With Infinite Crisis, Turbine and Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment are betting that fans can’t get enough of the multiplayer online battle-arena (MOBA) genre.
The free-to-play title mashes up the frenetic MOBA style with characters from an expanded DC Comics universe, dubbed the DC Multiverse. MOBA, a type of game that Riot Games popularized with League of Legends (itself based on the Defense of the Ancients mod from Warcraft III), is now popular with tens of millions of players, and it is a staple on the eSports pro-gaming circuit.
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In this kind of game, you play five-versus-five online battles. Infinite Crisis has that but with the added twist of including DC characters such as Nightmare Batman, a version of Batman who is a vampire.
Warner Bros. revealed the game in March and gave us a sneak peek at the closed beta test. With this title, you’re getting a MOBA. You also get access to tons of DC characters with their own special abilities, dynamic maps that can change as meteors strike them, and a lot of character customization as well.
I played as a character dubbed Cyborg who has some pretty good laser weapons.
We played a level called Gotham Heights. I quickly found out that if I strayed from the group, enemies would take me out. The game requires a great deal of concentration. You get visual cues of what is happening when you are using special powers on opponents or as they use them on you. Interpreting what the visuals mean is important. You can double down on your attacks or run away. That’s where the skill in this game lies. You have to properly analyze what is going on and respond accordingly. In one match, my team was successful. In another, our rivals spanked us.
Warner plans to release new characters periodically and come up with new game modes as well. When you first enter Infinite Crisis, you don’t really need instruction. You just move along with your teammates and start taking victory locations. To attack adversaries, you simply click on them. It’s that easy to get into the action. Not only do you have to worry about human enemy players, you have to fight with the non-player, computer-controlled characters that they can unleash.
But you’ll have to pay attention to the kinds of attacks you can deliver and when to use them. You can help out your teammates a lot by using your defensive or offensive powers at the right moments.
Wonder Woman can disrupt opponents and shield her allies. She has powerful melee abilities that can categorize her as a “tank” or someone who can take and deal a lot of damage in a head-on assault. She can regenerate a lot of health when it drops below 25 percent. Her Golden Lasso can stun the opposition from afar. And she can protect herself with a shield and use it to protect allies too. She’ll taunt all opponents in an area, forcing them to attack her, allowing her teammates to go on the offensive without worry.
The Green Lantern manipulates the battle with the power of his ring. He can blast from a far range. He can use his Slam power to drop the equivalent of a nuke on an enemy who is taking a pounding. His Constrict power will slow things down. Missile Barrage lets Green Lantern fire three missiles.
Turbine is building the game. The studio made massively multiplayer online titles like the free-to-play Lord of the Rings Online. Jeff Steefel, executive producer at Turbine, said in an interview that the MOBA style is a natural evolution for Turbine, which has learned over the years how to deliver a game as an ongoing service.
“There’s a huge audience out there playing MOBAs, and we want to deliver the core gameplay they are used to,” Steefel said. “We’ll have different variations over time. It’s for competitive players and people who like strategic play where you move lots of things around.”
A MOBA game is a heart-pounding player-versus-player battle experience. You and your four team members spawn at a base and try to control a map. You can control a victory point on the map by moving to it and staying there until you turn it to your side’s color. Multiple victory points sprinkle the outer ring of the circular arena map.
Besides Nightmare Batman, you can play as Gaslight Batman or a regular Batman. You can also play as other DC characters, including Catwoman, the Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, the Flash, Zatanna, Doomsday, Poison Ivy, Catwoman, the Joker, and Shazam. Each of the major characters has three versions, giving players a choice of many different combatants with unique special powers. During the launch year, players can experience three game maps and three modes. The game will also feature six different “universes,” including modern-day Gotham.
Infinite Crisis will debut on the PC in the fall. Competitors include League of Legends, Dota 2 from Valve, and the upcoming Blizzard All-Stars from Blizzard Entertainment.