This probably won’t come as much of a surprise to anyone, but I’ve never been a fan of MOBAs. I’ve tried a few and they all were either unwelcoming or uninteresting for the most part. This could be because I’ve never been much of a fan of RTS games so didn’t really have the drive to jump into the mods (at first) and then the fully fledged games later. Now along comes the first MOBA that has really captured my interest, Hyper Universe, and that interest is due to a simple change of perspective.
Rather than the top down or isometric approach of most MOBAs, Hyper Universe instead adopts the 2D perspective of a side-scrolling beat-em-up and some of the gameplay synonymous with the style. Each of the 28 characters (24 unlocked initially and four more unlocked through levelling) has basic button machine fight combos as well as cooldown based powers that will be familiar with any MOBA player. The characters themselves are a real ragtag group. There is no cohesion in design or genre leading to a pleasantly anarchic sensibility. The characters, or “Hypers” as they are called in the game, fall into six class categories, Tanks (pretty selfexplanatory), Bruisers (melee combatants), Specialists, Strikers (sustained long range damage), Support and Assassins (burst damage specialists).
To give you some idea of how disparate the characters are, the Tank roster consists of Admiral W (think Davey Jones from Pirates of the Caribbean), Athena (the Greek goddess), Gelimer (Frankenstein), Green Pit Bull (Audrey II/Piranha Plant) and Valter (Reinhardt from Overwatch). The Bruisers are a superhero, a vampire, Sun Wukong the Monkey King, a tiger cub riding a rhino and a Japanese robot. It makes no sense, but that lack of cohesion adds quite a bit of charm to the game. Due to the 2D nature of the maps, the way laneing and jungling works is handled a little differently, with the lanes being stacked on top of each other. Not only does this make for a novel take on the tried and true MOBA map layout, it also means that the ladders and portals connecting lanes become ambush points for unwary players. The jungle style lanes are populated with mobs that can be killed for XP and team buffs in traditional MOBA fashion.
Although the perspective is new, the main flow of the game is quite traditional, with two teams fighting to destroy the other team’s towers to give them access to destroy their base. Where things become a little more interesting is the fact that there is no mouse aiming needed for ranged abilities – attacks can only be directed left or right, making combat feel a whole lot more frantic and immediate. Whether this will appeal to hardened LoL or Dota 2 players is up in the air, but for someone who hasn’t been able to get into MOBAs as a whole, the immediacy has some genuine appeal. Hyper Universe is currently in early access with no solid date for release as of yet.