XBlaster is casual browser game by BigPoint where PvP takes a leading role. Gameplay in XBlaster is similar to Gladius 2 but is set in a sci-fi arena with giant mechs rather than in the Colosseum of ancient Rome. New players chose between three mechs and are given some basic equipment including a chainsaw, a gun, and a grenade launcher. These weapons along with the mech’s armor can be upgraded using skill points which serve as the game’s major currency. Skill points are acquired either by completing missions or by spending time in the arena. The arena is a multi-room free for all zone where players are free to attack on another. Within the rooms of the arena are scattered crates which contain additional skill points, credits (the premium currency), jackpot points, and temporary buffs. With the skill points players gather, they may purchase new weapons and equipment including shields, flamethrowers, mines, and the powerful plasma gun. The three mech types in XBlaster are:
The Ranger - An agile mech well suited for close range combat. The Ranger’s special power is the Nitro package which provides a temporary speed boost. The Ranger is equiped with an Ion Cannon that deals +30% damage against Hunter mechs.
The Defender - A mech that specializes in long ranged combat. The Defender’s special power is the Shield which renders the Defender invulnerable temporarily. The Defender is equipped with Impulse weapons which deal +30% damage to Ranger mechs.
The Hunter - The mech with the highest damage potential. The Hunter’s special power is the Seeking Missile which deals percentage based damage to opponents. The hunter is equipped with a Plasma Gun which deals +30% damage the Defender mechs.
XBlaster Featured Video
By, Erhan Altay
XBlaster was released on October 16, 2006 by the massive browser game portal BigPoint. BigPoint the same German site behind other widely popular browser MMOs including Dark Orbit, Seafight, and Gladius 2 which has the most in common with XBlaster. The only real difference between XBlaster and Gladius 2 is in the realm of cosmetics. One is set in ancient Rome while the other is set in an unspecified futuristic setting in which people pilot giant mech-walkers and blow each other up in a huge, multi-room arena. As with other BP titles, the game places a strong emphasis on player interaction through open PvP.
Rocks, Papers, Scissors
Players can create an account right on the XBlaster homepage but that registration would only be valid for this particular game. Because of this, I highly recommend players to take a moment and register on the BigPoint official site since that creates an account with universal access to all browser games available on the portal. New players have four servers to chose from, each named after a planet; Mars, Earth, Neptune, and Venus. All of these are identical except the Venus server which is scheduled to close soon. In the mean time, however, Venus has boosted drop rates for both skill points & credits which are the game’s two currencies. Upon server selection, players will be prompted to pick their initial mech out of a possible three choices. The Ranger, Defender, and Hunter mechs all control the same and have access to the same range of weapons and equipment but do differ on two points. Firstly, each is equipped with a special ability. The Range has a speed boost ability, the Defender can render itself temporarily invulnerable and the Hunter has powerful missiles that deal percentage based damage. Each mech also receives a 30% damage bonus against one of the other two creating a sort of rocks, papers, scissors system. Rangers trump Hunters, Hunters trump Defenders, and Defenders trump Rangers. Don’t worry too much about your initial mech selection since all three types are available for purchase in-game for 40,000 skill points.
After mech selection, players must complete a single mission which involves destroying a crate. After this, players are taken to their hanger which serves as an overview page. It is here that players can upgrade their starting gear which includes a chainsaw, a gun, and a grenade launcher. Weapons and armor can be upgraded multiple times but each step requires an ever increasing amount of skill points. BY scrolling down on the hanger page, players can see additional pieces of equipment and weapons available for purchase. These include a shield, mines, flamethrower, Gatling gun, shockwave, missiles, and a plasma gun. This adds up to a total of 7 additional pieces of gear which vary in price from a few thousand sp all the way up to 100,000 sp for the plasma gun. It is recommended that new players hit the ‘arena’ tab towards the top center of the screen and visit the missions page. Here, players can take on simple missions which serve as a tutorial. The first few teach players how to fight, use their weapons than pit them against a powerful AI controlled mech. After this, the next few missions serve to familiarize player with the most important part of XBlaster, the arena.
Test Your Might
The arena is a series of rooms connected to one another via teleporters of which 3-4 can be found in each room. I haven’t figured out a pattern to the arena, it seems as though the same teleporter will take you somewhere different every time. Wandering around destroying crates in search of skill points and credits in this unending maze reminded me of that Sci-Fi movie ”Cube” except the real enemies here weren’t booby traps, they were other players. XBlaster is 100% open PvP right from the start. Many missions even require you to head into the arena and simply destroy other player controlled mechs. Luckily, the game only pits you against mechs that are around your own strength. There are 5 arena tiers ranging from ‘League 5′ for recently created mechs all the way up to ‘League 1′ which is only available to the top 200 highest ranked players on the server. Besides the public arena, players can challenge one another to duels which take place in private rooms
Rats in a Maze
The controls in XBlaster are very simple, the arrow keys control movement, ‘ctrl’ fires, space activities your mech’s special ability and the number keys (1-9) switch between weapons. Movement is a bit odd since mechs can only move in the direction they are facing. This means pilots will have to hit the left and right arrow keys while holding forward to rotate their mechs. It’s not easy to explain this but it is something that players will notice the moment they start playing. The repetitive nature of the time you spend in the arena is also a major concern. You can fire at every player you run across but odds are they’ll manage to inflict some damage back at you before fleeing to the nearest teleporter. Chasing down a player who doesn’t want to fight is simply not worth it since more progress can be made simply bashing crates. In fact, it is safe to say that most of your time in XBlaster will be spent destroying crates. It is only through repeated crate bashing for hours that you’ll earn enough to buy and upgrade the better weapons, or is it?
Credit or Debit?
Like almost all free to play games, XBlaster is maintained through optional micropayments. In XBlaster, there are no premium items or features. Instead, players can simply purchase the in-game credit currency. 8000 credits are available for $2.99 while buying a whopping 520,000 at a time will run you $99.99. Credits are easily converted into skill points at a generous 5:1 ratio. This means players willing to drop a few bucks reap huge sp bonuses and can easily upgrade their mechs to top tier quality. But on the other hand, nothing is available for purchase that isn’t also available to free players, provided their bust their backs in the arena. XBlaster doesn’t have the crooked auction feature common to most other BigPoint games which is always nice though it does have a much smaller playerbase than many of their other titles. Even so, the game boasts over a thousand concurrent players throughout most of the day. The jackpot feature does make an appearance, players can collect jackpot points throughout the month for a maximum of 10,000. Each month there is a server wide tournament where the winner receives cash equivalent to the number of jackpoint points they’ve accumulated.
Final Verdict: Fair
XBlaster is an easy to learn action game with free-for-all battles. Simple controls and a manageable number of weapons & features make XBlaster a casual friendly mech game that is playable right on your web browser.