Prime World launch impressions

So here I am again in Prime World. It's probably my first real "Facebook game" other than that thrones game, but this one has more substance than its more social counterparts. This is a game I've gotten to play with Russians and other westerners during beta, and I've seen the game grow quite a bit in that time, even through casual play. It's the only MOBA I've had motivation to play lately. It's not the best on the market -- it suffers from a lack of features that I consider key for any online game, let alone a MOBA -- but it still appeals to me a bit more as an MMO fan than as a MOBA fan.

While studio Nival calls the game a beta, the Steam page lists it as released, so if you haven't tried the game yet, bear in mind that's it a bit of both.
Prime World
Let's start with holiday events. Yeah, I know that not everyone digs these, but when the lore has so little impact on the way you play the game, just seeing some pumpkins out makes for a nice change of scenery, especially when you've been playing the same map forever. The few additional quests and ability to turn into a pumpkin weren't anything groundbreaking, but for a MOBA, it was a slice of simple fun.

That's one of the key things that differentiates PW from other MOBAs: Prime World's community, for the most part, is pretty relaxed. Yes, there are still trolls, AFKers, and toxic players with sadly no way for victims to report them in-game, but they're the minority. More often than not, the games are pretty quiet, especially once you've learned how the various modes work and needn't ask questions of your compatriots. The silence can be hard sometimes, especially as a new player trying to learn the game, but I think I prefer no information to the "nub" screaming I've encountered in other MOBAs when I ask a genuine question. When people do talk, and it's not usually about how bad other players are; it's usually about the game. I don't have to worry about politics, race, or drug use. In fact, now that I mention it, I don't think I've ever had these topics come up in any of my games. Gender is the only one on the list, and that is a result of the game's unusual mechanics.

While developers have promised that the game's gender restrictions will eventually be removed altogether, it hasn't happened yet. It currently affects only one item/talent called the hero's charm, which guards players of the opposite gender should they fall below a certain level of health. While many players no longer care about this perk because the combo has fallen out of favor, I was just in a match with some ladies last month during the first time I ever decided to not use the charm.

The game's talent system is another part that satisfies my gaming interests as an MMOer. I like random loot. A lot. It's a reason I hate raiding but love treasure chests. Win or lose, you get a bunch of talents at the end of a match, talents that can be assigned to your character, used as fodder to improve other talents, or just outright sold. Last month's economy change helped this part of the game, since I have more silver and storage to work with now. I've logged in to play just one game some nights and gotten a good rare from a losing game. That sort of thing really encourages me to stick with a title, as opposed to other MOBAs that just dole out some currency that I have to keep saving to be able to afford something nice.

Prime World
While many MOBAs do have different game modes, PW's are among the most numerous and diverse. Guard the mega NPC as it slaughters your enemies, kill the dragon and steal the egg, rule set changes, additional mechanics... this is all stuff I expect from MMO battlegrounds, not maps in MOBAs, which tend to have different sizes of maps for different numbers of players. Those game types aren't bad, but I prefer Prime World's options. I still hate switcheroo, where you trade heroes randomly with other players on your team, but only because I'm a fan of making that hero's charm work, and it won't if I'm suddenly controlling a female character and the only female player on the team is now playing a man!

I assume getting to try out different builds on different heroes will be more fun once I can get that charm out of my head. However, the game's other modes are a blast, especially the zombified map that has you raising undead minions from the bodies of slain NPCs. I'm mainly a melee player, and since melee kills have the highest chance of creating zombies, it makes it easier for me to like this game. It's nice to feel like my playstyle is being rewarded -- that's something I just don't get out of other MOBAs. Even for people who don't like fighting other people, there are challenge modes, PvE-type quests that require teamwork, not real life opponents who trash talk (though personally, I play online games to get more human contact, even if it's not always positive).

Prime World
PW's early experience is good for MOBA newbies but still lacks details that veterans should know about. The puzzle game is still poorly explained, so much so that I've been yelled at for playing it even when people think I'm too useless to be out on the field. Letting players help make the community rules is awesome, but the lack of an in-game report tool is severely detrimental to the community. I once saw a person who AFKed mid-match "inspire" two other team mates to do the same -- if he can leech, why should they work hard? The game's "expand territory" option early on also confuses just about everyone because you keep waiting for the next time you'll get to expand, and that time never comes. The Steam FAQ seems to indicate this may change in the future, but at the moment, you won't learn that in-game until you ask someone or hit the max level for yourself.

And that is the problem with the game. As fun as it is when things go your way, many additions to the game seem to have come at the cost of missing a key feature or a feature making the game feel restrictive without information found only outside the game. People just don't want to leave the game and fill out an external form to report people. I still don't feel much attachment to my castle, since I know it has only so much room for decoration and my resources are better spent on functional things than decoration, especially when I'm in a clan that needs supplies. The gender restrictions, even if small, have ensured that as a male player I had to wait before I even had access to a healing character, while female players got one right from the start (which is equally insulting to them!).

Nival recently told Massively that some of these issues will be addressed soon, some as soon as next week with the 9.12 patch. An in-game form for reporting players and a change to the hero's charm will finally be live. The charm will heal the user for 85 health. A male skin for the healer can be previewed on the Russian site, so it's only a matter of time before we get it. Best of all, Nival says that it is "working on adding the second expansion soon," and while it won't be allowing players to place more buildings, it hopes to create "more room to add more aesthetic touches and make it a bit more personal instead of having to optimize every square inch." It certainly feels like Nival's listening to the playerbase, but we'll have to see how things feel after the patch.

Massively's not big on scored reviews -- what use are those to ever-changing MMOs? That's why we bring you first impressions, previews, hands-on experiences, and even follow-up impressions for nearly every game we stumble across. First impressions count for a lot, but games evolve, so why shouldn't our opinions?

This article was originally published on Massively.