MOBAs are more “in” than twerking right now, but it’s a genre utterly dominated by fantasy. The likes of Dota 2, League of Legends and Heroes of Newerth have a lot of weight, but what if you don’t like elves or ancient gods?
Turbine’s Infinite Crisis might have you covered. It’s comfortingly familiar, with the structure you’d expect from a MOBA like lanes, creeps and a slew of items just waiting to be bought mid-match with ingame currency, but it’s nestled within the DC universe. Superpowered heroes and villains smack each-other for fate of the world stakes.
A comic book MOBA: it sounds intriguing, but is it worth your time? Here’s everything we know.
It’s definitely a MOBA
When Infinite Crisis was first revealed and the early screenshots slipped out onto the internet, comparisons were drawn between it and the likes of Marvel’s Ultimate Alliance games or that slightly naff Marvel Heroes almost-but-not-quite-MMO. But spending even just a second with Infinite Crisis reveals that such comparisons aren’t even skin deep – this is a MOBA through and through.
Two teams – made up of both heroes and villains working together – face each other in detailed arenas filled with capture points, bases waiting to be annihilated, lanes and sauntering creeps. The flow of battle sees all players start at ostensibly the same place – powerwise – rapidly leveling up throughout the battle, unlocking new powers and getting more cash with which they can splash out on all manner of DC themed items, such as the health-increasing Lobo’s chain.
While familiar, Infinite Crisis is still laden with features that Turbine undoubtedly hopes will make it stand out from its indomitable competitors.
Batman vs Batman vs Batman
For those not in the know, the Infinite Crisis comics were a tool used by DC to reboot its multiverse, featuring heroes and villains from different universes getting into scraps. The game takes this concept of alternate versions of classic characters and just runs with it… and then keeps running.
Right now there are three Batmans… Batmen? You’ve got your default Batman, everyone’s favourite caped-crusader and dark knight; then there’s Earth-43’s Batman, a horrifying vampiric monster; and finally there’s Gaslight Batman from Earth-19, the hero who fought Jack the Ripper. It’s not just Batman who gets alternative versions. Meet Atomic Wonder Woman, equipped with a chainsaw staff. Or meet Gaslight Joker: a flabby butcher and serial killer.
These aren’t just simple reskins, either – the characters from different Earths have entirely different roles and skills. Earth-Prime’s Batman, the one everyone will know for sure, is a Bruiser, with strong armour and attacks, employing martial arts and batarangs. His Gaslight counterpart, on the other hand, is a ranged champion and uses a variety of sonic attacks to defeat his foes from a distance.
All of this goes towards making a roster that’s both varied visually and mechanically. A nifty addition is a pool of stolen powers – like LoL’s summoner spells – that all heroes and villains can select before a match begins, encouraging a bit more experimentation and fiddling around with builds. Want to play as a teleporting Green Lantern? Go for it.
Blow everything up
With all of these superpowered brawlers fighting throughout the DC Universe, there’s a fair amount of collateral damage. Street signs, cars, park benches – all of these things can be smashed into oblivion, and can even become weapons in the hands of some champions.
I still remember the first time I got a car thrown at my face by a particularly angry Doomsday. I thought I had him cornered, but no; I became the victim of vehicular murder.
What’s worse than getting crushed under a car? How about being eviscerated by the Doomsday Device? Maps, of which there are two right now, contain catastrophic events that are triggered by players. In Coast City the Doomsday Device activates part way through the game, changing the landscape. At this point, players can fight over the trigger, attempting to gain control over the destructive super-weapon. They can point it towards their enemies, or even participate in a spot of demolition, blowing up buildings to push into the opposition’s base in the hopes of eventually destroying their Power Core.
In the Gotham Heights map, combatants can scrap over the capture point for the Orbital Cannon which in the centre of the map, when activated, launches a meteor that crashes into enemy territory. Not only is this a powerful weapon, larger, stronger creeps – known as Assault Drones – spawn, marching towards enemy control points.
Even millionaires like Bruce Wayne need to make money
While Bruce Wayne normally gets his cash from his substantial business empire and healthy inheritance, in Infinite Crisis he – along with all the other champions – has a few different ways to earn a living.
In the midst of battle, credits are slow accumulated passively, but also through killing creeps, capturing control points and defeating enemy players. While killing blows remains important, it’s not the only way to get more cash. These credits are then spent on new gear and consumables or on upgrading existing items.
Outside of the comic book conflicts are two other types of currency: crisis coins and merits. The former is the premium currency, and you’ll need to drop some real cash to get that, but the latter can be earned through playing, albeit quite slowly. Both allow players to splash out on new champions, but only those with crisis coins can pick up the groovy cosmetic costumes like Gaslight Batman’s samurai getup.
With rotating champions and multiple ways to secure income, free players aren’t left out in the cold, but the system certainly favours those willing to spend cold, hard cash. If you want to pick up Atomic Wonder Woman you can either drop 950 crisis coins, or a whopping 8400 merits.
Who doesn’t love superheroes?
Despite the obvious success of titles like LoL or Dota 2 and the plethora of games in the genre, MOBAs are still, perhaps, a niche past time. The huge time investment required to become competent and the aggressive, competitive nature of the matches are not necessarily conducive to a broad appeal.
A strong IP like the DC Universe could potentially make such obstacles seem less insurmountable for those who have yet to dip their toes into the world of the MOBA, yet Turbine stresses that Infinite Crisis retains the competitive nature inherent in the genre.
In an interview with Digital Spy, Executive Producer Jeffery Steefel tries to emphasise this. “We’re working very hard to make sure that the game is worthy of the professional competitive kind of play that we see in some of the other MOBAs,” he explains.
Though Infinite Crisis is only in beta, we’ve already seen one tournament. At PAX Prime, competitors battled for daily leaderboard positions, best played role and best team performance. It was streamed by MLG during PAX, and you can watch some of their highlights here:
Infinite Crisis is in closed beta, at the moment. You can hop on over to the site to try and nab a code or be a big spender and slap down some cash for a Founders Pack for immediate beta access and a bunch of spending money.