Master X Master
Julian Rizzo-Smith blasts masters like it ain't no thing
Master X Master is a bit of an odd beast. It’s a strange hybrid of action RPG and MOBA with the unique quirk of players taking the role of not one but two heroes (hence the title). With characters from established NCSoft games such as Guild Wars 2, Blade and Soul, Wildstar, Aion and lineage, as well as unique new heroes, Master X Master will boast around 30 playable heroes, with more promised after launch.
The selection of heroes may be large, but even more impressive is the diverse selection of game modes. In addition to a traditional three lane MOBA, Master X Master boasts a PVP arena, a single-player PvE mode, and a co-op PvE mode.
This focus on a dedicated singleplayer game that's more than just a tutorial is extremely interesting. Players can take their heroes through a series of linear dungeons, battling baddies and picking up loot and powerups before eventually meeting and (hopefully) defeating a massive boss. Although the equipment picked up during the single-player game will not translate across to multiplayer (aside from co-op) for balance reasons, in game currency earned can be used to buy new characters that will be available in all modes.
The MOBA element will be mostly familiar to fans of the genre, though there are a few twists worth mentioning. Earning enough currency and completing some core conditions enables a team to summon a massive titan to rush down the centre lane and clobber everything in its path.
Summoning a titan is not the be all and end all of strategy though. Killing an opponent’s titan will result in a titan fragment that can be taken back to your base. Collect 10 of these and you can turn into a titan for a limited time. Character titans have two modes, a mobile, fast moving and fast hitting form for attacking opposing heroes and creeps, as well as a far less mobile siege mode that attacks slower but is capable of dishing out apocalyptic damage to enemy towers and bases.
NC Soft is billing Master X Master as an “Action MOBA”, and from the way the game plays it’s easy to see why. Rather than a click and hotkey interface, MXM controls much like a twin-stick shooter, with the WASD keys controlling character movement and the mouse used to aim. Each character can also jump, giving the game a dash of verticality uncharacteristic of a MOBA.
To survive, it's necessary to pay close attention to the environment, with the game's dense and intricate level design rewarding a keen eye for opportunity. Defensive movement like jumping over a laser or dodging to the side uses a mana-like recharging resource, so it won't be able to abuse these abilities and become a Captain Can't Be Killed. Thank goodness.
Whether Master X Master can execute all its great ambitions remains to be seen, what we’ve played so far is fun, exciting, fast- paced and different enough to warrant a second-look in an overcrowded genre.
CHARACTER TITANS HAVE TWO MODES: A FAST HITTING FORM AND A SLOWER SIEGE MODE FOR DISHING OUT APOCALYPTIC DAMAGE TO ENEMY BASES
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