League of Legends is one of the most played games in the world, so it is no surprise that there are quite a few MOBAs (multiplayer-online-battle-arena) being made by various companies, similar to the effect World of Warcraft had on MMORPGs. Prime World, by russian studio Nival, hopes to combine elements of both these genres.
Prime World is quite different from other MOBAs in that there is an actual story to play through. Admittedly, it is not a very strong story, and can seem like it halts your progression into actually playing the PvP aspects of the game, but it is nice to see something different, and helps introduce the basic concepts of what Prime World has to offer. Each player is in charge of their own castle, and can place buildings in their courtyard which help gather resources, which you then spend on upgrading and creating new buildings that enhance your champions. The resources take a while to gather, as it is done in real time, and require you to manually initiate it. There are four options to choose from, which vary with amount collected and time taken, but the most cost-efficient ones being the short time, requiring you to consistently play and log in. Overall, the castle feels like a very basic strategy game, with a blend of Astro Empires, but otherwise, quite boring. It can seem like you have to waste time there to actually play the game.
There are around 30 different champions to play, although the appearances of the champions depend upon which faction you are playing as. Each champion has access to 3 abilities (although some have 4), with one of these abilities being an ‘ultimate’, an ability that generally has massive damage or utility but at the cost of a very long cooldown. As you level up, instead of putting points into abilities, you take talents. These talents increase the statistics of your character, or augment their abilities by, for example, adding a slowing effect or extra damage. You can edit which talents your champion has access to, allowing for a bit of customisation, but you will generally want ones that suit their playstyle – mages will typically want intelligence and energy boosting talents.
Unfortunately, the voice-over talent is not that great. Coupled with the fact that champions tend to blurt out one of their 6 pieces of dialogue after every other click, you will very quickly go to mute their voices in the options. In addition to this, the sound effects are not very satisfying, which leaves the game feeling rather quiet, even though there is an epic battle going on. I would also very much enjoy some kind of lore or something for the champions, just to make them seem like actual characters in the world. Even when League of Legends started out, there was a lore tab when you were viewing champions, which intertwined them with the world, their values and their reasons for fighting.
To play new champions, you will need to recruit them. To recruit them, you will need to spend silver, which isn’t that hard to collect from winning PvP matches. The game is free-to-play, so it makes sense why you would have to buy them. Unfortunately, you also have to be a certain level to even be able to unlock certain champions for purchase. I find this very annoying. Some of the more complicated and interesting champions are towards the higher levels, which means you have to do a lot of grinding to unlock them, and if you favour specific classes, such as supports, you might have to wait a long time until you get someone new. This can be by-passed by spending real cash, but that is not a very appealing option, and it cuts down the idea that these champions require a certain skill level to play.
The gameplay itself is very atypical of the MOBA genre with three lanes with towers down the path, which you must destroy to reach the enemy base. A difference is that along these lanes, there are flags, which if raised, change the surroundings, claiming the land as your own. This allows your allies to teleport to anywhere on the ground, and boosts some champions abilities. While these boosts can be nice, not all champions get them, while others rely entirely on them. At your base, you are also able to play a mini-game which, if completed successfully, gives a teammate of your choice a special scroll. However, by doing this, you will not be putting any pressure on the map and you will miss out on experience, so it is a nice little gamble. I do fear, however, that depending on the power of the scrolls, one player would be forced to be a scroll giver (or if the scrolls were too weak, it would be a trap to even try for them).
There are also some other modes to play. One of them is similar to capture-the-flag, but requires you and your teammates to race to the middle of the map, fighting enemies on the way. This makes for an interesting PvE game, in a race against time as the enemy team attempts to do the same. However, if one of your teammates disconnects, your team is full of healers, or your communication is not adequate, it will lead to a very long game, in which you would probably be more inclined to surrender than see it through. I have not been able to play Outpost, Homeland, Apocalypse or Shuffle yet, and so cannot comment on those modes but they certainly seem interesting (Apocalypse, especially).
While it may seem I have given Prime World a good beating, I do think it is an alright game. I like how they have attempted to do things differently, and I enjoy the idea of some of the PvE orientated modes. It just seems a shame that they have not executed these ideas in the perfect way. I think the game certainly needs some polish, but as far as I can tell, the game balance actually seems good, although it can be very easy for fighters to snowball. With some refinement, especially in regards to the sounds, I think it could make a fine alternative to LoL and DoTA2.
+Interesting and different modes to play
-Needs plenty of polish
-Weak sound effects and voice overs
-Bad method for unlocking champions