A new trailer has revealed Atlas Reactor’s ‘signature’ simultaneous turn-based action system and breaks down all the different interactions between phases. If you’re unfamiliar, the game itself is a mix of XCOM and your favourite MOBA, with larger-than-life heroes trying to kill each off with sets of abilities, clever play and teamwork. Rather than operating in real time, each player decides what their squad is going to do that turn, before locking in and seeing how it interacts with their opponent’s choices.
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There’s some interesting choices here. My best frame of reference for the simultaneous turns angle is Frozen Synapse, Mode 7’s top-down neon Counter-Strike-ish tactics game. In that, however, there was none of this phase stuff – you just had a certain amount of time to plan out any number of actions you liked in a turn. That had the advantage of letting you set up more complicated sets of moves and was a bit less awkward.
However it also incetivised some weird lines of play and made the game difficult to learn in terms of knowing what you were doing wrong. With the added complexity of Atlas Reactor’s various abilities, more structure lessens the mental strain to just the interesting decisions. A lot of it will depend on the exact way things are balanced – for example it seems right now pretty obvious when a character is going to shoot you, so dashing isn’t so much a decision as an obvious choice. Limiting that in some way will probably be necessary.
The choice to have no ‘initiative’ and instead have dead characters still able to shoot back is an interesting one too. It removes what could end up being a far too strong stat, acting before your opponent generally being superior to anything else as it gives you more options by itself. Equally, it seems slightly frustrating than an outplayed opponent will still be able to get some value from his final moments.