Awesomenauts was one of the first MOBAs to hit the mainstream market before the genre became saturated with clones and lookalikes. Awesomenauts is different from most MOBA games, it’s a 2D, platformer which requires a focus on reactions as opposed to a 3D, isometric game which requires more strategic thinking and planning. Also unlike the other MOBAs on the market, the game isn’t built to be competitive; rather it’s meant to be a casual gameplay experience which you can play with your friends. These two differences alone make Awesomenauts stand out from the crowd, however does that make it worth playing?
Awesomenaut’s has the same rules as every other MOBA. Minions from your base spawn and push their way past turrets to get to the enemies base and destroy it. Also unlike other games in the genre, which are normally 5v5, Awesomenauts is 3v3 and features several, small sized maps which all play differently and have a unique flair.
Levels are to be gained, and farming is to be had. Unlike other MOBAs farming and levels don’t play as much importance in Awesomenauts. Players won’t be static in a lane, farming minions and trying to get kills on their lane opponents, instead the small maps allow players to jump around and constantly gank their enemies.
The fast pace of Awesomenauts makes it an excellent game for those who enjoy the typical MOBA format, however don’t enjoy the genre’s slower moments. For those who enjoy the pacing of the genre, they may find the more active nature of the game a bit jarring. Indeed kills will be going off left, right and centre, more so than any other MOBA, so you’ll be required to stay on your feet. Of course that isn’t to say that pushing and getting objectives, in this case turrets, doesn’t apply, it’s just there is less of a focus on pushing the lane, and more of a focus on killing the enemy and then pushing the lane to get an objectives.
Of course every MOBA’s focus is on the champions, Nauts in this game’s case, that the player has control over. Awesomenauts has a relatively small pool of characters to choose from, with there only being fifteen Nauts, however each of the Nauts is different, providing a different gameplay style and unique set of abilities.
Each of these Nauts has a humorous look and personality, and they are designed to fit into the “Saturday Morning cartoon” art style which the rest of the game features. There’s a French, frog, assassin with a moustache as well as an Octopus with British accent and the ability to grab enemies from afar and pull them to him, for example. Generally you’ll find a Naut that suits you however I personally felt a bit of a disconnect from all of the Nauts, with none of them really matching my playstyle or feeling cool to play. It’s all down to the cartoon art style, which determines much of the game, and this will effect whether or not you fall for it.
There are a host of skins available for each Naut, however If you want to deck out your favourite Naut in a new garment, then you have to purchase it from the Steam store. At first this feels a bit stingy however given the incredibly low price of the game (under ten dollars), and the amount of game you get for that price, paying for additional skins seems reasonable.
Killing minions, as well as destroying turrets, jungle creeps and other enemies, gives players gold which they can use to upgrade their “Naut”, when they go back to base. Unlike other games in the genre, players aren’t given a massive store from which to buy items depending on the situation of the match. Instead players are limited only to three upgrades to each of their two Naut’s abilities, as well as their Naut’s basic attacks and a utility slot (where players can upgrade their Naut’s movement speed).
Unfortunately this means that you have to predict how both your allies and your enemies will build their ‘Nauts. This would be fine, however you’re not given any information about what Naut’s your allies have selected, or what Naut’s the enemies have selected. This means that if you don’t select the ability which decreases the amount of time a stun lasts for, and you get into a game and the other Naut’s have high stun times, then you’re screwed and you have no way to counter their team.
It’s a bit of a flawed system. It would be better if players could choose three upgrades from all of their Naut’s available upgrades in the match, giving the player the ability to the counter the enemy team, instead of choosing three upgrades at the beginning of the match.
This system means that it’s generally your best bet to go with upgrades with increase your Naut’s damage, as there is no point in choosing upgrades with add more crowd control to your abilities, if the rest of your allies don’t choose any damage upgrades.
Whether or not this matters is down to how you wish to play the game. If you wish to play it from a casual perspective, then this system is fine, and works well. However, this system really gets in the way of providing a competitive game experience.
There is a ranking system in the game, which somewhat goes against its casual nature, however without the ability to reconnect to a match after being disconnected, one can’t help but feel that a ranking system is a bit pointless.
One thing that Awesomenaut’s does have going for it with regards to its match set-up, is that other players can join matches if one of your team mates gets disconnected or quits. A bot will also take over the Naut of the player who went AFK, meaning you won’t get into any unbalanced matches.
All-in-all, Awesomenaut’s is an incredibly fun game if played casually and is a great game for new comers to the MOBA genre, however it falls apart if you try to play the game competitively. This is a disappointment because it’s an incredibly well made game, and is very well polished and has all the makings of a competitive game, it just needs to be retooled a bit to be one.
Maybe I’m judging Awesomenauts a bit too harshly though. Not every game in the genre needs to be competitive or have an eSports edge. Awesomenauts is a fun, casual game, for those seeking something a bit more action packed.
– It’s action packed and fun,
– The Nauts all have a different style and flavour,
– It has splitscreen (including on PC), which is incredibly fun to play with friends.
– Whilst all the Nauts have a different style and flavour, the art style will either be something you love or hate.
– The game lacks a lot of features which would make it competitive or a viable eSport, which is a shame because it’s very fun.