Dota style games are renowned for their difficulty to get into, in an old piece I wrote I mentioned that in many cases going it alone in a MOBA is not a smart move as the domain of public matchmaking is a treacherous place to say the least. Thankfully if you are not willing to put the hours in to getting good at Dota or LoL there are games further down the lane pushing game list that are much easier and welcoming to newer more casual players and thanks to the latest Humble Bundle, I have finally gotten into a Dota style game that a) I’m not terrible at b) doesn’t have people yelling at me for the smallest mistake. c) Doesn’t require a pre-built team that are on the same page as me to succeed.
Awesomenauts then, is a Dota style game that lacks the stresses of the major players in the moba scene. Opting for a 2-D side scrolling style Awesomenauts is not really what most people would expect from this genre. For a start the game as previously said is a 2-D side scrolller with platformer elements thrown in for good measure, meaning that the overall movement of a character is considerably different, with more of an emphasis on vertical gameplay as opposed to the click fest of movement in a standard Moba. Other points of note are that the game has a map pool of more than 1 map. Variants come with map specific features to add even more freshness to the arguably stale 1 map rotation we have come to expect. Admittedly the maps in the game only consist of 2 pushable lanes which are compensated for, by teams only being composed of 3 champions and overall merged roles in the team, reducing the complexity of the game somewhat.
And this is where the game may turn some people off. The simplification doesn’t stop at team and map size. Awesomenauts lack of an item build system may be a blessing for some, but for those who already have a grasp of the genre may not find the substance they are used to. The lack of an item system reduces the importance of last hits and champion kills, instead the currency you do earn goes towards upgrading your abilities and passives like the standard levelling systems would in other games, add to this a passive currency build up and you feel the game aims more for the actual action of gameplay then the strategy behind it. With item builds being left on the bench, it is down to the actual champions of the game to offer a variance in what can be done and like any Dota game, Awesomenauts’ character selection is impressive and diverse, with each character bringing something new to the table along with their own lore.
The thing I felt most appealing is the lack of team pressure. Again Dota and league are notorious for their high skill level and, I’m going to say, quirky community. In Awesomenauts you don’t feel like your team is scrutinizing your performance, willing to shout at you for the smallest mistake. I find Moba players are more fickle compared to the FPS gamer when it comes to anger issues. The fact that this genre revolves heavily around objective play does lead to frustration and it takes something special to remove or at least reduce it. It may be the general simplicity of the Meta game that dilutes it to less noticeable levels in Awesomenauts, with less to go wrong there is less to worry about and as I have said before Awesomenauts seems to focus on the action of the matches above all else.
Overall it is a game that is easy to pick up, but difficult to master. Like any Dota game it will always be better if you bring a team with you and you understand the Meta to the point where you can account for everything. But it is the hop on point that makes this a Dota style game worth picking up if you are interested in the genre. You don’t have to research your character builds before a game, you don’t have to try and hard counter your opponents and most of all you are not pressured in game and can just enjoy yourself as all games should let you.