By Remko Molenaar (Proxzor)
Lately a lot of new MOBA games have been announced and released, Prime World among them. Prime World is a free to play role playing strategy game that at first sight is a little different than the normal MOBA game I have seen. Instead of trying to just copy the standard successful formula like others released this year, Prime World sees players building their own your own Castle and leveling their heroes to increase their power overtime. Though the game had a bit of a rocky beta, it’s now launched on Steam and hammering out its various issues one by one so we thought it was time to check back in with Nival’s English launch again. The question I had on my mind though is if these extracurricular features outside the MOBA combat would be the right spice to make the game unique, or elements that break the balance for newer players.
Before you hop into the game and are ready to go, you need to make a character and chose a side. It is rather weird to me that you have to choose between two sides in a MOBA game since it can be rather unbalanced, but since there is no information about either I guess it is just a matter of which character you think you’ll like most. I went for the blue side named the Dohkts Imperium as opposed to the Prime addicted savages in the Keepers of Adornia. Both nations are in a clash fighting for control of the central Prime reserves, a critical resource. This source of energy is a dangerous alien substance that alters the world and gives its user the power to manipulate reality. This sounds really interesting and all, but personally for me I do not really care much about the story behind MOBA games. What I do know is that Prime influences your strengths and level in Prime World.
In many MOBA games, you earn experience and money to buy items at the shop. It is different in Prime World. Every monster, or player you kill will earn you experience and Prime. Prime can be seen as gold, the currency to buy items and skills with. But in Prime World, there isn’t actually a shop that will sell you items to strengthen your heroes. There is only a shop to buy potions, teleports and other useful utilities to use during the games. In this game you will find yourself Talents; these talents can be bought with Prime you collect during the game. You are able to buy these talents at any position of the map and thus do not need to go back to spawn to waste time. These talents can be anything ranging from skills, stat-based items, or passive buffs. You can also earn new talents from playing matches or building them via the Castle resource system, though a talent can only be assigned to one hero at a time so some strategy is involved in deciding which hero you use is best suited for a given talent. This offers a level slightly more advanced than summoner skill type options in other MOBAs as an advanced character can bring 5+ skills not normally present on said hero. As you can imagine, this makes the learning curve pretty harsh when you’re constantly seeing the same hero busting out new tricks.
Just like in many other MOBA games, you have the ability to buy heroes with either the in game currency, or with Gold that is bought with real money. When you first start out you will only have a few heroes that you can play as, so if you want to speed things up you can spend a little cash to get your mercenary empire going. I myself was given 200 gold coins and bought two heroes that looked rather interesting. You can also buy different skins for these heroes that can be previewed in the shop or information bar of the hero. Everything can be found in your Castle view, i.e. the view you have when you are not in the game. Here you can also build structures that gather resources for you. At first this was rather confused to me, what do you need resources for in a MOBA game? Well you use them for buying more structures that impact gameplay whether by rushing vigor regeneration (a stamina system that impacts how quickly heroes can gain experience), unlocking new talents, and acquiring additional silver (the non-cash shop currency).
Now onto the actual gameplay! Pride World isn’t really different from any other MOBA game that I have seen, apart from the fact their bases are a little messy and rather random in terms of structure placement. In the core map mode (one among eighth modes) you will find three lanes. In these lanes you will find towers that will defend their area ferociously. If a minion or enemy hero comes close to the tower, it will strike them down with fast scaling damage on each hit. The tower will also attack the player that is the first one to attack an enemy hero in the vicinity of this tower, though various bugs or weird behavior sometimes makes these towers strike your hero randomly. I just chalk it up to not being liked.
Anyway, players should see these as guardian angels helping the heroes out in the lower levels, so it’s not wise to do much tower diving until much later. No really, these towers are a lot meaner than most MOBAs. After a couple of levels however you will easily notice that these towers are becoming weaker and you can risk more. Between these lanes you will also find the jungle, and the jungle minions camping in it. In my opinion this jungle is slightly too large, and ganking isn’t as common as a result. Players on the run have plenty of room to maneuver and dodge from pursuers though so it certainly has an impact on gameplay.
Teleportation tends to dominate this game with both scrolls to jump to towers being quite cheap and all heroes starting with a ‘teleport anywhere on your terrain’ skill on a very short cooldown (that varies in some of the modes). As such it’s not uncommon to suddenly have a massive team fight suddenly materialize in your lane as both teams blow all their teleports at once to save/destroy a specific tower in a rushed push.
This teleportation dominance becomes more apparent at higher levels when masterful supports can be found camping a minigame in their base as a fifth gold stream, only to materialize in lane for a saving heal when one of their allies needs a saving throw. Overall communication becomes more important than ever as the enemy is almost always missing in action and warding is less effective considering the vast number of routes between each lane.
Among the many issues with this game at launch, queue times were the biggest offender. At least in the early game, this seems to be resolved with an average wait of three minutes for matches now. The match making system becomes a bit more troublesome as you advance as the game considers your account level as well as selected hero level and personal hero elo when building matches. As such the game may eventually throw the most advanced players against relatively new people after they’ve waited an unfair amount of time trying to find a suitable opponent. Honestly this can only be resolved with more players and more veterans queuing up so hopefully time heals these wounds.
The game introduces clan rankings and clan resource gathering with various buffs involved. It’s clear Nival was aiming to attract the MMORPG crowd into the MOBA universe with this game and it seems to do so well enough, though perhaps shunning some of the more core MOBA crowd in the process.
Prime World is progressing well and pushing the limits of innovation much harder than most of the cash cows trying to jump into this burgeoning market. As I had said before, I’m not sure their tactics are the right approach as the MOBA genre has been pretty solid for the past few years and its playerbase may be hesitant to accept so many mechanical changes at once. Though I’m not still knocking on the talent sand castle system that initially seemed confusing and a waste of my time, but as I explored further become an enjoyable diversion to pass time while waiting in queue. The talent system can offer some pretty powerful advantages though that seem a bit unfair for those looking for balanced competitive gameplay, but I guess that’s the same for any PvP MMORPG out there as well. The game itself still needs a lot of tweaking and many of the heroes feel a little off in terms of balance (especially when looking at the extra modes) but since it is still so early in development, that shouldn’t be a huge surprise. For me at least I like what I see and have included Prime World into my rotation of MOBAs that I play regularly.