Prime World, developed by Nival, is an ambitious MOBA title that attempts to place itself to be much more unique than the rest out in the market. It sports many elements that aspire for the continued evolution of the genre, as well as maintaining the three-laned action that fans of the type all know and love. It’s hard to imagine how any MOBA could be different aside from its theme and cast of heroes, so you may find yourself wondering; does Prime World have what it takes? I sat down for the last week playing Prime World, taking a closer look at what this new franchise has to offer.
Science Vs. Magic
Having previously no exposure whatsoever to Prime World, it took me by surprise that you could actually choose a side, being the very first MOBA that I know of to maintain such a system. I see a great deal of potential in there as it encourages a sense of stronger teamwork and a unified mentality when people find themselves on the same side of a conflict in permanence. Yes, choosing a faction is permanent, so you have to make sure that you pick the right one for you.
With that said, there really is no difference between the factions, gameplay-wise. Only your aesthetic palette would otherwise influence any actual choice, because all the heroes on both sides are simply mirrors of one another, thus bypassing that awful feeling of missing out on heroes that you could have liked. You could either choose the steampunk-inspired, clockwork empire of the Dohkt Imperium, who pride over their mastery of order and science, or the druidesque, fantastic nation of the Keepers of Adornia, who all treasure freedom, creativity, and magic above all else. The atmosphere portrayed by either faction is probably the best feature of Prime World. The world feels truly stunning and captivating.
Regardless of what faction you choose, you will find yourself immersed in a very unique culture that maintains and follows-through on its style and art, making you really feel like you’re on one side of the coin, and not the usual mess of being the middle of everything. This element intensifies even more once you first arrive in your castle. This Prime World first is another aspect that spices up the usual queue-and-wait of other MOBAs, because the castle screen is where you can setup your own base of sorts where you can create buildings that do a lot of useful and interesting things like the inn for the Imperium and the spa for the Keepers, where you can have your heroes rest to gain more vigor, enabling them to carry more spoils of war from their previous battles. The castle itself, tied with your account, has an experience meter all on its own, and experience for this can be obtained by winning battles, finishing quests, and accomplishing another unique element to Prime World, single-player, story campaigns. Yes, a single-player story. You heard me right.
An Interesting Beginning
The tutorial itself should have been a dead giveaway; a fully voiced butler-type NPC greets me at the start of the game and tells me on the occurrences in my territory. He then instructs me to take one of my heroes and investigate a disturbance. I then found myself in a basic tutorial map where there’s even a tiny bit of story that occurs, albeit sketchy, as the game teaches me the basics of combat in Prime World. For the tutorial itself, my only complaint is that it takes too long, assuming that every single person who first plays the game is a complete and total MOBA newbie. It’s fine, of course, because that still occurs these days, but it was quite boring to go through as a veteran. The only exceptional thing it taught me was the way Prime, the game’s in-combat resource, is obtained and how to upgrade your hero by expending said resource on his/her talent tiers.
Why Can I Have Only ONE Grunt?
Prime World offers, on each side, more than thirty (30+) heroes on each faction with their own look and design. While some may be eye-catching, most of these champions look very dull. I had expected some very hyperbolic enterprises in their aesthete, considering that Prime World appears to be based in a post-modern aesthete of dystopian ideals, but instead, Nival presented some very sensible and logical characters. So much so that, for a second on the castle screen, I had actually thought that I was looking over a list of creatable units that I would use as grunts in an RTS. To name a few, there’s your Jaeger, your Warlord, and your Nordic Warrior who all appear as standard fighters to die for you on the battlefield. They are dismal and boring, except maybe for Cryo (because Frozen) and one of her skins called Justice. The name is pretty witty if you ask me.
Despite all that, Nival certainly did a smashing job in the skills and theme department. Each hero has a stimulating set of skills that feel properly organic, working well with one another. Many of the available abilities may be familiar to the MOBA veteran, but at this point in the industry, there really isn’t much originality to be had, and Prime World does quite a good job at innovating them, whether they deal with it through animation or varying effects.
Despite the story-ish tutorial and how grand it is to be immersed in the genre this way, the voices then became the problem. In general, the voices of each NPC and hero are ok at best, but some of them can just be downright silly at worst. Take for example, my Imperium Lightning Master; he sounds too much like those hyped up cool dudes from the 80’s, akin to Michelangelo of Ninja Turtles fame, saying things like “You’ll be seeing stars!” while throwing a thundering hammer at an opposing hero.
