Preview: Bloodsports.TV

 

I approached Bloodsports.TV from a place of extreme cynicysm; there were, after all, only two people in the world who understood, appreciated and even loved Fatshark’s off beat, apocalyptic and charming Krater. Released too close to Diablo III for critics tiny minds to comprehend the game drew unfavourable comparisons to Blizzard’s epic series while sharing very little but an isometric perspective. The real comparison, and one I tried to hammer home to the enormity of a couple of hundred Twitter followers, was to DOTA and other games in the MOBA genre.


The game did, after all, feature only 4 skills per character (in addition to usable items) and a fast paced, tactical combat that was a far cry from the click happy, hand cramping nonsense of the Diablo series. Unfortunately those cries fell on deaf ears and Krater slunk by the wayside, falling into obscurity.

Fast forward to now. Bloodsports.TV has been announced and is now playable for a handful of people who have been invited to take part in the test. As the aforementioned two Krater sympathisers Alex and I were among the first invited (we weren’t, but we should have been.) He was the first to take the plunge; “I’m no MOBA expert, but it feels like it as cribbed the right itemisation. Combat is fierce and tactical and I love the Regulator class.” That was all very good, but knowing Alex isn’t the biggest fan of competitive MOBAs I needed to dig a little deeper. It turns out that Bloodsports.TV is a purely PvE MOBA in the more traditional laneway fasion. This isn’t DOTA 2, nor is it League of Legends or some other MOBA I’ve never played, this is a MOBA masquerading behind a Horde Mode.

And you know what, that’s ok. Bloodsports.TV won’t, by extension of that decision, ever really capture some of the human drama that is prevalent in high level MOBA play, but this isn’t trying to be DOTA 2 like so many competitors. No, this is a game for people who enjoy MOBAs, or at least enjoy that style of character management and the combat those games offer, but enjoy playing at their own pace. You can host your own games and play on your own until others join or, Hell, play on your own forever. There’s no element of competition outside of the global leaderboards (Top 70, if you’re asking - and that’s only because I had to stop to write this!) and no pressure. You’re able to leave games whenever you like, and people can join to take your place and are automatically levelled and given money to accommodate their late start

Having played a few hours of Bloodsports.TV it’s only fair that I voice my main apprehension; one that I had before I sat down to play. The reason that DOTA 2 is as popular as it is, that’s disingenuous of me, one of the reasons the game is so popular is because of the meta game. That constant backwards and forward between teams, players, heroes and Valve themselves keep that top end of the game fresh; seeing characters drop out of favour, while other, unexpected, ones rise to the top. Bloodsports.TV feels like it might lack that drama of a shifting meta; I routinely found myself in higher level endless games thinking “Ok, now what?”

It has to be stressed that this is early; there’s only a handful of people in the servers smashing things and protecting missile silos while listening to a lunatic Swedish commentator. But the biggest compliment I can pay to Bloodsports.TV and Toadman is that this feels like Krater. More importantly it feels like a Krater game that I want to play and while my cynicism remains (as does my desire for a genuine Krater sequel) I’m happy to give the game, and the studio, the benefit of the doubt.