Many of you are likely aware of the fast-growing and popular PC genre known as “MOBAs” (Multiplayer Online Battle Arenas). Once only found as mods to RTS games, MOBAs have been taking the world by storm for the past few years, spawning communities numbering in the millions for games like League of Legends and DOTA 2. The nature of the games have mostly restricted them to the PC, as they usually feature a top-down view and allow players to look all around the map like an RTS. Recently released Awesomenauts, however, dares to ask why a MOBA can’t succeed in the console world.
As a gamer who plays MOBAs from time to time, the similarities and differences between your standard PC MOBA and Awesomenauts were readily noticeable. I’ll try to couch things in terms so that players who are both familiar and unfamiliar with the genre can follow. While MOBAs are traditionally 3D, Awesomenauts is 2D and somewhat reminiscent of a side-scrolling platformer. Instead of utilizing all-direction movement as a top-down MOBA does, Awesomenauts only exhibits forward and backward movement, but introduces jumping as a method to avoid or fake out (known as “juke”) enemies.
Full-screen mode for one local player
MOBAs traditionally have multiple “lanes,” each with a few towers. Awesomenauts adheres to this staple, boasting two lanes with two towers each per side. As map awareness is key in this type of game, a map is clearly displayed in an unobtrusive position. Red and blue players, minions, and towers are clearly marked on the map, so it’s easy to keep track of which tower is under attack. The goal of the game is the same as all MOBAs: players want to push down lanes, kill towers, and eventually kill the opposing team’s core. At the same time, they’ll have to defend against the other team doing this. Unlike other MOBAs, towers provide a physical barrier, and players can’t move past an intact enemy tower or attack enemies that are behind it. Awesomenauts also adds a few little cool platform twists into the game, such as health power-ups and environment traps.
Players get to choose between 6 different heroes, though they won’t all be available to play immediately (more on the unlock system later). All of the heroes possess a unique skill set of three different active skills, mapped to the X, Y, and B buttons. The A button is jump. Players will have to spend money (which they get both passively over time and from killing enemy heroes, minions, and towers) to purchase new skills and upgrades to skills. While Awesomenauts does not feature a traditional equipment system, it features a unique loadout system.