Many of the concepts that you’d expect from an MMO are present. There is crafting. There are different ships that could correlate to classes. There are quests. You level up. You get gear. There are open world parts, and dungeons complete with bosses. There is a central hub city where you can group up with other players and it works sort of like Marvel Heroes, where the open world is wandered by all, and if you participate in battle you get your own share of the XP. It does actually become a bullet hell at times too, so the schmup portion of the game’s design is true to its roots.
Being in beta, I’m sure there are still kinks to work out. The tutorial was good enough, but didn’t really describe the fact that you don’t really sell your loot, you just drop “trash.” There are features that don’t open up until you’re level 5 or level 20. I have no idea what crafting is like due to this level restriction, though I will admit the levels come at a rapid clip. There is a story that loosely translates to birds hating cats and cats ruling the world currently, but it doesn’t seem to matter. Then again, when is the last time you cared about the story/quest text in an MMO? It doesn’t look bad but it definitely doesn’t feel AAA. Not that being indie is a bad thing, but it doesn’t really feel like a top notch game, but that could also be due to the fact that it’s a schmup MMO mashup and that’s just weird to begin with.
Honestly I don’t think it’s a bad game, but I have only scratched the surface so far. I had to play it to sate my curiosity, but I’m not sure it’s something I’ll play more of. One thing that makes the schmup genre fun is the fact that yes it is challenging, but there is an end to the game and you can say you beat it. Turning that concept into an MMO either means eventually things become trival or you get bored because by now you normally would have beaten several games in the genre. I’m not sure what to think about this one, but I wish them luck in their coming launch. Seems to have some sort of population, I saw dozens of people playing during my session. I’d recommend checking it out if you’re bored and want something new, or if you’re as curious as I was about this bastard of a game concept. If you’re already playing a more traditional MMO I don’t think you’d be into this one.
I gave my first impressions of Zeal not too long ago. It’s a game that’s in Early Access on Steam and as of right now you can download and try it for free. It doesn’t seem to have that big of a playerbase at the moment though, as I didn’t have much luck in finding matches when I tried it out. There are some basic arena and training areas to test and the game is being updated frequently with new tweaks and balances. Apparently the developers are aiming higher though, and have just started up a Kickstarter for the game. The video above will give you an idea about what to expect from the game, as can my impressions post. It’s basically a PvP arena with predetermined character builds with a smidge of customization options. It does sound like the developers have more in mind though. From the description:
Zeal is a 3rd person Action RPG where you don’t need to level up and gear up your characters, you just pick a class, make a build and jump right into the action!
Depending on the success of our campaign, the game will feature:
— No more placeholders, 90% of the assets will be replaced and graphics, animations, optimization and effects will be greatly improved.
— Up to 16 playable classes
— Arena mode of 1v1, 2v2 and 3v3 with ladder system
— Battlegrounds, big scale fights that ranges between 5v5 to 20v20 depending on map with interactive objectives such as Capture The Flag or Defend The Base.
— Dungeons: An action-packed PvE mode with different difficulty levels.
— Conquest Mode: A massive map with 35 teams of 2 players fighting for dominance until a last team is standing.
— Story Campaign which can be completed alone or with up to 2 friends.
One of my early complaints was that the game looked kind of crappy and the animations were pretty wonky. Apparently they are planning to update their assets, which should definitely be a step in the right direction. There were already 8 or 9 characters to choose from when I played, but looks like they are shooting for 16. I also only tried the arena mode, but they aim to add Battlegrounds, Dungeons, Conquest and a Story Campaign. So they are trying to have some PvE content as well, which is good for people who care, but I would think that if they stretch themselves too far you might get lower quality in each. They also aren’t promising all of this for their original asking price, some modes are only part of stretch goals.
As of this morning, their crowdfunding efforts have brought in $8638 of their $102,691 goal. There are 29 days remaining, but that probably doesn’t bode well. $100k isn’t that much to ask for games these days, but I don’t know that this is exactly what people want. Some players actually enjoy the grind and many don’t want a predetermined character. This mixes some of the elements of MOBAs and MMOs in my mind, where you get the MMO style gameplay but you get more of a predetermined MOBA character with which to do so. I don’t see it as being detrimental, because I don’t really enjoy the grind and I would prefer to just jump into a MMO-like PvP experience without it. It’s definitely a to each their own kind of situation, but I have my doubts they get funded without an explosion of pledges soon.
