Master X Master first impressions

Right now the closed alpha is going on for Master X Master, and while that would normally be whizzing by my head so fast thanks to the slipstream of my MOBA disinterest, I keep hearing things like “this game is pretty good!” and “it’s got an MMO PvE nature to it!” and “BUY STATESMAN AND WEEP OVER YOUR FALLEN CITY OF HEROES!” That last one might be subliminal programming by NCsoft, I dunno.

So I did register and as far as I know, there’s no NDA, so why not talk about it a bit? What we have here is a hybrid MOBA/PvE game that pulls characters from across NCsoft’s library as well as throwing in a few original creations. I am no expert on NCsoft lore, but I don’t think these are all fan favorite characters.

Right when the game loads, you have to go through a pretty linear tutorial that works through all of the basics. And since the game has about six buttons, “basic” is really what we have here. Nothing complicated, nothing overwhelming. Probably the most interesting mechanic is the ability to swap between two heroes (“masters”) that you take into a match or zone. If one is dying or you need a special skill set, swap on the fly — there’s no penalty.

From what I’ve seen, characters have basic mouse attacks, a movement attack, a dodge on a timer, a stronger attack, and an ultimate ability that takes a while to charge up. The keyboard controls movement and special abilities (plus space bar for jump, which I didn’t expect) while the mouse handles aiming, basic attack, character swap, and dodging. It feels quite good and reminds me a bit of Smash T.V. from the old arcade consoles.

Two things really impressed me as I shot my way through a PvP match with bots. First is that everything here looks and sounds crisp, effective, and spot-on. Abilities have a punch and it’s quite enjoyable to run around blasting the place up. Good music, too.

The second thing is that it really didn’t feel overwhelming. I’m not one for the MOBA tower defense/lane push mechanic. But to be thrown into an arena and just run around blasting like crazy was pretty fun. I’m sure I had the weakest bots ever, but I did manage an 8-kill streak with no deaths, so I had a few seconds of strutting about the house like a boss.

I will poke further into it, but at least MxM is having the effect of making me want to play it more rather than run from the room screaming. I am really curious how robust the PvE portion is, because you won’t catch me in PvP matches at all.

Six MMOs I’m considering playing this fall

We’re now deep into September, which means many things for my life. It’s the start of the school year for my job, what I always see as the MMO expansion season, and the onset of the fall and preparation for winter. As I settle comfortably into both World of Warcraft and RIFT right now, I’ve been considering what I might add to my roster for the remainder of 2016. I have several options in front of me, and if things calm down a bit more, I might be playing one or more in the near future. So what’s being considered?

1. Project Gorgon

It’s not a question of whether or not to play Project Gorgon, it’s just a matter of when. I hate this whole early access nonsense, because you never really know when to leap on board, even when the games go into quasi-persistence. There’s three thoughts here: Just play it already and roll with the changes that are sure to come, wait for the Steam early access release that should come by the end of the year, or really hold out for the official launch in late 2017.

I have to weigh waiting for more features and less chance of partial wipes with the fact that it’s more-or-less persistent now and there’s already lots to do. My thinking is to hold out for the Steam release and then take it casual from there.

2. Master X Master

Not technically an MMO — yet people keep calling it more of an MMO than almost any MOBA that came before it. I took a look at some previews and really found myself warming up to its PvE side, various characters, and fun gameplay. I’ll definitely take a look when it releases, but how long I’ll stay is a huge question mark.

3. Neverwinter

Yeah, I might go back to Neverwinter. I always have a soft spot for Cryptic games, and Neverwinter is actually doing huge right now. Loads of players, lots of content added, several platforms — and the assurance that this is a game that has a long future ahead of it. Would like to try a new character and perhaps make it further than I did in the past.

4. AdventureQuest 3D

Currently this title is eyeing an October release, and while it’s most assuredly going to be very content light when that happens, I’ll be putting it on my phone as my go-to mobile MMO. I want a pocket MMORPG and this one, given enough time and care and affection, could blossom into one worth playing. The enthusiasm of its devs and community is downright infectious — and there is no cure.

5. Elder Scrolls Online

I picked up a very cheap copy of this a while back and it’s been sitting on my shelf like, “Play meeeee!” And I’ve been ignoring it because I’m a jerk to video games like that. It’s a case of a game that I really haven’t spent a lot of time in, has shored up its weaknesses with a lot of content, has a promising future, and could be a potential if I want to give it a go.

6. The Unknown Dark Horse Underdog

And then there’s always the possibility that moods and whims might lead me somewhere else entirely. Oh, at times I’ve looked at RuneScape, Trove, WildStar, Marvel Heroes, and even Guild Wars 2 as possible fall entries, but most of those might be best left alone… for now.

I have a separate list for 2017, although that’s much more in flux at the moment. Fingers crossed for a better year for new and upcoming MMOs!