[Authors: Cyber and TheNinth]
The first play test weekend for Minimum happened this past weekend, and it was a lot of fun for those of us who got a chance to play. I had planned on writing up a typical hands-on article about the weekend, but decided to try something new. Instead the article, I invited TheNinth, one of the more active players I happened to meet in the game, to give me his thoughts about certain aspects of the game, and I will provide mine as well. This will give everyone two different opinions about the game.
TheNinth and I happened to play a number of games together. He smacked me down a bunch of times with the Inferno Swords, and I annoyed him repeatedly with my Grenade Launcher. All in all it was a tonne of fun and I look forward to playing the game again in the future.
Oh, and by the way, a number of changes have already been made or on deck following the play test weekend.
So…on to the questions!
What was your initial impression of Minimum (is it what you expected)?
TheNinth: I was expecting a fast paced, crazy arena shooter with lanes and, wow, that’s exactly what Minimum is.
Cyber: My first impression was good in that I really liked the combat and gameplay, but it wasn’t what I expected. I expected more MOBA elements based on what I had read, but it more like team deathmatch with escort objectives. Not a bad thing, but not what I expected.
What did you think of the gameplay?
TheNinth: The gameplay in Minimum is just as brutal as any other arena twitch shooter like UT3 or Quake III Arena; it’s kill or be killed. Dead or die.
Cyber: The gameplay was fast paced and a lot of fun. Easy to jump into and get going, although with a bit of a learning curve for certain aspects. People that like PvP third person shooters will probably feel right at home in Minimum.
What did you think of the map design?
TheNinth: The map design is brilliant so far: in Canyon (a desert map) there’s a central lane where the titans stroll, and two creep farming caves either side, which allows for awesome tactics like flanking the dudes killing your Titan with a good old helping of Inferno Katanas.
Cyber: Map design of the two available maps was great, with both maps offering multiple routes, elevations, corridors and hiding spots. It was easy to flank players once you learned the maps. You needed to really pay attention to your surroundings, especially since there isn’t any radar.
How did the game perform given it is in beta?
TheNinth: Over the course of two (or was it three?) days, there were only a few issues. There was the infamous “your inventory is invalid” glitch kicking you out of a match, which was supposedly due to Steam servers being overloaded, and then every time you loaded a map there was a chance that your game client could crash. Also, there was a glitch dubbed VHS that would cause the loading screen to flicker over the game, rendering keys unresponsive. And finally, there was the (admittedly fun) glitch that set you on a neutral team, meaning you could engage in combat with EVERYONE.
Cyber: There were some issues, but it is an early beta test so that isn’t a surprise. The graphics were smooth and the gameplay responsive. I imagine there is room for optimization though because the game didn’t take advantage of my SLI configuration, and the lone GTX460 was screaming during the game (this is running with a 2.9 GHz i5 and 16GB of RAM). I also couldn’t get Minimum to run whenever I had Play Claw 5 running, so I was unable to record any videos. Overall though, performance was great.
How did you like the Titan mode?
TheNinth: Titan mode was the only one available, and it was really fun. But for people jumping into the game (and not even reading any damn things on the tutorial or website) it was sometimes hard to realise that you needed to kill creeps to power up your Titan, and that made some matches (admittedly) too easy.
Cyber: No other choice than to play Titan mode, but honestly I really liked it a lot and I don’t see myself bothering much with the other modes in the future. I like how it combines other objectives (creep hunt, Titan escort, enemy Titan destruction) with regular team deathmatch. It makes for a very hectic but fun game mode.
What did you think of the weapons?
TheNinth: The selection of weapons is grand. Each weapon is either a rifle, sniper rifle, shotgun, launcher, or sword, but there are 20+ weapons that give you something unique and fun to play with, and just from that, there’s a huge level of customisation and loads of viable playstyles.
Cyber: The weapons seemed great, although admittedly I didn’t play enough to unlock many of them. The swords seemed too powerful for my tastes, and the shotgun too weak (which is being addressed in the game changes). There seems to be a decent selection of weapons with a range of bonuses, so I think everyone will find something they like to use. I also like how they level up during the game but you lose the levels if you are killed, making leveled up players dangerous but not permanently so.
What was your favourite weapon?
TheNinth: I really liked the swords. You had to get really close in to kill someone, and so you could get picked off easily, but once you get in close, you’re gonna get the kill.
Cyber: The grenade launcher was my weapon of choice, mostly to help deal with the countless number of sword wielding players running around.
What did you think of the armor and other items?
TheNinth: Armor crafting felt really clunky and slow, and it took at least five seconds to craft something, which is a lot of time in a twitch shooter. You can’t move while crafting, and the camera turns so that you only see behind you. Although, it has been fun trying to hide while crafting items, and I have been found while crafting and killed. I’ve come to appreciate the short period of not being able to move though – it’s much better than having to go back to spawn in order to craft/buy new items like most MOBAs do it, and it made me creative about where I hide in a map to craft the next level of armor.
Cyber: The armor selection was great and given that most of the armor had both positive and negative bonuses there was a definite “risk versus reward” vibe that I think is great. Crafting armor in-game is risky since you are frozen and can be killed while doing it, so finding shelter before in-game crafting is important.
What did you think of the crafting system in general?
TheNinth: To craft the weapons, Human Head gave every player 15 red cubes to unlock schematics for weapons, and enough materials to build one weapon. On average, it took me about 3 hours of playtime to get enough materials for a new weapon, and before long I had crafted all of them bar one, because there were actually 16 schematics to unlock. Regardless, playing with all the different weapons was lots of fun, and in the final release you will be able to craft more than just weapons, which I’m excited to see.
Cyber: I liked the idea, but was disappointed with the it in general. As far as I could tell, there weren’t any means of customising your crafted weapons, and so “crafting” is really just a fancy way of saying “unlocking” in Minimum. You collect resources in game, and sometimes blueprints, and then use those to unlock the items out of game. Perhaps this will be fleshed out, but I don’t care for “unlocking” systems because it means the better weapons are only had by the players who play more, or possibly spend more money in the final game. If true customisation is added I will revisit my opinion on this.
What was your favourite aspect of Minimum?
TheNinth: I love the combat, everything is so fast paced and hectic, and it’s really fun to pop in and out of the battle by escaping through the creep areas.
Cyber: I really liked the Titan mode gameplay, and I am really looking forward to seeing it fleshed out more with more maps in the future.
What was your least favourite aspect of Minimum?
TheNinth: I didn’t like when people didn’t know what they were doing and suddenly, our team has a power level 50 Titan and the enemy team has a level 1 Titan, and we win the game in a couple of minutes. I’d really like for there to be some kind of intrusive tutorial in game to educate everyone.
Cyber: Honestly, it was the swords. It starter feeling like Global Agenda’s Recons all over again where you have a huge number of players running and spinning around while mashing their button and swinging their swords to get far too many easy kills. Fighting cheese with cheese (in my case, the grenade launcher) helped a lot, but I would prefer all weapons to require more thought rather than players simply dancing around like lunatics and hoping for wild kills.
There you have it! Overall we both really liked Minimum, and are looking forward to the next play test. If you haven’t yet done so, you can sign up to help test the game over at the Minimum website.