Last week Death by Beta was invited to try out the Games of Glory alpha test during a press event, and I wanted to write up some thoughts about the game. But first, let’s step back a bit in DBB history. It seems like a long time ago now, but back near the beginning of this year I wrote up a hands-on article about Strife, the incoming MOBA from S2 Games. In that article I outlined why I have a love-hate relationship with MOBAs, and explained why I liked Strife in terms of how it was trying to change how players interact with MOBAs, mostly in terms of toxic behaviour.
I told you that to tell you this: Games of Glory from Lightbulb Crew is another incoming MOBA that, like Strife, is also aiming to change how players interact with MOBAs. Unlike Strife, Games of Glory is also trying to radically revamp what it means to be a MOBA.
I mean, let’s face reality. If someone says “MOBA” almost every gamer on the planet thinks three lanes, towers, creeps, jungling, and last hitting. We think DotA2 or HoN or LoL. Thankfully, some games out there are trying to change that. Dawngate is a good example, combining control point capture with dual laning and a different twist on itemization.
Games of Glory is another good example of a MOBA trying to break the rather stagnant mold of the genre by eschewing many of the elements that are central to a typical MOBA. Oh, you have itemization and last hitting and a form of towers, but the similarities starting running thin after that. Having had the chance to try out Games of Glory (henceforth called GoG) this past week during a alpha press event and I have to say that I can really get on board with what Lightbulb Crew are trying to do.
So let’s get the other similarities completely out of the way. GoG is an isometric top down MOBA, and players control their hero (known as Clones) with mouse clicking, with one significant exception that I will in a moment. Clones level up and unlock four skills that can be activated at any time. Clones accumulate gold from killing NPCs and other clones that is used to buy shop items that provide stat bonuses. I think that is it. Now let’s talk about how GoG is different.
I mentioned a significant difference in the mouse control scheme, so let’s start there. In GoG movement is done by right clicking on the ground. OK, there is nothing unusual about that. What is unusual is that your primary attacks are handled by left clicking. It felt a bit strange at first. This is compounded by the fact that clicking the left mouse button fires your attack regardless if you are in range of your target or not. This is different from many MOBAs in which clicking on a target moves you into range first and then auto-attacks. In GoG, you press the left mouse button and you attack in the direction of your mouse cursor, even if there is no target nearby.
You astute readers will by now grasp the significance of this. In GoG, all primary attacks are not actually auto-attacks but rather are skill shots! In fact, as far as I could tell, almost every activated skill was also a skill shot. You candy-ass Sona players won’t have any of those no-thinking-required auto-aim auto-hit skills in GoG. This alone makes me want to shout a huge “Huzzah” from the top of my lungs. A MOBA with nothing but skill shots, I love it! OK, to be fair I think there were a couple of skills that required players to have a target under their mouse pointer, but from what I could tell such skills were the exception.
Having all primary attacks be skill shots highlights another important aspect about GoG, that is, the weapons. Clones have no inherent weapons but rather must buy weapons at the start of a match like any other items. But here is the kicker: you can buy any two weapons you want, and you can switch between them at any time. Let that sink in for a moment. Do you want to swap from melee to ranged to take out a fleeing enemy? You can do that! Perhaps you want to take a long range sniper rifle as your main and take a shotgun to push away melee attackers. You can do that! With something like 50 different weapons planned for GoG, the possible combinations and tactics will be staggering (assuming that the weapons are indeed significantly different from each other).
During my play time there were only a handful available (off of the top of my head, pistols, rocket launchers, sniper rifles, plasma rifles, dual daggers, dual swords, long sword, and a hammer). It did seem like different Clones had access to different weapon sets, so perhaps the 50 weapons won’t be always available to everyone. Nonetheless, the possibility of customizing your Clone’s weapons to suit your play style or the flow of the match (you can sell weapons and buy new ones) is a fantastic mechanic in my opinion.
Maps! The arena maps in GoG are completely different from a typical MOBA, and there will eventually be multiple game modes as well. Gone are the lanes and the creeps (at least for now). The arena maps in GoG are more like symmetrical mazes with lots of corners and walls which can be good for ambushing enemies thanks to the line of sight mechanic. Some maps have teleporters to help you zip around, and the control points are the main focus of the game. In the Capture the Point game mode that I played, taking all of the control points will drop the enemy base’s force field allowing your team to attack the enemy towers and base. Currently the maps have neutral mobs that will try to protect the control points, and these can be used to gain gold. During the play session someone asked about the mobs and it sounds like that eventually the mobs will become friendly towards whoever holds the control point, but for now they attack any Clone on sight which can be used to your advantage.
I started this GoG discussion by mentioning Strife, and there was another reason for that. For those that play Strife you will be well aware of their in-game systems for trying to reduce player toxicity. Players can give every other player in a match a positive or negative rating, and a player’s rating affects them over time. GoG uses a hyped up version of such a system. At the end of a match, players can choose to give certain players commendations. Every player can also be assigned one of a number of adjectives such as Enthusiastic, Fun, Abusive, and so on. A player’s tally of these rankings will directly affect who they get matched up with in the future and then goes even farther than that. GoG will feature a very in-depth clan and tournament system, and your ability to get invited to the top teams and tournaments in directly related to your community standing. From what I understand of the the system, if you get too many negative ratings then you can kiss goodbye any chance of competing in the best events, no matter how good you are.
The Clones are well designed from my experience, although only a small number of them were available during the play session. I tend to favour tanky heroes in MOBAs, and I had the most success in GoG with Ragnar, a tank that could dish out decent damage and crowd control with his frost-based abilities. I did less well with Pinto, and ranged carry that I simply didn’t click with (although that is more about me and not about Pinto’s design). I should mention that the designation of classes such as “tank” and “carry” and “assassin” won’t be as meaningful in GoG simply because the itemization and weapons will allow you to play the Clones in a number of ways. Sure, some Clones will tend towards being more about tanking or DPS or support than others, but it feels like the lines are going to be somewhat blurry.
And that, in a nut shell, was my experience in Games of Glory. I had a lot of fun playing it. I had actually backed the game on Kickstarter and so was pretty excited to try the game. Speaking of the Games of Glory Kickstarter, I should mention that it was recently cancelled due to Lightbulb Crew securing significant funding for the game, which is great news. Players can still pre-purchase Games of Glory via a number of pre-order tiers, some of which will grant you closed beta access or even alpha access. I have been told by Lightbulb Crew that anyone purchasing an alpha pack can expect to gain alpha access in the near future, so that would be your best bet for being able to test Games of Glory any time soon.
So there you have it! I really hope Games of Glory is a success because I really like the vision that Lightbulb Crew have for the game. They are trying to put a new spin on the MOBA formula that really does feel different from the rest. Keep your eye on the game, because as far as I am concerned, Games of Glory is one to watch!