So I know Alex will be penning his thoughts about Bloodsports.TV when his situation allows but I’ll cut to the chase on how our views will differ; I’ve have 2000 hours of DOTA 2 under my six slotted belt, Alex has none. That alone should let you know what kind of angle we’ll each be approaching our reviews from.
The question I asked myself throughout was; will Bloodsports.TV appeal to DOTA 2 players? Or the MOBA community at large. The answer is somewhat mixed.
It’s easy to be envious of me; after all I am in the top 20 in the world on Bloodsports.TV (as of writing anyway) so my opinion may as well be gospel. That is if you’re looking to hear from someone who plays exclusively as Medikus. Exclusively as Lisbeth.
I’ll get the boring bits out of the way first; Bloodsports.TV is billed as a co-operative MOBA that pits teams of up to five would be champions against potentially endless waves of increasingly difficult lunatics from deranged post apocalyptic Swedish villages. The word you’ll have immediately picked up on from the brief introduction is “co-op.” The decision to eliminate competition from a MOBA is an enormous risk and the result is two fold; the competitive element, testing your skills and wits against other players, allows for replayability and endless possibilities in game situations, on the other hand that competition breeds toxicity and eSports’ problems with that are well documented. Removing it could take away that hostility but potentially removes the thrill of player engagement.
Making that call was an extremely brave one and if you’re coming to Bloodsports.TV from that competitive scene, like I was, you’ll be wondering what the game can offer you.
The first thing to notice is that the playable characters in the game are very clearly defined into roles; Tank, DPS, Crowd Control and Healer. While DOTA 2 and other MOBAs have more fluidity in their roles, Bloodsports recognises the appeal of the fixed responsibilities of an MMO and rewards players for excelling in them. The downside of this is, as with MMOs, that healer and tank populations are sparse.
That’s less of an issue here though, because you’re not locked into games for an hour or more. Games can be left without penalty, can be joined mid way through and if the game you’re joining doesn’t have a healer then you can elect to be one. The game’s difficulty settings are set before kick off and vary from very easy all the way up to impossible, but during this set up phase you can also determine the game’s length, ranging from a handful of easy waves up to impossibly difficult and endless. This is where Bloodsports.TV will fall down for many, and almost did for me.
When I wrote my initial impressions I was worried about Bloodsports.TV’s lasting appeal. The dynamism of human drama is gone so what is the reason to keep playing? Once you hit max level you don’t gain more skills, once you’re six slotted (having the 6 best items you can) you can only buy implants which improve specific stats. On paper it sounds boring and for many hardcore MOBA fans they’ll see it as such, but trust me when I say give it a chance.
It was in such a game that I finally understood that high level Bloodsports.TV play. We were five soldiers, facing our 20th wave of impossibly difficult enemies. Our regulators were stunning everything, spurred on by the attack speed boost from the Medikus, while the tanks were doing their best to soak up as much as they could. One mistake later and it was all over. Five people dead. The missile destroyed. The Swedes victorious. It was here that I realised; for the competitive MOBA player in me Bloodsports.TV is at its worst when it’s easy, but that difficulty will be enough for many. Bloodsports.TV is at its very best when you’re on the edge of losing in an instant. Where every heal is crucial, every point of damage is essential and you’re only one click away from disaster.
There are some things I take issue with of course, and some more important than others. The game’s in built achievement system called the Path of Glory is tied to unlocking various bonuses to the playable characters. Reviving 25 people as a Medikus, for example, yields benefits to you whenever you pick the class again going forward. That permanence is good and adds weight to every match, but it’s not visible in game or in the pre game lobby making leaving a match post-game the only option to check up on it. The game has launched with a handful of maps but the variety isn’t quite there, especially given the rich and diverse landscapes of Krater. The game also features four classes, each with two characters with different abilities, but I hope that more are implemented to provide even more diversity to proceedings.
So I go back to my original questions; what can Bloodsports.TV offer the MOBA player, and was removing the element of human competition a wise choice? After the hours, the endless waves, the thoughts, the writes and the re-writes I don’t have an answer to the latter. Watching “The Play” from the DOTA 2 International Finals a couple of years ago live was a breathtaking experience. The drama, the strategy, the passion and the sheer imagination involved is something that only competition can breed. But maybe Bloodsports.TV doesn’t want to be an eSport. Maybe Bloodsports.TV doesn’t want to be a MOBA.
With that in mind what can it offer to those of you with experience of DOTA 2 or League of Legends? Well Bloodsports.TV is a unique game; one that captures the mechanics of the genre expertly. The movement is sharp, responding to player input is instant and the action can shift from sedate to frantic in an instant. In that regard the player feedback is almost identical to the ground level mechanics in the MOBAs you would be used to. Beyond that, to the meta game, is where the differences lie, but it would be a huge disservice to both Bloodsports.TV and the development team to make a judgement call about that a few short days after the game’s release. We might see a shifting meta; with changes to the characters, new ones entering the fray and changes to level layouts and items. If Bloodsports.TV can attract a healthy community then it has every chance of success on that front.
Much like Krater launching alongside, and drawing unfavourable comparisons with, Diablo 3, Bloodsports.TV will be compared endlessly to DOTA 2 and other MOBA heavyweights. That’s fine on a mechanical level, and fine as an entry for players who have MOBAs as a touchstone, but it does a disservice to what Bloodsports.TV does well. Bloodsports.TV will need word of mouth from experienced players to sell it and save it from lazy comparisons.
It’s good. It’s fun and it’s a welcome return to a universe that could well have slipped into obscurity. Given that Bloodsports.TV is the price of a sandwich and a coffee it’s an easy sell, give it a chance and it could well develop all the intricacies that I was hoping for as well.