I’ll keep an eye on this and update when the campaign is over.
I wrote about the original Defiance back in 2014, which was about a year after it released. A game put out both for PC and Consoles that ties into a TV series seemed weird at the time, and honestly the TV show was probably the better of the two. I enjoyed the first couple of seasons of the SyFy Original series, but then it started to get lame and was cancelled. So it goes. The game continued on however, despite the fact that I literally knew no one that was playing it. I got it on sale on my PS3 and played it for a few hours. I compared it to Borderlands, but only wrote a few paragraphs in some of my State of the Game posts and didn’t post a single screen shot, so my comparisons here are strictly from memory. Back in July, the new, revamped version of the game, Defiance 2050 was released by Trion. Why it was decided to essentially rename the original game I’m not sure, because this still feels like the same exact game. Changing some marketing materials around does not a new game make. I’m not sure exactly what was promised, but the game has been pretty universally panned as just a reskin of the original with nothing new to add. I wanted to see for myself, and this time around the game is free to play instead of buy to play, and I saw it pop up on the Playstation store a while back and downloaded it.
I fired it up the other day and finally got around to checking it out. Yeah, the story line starts off the same. You get a cameo from two of the main characters from the TV series. Nothing has changed. I guess you could say the graphics look a little sharper, as the PS4’s processing power is definitely better than the PS3’s, but I’m sure on PC it probably looks identical. It runs alright but there are quite a few buggy areas and hitching in the animations. Your character looks really wonky when running and I don’t know why that is. Overall it literally is a reskin of the same game. The map appears to be the same and doesn’t have new areas that I would have expected of a game that is this old. Remaster or not, this is the same damn game from 5 years ago and it doesn’t look like much in the way of new content was added. I’ve probably put in about the same amount of time into 2050 as I did the original, and I honestly don’t see anything different. I also don’t see anything here to hold my attention.
The real reason I decided to download it is because my old roommate and I used to co-op our way through the Borderlands games, and this being somewhat similar to that I thought this might be a game we could play together with no entry fee. I did want to test the waters myself first though, and having done so I’m not even going to suggest downloading it to him. What a waste of time that was!
Final verdict: Don’t bother.
But not only is it an MMO, its abbreviation is MMO.
Monster Madness Online is a title that is currently in an Alpha stage. And by Alpha, I mean there are only a couple of features from what the real game will be like for you to test out. But you can do that now, and do it for free, by going to the official site. I have looked around on the site and can’t find any sort of NDA, but that’s probably because this isn’t even a beta, and things are subject to change. The game is being developed by “the people who brought you Dungeon Defenders,” and that was a pretty cool game if I do say so myself. Unlike Dungeon Defenders, this isn’t a single or multiplayer only game, nor is it centered around tower defense mechanics. This is a shooter MMO, and all of the features are unclear at this point, but here’s what I do know:
The Alpha allows you to try out any of the four characters. I only played one, but as far as I can tell they all start with the same weapons, and no abilities are immediately available. Experience is accrued as you play, and levels give you points to spend on upgrading your character, though it seemed limited to health/stamina (think mana) and damage type upgrades, nothing particularly special. Gear was unlocked through leveling, but I assume this won’t be the case once you’re actually running kill ten rats quests. The Alpha only provides two game modes, one being a co-op survival, and the other a pvp capture the flag mode. I tried out both, and can see the appeal of both. I assume these modes will be nestled within the game, similar to battlegrounds in other massives.
One of the coolest features I enjoyed was the fact that you can zoom all the way in to first person mode, zoom out a little to a standard third person view, or even farther to a more diablo-esque 3/4 view. The latter was the hardest to control but could come in handy in certain situations. I’m wondering how everything will play out when the game’s other, more MMO-like portions are revealed. I’ve signed up for the beta, so I look forward to finding out for myself. Another one of the features mentioned is the ability to play the game in your browser, or even on smart phones, with cross-platform play. That’s something that hasn’t been tried before, and playing an MMO on a smart phone doesn’t seem very easy, but perhaps there’s something they know that I don’t. Either way if you are looking for something new to play that isn’t the norm, this might be something you’d be interested in. It’s going to be free to play, so it won’t hurt to see if you like it now.