The MOBA style games have really taken off in the past couple of years. Games like Super Monday Night Combat and League of Legends are a hot ticket right now. The one problem with those games is the barrier to entry. You have to be rather good at the game if you want to succeed. That’s what makes Awesomenauts so appealing. Practically anyone can play and have a good time while still holding their own against players more skilled than they are.
So, Awesomenauts has your standard MOBA feel to it. You and your team are tasked with escorting constantly spawning drones that slowly move toward the enemy base. You must protect them and use them as shields to take down the enemy’s turrets and eventually destroy the enemy’s base. This is all standard affair, but what sets Awesomenauts apart from other MOBA games is the simplicity of the game.
At the start of each match, you choose one of six characters, each with a unique set of abilities and play styles. You have your damage dealers, your defense characters, your tanks and even a healer. Each character has two abilities that can be activated. These skills, along with the character’s stats can be upgraded by spending Solar, the in-game currency. Before the game starts, you’ll be given a loadout screen that allows you to pick and choose 3 upgrades per skill. These upgrades are what you will be buying when the game starts. You may not think the game is too deep with only two activated abilities, but once you get to sorting out your upgrades and loadouts for each match, your Lonestar may play completely different from another.
The game is a 2D side scroller. This also adds to the simplicity. Each character can jump, attack, use button-mapped abilities and teleport back to their base when running low on health. When escorting your droids, you can gain extra Solar by taking out enemy droids as well as turrets and enemy players. Teleporting back to your base will automatically refill your health and put you back at the store in case you want to upgrade something. Using your droids as shields against turrets is essential for damaging them. When taking out a turret, you will begin spawning more powerful droids that will aid you in your struggle. The mini map is very useful as well. It will show what turrets are left, which ones are under attack and where the enemies are if one of your allies is near them.
Your profile gains experience and levels up after a game depending on how well you did. By leveling up your profile, you will unlock new characters to use as well as new upgrades that you can choose on the load out screen.
The game may be a slow tug of war at first, but once the match ramps up and you start leveling up your characters, it can become some really hectic fun. I will say that playing with other players is highly recommended. The bots are ok but nothing compared to a real player. One thing that the game does do well is replacing players that drop out during a game. If they leave, you’re not down a player; you just gain a bot that takes over for the lost player. The one thing I wish I could do is change characters during a match. Unfortunately, this is not allowed, so sometimes your team may have a slight disadvantage due to poor choices with your characters. You’re only allowed 3 players per team, and when the other team has some heavy hitters and you’re stuck with fast, weaker attackers, it may get a little annoying.
I will say there aren’t many levels to play on. Each is well balanced and keeps the game flowing nicely, but maybe a few with some more variety would have been nice. If you’re looking to just jump in with a friend locally, you can do just that. You can even play with them offline with bots or take them online and go against other players. This is a really nice feature that is often overlooked nowadays.
While the games played rather smooth with almost no lag, I did have a few problems trying to connect to some games. It wasn’t too bad, but it did happen on occasion. When it happens mid-game, you lose any possible experience you could have gained by completing the match.
I really like the style of the game. Due to it being 2D, the game looks like a hand-drawn cartoon. The characters are charming as well. It tries to give off this 80’s cartoon vibe with the music and the characters themselves. Even the achievements and trophies for the game are references to 80’s and 90’s cartoons.
All in all, Awesomenauts is a really fun game. It has a lot of potential to be a big contender in the MOBA genre. The simplicity of the game is nice for newcomers to the genre while the complexity of the loadouts and abilities can satisfy the MOBA veterans. For only ten bucks, if you got some friends that will play with you both online and offline, you can have a blast with Awesomenuts. Even if you don’t, you can still play with the bots and some random people and still have a pretty good time.
Review copy of game provided by publisher. Primary play on Xbox 360.