Dropzone – First Impressions

Dropzone is an Early Access, Free to Play, sci-fi MOBA. No wait, don’t leave it is not a DOTA-like. Its one of the most different MOBA’s I have played, in a good way. It has a level of meaningful player customization that I have not seen in any other game. This could definitely become something special if it can get its name out there.

The basic game can be played 3v3 or 1v1. It sets 3 heroes (called rigs) against another 3. Feature
The goal is to defeat various NPC camps around the map (called hives) which will drop orbs. Return the orbs to the center of the map to score a point. After 15 minutes which ever team has the most points wins. You can earn bonus points by doing certain objectives during the game (such as first blood, first to clear 5 hives etc), as well as get buffs by defeating bosses, and map vision by claiming vision towers. In the 3v3 mode you control one rig and the 1v1 you control all three rigs at the same time, RTS-style.

What makes this game interesting is the rigs themselves and how leveling in game works. There are 4 types of rigs (tank, gunner, mechanic, summoner) and each have three abilities, an ultimate ability, and three passives. The thing is, all of those abilities can be changed for different abilities. And I don’t mean small changes like less damage for more slow, I mean like switching out AOE’s for nukes or for a quick dash. You literally can build your rig to fit your playstyle rather than having to pick a pre-built hero/champion. It feels really good to be able to literally design your hero.

Unit Customization

When you level up in this game you do not get ability points though. Abilities unlock at certain levels rather than needing you to use ability points. Stronger abilities (including passives) unlock at higher levels. So yes you could design a rig that has no abilities until they hit late game. All rigs share XP and in the 3v3 mode all 3 of your team rigs will level up at the same time. In the 1v1 mode though, getting enough experience will grant you the ability to level up one and only one of your rigs at a time. So you have to decide which rigs will get to their stronger abilities and which will not. To be clear on this, your ultimate unlocks at level 5 and you will never get more than 1 rig to that level in 1v1. I have played several games where I did not even unlock even one of my ultimates.

The only real issue I have with the game is that since all matches are a fixed time limit, there is a point where one team cannot win at all. Since to score you are dependent on how fast you can clear a camp, the camp’s respawn rate, and the time it takes to bring the orb to the center, you can be in a position where with perfect play and an afk opponent you simply do not have enough time to get enough points to win. This does not feel good at all when there is no surrender button. Right now, once a team reaches the point of no victory they kind of goof around until the match ends. This is a super easy fix, just implement a surrender button when there is like 2-3 minutes remaining.

Now this is free to play but I have not played around with the shop enough to discuss pricing to be honest. Mainly because they have given me so many free boxes just by playing the game I have not yet felt the desire to make purchases. One box will contain a random ability for a rig. As of right now the only game relevant things you can buy are boxes and pilots (which determine your rig class, base stats and ultimate). Since they give you so much free currency and boxes at the start I have plenty of customization options.

You should check out this game if you are a fan of MOBA’s or RTS’s. If you like hero brawlers like Heroes of the Storm stick to the 3v3 mode. If RTS games were more of your thing, you will enjoy the 1v1 mode a lot more. Once the game leaves Early Access, expect to find my full review.

All images appearing in this post are taken from the official Steam storepage.

 

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