There is a refrain some fans would be well used to now. It comes up not for Trions latest game, but one in a similar vein. Suffice to say when something goes badly, the refrain is this, “That’s X-Com baby”.
It’s something between a prayer and an admission. The Random Number God who hath rolled in Heaven, hallowed be thine crits, just plain doesn’t like you. Yes you. You personally. Or anyone for that matter.
With that in mind, we better find a version of the prayer soon for Trion and Atlas Reactor.
I have a feeling we’re going to need it.
X-Com Meets DOTA
Take a tactical based game like X-Com and throw in some multiplayer. Take that multiplayer and expand it out to a MOBA like 5 on 5. Then just to add a final perfect twist guaranteed to cause frustration, denial, anger and joy, make the turns run simultaneously.
I got a chance to sit down and watch some Atlas Reactor with James Carris (Senior Producer), William Coke (Lead Designer) and Adam Lair (QA). Sadly I never got to get my hands on the game itself, but fortunately the Atlas Reactor Sneak Peek is coming this week and runs from the 18th to the 24th of February. The free rotation on characters will change every day but players will also have access to a bunch of the in game currency to try out and buy characters that they want to test during the Alpha. Feel free to play with it and work out whose style works best for you.
If anyone has been lucky enough to play Atlas Reactor before now, this sneak peak is more than the Core game Alpha that was run last year. There’s more features to test, from the character preview system, the mod system and the new UI. Also anyone who logs in for this sneak peek and wins a match will get their hands on Lockwood, he of the cigar chomping and well styled hair, unlocked for their account permanently.
Right off the bat you can see that this will be a wonderfully quirky world. It’s not trying to take itself too seriously with the characters and trying to bring out the fun in the games. A light atmosphere is good for getting people playing. After the colourful characters and happy menus though, things start to get tense.
We’ll be jumping in the Alpha week to get our hands on it and confirm the following hopes and fears. Atlas Reactors selling point is the simultaneous turns.
Decision mode gives you and your team 30 seconds to pick what you’ll hope will happen. This includes all the attacks, actions and moves for your character. As well as that you’ll also get to see what your team is planning as well, so maybe someone will be setting up a shield, maybe you want to get behind that, maybe you think it’s best to run away and set up some trouble for later. 30 seconds is all you get, after that we enter Resolution Mode.
The Resolution mode plays out over the camera for everyone. Prepared actions such as traps or shields go down first with dodges and charges following as Dash actions. After that we get our queued attacks and finally everyone (rather everyone still alive) moves. What this means in practice is that your character isn’t necessarily going to miss because of a low hit percentage, it may well be that your target has run away before you took the shot. Prediction is the name of the game.
It’s not just enough to know what people can do, you have to guess what they might do in any given moment. This would be tactical head scratcher in a one on one match where you are busy trying to get a grasp of your opponents thought process and out think them. Turn it into a 5 on 5 match and it becomes a beautiful nightmare.
Better, or worse, than that is that all actions play out. You may be shot to death by someone who guessed where you were going to go, but all the queued actions will go off. This does include the chance to siphon health from someone and come back from the brink.
Matches are anywhere between ten and twenty minutes with varying maps and goals. That’s just the obvious though, that’s the easy target of team with the most points win. Where this will really come into its own is of course the meta. The who can do what of it all, adding yet another layer of trying to out think your opponents before they and their team get you.
So you’ve tried to set up a shield to block shots from someone who isn’t even there yet against someone you know is going to move behind you because your healer has been taking a bit of a beating. That’s one layer. Add in mods now on top of it all. Maybe you want to work better with your team. Maybe you know that the map up next has a lot of cover and you want some extra oomph to deal with that and shoot over the walls. Varying the power and modifications on the abilities is delicious.
I need to get my hands on this. I’ve heard Atlas Reactor described a number of different ways but the X-Com meets DOTA is the one that stuck in my head. The tactical turn based game play already appealed to me but adding multiplayer to that then making everything play out all at once? Throw in ability mods and the cooldowns while everyone tries to outmaneuver people based on what they might do? This isn’t chess with explosions, this isn’t a MOBA and a Turn Based Game having a baby, Atlas Reactor is a chain reaction of explosive fun.
I think though looking through the characters we’ve discovered the prayer. Nix stealths, he stealths so well he may or may not exist. So when we all get our hands on Atlas Reactor and dive into the play and counter play of “I knew you knew that I knew you would do this…” and watch everyone flail hilariously.. remember this. Win, lose or draw, whatever happens… “It was all Nix’s fault”.Related: Article, Atlas Reactor, Tactical Shooter, Trion Worlds, Turn-Based