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PAX Prime 2013: A doomsday strike to the heart of Infinite Crisis


I think I'd be a lousy MOBA level designer. I'd always wondered why PvP and MOBA maps came few and far between; after all, how hard is it to whip up a quick level? I realized my ignorance after listening to Turbine Creative Director Cardell Kerr talk about the immense amount of thought and planning that goes into a single map.

Kerr and his team were showing off Infinite Crisis, the upcoming DC superhero MOBA, at PAX Prime this weekend, with constant matches taking place between superhero-wannabes. As with most everything at PAX, it's a mix of promotion, information, and entertainment, although I got the feeling that the team also had something to prove. After all, everyone seems to be making MOBAs these days to catch some of that League of Legends/Dota 2 money, and because such, it's triply important that an upstart have a way of distinguishing itself from the pack. Merely having Wonder Woman and Batman show up won't be enough these days (although it certainly doesn't hurt).

So what is Infinite Crisis angling to do that will make this the MOBA you'll click on more than the others? It comes down to options: options how to play your game, options how to exploit advantages on a map, and options when it comes to game modes.

PAX Prime 2013 A doomsday strike to the heart of Infinite Crisis
The lightning blitz of Gotham Heights

We've heard of the Gotham Heights map before, a "dash to the finish line" experience that features fast and constant combat -- and a snappy play time. It was on this map that the team started experimenting with a feature that would go outside of the MOBA norm and give players another cool option for combat.

At the center of the map is an orbital cannon. You can ignore it, of course, and just rush toward your goal, but a team that controls the cannon will be able to press a huge advantage. The cannon pumps out drones that swarm control points you don't control, and they get stronger and tougher the longer the match goes on. The genius behind this is that it allows the behind team an avenue to throw out drones at up to four control points, forcing the winning team to spread itself thin or else face the loss of a point or two. Of course, if the dominating team gets a hold of the cannon, it might as well be game over for the other guys.

PAX Prime 2013 A doomsday strike to the heart of Infinite Crisis
The gritty urban warfare of Coast City

The team didn't want to just cut and paste the same experience from Gotham Heights for its second map. Instead, it wanted to give junglers a haven that would also change the way that the match could be played each and every time.

Instead of the fast pace of Gotham Heights, Coast City is more of a strategic slow burn, taking time to deliver a story as it builds up through several phases. While team can choose to stick to lanes, it might behoove them to employ a jungler or two to make use of the big urban sprawl in the center. Because Infinite Crisis features a great amount of environmental destruction, players can and will carve out their own paths as they pursue the many mobs in the jungle. These new shortcuts can then be exploited by both teams, turning maps into an ever-changing experience.

The large urban jungle isn't the only highlight of the map. Turbine spent time trying to think of how to one-up Gotham Heights' orbital cannon and came up with an even bigger mechanic. The solution was a doomsday device -- because why the heck not?

The team says that such a device is a first in the MOBA territory, a powerful strike weapon that can be fought over and utilized to hit both enemies and structures. Any enemies that fall victim to the device will also receive an eight-second debuff increased incoming damage debuff that can be exploited by opponents.

Turbine's quite excited to see what the meta-game and theory crafting will look like as Infinite Crisis grows nearer to release. Will the game feature enough of these new options to really shake up the typical player thinking? We will see, but until then, if you see a large crosshair appear over where you're standing and hear a distant sound of a sinister device powering up, well, I'd probably move.

Massively's on the ground in Seattle during the weekend of August 30th to September 2nd, bringing you all the best news from PAX Prime 2013. Whether you're dying to know more about WildStar, The Elder Scrolls Online, EverQuest Next, or any MMO in between, you can bet we'll have it covered!

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