In a stark contrast to the usually colorful environments of most MOBA titles, Deadbreed brings us to a dark and gloomy land. The scenery isn’t the only thing that’s different, however, as this is one of the few MOBAs with role-playing elements that improve players’ characters between each fight. Improvements to character stats, artifact upgrades and Sentinel standings are all potentially impacted by the outcome of a game. Furthermore, character roles aren’t set in stone and equipment dictates movement and attack animations.
While it might include a lot of features that aren’t in most other MOBAs it doesn’t deviate entirely. Players will find that each hero has three normal abilities and an ultimate. There are fairly standard weapon tiers, two lanes with minions that push them, towers (monoliths), a jungle variation and a final boss encounter. It’s not quite the standard Summoner’s Rift, but it’s still very obviously a MOBA.
MOBA WITH A SIDE OF RPG
With Daybreeds, Nightbreeds and Halfbreeds, Deadbreed is one of the few MOBAs to include distinct factions in its game. Because the map is on a day and night cycle there are various effects for each faction based on the time of day. This generally includes perks such as increased vision for the Nightbreeds at night, but there are also some more complicated mechanics including faction-specific weapons. Moreover, certain characters have abilities that only work on certain breeds. Brimstone, for example, has an ultimate ability that does fairly high damage and stuns all Nightbreeds in a large cone. This specific ability feels a bit out of place in what is hoping to be a competitive MOBA due to its lopsided effects; if they enemy team is all Nightbreeds they’re going to have a hard time against Brimstone, but if they have none then he has a worthless skill. There are just better ways to do risk versus reward type abilities.
As players gain levels they obtain Rank Points, which are similar to Mastery Points in League of Legends. These points allow players to purchase slots on artifacts or improve the statistics of their heroes. These stat boosts can provide a massive edge over lower ranked opponents and include Luck, Strength, Vitality, Agility and Focus. The bonuses are usually 2-4 percent of a stat including move speed, damage, power and critical hit chance. With that in mind, a player with maximum vitality, 5 ranks, is going to have a 20 percent health advantage over another player with no vitality. Hopefully it’ll be possible to eventually upgrade all stats on a character to minimize the disparity simply based on play time.
In addition to factions and character perks there are two other RPG elements that I found much more interesting. The first is the Sentinel. Instead of having a tree or some shiny bauble to protect, the final push in Deadbreed is much more frightening. Before a match starts each team will vote on which sentinel they want guarding their base. In order to win a team must either destroy the enemy’s sentinel or earn the most points before the timer runs out. What’s cool about the sentinels is that their power correlates to how well you’ve played with them in the past. If you’ve lost all games with a specific sentinel he’s going to be a lot weaker than one with a win streak. There are currently only two sentinels, but once there are half a dozen or so this could prove to be a very strategic elements, especially in ranked play.
Powered up sentinels are great for base defense, but if you want to go on a killing spree you’ll need to level up some artifacts. Artifacts are some of the most powerful items for each equipment slot and they can be improved even further be adding orb slots. Resources found during matches can be placed into artifacts to increase their damage, power and health bonuses. These bonuses are increased by leveling up the artifact so the more you use it the stronger it’ll become. The biggest problem with artifacts is that they’re going to be necessary to stay competitive but they all need to be purchased with either in-game or premium currency. Many can be unlocked for a match, day or week with certain keys, but others are rather expensive and will require a lot of grinding to gain access to.
ROUGH AROUND THE EDGES
In its current phase Deadbreed is very far from perfect. While the environment is done very well and character models look great the game lacks in mechanics department. From a quality control perspective it’s downright awful. There are all kinds of crashes and bugs that really take away from the interesting elements of the game. I’ve experienced issues with losing control of my hero, enemy minion waves vanishing, sentinels respawning and your typical game crashes. Additionally, the combat controls feel incredibly clunky and skillsets generally don’t synergize well. Characters have a delayed reaction when choosing a target to attack or cast a spell. This is even more apparent on heroes with gap-closing abilities; by the time the animation finishes the intended target is usually already out of range.
Besides the rampant bugs and awkward controls, Deadbreed is way too expensive at this stage of the game. Each hero is around 900 premium currency and artifacts range from 175 to 410 silver coins. For $6 you can get 995 silver coins and there are various Steam packages on sale for $19.99 to $39.99. The premium currency expense is about on par with most other MOBAs, but the grind to earn in-game currency is so slow it’s almost required to spend cash. In order to unlock a single hero it takes dozens of games and artifacts aren’t much better. Since this is early access for an indie game there should really be more accessibility to ensure quality feedback to the developers. Instead most players are likely going to get sick of playing the same couple of heroes and won’t want to drop a ton of money on an unfinished game. There’s nothing wrong with supporting a game in development, but I’ve seen it handled in much better ways.
DEAD ON ARRIVAL
Currently Deadbreed isn’t in the greatest shape and the lack of players definitely indicates this. Matches only require five other players, but queues are often longer than 10 minutes. It feels like things were rushed a bit to get the game Greenlit in order to increase revenue. This isn’t the first time this has happened, but Deadbreed should have stayed in development with closed testing just a bit longer. There is a lot of potential here but a solid game is very far off.
- Dark atmosphere
- Interesting blend of MOBA and RPG mechanics
- Sentinels provide an interesting final boss choice
- Game-breaking bugs
- Unresponsive and inaccurate controls