How many more MOBAs do I have to play until I find one that I actually like? I’ve been looking for a game that’s both casual and competitive, with a decent learning curve. Spending some time in the Master X Master closed beta today, I think I may have found it. MXM is a new concept MOBA game by NCSOFT. The premise is simple and somewhat familiar. Select from a pool of playable hero characters called Masters, and do battle. There’s a whole lot more to it though, and I’ll share my impressions of the game from my excursions this weekend.
The Best Things Come In Twos
There’s over 30 Masters or heroes or champions available to play as currently. What I find interesting is the detail that’s gone into bringing these champions to life. Some are brand new personalities, with immersive backstories about who they are and why they’re fighting to retake Earth. And then there’s the fan service Masters. There’s a whole bunch that players will instantly recognize from other NCSOFT games and MMORPGs. Take for example, Rytlock of Guild Wars. Or the Statesman from City of Heroes. Both are playable Masters but need to be unlock using in-game currency that you get for completing the tutorial or taking part in matches.
Now the thing I’m enjoying most about MXM’s gameplay is the ability to choose. Sounds trivial doesn’t it? In actuality, this is great for a MOBA. I love that each match, you select to Masters that can be swapped in or out, after a short cooldown. This adds a new layer of strategy and fun to an otherwise dull genre. I picked a melee for one and a ranged for the other, and it works pretty dang good. There’s also two control modes available – keyboard and mouse or just using a mouse. Both ways plays just fine and I like that the game does give you that option. And finally, hallelujah for two game modes, PVE and PVP. I think a main story campaign is the hidden sauce that will make newer MOBAs today stand out, and MXM delivers.
The Little Things
Master X Master does a lot to make me feel like this isn’t the run of the mill MOBA. The lobby area is called The Bridge. You’re on a ship in space which is the center of operations for both PVP and PVE modes. On the Bridge, you can see all the other players online, and it feels like a populated main hub in an MMORPG. Fitting perhaps, considering that MMOs are in fact an NCSOFT speciality. There’s vendors everywhere to cater to your crafting needs (yes there’s crafting for Master progression). There’s even a jukebox to play music from some of NCSOFT’s other games for crying out loud, how cool is that? I heard tracks from Blade and Soul and AION just to name a few. Master X Master definitely does the little things right, especially for the playerbase that are familiar with the other games.
The PVE Mode Rocks
MXM doesn’t just include a story campaign for the sake of including it. I’ve been playing through some of the Stages as it’s called, and it is actually pretty decent. There’s a coherent underlining theme that ties the objectives together, and the story is played out in cut-scenes with fairly tolerable dialogue. It’s not as good when compared to, say Atlas Reactor’s story, but it’s still engaging enough. Most importantly, it’s rewarding. Players can earn Gold and other items that will be useful for both PVE and PVP progression.
That’s about all I have to report for now, I’ll be diving into the PVP and other systems more to talk about those in part 2, so stay tuned!