Monday, August 12, 2013

Fine Whirl - Prime World Review

   (Note: The faction I joined was Dokht, the character I used was Duelist.)

   Prime World is a hybrid MOBA/City-Building game created and hosted by Nival, currently in open beta and compatible with Facebook. It takes place in a broken world at war with two factions fighting for control over a magical, water-like power source called "Prime". You join either the Dokht Imperium or the Kingdom of Adornia to participate in the endless fight against the other side. You aren't fighting the fight yourself, of course. You enlist the help of special, Prime-powered heroes as a wealthy castle lord that puts them to work.

The heroes may be rich, but I'm the guy that signs their checks.
   If you had any doubts about Prime World because it's a MOBA, then don't worry. It's pretty casual. There isn't a lot to take in starting off and the learning curve is very comfortable. If you have ever played a MOBA, such as League of Legends or DotA 2, then this game will seem very easy to you. That said, it can get really addictive for what it does differently from other games. Let's see what those are...

   Content: Heavy
   There is quite a lot to do in this game. There are currently six different PvP modes, from a basic three-lane mode called Borderlands, to a competitive jungling mode called Dragonwald. If fighting other players isn't for you, you can play a challenge mode where you cooperate with other players to take down waves of monsters. Don't want to fight at all? Feel free to decorate and manage your own castle. The castle can produce everything you would gain from just normally playing the game, including experience points, though it does it at a significantly slower pace. Keep in mind, none of these things are meant to be done exclusively. This game has more features than average, but they are pretty heavily intertwined. If you jump in just for the castle builder, for instance, you may be disappointed.

   Gameplay: Interesting
   There are two big things about the gameplay that stand out. "Talents" and "Native Land".
   Every character in the game has a board of 36 skills on a 6x6 grid. These skills are called "Talents", and they add a lot of much-needed depth to the game and the genre. There are currently around 600 different talents in the game for you to unlock and collect, and they determine a large part of your character's stats and abilities. You can switch them out and change them around as you please to optimize the character of your choice and rule the battlefield. As you fight, your character will amass Prime, which you can use to unlock a talent on your grid to get stronger. Along with this, each character can level up outside of battle, gaining a couple mastery points that will give them further, minor buffs in combat. This is all intended to give characters a feeling of growth and it works.
   Then, there's "Native Land". On almost every map, there are flags placed in set positions on the field. Controlling those flags gives you control over the land itself, indicated by the color of your team covering a portion of the minimap and a cool visual effect sweeping across the field.

Hard to capture movement with a screenshot.
   Standing on this land will give many abilities extra effects, so fighting on friendly ground is always a good idea.

   Animations and Sounds: Nice
   This is a small thing, but the attack animations of the different characters were cool to see and the different things characters on Prime World say when landing a kill was quite satisfying. I appreciate that.

   Imbalance: Yep
   There is a very frequent complaint amongst the community and it's about the matchmaking. Sometimes it pits higher-level players against lower-level players, which is fun for nobody. Then some characters are more powerful than others. However, those are normal problems every MOBA deals with. For Prime World, there are a few extra factors contributing to imbalanced match-ups than you would see on other games. Factors such as...

          -Talents: Only a Good Idea On the Surface
         As you may have figured out, the different talents aren't balanced with one another at all. Some talents are just simply better than others. As you equip talents onto your character, that character's name will change color depending on the quality of the talents used, so you can see the power level of who you are fighting with and against. Skill is still a factor and the matchmaking system tries it's hardest, but the fact remains that you can and will fight against people that are just simply more powerful than you.
         Talents are unlocked randomly through fighting and castle production. This means that until you unlock the good talents, you're just out of luck, which can make your experience as a beginner worse. Speaking of being a beginner...

         -Heroes: Level Locked
         Each of the 30+ heroes in the game costs a certain amount of silver (in-game currency) to "hire" so you can use them in battle. Once hired, they are unlocked forever and you can begin building them up. However, ignoring the silver prices which are pretty high to begin with, every character has a level limit. You can only hire them once you have attained a certain castle level, which is gained primarily by playing the game, but can also be gained in other ways, such as buying things. There is also no hero rotation and you can't test out future heroes in practice mode. This can make things needlessly more confusing for newer players since there is no way for them to know exactly what a hero is capable of until they either buy them or see them in combat.

Couldn't have said it better myself.
         -Counterplay: Difficult
         Lastly, we have a thing known as "counterplay". In many strategy games, if you see that the enemy has achieved a foothold in some way, you can formulate a plan to knock them off. In many MOBA games, for example, if someone is building a lot of damage, you build some armor so they can't hurt you. You can't do that here since everything is built before the match starts, and you don't see who you're fighting or who you're fighting with until after the match starts. You can find some friends and make a team, but good luck doing that if you are playing the game for the first time. If an enemy counters you and you don't already have something on your talent board to help you, there's nothing you can do about it.

Which leads to dashed hopes and crushed dreams.
   Unassigning Talents: Costs Cash
   When you equip a talent onto a specific hero, it is bound to them. For "Common" and "Special" talents, you must pay silver to unbind them, so you can use them on a different hero. For "Rare" and "Epic" talents, you must use gold (cash currency). If you don't want to pay money, then all you can do is be very careful and don't experiment.

   Options: Few
   Prime World's options menu consists of just basic graphics settings and some sound settings. You can't set any advanced graphics, nor can you change your controls. You also can't see your controls. The tutorial doesn't go over most of the hotkeys, and there's nothing in the game that shows them to you or explains them.

