Rise of Immortals Review
By Simon Graves |
Just as World of Warcraft pushed developers of all sizes to try and emulate Blizzard's successful MMO model, it seems as though League of Legends is destined to do the same. And like many of the World of Warcraft clones out there, not all MOBAs will be very good. This is especially true for Rise of Immortals, which glimmers faintly with potential from time to time, but is filled with so many odd design decisions and such an awkward and frustrating matchmaking system that it may never take full advantage of any of it.
If you're unfamiliar with the MOBA (multiplayer online battle arena) genre -- games like DotA, Heroes of Newerth and League of Legends -- the idea is for you and several teammates to destroy an opposing team's base. You kill AI-controlled monsters for experience and money while trying to harass and kill opposing players, destroy a series of towers guarding the enemy base, and eventually blow up a central structure to win the game. It's a genre that relies on tight controls, clearly identifiable spells and effects, and a wide variety of fun, well-designed, and at least somewhat balanced heroes to play as. Rise of the Immortals controls well enough. So it's got that going for it, I guess.
Lazarus, the vampiric tank.
The mediocrity begins at the character select screen, where the game's twelve current playable heroes await your selection. Their art is wildly inconsistent, with the characters of Tzai (the rune-covered fighter) and Scorpix (the half-man, half-scorpion tank) well rendered and textured, if a little on the silly, while characters like Kyrie (the scantily clad assassin) and Psychozen (the weird looking guy in the metal suit) are both goofily designed and sloppily rendered.
Unfortunately, these inconsistencies transfer into the way many of the heroes play. Psychozen is listed as a disabler, but his attacks have no flow, and only one seems to "disable". Another deals damage over time and slows the enemy somewhat, and the third is an attack that drains an enemy's health and heals himself and a nearby ally. His ultimate ability splits him into a bunch of copies that can deal damage -- useful as both an escape mechanism and a tool for destroying enemies and towers quickly, but not at all fitting with, well, any of the other themes his abilities touch upon.
Tzai meanwhile has a moveset that mostly makes sense. One ability very quickly closes the gap between him and an enemy, dealing damage. Another takes advantage of this close proximity to an enemy to deal even more damage. He has a passive ability that increases his damage even further and can be activated to give him some survivability in a pinch, and his ultimate stuns an enemy for a couple seconds, dealing very high damage. His moveset makes him an adept assassin against individual targets while leaving him highly vulnerable in a group fight. Buying items for him is simple because his role as a close-range damage dealer is obvious.
Sometimes the issue is one of balance. Despite an extended beta period, Rise of Immortals often feels as though certain heroes have large advantage. There are two characters described as "support tanks." One, called Aislynn has a heal, a shield, a movement speed and damage reduction buff, and the ability to occasionally prevent an ally's death. The other, an elemental called Ichorr has three different heals, one of which makes every ally in the area invisible. In addition, all of his abilities also deal damage and usually have a third effect -- increased damage to target enemy, decreased speed and so on. His abilities are more effective overall by a large margin, and also more capable of targeting entire groups -- both enemy and allied. He singlehandedly seems to make a much larger difference to a team than any other individual hero.
Learning new heroes is detrimental in Rise of Immortals thanks to a persistent leveling system that is tied to each individual hero. Played a dozen matches with Lazarus? He'll be somewhere around level 9 probably, but all of your other heroes will still be stuck at level 1. Each hero has their own perk branch on the skill tree, which is interesting and lets you tweak out each unit individually, but I don't want to play upwards of fifty matches to level up one hero, buy a new one that looks interesting, and have to start again from scratch. League of Legends has a persistent leveling system, but your level is tied to your account, so you don't feel penalized for trying a new hero (unless you do poorly and your teammates tear you apart verbally).
The Rise of Immortals launch trailer.
The matchmaking is also massively flawed. Unlike every other MOBA on the market that I've ever played, in Rise of Immortals you choose the hero you're going to use immediately after you log in -- before you ever go to the social hub or join a matchmaking queue. This leaves team composition completely in the hands of the matchmaking, and can result in long wait times before a game, and uneven teams during a game. Why you can't re-choose your hero in the queue is beyond me.
Rise of Immortals is using the League of Legends business model of buyable heroes, skins and convenience items. It worked very well for Riot because there was a high volume of heroes to choose from at launch, and the character skins are wildly different to the original skin. Rise of Immortals currently has twelve heroes, and the great majority of optional skins are palete or texture swaps. Some of the skins are more creative -- Netheurgist's Thriller skin is both a loyal representation of Michael Jackson's excellent music video, and a skin that, were I more into this game, I might actually consider purchasing because it comes with some custom animations. There are far too few of these out there though.