Last month, I wrote about a victory by the Imperium’s Atlas Reactor squad. At the time I had really planned to get some time together and not only install the game, but do a “lancer’s first day” perspective. As so happens with gamers of a certain age, the “I’ll do it tomorrow” turned into “I’ll do it this weekend” and thus its one month later than I had planned.
Lancer’s First Day
I debated initially about linking my Trion account to my Steam account, but in the interest of getting patch management under one roof I went ahead and did the Steam link. Remembering the hassle of linking from Frontier (my Elite Beta) I was expecting some hoops to jump through, but other than not remembering my old Rift password, it was fairly minimal.
Once installed, I was looking forward to some quick action. As such, when the cinematic started to roll, I was looking for how to skip it. To those reading, DON’T! Knowing that I was going to write this piece, I refrained from hitting space and ESC frantically until the trailer stopped. I’m glad that I didn’t. The cinematic intro is really quite charming and goes a long way to set the almost feel of techno-wimsy for the game.
Unlike Dota and LoL that seem to take their stories and plot lines oh-so-seriously, the cast of Atlas Reactor very much seem to be turning their plasma-powered noses at the stereotype. From the gun happy inventor-girl with the bazooka to the self aware toy dog with a mean overbite, the characters are instantly engaging.
The tutorial is pretty standard fare. Given the difference in play style to the more traditional MOBA, I do recommend going though the whole lineup. By the time you’re finished, you will learn about the phase orders and how to use them to some advantage all under the witty banter of Lockwood, the classic wild west merc with a heart of gold. What could have been a drag full of forced characterization turned out to be a charming and informative experience. As an added bonus, the final tutorial mission throws you into an all-AI match, practically guaranteeing your first victory and all the rewards that come with it.
Characters come in three different flavors. The “Front Line” tank class are the beefy damage sponges you would expect. Support characters range from simple healing, preventing damage in the first place, and applying buffs depending on the individual character chosen. Firepower characters round off the lineup, providing varied flavors of DPS as expected.
For my first day, Lockwood happened to be on the free rotation, so I stuck with him. I had spent 30 minutes learning how to use his moves, so why not keep playing as him and rack up some more rewards?
I made a point of not doing TOO much research before I jumped in. My goal for my first experience with Atlas Reactor was to see it with fresh eyes; I have enough MOBA experience to know that there is going to be a great deal to say about character class and who is stronger than who, and I did not wish to be steeped in the metagame just yet.
Just like any other MOBA, you get experience with each character as you run them through matches. This experience buys you more options and mods for the character. A little Google-fu shows that there is a growing metagame. There is clearly enough depth to the different character mods and progressions to yield more to the dedicated player.
Daily Missions and the First 10
Right away, with the completion of the first match (technically it is a bot match) you get the first of your 10 mission goal. The game starts you off with a mission to complete 10 matches, which will give you the opportunity to “buy” any character for free. As the matches only take about 10 to 15 minuets a piece, it is totally reasonable to be able to do this start to finish in a couple hours gaming session.
Every two or three wins of the “first 10” mission gives a few bonus rewards as well. At the end of each match, when the exp and credits are being handed, out you have an opportunity to double your rewards. I ended up with a total of 13 doubling tokens by the end of my 10. I held off on using them on the assumption that these tokens will be far more valuable used in proper player matches. To sweeten the pot, I rolled a daily mission to play three bot matches, tying in perfectly with my early-game plans and promising plenty of rewards along the way.
My First 10
Here I must make a confession. Despite my assurance that you can actually do all ten missions and the tutorial in a day, I didn’t. It took me two days. Yes I will turn in my gamer ID card for not actually being able to string two full hours together of play time. I am ashamed.
That being said, I did get the opportunity to see a second daily quest, and it was brutal. I was offered to play ranked play, overload play, or to play 5 bot matches as the free rotation support character Su-Ren. So obviously, I took the bot matches and the healer. Up to this point I had a 8-0 record with Lockwood, so I figured changing things up would be a good idea.
It was a disaster. Within moments it becomes clear to me that the support class is really the heart and soul of the teams, and without a competent support, you will feel the pain. I am ashamed to say that I let my bot buddies down time and again. It wasn’t pretty. So to those who are drawn to healing jobs in video games and want it to be both important and difficult, well, your masochism will be well rewarded here.
My first experience with Atlas Reactor’s game play was quite enjoyable and I do recommend it on a number of counts.
- The gameplay is quick and intuitive.
- The turn-based nature of the game makes slower connections and computers less of a factor than it would be in a traditional MOBA.
- The characters are warm and amusing, and are without any pretense at being part of some deeper contrived plot.
- And most important for me, the time commitment per match is always fixed at a fairly low count.
If you’ve been holding off on playing Atlas Reactor, now’s a perfect time to dive in. The game is fun, now free-to-play, and only eats up as much time as you allow.