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E3 2013: Infinite Crisis super-punches MOBA flaws


Are you Marvel or DC? Turbine's hoping that you are partial to the latter, especially considering that the studio wants to rope you in with its DC superhero-themed game, Infinite Crisis. Over a hearty lunch of Kryptonite stew and Flash fries at E3, Massively's Jasmine Hruschak spoke with Creative Director Cardell Kerr, Director of Digital Communications Adam Mersky, and Executive Producer Jeffrey Steefel about the title's development and the IP's fit as a MOBA.

Infinite Crisis draws upon DC's entire multiverse for its inspiration. For non-comic book geeks, the multiverse consists of several often-interacting universes that feature different versions of the same places, superheroes, and events. Ergo, the Batman you know from our world also might have a steampunk alter-ego in the multiverse, or the virtuous Green Lantern of earth might have a post-apocalyptic counterpart as the Atomic Green Lantern. Infinite Crisis takes these heroes from all over the multiverse and tosses them together to see what happens. Hint: It ain't puppy dogs and sunshine parades.

E3 2013 Infinite Crisis' coast is toast
Break our cities and steal our powers -- please!

While MOBA maps are usually static affairs, the Turbine team wants to acknowledge the superhero tendency to break stuff by, er, making parts of the map destructible. While the devs aren't going to let you demolish everything, as that would negate any carefully planned strategy and create a mindless free-for-all, there are enough smashable elements to keep itchy fists happy and the game feeling somewhat dynamic.

If that's not enough to allow you to exercise your pent-up mischief, Infinite Crisis will also allow you to have "stolen powers." The way it works is this: Stolen powers have powerful active and passive abilities, as well as lengthy cooldowns. A stolen power can be activated for its immediate effect, but while it's on cooldown it gives the player a passive benefit. The passives can be "stolen" between your heroes, allowing the passive of one character to be applied to another.

For example, Doomsday's super strength power has a passive buff to damage while on cooldown. A player could take this passive and apply it to Wonder Woman's super strength power instead, even though her power normally has a defense buff while on cooldown. Mix-and-matching powers allows for player customization and strategy.

E3 2013 Infinite Crisis' coast is toast
Google maps ain't got nothing on these battlefields

The team is currently focusing development and testing efforts on three maps. Gotham Heights is a circular map that's perfect for beginners (although experts can still enjoy it). It's a domination map that features short session play. Of course, "fast" when it comes to MOBAs is a deceptive term, so we asked Turbine to clarify. The devs said that the average Gotham Heights battle runs between 15 and 20 minutes.

The second map, Coast City, is where the team is shining its E3 spotlight. It's a new map that should be playable in closed beta this summer and one we've already seen in trailer form. It's slightly more in line with what MOBA fans might traditionally expect from a map, particularly with its two-lane pathing. It's also a tonal shift from the first map; where Gotham is dark and brooding, Coast City is pretty and relaxing. Until you start actively destroying it, that is.

The team wasn't quite ready to talk about the third map, so feel free to cross your fingers and hope that your favorite locale makes the cut!

Accessibility and cordiality in a MOBA? Absurd!

While insanely popular these days, MOBAs have developed reputations for unscrutable complexity, steep learning curves, and unforgiving communities. Turbine's aware of all of this, which is why the team is working hard to make Infinite Crisis as accessible to the first-timer as possible while putting into place measure that will hopefully develop a positive and friendly community.

"There's this thin line between designing a game for MOBA enthusiasts and designing a game for people who just like DC characters and want to learn to play," Kerr said. "We don't want to take away the design depth of the game, but we want to make sure it's much, much clearer what a person should do and what is happening."

One example of accessibility is looking to the larger field of video game elements instead of just what's been done in MOBAs before. Infinite Crisis won't award currency to players automatically if a player gets the final hit; instead, the game will drop visible currency on the ground that is video game sign language for "walk over me and it's yours." Small differences, but more intuitive to the newcomer. Plus, currency will drop no matter who kills that mob, whether it be a player, minion, or tower.

We spent some time talking about the nastiness that can arise from MOBA communities and asked Turbine what it plans to do to cut bad behavior off before it takes over the entire game. The devs said that there's an entire team that's devoted to sweetening up the community and coming up with ideas to encourage good sportsmanship and discourage tools. There will be ways to escalate issues for particularly bad incidences, and there will be rewards for good behavior such as forum banners. In short, Turbine wants its fans to know that if you play nice, are creative, and show genuine passion for the game, you will have the support and adoration of the studio in return.

Massively's on the ground in Los Angeles during the week of June 10-13, bringing you all the best news from E3 2013. We're covering everything from WildStar and Elder Scrolls Online and ArcheAge to FFXIV's inbound revamp and TERA's latest update, so stay tuned!

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