Guardians of Middle-Earth chat with the devs
[Continued] Page 2
Another goal that the team at Monolith had was to make the game action-packed and quicker than PC MOBAs. They wanted to get players in and out of the game — not have 45 to 60 minute matches; to have more of a stronger, faster experience where you dive into a game, beat em up, dive into another game and try new things. Here's where they explored the in-match levels. The normal 18-20 levels wasn't working for them, so they decided on 14 match levels for your guardian. This allowed them to have you start with three of your four abilities right out of the gate.
The in-game match experience also goes faster and feels better when you put all the meta game strategies before the match. Guardians utilize Rune belts which are set before the game (I'll discuss these more with my hands-on time with the game I had). Pre-game, you'll be thinking more about your load-out, what will you stack on him, how will your choice of relics and potions affect your guardian in match. You may be thinking, “How will I then react to the other team?” Well, when you're matchmaking, you'll have a window of time where you'll see the other guardians that you're facing. So if you see you're going to go up against a Gandalf, you'll figure that he'll bring more ability power or cooldown effects. You'll make assumptions as to how they're going to augment their guardian. It also makes for really quick matches because the death time is scaled back from your typical PC MOBA. Yes, it ramps up as the game goes on, but in-game you're not worried about the store and buying items because you already set up your guardian before the game. You die, you come back faster, and you're right back in the thick of things.
As with normal MOBAs, there are creature buffs — specifically, there are four shrines that augment the survivability of your guardian. It becomes an interesting match strategy trying to hold those shrines. There is also an RTS-style upgrading system for towers and lanes. For example, you can upgrade one lane's soldiers to be a mounted unit, or spawn a big entity (he said ent at first, so maybe Treebeard will be one of those spawned entities?) that will smash down structures late game. These are more of the late-game/meta game strategies — what will you upgrade to help your team? You can also create healing towers, make towers shoot faster or split their projectiles, and adapt them to what you need.
For new players, there's a series of tutorials that will cover a large range of strategies and team objectives that you'll encounter on the battlefield, as well as what you should and shouldn't do. It'll even be helpful to MOBA veterans to see the difference between Guardians of Middle Earth and PC MOBAs.
At this point, we were able to ask questions to Scott and Ruth. I was curious as to how matchmaking will work and if there will be rankings or not. Ruth said that matchmaking is working through the first-party matchmaking system — in this example, Xbox Live matchmaking — and while they aren't going to have ranked matches, each player will have a behind-the-scenes ELO rating that will affect matchmaking. In addition, players will be able to see detailed stats about players, including wins and losses.
Other things brought up were the abilities to play against bots. There's a quality assurance team that balances guardians and works on the quality of the bot guardians. In Skirmish mode, a team of friends can play against a team of bots, and the bots can have different levels of difficulty. The hardest level of bots have excellent timing and are very unforgiving. Custom games are also available, where you can set up two players versus five bots, or whatever you want.