Prime World – Full Review
Prime World – Full Review
The still young MOBA genre has had the chance to be the recipient of much attention from fans and developers alike, with new titles popping up left and right, some even braving the field with new innovations. As you might’ve guessed, Prime World is one such title. Developed by Nival and released a few years back in Russia where it was a success, it crosses at last the Atlantic to give American audiences a taste of its colorful, hybrid style gameplay. If you’ve ever wondered how the MOBA genre could be expanded and widened, then read on, as Prime World might’ve just begun answering that question.
Technology & Magic
For a start, you might’ve seen already through the screenshots that Prime World is a colorful, vivid, and lush looking game, with a thematic approach oriented on the duality between technology and nature. Your choice of faction (Imperium or Keepers) will determine the “palette” of your castle town and your choice of heroes. This is a graphically polished title, to say the very least – the interfaces look clean and streamlined, the characters look different and have loads of personality, and while the player cities are nothing impressive, there are enough character skin varieties to easily compensate for that tiny downside (mostly considering you won’t spend a lot of time in the city, but more on that later). There are some oddities related to technical aspects, such as incapacity of taking some aspect ratios, but this most likely won’t be an issue for most, and we found the entire experience to be relatively bug free. As soon as you start, you’re given a series of tutorials on how to get around – nothing crazy, but enough to get you started. Prime World is not a very complex experience until you get into the competitive aspects, but some areas do require a bit of clarification.
Prime World is a fusion of two games, one of them being the castle building, “Farmville” style gameplay I’ve mentioned earlier, and the other being the traditional MOBA game we all know and love. They’re not exactly styles that complement each other, but Prime World does it in such a way that it functions well, and sometimes even shines. You’re first introduced to the castle building aspect with your choice of faction. The principle is simple; you build resource generating buildings, whose resources are then used or refined into silver pieces or critically important Prime crystals for a variety of purposes ranging from buying talents, to upgrading buildings.
Character skills, known as talents, can then be purchased, upgraded, and modified through the use of this system, and new heroes purchased. In essence, the role of the castle building is to support, prop up, and give a sense of long term progression to the MOBA aspect, which it manages to do fairly well. There is even a quest system implemented, though it feels a bit simple and tacked-on. The downside of this system is that it’s just not all that interesting, and feels more like an interim to matches and an attempt to squeeze some tiny additional character boosts, than a genuine attempt to make Prime World a more entertaining experience. The talent system is also awkward and confusing to comprehend, and does not contribute to the experience in any significant way. It does however give a much needed bit of customization to the progression.
The MOBA aspect is essentially where most of the fun and innovation is at. At its core, it’s what you would expect from a MOBA – players on two teams duking it out over a two-sided map, using heroes with a variety of roles ranging from damage dealers, to support. Each team has to push to the other team’s base in order to damage their barracks, unlock upgraded troops, and eventually overwhelm the opponent’s base. Where it gets interesting however, is through a new mechanic called “Native Land”, which has you capturing points placed at different intervals along the lane. These points advance your home terrain forward, enabling you to use upgraded versions of your powers, some of which are insanely powerful. This makes native land far more important than towers, and can very easily mean the difference between victory and defeat. Your character progresses during the game by unlocking a variety of character-specific and generic talents using prime, acquired in the classic method of MOBA games – killing creatures and opponents. There is a significant downside however, which is that there is no such thing as purchasable equipment in Prime World (consumables aside), and the progression focuses ENTIRELY on the player’s selection of talents, causing the experience to feel a little bit too simplistic. This is a crucial design choice, and while it was not at all to this reviewer’s taste, some might enjoy the tactic rather than progression focus.
Odds & