E3 2015: Supernova mashes together MOBA and RTS

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The MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena) genre has seen an explosion in the past few years with the boom of competitive games like League of Legends  and DOTA 2. The success of these games has led other companies to attempt to cash in on the MOBA craze with their own games.

Publisher Bandai Namco Games is looking to break into the MOBA sphere with a game of their own, with a little twist. Since MOBAs were originally mods of popular RTS games, why not bring back some of that? That’s what developer Primal Game Studios wants to do with Supernova.

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The first time that struck out to me was its uncanny resemblance to Starcraft 2. Battles are held on barren planet terrain with military installations sprawled across the map.  Similar to most MOBAs, players must eliminate the opposing home base by traveling across 3 lanes. There are five commanders from both sides that duke it out to try and gain an advantage. Commanders are selected from a pool of characters, each with its own unique set of abilities. I went with Axion, a melee mecha commander.

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My familiarity with previous MOBAs helped me settle into the game very nicely. Using the standard QWER ability layout on your keyboard, I was well on my way to slicing and dicing the enemy. What’s neat in Supernova that’s different from other mobas is the return command. Much like League of Legends, a single key will allow your commander to return to home base after a certain duration. This can increase or decrease based on the distance you’re away from the home base, which makes the act of returning a much riskier move if you’re deep in enemy territory. Supernova  also allows you to be transported to any location on the map so long as your team has vision of the terrain. This allows players to jump right back into the fray without having to traverse all the way from the base. While this could seem like a extremely powerful mechanic, it also telepaths the location to the opposing team, allowing them ample time to set up ambushes.

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As I was playing, my commander leveled up several times yet I saw no significant increase in my damage. A rep came over to kindly tell me that in order to upgrade your commander, you must first return to base. Yet, that doesn’t even compare to Supernova’s biggest game changer: upgrading your armies.

While most MOBAs have 1 or 2 variations of the minions that populate each lane, Supernova takes a huge leap forward to design an entire system around customizing your army. Each of the game’s two factions are equipped with numerous types of units that can spawn with each wave. Each units have their own strengths and weaknesses so it’ll be up to the player to determine the optimal builds for each situation. This added layer of strategy  and control adds some of the Real Time Strategy elements into the game a la Starcraft. Even much of the game’s sci-fi aesthetic seem very inspired from the legendary series. If you want stronger pushing, producing more tanks units to siege the enemy can be a viable path.  While I was not able to manually command my units in the preview build, the rep did suggest they were contemplating the idea of providing limited control of the units themselves in the future. While great for hardcore players who seek more control, it can risk alienating casual players who could deem the game too hard to break into.

Visually, the game looks extremely polished in its current phase. Matchmaking is only a click away and it takes very little to get a game going. All the abilities I used for my commander felt great and even return animations have some character to them. The game screen does contain an overbearing amount of information for a newcomer that could prove to be difficult to digest if you’re unfamiliar with either MOBAs or RTSs.

At the moment Supernova is about to launch its final alpha test phase that will start on July 1st. Nerd Reactor will be handing out a handful of alpha keys for our readers so stay tune on details!

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Hokan Lo
Hokan Lo 324 posts

Hokan Lo is a contributing writer and photographer for Nerd Reactor. He likes Pizza Butts and Mello Yellow. You can contact him on twitter @colorinlive. <a href="http://nerdreactor.com/about/">Meet the Nerd Reactor Team</a>