Wednesday, February 13, 2013


A couple months ago I bought a big bundle of games on Steam. Some of the games I recognized, most I didn't. One game I didn't recognize but which tipped the scale in favour of buying the bundle was a game called Awesomenauts. I didn't know anything about it, but with a name like that how could I say no?

Today Awesomenauts was advertised as being on sale when I logged into Steam which convinced me to actually install it and give it a shot. It turns out to be a very streamlined MOBA game, based off of DotA. It's 3v3 with not a whole ton of farming going on. I've only been playing with bots so far but games seem to last in the 15 minute range instead of the 45 minute range for League of Legends.

It has some interesting variations from the standard MOBA games. You do gain levels but it's unclear to me what that really accomplishes. It doesn't make you do more damage or get new abilities. Maybe it gives you more max health? While playing you can get new abilities, but you get it by spending the gold you earn by killing monsters. Before each match you get to pick 3 modifications for each of your three abilities and 3 generic abilities. Those 12 things are the stuff you can buy in the store. Each character has 28 things they could have picked, so even when two of the same character are in a game they could actually be drastically different.

The character I've recently unlocked is a healer, and one of the ability modifiers he can buy is to make his healing spell generate gold when you heal someone. It's a clever idea that I wish would show up in some form in LoL.

When you die you get a standard death timer, but the actual time out of game is very short. Instead you respawn far away from the action, with a bunch of gold pick-ups to collect between you and your base. This means you're removed from the fight for about the same amount of time as in LoL but you get to take useful actions (collecting gold) for some of that time instead of just staring blankly at the screen waiting to respawn.

Most importantly for me, the game is designed to work with an xBox 360 controller. I like the feel of playing a game with a controller instead of a keyboard/mouse. Interestingly it seems to allow multiple people to play the game from the same computer, so theoretically someone could play with the keyboard/mouse while I play with the controller. Not that I have anyone to play with, but this sort of thing would have been awesome 18 years ago when my brother and I would compete for computer time.

The game is 2D like every other MOBA game I've seen, but it uses different dimensions. Awesomenauts has a jump button and each of the different characters I've played has a different twist on jumping. One guy could double jump. One guy could hover like Princess in Super Mario 2. One guy had a jetpack.

Turrets are brutally powerful, but the minions seem to take reduced damage from them. So it seems like you want to use the minions as a meat shield while you burn out a turret. The healer actually seemed really good at siegeing turrets since he could just stand there healing the minions while they whittled the turret down. I imagine against human opponents that wouldn't work as well since they'd presumably come kill me. (The healer starts with no ability to do damage!)

I don't know that the game is better than LoL (my gut feeling is no) but it's interesting enough to be a good diversion at least. And it definitely has the better name!

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