Previews// PAX Round-Up: Call of Champions and Capsule Force

Posted 11 Sep 2015 16:45 by
Chris O'Regan, host of The Sausage Factory podcast (which takes a deep dive into the development process with games studios, you should listen to it), has travelled to the future to sample the games that will be interfering with your older brain. When we say the future, we mean PAX Prime. When we say 'interfering with your older brain', that is exactly what we mean. Read on for what he found...

Call of Champions
Developer: Spacetime Studios
Format(s): iOS and Android

Videogame genres generally have very strict rules and once someone tries to break them, bad things happen. Some would argue that this is the case with Call of Champions when looked at objectively, as it is a MOBA that has been brought onto mobile platforms i.e. phones and tablets. Thankfully the axiom I have described above does not apply to Call of Champions as it is very far removed from anything that could be described as 'bad'.

Away from the bustling halls of PAX Prime 2015 I found myself playing Call of Champions in a hotel storage room, all the while marvelling at the ingenuity of it. While Call of Champions is at its heart a MOBA, it does away with many of the trappings of that genre in order to respect the fact that mobile games are typically played for 5-10 minutes at a time.

With a typical play time of 45 minutes for a match in traditional MOBAs, developer Spacetime Studios had to come up with a way of encapsulating the essence of a MOBA while shortening the play time. No mean feat I grant you, but they managed to do it via the use of a sphere. Or two, to be precise.

The play area of Call of Champions is split into two lanes (yes that's right, two lanes). These lanes have a dark sphere affixed to them, known as the Orbs of Death. I know, I know, you'd much prefer if they were the 'Orbs of Sunshine and Happiness' but in respect to tradition Spacetime Studios went with the 'of Death' motif.

Considering what these spheres do, I can't say I blame them. For, these spheres are used by the players to damage the towers of the opposing team. They do this by pushing it along by sheer weight of numbers. The more players there are on one side pushing a sphere, the faster it goes in their direction of choice. The Orbs of Death effectively replace the 'creep' units found in all other MOBA games as they act as direct damage to towers and the teams' home base itself as well as being impervious to any damage.

The play area of Call of Champions is also terribly small when compared to traditional MOBA titles. This is symptomatic of the 5-10 minute match duration that Spacetime Studios have aimed for, but that hasn't eliminated the much-vaunted MOBA tactic of 'ambushing from the jungle'.

For there is a reasonably well sized area between the two lanes that at its centre holds a shared power-up installation that allows players to share an enhancement they have picked up with the rest of the team. This same area can be used to flank one of the lanes from a direction players aren't expecting thanks to their focus on moving the Orb of Death towards the opposing team's base.

The other unique aspects of Call of Champions is that there are only three people per team, not five, and the characters do not level as you play. Instead, all of their abilities are available from the off, which is again to do with the short play session of Call of Champions.

Imagine, if you will, trying to level your character up every 30 seconds - not fun. Oh, and Spacetime Studios has also done away with the upgrade store, the bane of every MOBA - again, due primarily to the limited match duration.

The one aspect that Call of Champions does respect when it comes to MOBAs is the variety of characters on offer and their archetypes. These range from melee to ranged to support, and everything in between. This is far too core a component to mess with when dealing with a MOBA and I would be surprised if Spacetime Studios attempted to meddle with it as much as everything else they have altered.

From the time I spent with Call of Champions I found it to be a thoroughly engaging and entertaining game that somehow manages to squeeze a very complex and typically long game form into a manageable bite sized experience that suits the platform to a 'T'.

Call of Champions is currently in closed Beta and will appear on iOS and Android devices in 2016. It will be a free-to-play game once it arrives that will follow the highly successful League of Legends model of funding.

Capsule Force
Developer: Klobit Games
Format(s): Windows PC and PS4

BaraBariBall is an excellent if somewhat confusing game. It requires players to hit a ball that eventually falls into their opponents side, giving them a point. It's simple yet incredibly difficult to master thanks to the layer upon layer of gameplay it boasts. Klobit Games is hoping to capitalise on this concept of deep adversarial play with an object that players are fighting over in the form of Capsule Force.

I discovered Capsule Force by accident at PAX Prime 2015 while I was walking towards one of the expo halls in the Washington State Convention Center (WSCC). It was placed at a bottleneck that leads to the halls on the 4th floor and while I was quite focused on where I was going, I couldn't help but be distracted by Capsule Force as I walked by. The visuals it boasts are all very cartoon/manga-like and with it being a relatively simple game I could garner what was going on relatively easily within a few moments of watching it.

Capsule Force has a field of play that consists of two sliding platforms that only move if a player is on one of them. The direction of this platform's movement depends on which side the player is on. As the platform moves it places the placer closer to a capsule, which once picked up awards a player a point. It's incredibly frenetic stuff and an absolute blast to play from the short time I had with it. The styling is from the 1980s, with the game set in the 'far future' of 1999. This adds some reverse nostalgia to Capsule Force and also gives it license to be utterly bonkers.

Capsule Force supports up to four players with 2v2 team play being available. I only experienced the one on one play, which was incredibly fun as it demonstrated the speed at which Capsule Force is played. The play area is a left to right 2D plane and players can jump and shoot at their opponents to prevent them from gaining access to the moving platforms and capsules. I left the booth with a very broad smile on my face, which says a lot about Capsule Force.

Capsule Force is available now on PS4 and Windows PC.

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