A super-powered MOBA
Update: 8/16, with info on the new Coast City Marina map, which features the oh-so-lovely Doomsday Device map objective.
If you're a DC Comics fan, chances are you've debated such hot topics such as "who would win in a fight between Nightmare Batman and Gaslight Batman?" Well, it just so happens that we know the answer: Nightmare Batman, hands-down. Of course, that's entirely based on our hands-on experience with Turbine's upcoming Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA) Infinite Crisis, a DC Comics-themed game with playable champions that span DC's multiverse.
We've been playing around in closed beta for a while now, checking out everything on offer. And after several rounds in Infinite Crisis' Gotham Heights map, which is set up sort of like League of Legends' Dominion mode, we recently had the opportunity to check out a more traditional tower-based map called Coast City Marina. Infinite Crisis is easy to jump into if you're at all familiar with MOBAs, but this new map includes some neat layout decisions that will ultimately change the way you play. Read on to find out more.
Coastal City Marina is a two-lane map
Most MOBAs feature a traditional three-lane map in which each team must destroy the other's towers and base to win. While such a mode may eventually exist in Infinite Crisis, we've been having plenty of fun playing around in a two-lane variation of that in a map called Coastal City Marina. Here, the middle lane is removed. In its stead? A huge jungle, meaning the meta setup can support two junglers per team, which drastically affects the flow of a match.
To make things even more interesting, a series of three control points are gradually unlocked as the match progresses. Capturing these points empowers your minions, allowing them to push lanes on their own. The best feature, however, is the Doomsday Device, an often-contested objective in the center of the map. Destroying a powerful automated turret means your team can capture the device, essentially a humongous bomb, and use it on the enemy team. It packs a devastating punch, and merely having control of the Doomsday Device can deter the enemy team from initiating an attack, providing a wealth of strategic opportunities for your team.
There are multiple versions of each character--and each plays differently
As of now, 14 characters from the DC universe have been announced for the games roster: Batman, Nightmare Batman, Gaslight Batman, Joker, Gaslight Joker, Doomsday, Flash, Gaslight Catwoman, Green Lantern, Poison Ivy, Wonder Woman, Shazam, Cyborg, and Zatanna. Turbine said it plans on rolling out multiple variations of each character, spanning the DC multiverse. The "normal" versions of each character are based on the character designs from DC's "New 52" comic lineup.
Though we only got a chance to test drive one of the champions (Nightmare Batman, because Batman in vampire form is awesome), we had a fierce encounter with his Gaslight counterpart. Both Nightmare and Gaslight Batman are carry characters, meaning they deal insane amounts of damage. Whereas our Nightmare version relied on lifesteal abilities, attack speed buffs, and predominantly melee skills, Gaslight Batman did most of his damage from afar. For the record, we won that 1v1, and our end-of-match KDR sat at a healthy 15-3. Yep, Nightmare Batman rules.
...and they'll each have their own unique look
You won't have to worry about confusing different variations of the same character, though, as each one looks drastically different. This is where Turbine's dedication to DC's multiverse really shines through, as the design of each character is well researched and reflective of the source material. So, too, are the abilities they possess.
Even though there were multiple Batmans and Jokers running around the battlefield, they were super easy to tell apart. My Nightmare Batman, for example, had long, sharp talons and looked like a humanoid bat, while the Gaslight version was decked out in steampunk gear. It really was awesome to see so many DC characters running around on screen fighting each other.
It's adopting a free-to-play model
Though Infinite Crisis will be a free-to-play game, we're really not sure what model of monetization will exist. It's difficult to imagine there being drastically different skins for each of the characters when there are already multiple variations of the same character from different DC universes to begin with. That said, alternate costumes are how most MOBAs make their money, and with DC's penchant to give each universe's heroes and villains new costumes we'd be shocked if that wasn't at least part of the equation.
However, the developers were very adamant that the game will not offer a play-to-win model (as all F2P devs are), so we'll have to wait and see what eventually is available for purchase. Our guess? As with most MOBAs, you'll have the option to buy new champions or unlock them through play.
The environments can be slightly altered
Some villains and superheroes are naturally stronger than others, and have the ability to pick up cars and toss them at opponents (which we were on the receiving end of--ouch), or rip lamp posts from the ground and swing them around like humongous baseball bats. During each match, a "catastrophic event" will occur around the halfway mark--in our case, a giant meteor crashed down from the heavens, altering the layout of the map and forcing us to rethink our movement strategies.
The goal, according to Turbine devs, is to make it feel as though youre actually controlling a superhero/villain fighting in an unstable world--which (hopefully) will make each match feel a bit more dynamic compared to the static maps on offer by other games in the genre.
There will be several different maps and game types
We played a capture-point based map, called Gotham Heights, that featured five areas of control. While we've seen this setup in other MOBAs, we couldnt help but notice the surprising level of detail the map as a whole contained. The city streets were cracked beyond repair, with abandoned cars sprinkled throughout.
Seeing as winning the match depended on capturing and holding specific points, those were the areas where most of the fighting occurred, and the match was fairly fast-paced considering it ended in under 20 minutes. Turbine stated there will also be a traditional three-lane map at launch, as well as a new variation built around environmental destruction.
Most elements are very similar to the standard MOBA formula
In practice, you wont find much to differentiate Infinite Crisis from other MOBAs aside from its DC Comics presentation and slightly modifiable environments. We killed piles of creeps, gaining experience points and gold--though the big difference here is that you'll gain currency for every hit you bestow upon an enemy versus killing them. Which meant our Nightmare Batman, a fast melee attacker, became even more effective at murder once we powered him up. Though we can't help but wonder what this will mean for balance between slow and fast-attacking champions.
Each character has five base skills, all of which can be upgraded, as can the power of your auto attack. Infinite Crisis introduces a pretty unique element in its "stolen powers" feature, though, which lets you borrow certain extra powers from your champions once you've played with them for a bit. Every character has two powers (think LoL's Summoner Spells) appropriate to its character. Love playing as Nightmare Batman (as we do), but wish you could grant him the ability to throw cars? Master Doomsday and transfer his superhuman strength. Problem solved.
Instead of items there are "Artifacts"
During our match, we purchased artifacts, Infinite Crisis name for the items that increase your characters speed, power, and other attributes. While there were dozens of items to choose from, a recommended purchase option pops up each time you browse the artifact store; clicking the recommended pop-up window automatically purchases the best items for your specific character that you currently have the cash to obtain.
This made upgrades feel a bit mindless and arbitrary because you dont really have to think about what youre buying--though it's likely there for beginners that would just buy the recommended items anyway. There are likely to be alternative builds that are potentially more powerful than the recommended ones.
Gods among us
Honestly, we really hope the developers take advantage of the malleable environments they teased, as those elements will certainly help Infinite Crisis stand out. In any case, we had a blast with what we played, and are looking forward to seeing more. What are you hoping to see from the game? Any specific character additions? Let us know in the comments below!
And if you're looking for more great GDC news, check out 12 things you need to know about Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain and 10 things you need to know about Battlefield 4.