I don’t exactly remember where I saw it, but at some point I signed up for the beta for Dead Island Epidemic. The game was announced quite some time ago, but I wasn’t really sure what kind of game it would end up being. We knew that it was a MOBA (or as the devs put it, ZOMBA), but it wasn’t clear if it would subscribe to traditional gameplay or do something new. I ended up getting into the closed beta, but I also ended up with multiple keys to give away as well (which I have already done, sorry). Technically despite being in closed beta, you can pay for early access, and I believe that with that you get RMT currency to use in-game. The title will be free to play once it is fully released. I can tell you up front, that yes, this game is trying to do something different within the MOBA genre, and it mixes several different influences quite well.
First off, let’s take a look at the main screen and HUD:
The graphics of the game are decidedly cartoony, but given the trailer for Dead Island 2, it appears that’s the direction the image of the game might be going. Looking at the HUD, you’ll see some things that are familiar. The Mini map is in the standard spot. Your “quest log” of sorts is directly underneath it. Bottom left you have your character sheet, with the chat box above it and up in the left corner you’ll see your teammate’s names (they were still connecting in this shot). Bottom middle is where your abilities are listed. Rather that click to move, you use WASD. So at this point we see a bunch of similarities with MMO UI design and some ARPG and MOBA elements. Left clicking your mouse does a basic attack, and the right mouse button is a fury attack (this builds up with actions taken). Q, E, R and F are for your main abilities, but those unlock as you level up your character and account level. I started off with Berg, the tanky melee class. Berg’s Q is an AOE that gives off a circle telegraph and is semi ranged. His E is a forward arc attack that is short range. R and F aren’t unlocked at this point, because Berg needs to gain some levels. You gain levels in game while fighting, and that gives you points to put in your individual skills, but at the end of a match you also get experience for the character overall. This means that the in-game exp is only for that round, but the end of round exp is given to the character permanently. You also gain account exp, which goes towards opening bits of the crafting system. So until you level Berg up with end of round exp, he won’t have all of his core abilities. Make sense?
Besides the controls being more reminiscent of ARPGs and MMOs, the telegraphic and limited amount of abilities is very MOBA. There is also a larger focus on PvE elements. Starting out, you aren’t high enough level to do anything but PvE matches, called “Scout Missions.” These are for 1-4 players, and as you can see here I was queued up with only one other person at this particular time. You’ll start on one end of the map and have to make your way towards way points, which are flags that you “capture.” Once capture, waves of zombies will spawn and attack. To me, the various classes of Zombies reminded me more of Left 4 Dead than previous Dead Island games, but I didn’t play them all that thoroughly so I could be trippin. After you have completed the waves at one flag, you’ll move to the next, until you come to the end where you will fight a boss. Scout Missions are essentially easy mode, but will give you the experience needed to progress to bigger and better things.
The “Quest Log” that I pointed out is really just a measure of the time it took for you to complete a level. Do it under a certain time and you’ll get the silver medal. Do it faster, and get the gold. This affects the rewards earned for completion, including more currency, items/blueprints for crafting, and experience. Eventually I decided that I wanted to focus more on ranged DPS, so I looked at the other Heroes that I might be able to purchase.
I picked up Bryce as I had earned enough of that particular currency. There are four different currencies, one that is real world money, which you can use to buy better weapons and characters. This is essentially RP. Bullets (or at least that’s what the symbol looks like) are the equivalent to IP, in that you can use it for mostly everything, except for the weapons. But you can buy blueprints with it, and the highest tier blueprints give better weapons than you can buy via RMT. Another currency is used for buying characters. The final is used for boosting, which I don’t quite understand yet. So basically 3 of the currencies you earn in-game, and with all 3 you can buy essentially everything. If you want a shortcut you can use RMT, but it’s entirely a speed boost and nothing more. Dedicated players will get all that they want without spending a dime.
Crafting is something that hasn’t been present in any MOBA (that I know of). Blueprints and various supplies will be part of your reward each time you finish a match. Using the blueprints, you can craft different items, and each character has specific specialties. For instance, Bryce benefits from using Rifles and Small Melee weapons. He has passives that increase their effectiveness. Other characters will have differing passives. There are also consumables, and those you can buy with in-game currency as well. One cool feature is that if you’re missing some of the components to make an item, you can buy the rest of the supplies while crafting the item, and it pulls from the most common currency. So ultimately you can’t expect to go up against players who have earned all of this stuff (or bought it) but with enough time invested you can become just as good if not better.
After you’ve done enough Scout Missions to level your chosen Hero to level 4, you’ll gain access to Horde Mode, which is essentially the same as the Scout Missions, but with harder enemies and better loot. Sounds like a pretty familiar progression doesn’t it? From there, if you want to brave the depths of PvP, you can play Scavenger mode. 3 teams of 4 vie for control of capture points, while also fending off zombies to see who can gather the most supplies first. I found that playing this mode isn’t much fun, because the people playing were far outgeared. As I mentioned before, you have an overall account level. It levels pretty damn slow. You can’t craft higher tiers of gear until you’ve leveled a bit. The max account level is 15 for now, but I barely made it to level 2 after playing for 4+ hours. So it will take a while to level to be able to get the gear to be able to compete, but really this is a norm with free to play games.
Overall, I think Dead Island Epidemic is a solid title. It’s nice to see companies trying to expand upon the ideas of what makes this genre great. Hopefully more companies will continue to do so.
#deadislandepidemic #zomba #moba #closedbeta