GDC 2013: Hands-on with Infinite Crisis

GDC 2013  Handson with Infinite Crisis
We just learned of Infinite Crisis' existence on Monday, but don't expect a long wait to get your hands on the game's various DC Comics characters. The new title is well beyond the here's-an-idea-for-you stage -- in fact, it's already playable!

So what did this MOBA noob think of the game? Does it do justice to the Justice League? When is beta going to happen so others can get in on the action? And how on earth did Turbine keep Infinite Crisis a secret so far into its development? After my play session I sat down with Creative Director Cardell Kerr to discuss some of these burning questions.

Infinite Crisis alpha screenshot
My thoughts exactly

Let me say this: Infinite Crisis might actually hook me into the MOBA genre. I'm not saying that I would leave my other games and devote my life to PvP matches, but there is definitely a draw to the game. It helps that I got to play as some of my favorite heroes (and villains!) from DC, but it was more than just slipping into their skins. Just looking the part isn't enough. No, when you are a super hero, you need to feel super; you need to experience things larger than life. And that's something Infinite Crisis offers.

One feature of the game that sets it apart from other genre entries is the degree to which players can interact with the environment. Who, when playing a super hero, hasn't thought of lifting a car to toss at enemies? In Infinite Crisis, you can do just that -- at least you can if you pick super strength as your stolen power. You can also rip out telephone poles and use them to whap enemies upside the head. Players can manipulate the environment (such as picking up and moving obstacles like a car, damaging buildings, etc.) to create opportunities and advantages for their team or obstacles and disadvantages for their foes. As Kerr put it, "you are playing a super hero or super villain and [we] want that to be felt in everything you are doing."

Environmental destruction isn't the only thing that's different in Infinite Crisis. Catastrophic events can be initiated by one team to hinder opponents. During my first match, my opponents called down a meteor strike right outside our base, causing a giant crater and making it very difficult to maneuver. That significantly slowed my team's ability to get to the capture points or support one another in the fights.

Infinite Crisis alpha screenshotA match in a nutshell

What about the rest of the gameplay? Once a match pops, you have to select your champion as well as your two stolen powers from a list of classic abilities like strength, speed, and x-ray vision. You must choose quickly, however, else the timer expires and you are stuck with whatever.

Your skills are bound to the Q, W, E, and R keys and activated by the left mouse button, while movement uses the right button by default. During the course of the match you will gain some coins over time, but you can gain more by getting the final hit on a kill as well as from drops off of AI. These coins buy upgrades for your champion to use during the match, including boots, gloves, etc. that can increase health, damage, or speed. Hint: If you die, use those moments to jump in the store and beef yourself up!

At the end of the match, players can see a very thorough rundown of everyone involved in the battle. One stat that is added as fluff (with possible achievements coming later) is the property destruction stat. Who wracked up the biggest bill is visible to all!
The heroes

One of the most obvious differences between Infinite Crisis and other games is the use of DC characters from a variety of alternate universes. "[The] champions are one of the biggest things that I feel the multiverse offers us," stated Kerr. "It's been a blast to do. Making those characters is a lot of fun." As part of the game's overarching story, the different universes are crashing into each other, hence the various incarnations of the beloved heroes and villains working together. Kerr discussed how each variation of a character is a good example of the core (A.K.A. prime) character, perhaps with one aspect removed and others highlighted.

How many different variations are planned for the game? Kerr said that six are being focused on currently, but more will certainly come in the future. Besides the steampunk and nightmare versions (Batman as a vampire, anyone?), there are also atomic (post-apocalyptic), arcane (magic), and even robot versions. And there are the classic characters, of course. But these characters are far from just reskinned carbon copies -- each one has distinct skills and power sets. There is no restriction on any version working with others, so you could conceivably see a team of different Batmans fighting alongside each other. Similarly, there is no restriction on heroes working with villains.

Infinite Crisis alpha screenshot
Grilling Kerr for details

Of course, I had questions beyond gameplay, like "How will the game be monetized," "Will it be pay-to-win," and "How did development actually stay a secret?" Sadly, no information was forthcoming on the first question; they're still working on that. However, Kerr stated that avoiding pay-to-win is one of his main objectives. He feels that competition is the heart of the game and folks should be able to compete regardless. And as for staying secret? Well, Kerr indicated he was actually surprised that it was kept so quiet.

When can folks get in to experience this new MOBA? While there is no firm date, it is "sooner than people think." You can sign up on the official site.

Massively sent its ace reporters to San Francisco to bring you back the biggest MMO news from this year's GDC, the largest pro-only gaming industry con in the world! Whether it's EVE Online or Star Wars: The Old Republic or that shiny new toy you've got your eye on, we're on the case, so stay tuned for all the highlights from the show!
This article was originally published on Massively.