This year looks to be a competitive year in the multiplayer space. The past few years have shown the rise of E-Sports centered on MOBAs, creating some of the most exciting and memorable moments in gaming history. Looking to cash in on this action, or looking to innovate, many large gaming companies have invested in pursuing character-based, multiplayer experiences. What has resulted is many, many games, most of which are in testing phases and are almost ready for launch. While there may be too many to note in one article, I’ll be attempting to catalog the newest fad in game design.
Paragon – Release date to be announced
Paragon comes from Epic Games, the team behind the Xbox giant Gears of War. Even with limited footage, Paragon looks like Gears if each character had special powers in a MOBA setting. Gameplay looks awesome and the characters carry that detail expected from the studio. Beta tests will roll out early this year and hopefully Giga will get a chance to try it first had. Either way, given Epic’s resume in the multiplayer space, Paragon is a game to watch.
Battleborn – May 3rd, 2016
Created by Gearbox Software, Battleborn looks to be bringing its chaotic style to the MOBA market. The art style is stylized using similar character designs to its hit Borderlands franchise, but with more accentuated limbs and body types. Characters range from a fungal ninja to a penguin in a mech suit to provide a hilarious spin to gameplay. Battleborn looks to be a game with tons of variety in characters, but will its final version be able to stay afloat in the market? We’ll find out in May.
Overwatch – June 21st, 2016
Sporting a visual style comparable to a Pixar film, Blizzard‘s Overwatch has recently seen positive praise in closed beta. While that same beta is currently taking a break for improvements, it should be returning early this year with a full release coming in June. Blizzard’s excellent design creates a fun blast-fest with each character teeming with personality. As of yet, this game doesn’t sport the MOBA-style gameplay as the games I mentioned earlier, but it does have some solid modes that are familiar to anyone who’s played Team Fortress 2. Blizzard’s track record and knack for continued support could make Overwatch a must play, not just for this year, but for years to come.
Paladins – Release date to be announced
Paladins is a game from one of my favorite studios, Hi-Rez the same team behind Smite, an awesome MOBA with mythological characters. Its newest project, Paladins, seeks to shake up the arena FPS genre with its card system. While I’ve already went in depth with Paladins, its important to note that its being made by a much smaller studio by comparison. That said, Paladins is shaping up to be an awesome game, as its updated frequently with help by its players. Even in its early stages, there is tons of potential in this one.
What is there to take from this movement in game design? Following major success, many game companies try their hand in similar styles. It’s nothing new for the industry. When Street Fighter 2 became insanely popular, there were tons of fighting games to come out soon after like TMNT: Tournament Fighters and King of Fighters. That’s just a small example as it’s happened several times over each generation of video games.
Taking a step back and looking at this similarity in the market is a bit disconcerting and comical. Yet, these games need to be made to explore the genre. Who knows which of the games above will truly blow its players out of the water? Each explore similar concepts in different ways. It’s a necessary part of the evolution of gaming as a whole.
What’s important is that even if these games succeed or fail, gamers win. These shooters could release to a trumpet of praise, standing on their own merit and creating awesome experiences and communities. Each of these character-based games, while similar, will provide another world for gamers to explore.
Nothing is wrong with more worlds to visit, but all of them seem to have a blue sky.