   Censor: Horrible
   I hope they fix this as soon as possible, but currently the game has a very broken chat censor. It censors completely random words and you can't turn it off since there's no option for that.

Edit: 3 days after posting the review, they fixed the censor, so that's one less problem. The Options menu is also being reworked, so the game seems to be in good hands.

   Final Score: 3 out of 5

   Prime World can be a fun game once you get into it, it's just getting into it that's the hard part. It expects you to pay money for enough things that I almost want to call the game pay-to-win. However, it's not really, as skill still wins the match. What it does differently from other MOBAs, it does well, so if you want to take a break from another game and chill a bit, then maybe this is the way to go.

Bonus Screenshot! Dat mind control.
   Extra Things to Know
   - Be aware, queue times are pretty long. From 2 to 5 minutes on average.
   - Jungling in this game is pretty easy.
   - Once you get to castle level 10, you can upgrade talents.
   - The warehouse in your castle will hold only a certain amount of resources, but resources gained from leveling up can freely go over the limit.
   - Once you are stunned, you can't do anything to cancel it on your own. A certain talent called "Steadfastness" can cancel stuns on other players, but not yourself.
   - You can pay gold for a Cat or Dog House. Owning the house will give you a bunch of fancy buffs, and a dog or cat will follow you around during battles.
   - Tower damage is painfully low. \You can dive pretty early, but with the amount of crowd-control in Prime World, the tower can still easily kill you if you're reckless. Fear them, but not too much.
   - Towers will attack players before it attacks siege minions. Don't ask me why.
   - There is no "B". You have a teleport that will take you to anywhere on Native Land, but it has a 3 minute cooldown.
   - Only potions, wards, and teleport scrolls are sold in the in-battle shop. One of them is a cleanse potion. Cleanse potion can not cancel stuns.
   - Only Borderlands is available 24 hours a day. The other five modes cycle with each other over the course of the day.
   - There is no death recap.
   - There is a First Win of the Day reward. It's available for Practice mode, too.
   - Clans! As soon as you can, build a Clan Hall in your castle and join one.
   - Extra Topic (Won't Happen Often): Zuma: What
   In Borderlands, there is a big game board in front of the spawn called the Scroll Workshop. They don't mention it during tutorial so for those that don't know, I'm talking about this thing:

   Using this, you can play a lengthy minigame to send helpful scrolls to teammates on the field. My question is... why is this here?


  1. TypicalFanResponsesAug 12, 2013, 10:47:00 PM

    For all your wrongs, I have 3 words for you, "It's in beta."
    Cause that phrase makes everything wrong, right.

    1. You can't use beta as a lone argument due to the fact that by putting their game in open beta, they're usually trying to present a NEAR-finished product. This doesn't guarantee that all the problems will be fixed.

  2. Your review is premature for this game, you left out a lot of facts and you put more effort into the negative comments than the positive. Don't try to to review a game in beta you troll. I recommend you don't review games at all if this is how you behave.

    Also you mention some talents are better than others kind of like smite or league of legends leave that out or what? Compare it to other moba's. lol

    You call this game pay to win? You lack skill then you pay for not learning it like any other moba.

    1. The reason he put more effort into the negative is because the negative counts for more. It wasn't immediately apparent to me why one talent was "better" than another. Only looking at the hero's information screen told me that my character did lightning damage. Didn't help me when I accidentally joined a live multiplayer match.

      In multiplayer, I have no clue what button activates the chat window. A message window remains persistent on the left. The game doesn't handle a 720p monitor (though that's hardly surprising in today's landscape). Game volume is about 75% louder than Skyrim. Pressing the escape key brings up a menu, but you can't access a list of key commands from it. If you want to know if a key does something, press it, and if nothing happens, then it wasn't a hotkey.

      The center icons to choose battle types are not intrinsically sensible. I thought I was trying to complete the next training quest, but then found myself in a multiplayer match I was woefully unprepared for. I would have dropped out, but that would have left the other players short a teammate, which is a mark of unfathomable douchery.

      Oh, and if my connection speed drops too low, even if I'm in a single player battle, the game drops out.

      I'm sorry, why do I need to be server-connected for a single player battle with only myself and bots? And the missions are brutally difficult to a new player. After 45 minutes of meticulously picking my way carefully through a tutorial story mission, I think I finally had a snowball's chance in hell at surviving, and then it just ended.

      Again, this was a single player mission, only me, and bots. My computer does NOT need a fast connection to a server to run BOTS. Unforgiveable. Live multiplayer? I understand.

      Sorry... end rant.

      Ultimately, the gameplay is brutally difficult. Expect to hurl your character into masses of enemies and watch the rivers of blood leak from his or her stinky corpse. Leveling up your talents in game has no effect on combat, going from level 1 to level 18, death never slows it's hunt for your health bar. If you died in 1 minute at level one, you will die in one minute at level 20.

      The generic minions spawned from your side can not be upgraded via any cleanly visible means, nor can I find the commands needed to repair broken towers in game, or perhaps only specific heroes can do that.

      Needless to say, the game could use a fair bit of polish, and the thought of participating in multiplayer bothers me until I can find a combination of talents to actually be useful in obliterating the enemy hordes without constantly running to the Prime Distiller, which, would have been nice to know that it HEALS your character's health and Magic.

      That's kind of important info, maybe they should make a point of telling you that at some point.

      It's a very very good beta, but it is still a very obvious beta. UI could use a lot of polish. It looks very nice, it works very well, but it's not always clear what it's trying to tell you.