Nival’s (Etherlords) Prime World will be headed into Open Beta tomorrow, July 26, 2013. The MOBA/ARTS title has a few qualities that make it an attractive option in a sea of League of Legends & Dota clones that have essentially played off concepts from the original Defense of the Ancients Warcraft III custom map.
Players seeking map variety won’t have to look far. Prime World comes with a slew of rotating maps that change things up from map objectives to team sizes. There’s co-op PVE maps, strict PVP maps (including the “classic” take on the MOBA, Borderlands), and even combination maps that include elements of both PVE and PVP. There’s 3v3, 4v4, and 5v5 action to be had, and even a mode that lets players experiment with other player’s characters and builds. It’s a healthy array of options, and the method of only having one “special” map active at a time takes care of the potential queue nightmares that could occur by having so many map offerings.
Prime World combines the familiar feel of the ARTS/MOBA with some concepts new to the genre. One of these is the concept of player castles, essentially an external social game that players can engage in while waiting to form groups, chatting with their clans, and outfitting their characters with abilities and skins. The castle is more than just a pretty backdrop though, with resource acquisition and management allowing players to unlock additional powers and characters. Nival has stated that the castle will be accessible via mobile devices in the future, allowing players to engage with their holdings while on the go.
The second concept is that of talents. While most MOBA/RTS offerings have a shop in-game where players can buy weapons, armor, and all manner of enhancement, Prime World takes this concept and transforms it into a hypercustomizable metagame. While each character comes with “core” abilities and talents, every ability can be swapped out for new ones at the player’s discretion. Looking to make a tanky mage that dishes out huge crits? You can. Want to enhance the spell damage of your ganker? You can. The talent system allows for immaculate customization options that you won’t find in any other genre title – You can even remove character defining abilities and add other skills. During the course of each game, players “level up” into these talents and abilities in lieu of gear upgrades at a shop. There are over 700 talents in Prime World for Open Beta launch, with more always on the way.
Prime World also makes some adjustments in terms of competition that feel great. Specifically, Prime World introduces character-specific ELO ratings, so that if a player is highly competitive with one character and wants to try out someone new, the transition can happen smoothly. However, at the same time one could argue that because of the talent system Prime World is inherently less balanced and less appropriate as a serious eSport than many genre offerings.
Like many present day Open Betas, Prime World’s will feel something like a soft launch. Player progress and castle development will not be wiped when moving to live. The cash shop is anticipated to launch with open beta, but it may be delayed until next week. Cash shop offerings in prime world allow direct purchase of characters, special buildings for the castle, and boosts that can give players better loot at the end of each match.