Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Prime World

Prime World was recommended to me while I was playing some other dumbed down AoS game like League of Legends or such as having more serious and balanced gameplay mechanics. I took one look at their site's front page and closed the tab, retorting that any game which advertises itself with a panty-shot likely isn't worth bothering with.

Nonono, it's okay though!
They've switched to cleavage.

Granted, it's pretty hard to stand out as sexualized in a genre which advertises almost exclusively to boys in their early teens, but somehow Prime World managed to go one further and try attracting female gamers by giving them monetary discounts on pay-to-win features. Because, you know, all women are whores. I could not make this stuff up. They backtracked that idiocy before I ever took a serious look at their product but I'm guessing not before half their male playerbase declared themselves female. How the fuck did they even think they were going to verify and enforce that? Personally infiltrate every account holder's house and hike up their skirts?
I know Russia's fallen off the wagon so many times they don't even remember where they parked it but seriously, cut down on the vodka-induced marketing, fellas.

That's the other instantly noticeable feature. The game was developed by a Russian studio, which will become instantly obvious as you're hit with a solid wall of Cyrillic swears in every match. By the by, cyka (suka) means bitch. There, I've just translated half of Prime World's chat for you. You're welcome. Ah, yes, if nothing else this game proves that anglophone gamers certainly have no monopoly on unbridled stupidity. Have no fear. Despite the chat box being filled with funny blocky Russianisms and squiggly Turkisms and Latin scripts with all sorts of weird accents, you'll find all the same familiar multiplayer backstabbing classics as you would in Valve or Blizzard's games: intentional suicides, faking fight initiations, refusing to play, quitting, farming all game without actually helping the team, panicking and scattering as soon as the enemy appears, etc. Yessiree,  if you've any experience in online games you'll have no trouble at all adjusting to wishing a thousand deaths on a whole new multicultural crop of worthless mentally deficient wastes of air.

But hell, since nobody can read my ranting and cursing at least I haven't been banned from this one yet.

Nival seems to be making no effort whatsoever to clean out the griefers in their playerbase, which is a pity because it mostly ruins what is otherwise one of the better AoS incarnations on the market. Even visually, despite characters adhering to sexualized gender roles (female healers, male tanks, battle-bikinis, bulging muscles and square jaws and six-pack abs and so forth) I'm reminded again that Nival employs some of the most talented visual artists in the industry. The vampire is an instant reminder of the visual splendors of Heroes of Might and Magic 5 and despite very limited graphics capability, some inspired character, animation, terrain and effect designs salvage what would otherwise have been a sorely outdated engine.

More importantly, though, Prime World is a decent game. As in having good gameplay, you remember that thing that's supposed to set interactive media apart from movies? At first glance it seems even more simplified than Smite or LoL, having abandoned the old RPG tropes of skills and items. In Prime World, these are conflated into "talents" selected before and gradually activated during a match, some of which are specific to each class while most are drawn from a common pool inspired by collectible card games. Buy them in the cash shop or build them up from the ones you get at the end of each match, but selecting and building up your heroes' talents presents much more depth than any other AoS I've seen, even Demigod. There is no monetary resource and everything, even potions, are bought using experience, which is thankfully shared among the team much more than in other MOBAs. There are both benefits and detriments to this system.

Unfortunately it can blend heroes into each other. Scrapperization runs amok. Almost every character has a heal and a nuke and a disable and a teleport, invisibility spell or speed boost, and if they don't you can always get a common-pool talent which fits those roles. While it serves its current needs as a small-time AoS project, it's obvious this system lacks any room to expand.
Fortunately, as long as you abandon your expectations of this being a class-based game this has resulted in a good bit of entertaining flexibility as you can play the numbers in at least a couple of directions with every character. Bank more on healing or damage, mitigation or health, speed or staying power, it really is up to you and can work in a variety of ways. Talents are also arranged by tiers so it's up to you whether to save up for more expensive ones or level up quickly by choosing your cheapest ones first for the global level-based stat bonuses.

Sure, the old pigeonholing holds to some extent but largely because players refuse to abandon it. Tanks would not be able to steamroll you if you weren't stupid enough to actually hit the tank instead of his squishier teammates. Assassin classes are both idiotically overpowered and complete parasites and wouldn't be anywhere near so successful if players weren't stupid enough to get baited off alone. Supports are frustratingly dependent on teamwork but can turn an organized team unstoppable. Pets are handled very intuitively, following the player character's motions without letting the player have too much control over them. Common-pool active talents are often on shared cooldowns and scaled down enough that they again don't reward button-mashing too much. With thirty or so talents out of a pool of many more for you to slot at your discretion and a slow enough level system that you'll rarely get enough levels to use them all in one match, there's both balance and a lot of replay value in Prime World, plenty of novel combat situations to experience.

It's no Demigod. Nothing so far has been that good. It lacks Smite's more fluid first-person rush or SoaDA's intriguing team objectives but Prime World is a well thought out team game whose biggest drawback as in all such products is its playerbase. If Nival had the cojones (or Russian equivalent thereof) to actually ban griefers instead of rewarding them, it could easily capture a more mature, level-headed audience that's sick of AoS games being marketed exclusively to rabid ten-year-olds, an audience which doesn't care that the graphics are somewhat outdated so long as the teamwork-oriented gameplay stays strong.

Can't have good gameplay, though, when you refuse to ban some shiteating little waste of sperm constantly spamming the surrender button instead of playing. Gotta step up the draconian measures, sukas.

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