Second Opinion Preview: Bloodsports.TV

As the other half of the Krater fanclub, I was intrigued by the news of a MOBA spin-off. Let it be known, I have no love for the strategy subset, as Sisyphean a task as it is to maintain. After all, it was the shot in the arm strategy games needed, propagating a Pro League fervor beyond the Korean peninsula and turning humble mod roots into million-dollar events. 

Along lollops Bloodsports.TV...

While my esteemed colleague and seasoned MOBA veteran Max wanted more from everything but the game, I've not been privy nor particularly enticed by the strata and drama of the genre. Who these players are, I do not know. Who the teams are, I have no clue. All I know is, the PvP requirement for MOBAs is a currency paid exclusively in time and frequency. An order too tall for a fellow withered by familial duties and a timezone that keeps me well and truly out of step with the people I'd want to game with.

Thankfully, that's what makes Bloodsports.TV my kind of hero management. Billet your brand of wonky, mutant guardsmen with me, Toadman Interactive and Fatshark. My arms are open.

A quiet afternoon at the missile range.

I find there to be few things more cathartic that stomping or being stomped by NPCs, and given the post-apocalyptic styling of the Krater world -- one of gaming's absolute hidden aesthetic gems, I'll have you know -- there's oodles of irradiated wastelanders and mutants to insert into a horde-based MOBA. Krater was ostensibly an overland MOBA, and as Max did say, this is very much Krater. In fact, the combat showcased in Krater has been made even snappier, more punchy, in Bloodsports.TV. The concentration on combat, given the tenets of brawling in an alley or bowl, has let the developers effect serious heft with every slice, dice and rifle crack. My Regulator pops outlaw creeps with just the right level of viscera, heaving detonator decoys at mobs and splattering the survivors with a wash of delightfully animated acid rain. 

And I dig the itemisation here. One element I didn't enjoy terribly much in Krater was the vertical climb crafting required. So many dungeon runs, so much trash. It felt very post-apocalyptic, but the parts that blueprints required for upgrades, items and weapons felt far too granular to be add anything particularly positive or motivating to the hunt. In Bloodsports.TV, the obviousness of immediacy is blunt, but there's still tiered items and upgrades that make me think the next Krater-proper should crib what's on offer here. Oddities abound, and exist quite comfortably as distinct and discrete gear. Sure, everything falls into the usual cavalcade of stat or proficiency increases, but unlike most MOBA games, there's a humour to it all. It's the presentation; a junky, cobbled and jury-rigged aesthetic that makes me appreciate things here far more than some tired Tolkien hand-me-down. Give me a concrete-block-on-a-stick or broken Nokia analogue over Split Gem of the SunSeers. Preference goes to kitschy pre-Bomb rollerskates over Mirkmire Fleetfoot Potion. 

Specifically, the lack of meta -- that crux for many -- means little to me. It could all change over time, depending on what the developers slip down the conduit, but a leaderboard and class-specific progression trees are all I need. Longevity and legs, I've come to appreciate, endure lifestyle dilation. A traditional MOBA, not matter how well geared to the casual pundit, is never going to sync productively with the schedule. I don't find myself gravitating towards eSports as a way to fill the vacuum, either. Here? I can host or drop into a match, hack and pop the horde, and not play again for a week. Incidentally, Helldivers on PSN is allowing for the very same laissez-faire multiplayer enjoyment. Doing one's part, getting one's fix, logging out and not feeling like sides are being let down or the playerbase is how I want my multiplayer to be served these days. 

Bloodsports.TV popped up on Steam as a preorder, with the sub-tenner price-tag netting a second copy free if snagged before March 30. It's a fine proposition, and hopefully more people take note of the IP this time around. Perhaps a wise move to have left the Krater name out of the title, but it is no secret that Max and I hope this sets the wheels in motion to see more mainline Swedish aRPG action in Pledge of the Patriarch. It's a cohesive world and a cohesive vision and I cannot abide myopic tastes of the herd dictating brand atrophy. 

At the moment, though, this will do very nicely.