I thought that it was but a unique quirk in the voice acting and personality department on account of the two heroes I’m limited to at the beginning, thinking that the others would be better, but, unfortunately, I decided to check out the other standard hero quotes and I found out that I was wrong. The hero list with all the obtainable heroes for your faction are there to be perused at your leisure, even if a lot of those heroes are inaccessible to you, and every time you would select one or switch to one of their alternate skins (available at the cash shop), they would say their own standard quote, and most of them either sent chills to my spine due to how badly done they were, or made me laugh out loud due to the powerfully cheesy line they spouted out. The Naga quote is especially memorable given that I literally had milk coming out of my nose after hearing it: “Four arms are better than two”, she says in her raspy, serpentine voice. Not only does the hero design fail to attract, their personalities make it even harder to get to like them.
When I had finally had access to the first story mission, I jumped right at the chance and started it via the character portraits in the castle screen. Everything was still fully voiced and I had a much deeper appreciation for the butler guy’s acting now that I have heard the others. My fun was cut short, however, when I couldn’t make any sense of what the NPCs were talking about. I suddenly had this Babbler dragon issue, some nameless hero that needs help on something, and some other sorts of things that I was pretty sure weren’t introduced in the beginning of my game. I felt as if I’ve been thrown into an ongoing story, kind of like watching a good show for the first time in its penultimate episode. I shrugged it off and thought that maybe I’d understand it a bit more when I get to the actual combat map. I was dead wrong.
Introduced to Willow, a main NPC, is probably the coup de grace in the whole voice acting bit. Mila Kunis, still in character from That 70’s show, greeted us with the perky valley girl accent and her awkward attempt at speeches reserved only for ladies and lords. I found it absolutely excruciating just listening to her as it destroyed any notion of immersion. Coupled with the overbearing gallantry and chauvinistic sounding Nameless Hero, the pre-school humor of an immature whelp, and the over-the-top ramblings of every anthropomorphized creature with completely dull names like Stripy, both the story and lore Prime World tries to open to you becomes pointless and inane, utterly confused with what it wants to be, and simply makes for an exceptionally bad B-movie theme.
The campaign became utterly confused as it threw fantasy jargon and clues that hinted you about something you’ve yet to encounter in any game. The uniqueness Prime World delivers in full blast backfires and collapses into itself when it alienates a new player with all these things he couldn’t possibly have any knowledge about.
In the end, as I played through more of the single-player campaign, the combat and gameplay itself, along with the many optional quests and the distinctive traits it had, it is a decent enough MOBA-first, though sometimes, it feels like a rehash of standard scenarios found in earlier RTS. But before all that, they really have to reconsider the voice acting.
A Decent Fight
The combat in Prime World is identical to other MOBAs as one would expect, but the differing factor is that Nival decided to do away with the concept of buying gear to upgrade your character and went for the direction of allotting prime as a currency that you allocate to obtain better skills for your hero. The skills are not standard because the player has the option of mixing up talents acquired from almost all activities found within the game. It can happen that multiple players are using the same hero, but with the way they decided to build up their talent tiers could make for some very varied play styles and builds. It adds a much more deep and complex element not found in other MOBAs, and encourages far more player creativity rather than sticking to standard builds dictated by the mass populace.
The best innovation that Nival placed in Prime World is the concept of Native Terrain. Banners, placed on certain points of each lane, can be captured and become designated as your native terrain, empowering you and your allies with boosts and added skill effects whenever present on it. For example, the Lightning Master’s Thunderbolt, normally a single target spell, will have an added effect of dealing 50% of the original damage as splash damage. Each hero is unique and becomes even more exceptional with the use of native terrain. Sometimes, this can even make or break certain situations or the matches themselves. One other function of native terrain is the ability to teleport to anywhere in the map that is considered your territory, enabling more strategic placements than a pair of boots of travel could ever hope to achieve.
Combat, however, can be quite slow due to how certain skill cooldowns for most heroes work. You may find yourself auto-attacking much more than using your spells, effectively dumbing down the potential action to be had, especially considering how grand the array of skills are and the polish that came with animating them. Other than that, there is no glaring difference with other MOBAs.
If you ever find yourself in a quagmire of boredom from playing too many 5v5 matches, like how most people feel in most games of the genre, Prime World offers a ton of other game modes, aside from the single-player campaign, that could sate whatever your craving is. These activities range from co-op challenges to smaller scaled pvp arenas with differing objectives. However, some of these modes can only be played at certain times of the day and are not repeatable once that timeframe has passed. That’s fine, I guess, but not all the modes are as enjoyable as they may appear, forcing some players to participate in activities they don’t like just to grind for whatever it is they’re grinding for.
Playing the standard MOBA play to Prime World’s different game modes, it can’t be denied that it offers a lot more options to fans of the genre and a fairly decent game overall. But it feels so half-baked and I could only think that more thought should have been given in its logistics and application stages. I can’t give any reason for you try it, but I can’t give any reason for you not to try it either.
Prime World Pros and Cons
+ Single Player Mode
+ Many Game Modes
+ Able to Pick Sides
– Voice Acting and Character personalities need work
– Not All Game Modes are Always Available
– Slow Combat