Back in 1930’s, Germany was in debt due to the wall street crash and their leaders at the time decided to just print new money in order to fix the problem. This didn’t work as it caused something called “Hyper-inflation” and people were using bags of money for bread. This may be a stretched reference but stick with me. After Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare released the gaming market fell into a similar hole to this and but not as severely as the market in 1989. The modern warfare genre was opened to all and then hundreds of games were released in that subject matter and so much so that they all blurred into one. This hyperinflation is still hanging around it’s just wearing a different hat. This time it’s the MOBA hat thanks to league of legends and DOTA being giants in the gaming world.
Master X Master is joining the fight club that is the MOBA market but I can at least commend them for trying to do something new. The game is a more action based MOBA from the guys at NCSoft famous for Guild Wars, Blade and Soul and the now deceased City of Heroes among others and they’ve decided to take those characters and throwing them together into a action based MOBA. Players can choose two characters to form a tag team and take on PVP and PVE adventures. I haven’t really seen many MOBAs attempt to change the formula in a way to add some depth as it’s got the tag team setup but the rock/paper/scissors type advantage which I feel takes away from whatever is added.
MOBAs have created the illusion that all the characters have the potential to fight any other character and the depth comes from abilities, items and so on but MxM has boiled that down to rock/paper/scissors which doesn’t really help prop up the overall gameplay. It creates a situation that if you have taken a grass type and go up against a fire type in lane then you’re screwed. You may get to tag in a different hero which can counter them but having this rotation factoring into every game based decision brings the game down and just makes some matches annoying to play. For PVE it’s not as bad but that is because you’re just playing a dungeon run from Diablo with anime chicks and a superhero.
The game is very stylised with a lot of flair alongside interesting characters, picking out from “popular” characters from their owned IPs (I say “popular” as I don’t really know any iconic characters from their games.) It’s a very pretty game with bright colours and effects going on. The UI looks nice and is readable but most of the menus are pretty cluttered so it takes a while to know where things are. Especially when you’re trying to use the node and ability menus. Nodes are similar to runes in league of legends but here each character can only use so many of one type so there is some planning needed but once you have loads of them you can just always have the best set ready.
The problem is though is that most of the game’s systems are very counter intuitive. They seem simple but that’s only really based on look. You have to go deep to understand how this stuff works for PVP. PVE gets a free ride as you just pick your heroes and go run the dungeon. This method is also how you unlock the other heroes. There are special dungeons that change that drop loot which you use to unlock the ability to buy the hero. Not unlock fully, unlock the option to buy it with the in-game currency. This just seems like a way to force people to either use premium currency or invest more time than they want to into the game. Considering the grind for the loot is difficult enough in the first place this just adds extra effort which will put a lot of players off. It put me off at least.
The game is trying to be something new in a world of companies just making MOBAs without much thought. There are some things that make the game interesting like the tag system and it’s overall style but they shoot themselves in the foot by having all these systems that aren’t that satisfying to deal with or can really put off players from sticking around. It’s different but not different enough to really give the game much holding power in the ring of MOBAs. If you feel that you could get over the grind and want to see if you can get over the type based hurdle then you may find something interesting. Otherwise wait and see if things change. Just don’t expect it to be huge within the e-sports scene with high level play.