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In these days of Trump, people seem more interested in being right themselves instead of asking others “why?” They jump up and down declaiming how “this goes against everything I know, this can’t possibly be right or good – it’s too different.” This resistance to inquiry sometimes goes into “How dare you compare my beloved game to a genre I can’t stand.” So, I’ll start this out by saying this – from what you know, you’re 100% right that it’s not a MOBA. But, you’ve not asked me why I call it a space MOBA. What relations do I see between elements of MOBA gameplay and Star Conflict? I’ll get to that, but I’ll start with a few differences between third person shooters and Star Conflict.
Third person shooters don’t require much about character build. You don’t have to think about how you can supplement your resistances to different types of damage, you don’t have to think about the ratio for survival that occurs between damage reduction and damage pool. Everybody gets x amount of hit points, life, health, whatever, and that’s that. Unless the third person shooters pulls in gameplay elements from other genres.
With third person shooters, your character wasn’t designed for a specific role on a team. You get no benefit from sticking together except cover fire from team mates, or another takes out someone targeting you. You just grab your gun and go. This is great for people who want to relieve stress from a long day at work, and who might not enjoy what they consider tediousness of other gameplay genres. And, yes, some third person shooter games have team roles, but they’re not complex, and don’t require planning out a build for that role. If this is the case, that a third person shooter has roles, this mechanic comes from team battle arena games. Remember the rule of exception? Team battle arenas took it from RPG games. But my point isn’t to talk endlessly about my knowledge regarding the origin of different game mechanics. Roles on a team did not originate as a third person shooter mechanic.
In third person shooter games, you might play on a team, but the teamplay doesn’t go beyond positioning tactics in the gameplay. You might hide around corners, behind cover, you might see someone about to take down your team mate, but instead you take that player out, you might communicate to your team to call out location of an enemy player, but you don’t have a tank (destroyer), a healer (engineer), characters that can slow or stun enemy characters(tackler and ecm), characters that disable enemy character’s abilities (ecm), etc. This gets into teamplay mechanics that general third person shooter fans consider too complex. Unless, of course, the person enjoys mobas and rpgs. And yes, there are people who can’t stand RPGs and MOBAs – who only play shooters. I call these people core shooter gamers. I could talk about how third person shooters don’t give players gold to use later, or experience points, but enough about third person shooters. Lets talk about the differences between Star Conflict and MOBA.
In MOBA games, you have creeps. For those who don’t know, creeps are NPCs that walk or run in a line towards each other to go have a mini battle between themselves. They don’t have tactics, they just beat on each other until they die. If your strike kills the creep, you get gold – except in Heroes of the Storm. Always an exception. Star Conflict doesn’t have creeps. All the ships you fight against in the different game modes have an AI, albeit a simple one.
In MOBA games, your character starts at level 1 every match. Each level you gain grants you an increase in stats, and sometimes gives you the option to level character abilities. Leveling is usually rather limited, and greatly effects team power during the match. Star conflict has a limited permanent ship leveling system. For the exception, I played a MOBA game years ago that had a permanent character leveling system, but unfortunately I don’t recall the name.
MOBA games have a base to defend. The primary goal of MOBA gameplay is to destroy the enemy’s base, and one doesn’t have to be on the team with the most kills, or personally have the most kills to win. Personal kill score (PKS) is a mentality that third or first person shooter gamers carry into team games that can actually cause the team to lose. Players who focus on their own kill score ignore the necessity of team power. In Star Conflict, you don’t have to defend your base against the enemy player team.
MOBA games have a top down camera view. But, some newers MOBA games incorporate a third person view, such as Smite. It’s arguable that camera view defines a game genre. I consider third person and first person shooters to be sub categories of shooter games. For me, the defining elements fall with gameplay, and not camera view. I think you get the idea, so now I’m going to get into similar elements Star Conflict has with both shooter games and MOBA games.
Star Conflict basic gameplay includes shooting at and destroying other players’ characters. In some modes, this is primary focus, while in others it’s secondary. This is similar to games like Quake, CS:GO, call of duty, etc. The same similarity exists in MOBA games (shooting enemy players), except that in MOBA games basic attacks aren’t skill shots, they’re selected shots. The basic attack in star conflict requires skill to hit the target like shooter games, unless you’re using one of the auto aim weapons or gravity weapons, which require much less skill.
So, why did I say “Star Conflict is a space MOBA” ? If you’ve read my previous articles about space games I’ve been exploring while waiting for Star Citizen, you’d know that I defined space MOBA to cover these arena battle space games. Sure, they don’t have all the elements that the standard MOBA does, but these games have many similar elements. I’ll talk more specifically about why I classified Star Conflict as space MOBA now.
Star Conflict focuses on using roles in team play to win, similar to MOBA games. In Star Conflict, we have the support classes, the tanks, the fighters, the crowd controllers, and disruptors just like in MOBA games. Playing complementary roles using team play tactics has a much better chance of giving you a win in game instead of rushing off to find the closest enemy alone. A fighter class tackler ship with an interceptor class ECM going after a tai’kin have a much higher chance to take down that pesky tai’kin Than a gunship running with a covert ops.
Star Conflict has a similar item system to MOBA games. In MOBA games, you can customize your character’s items according to what you’re facing. Star Conflict allows you to customize, but requires you to do so outside of the match, but gives you options in battle by allowing you to select from a set of different ship roles and customizations to fit the match instead of doing this in the match itself. RPG games have a much broader range of items your character can equip. And, typically RPG items don’t level up.
Star Conflict has a separate character level and player level. Ships have their individual synergy level, and players have their rank. Like League of Legends, as the player levels up, he gains access to more powerful mods to boost his ship with. This is similar to leveling up in League of Legends because summoner level gives you access to more powerful runes and masteries.
So, after all this, there will be some who will say, “it’s still not a MOBA.” And that’s all they’ll get from what I’ve written. They want to be right, and that’s that. Others will instead see my point, that Star Conflict has elements from MOBA games, and to attract more people to play, needs to be re-branded with emphasis on the team play mechanics, and so that the developers can create a better match making system from having a solid statement of game play. Otherwise, no true meta game can ever manifest. But, that’s another topic for another time.
If you want to read the comments on the official forum that inspired this response, click here.
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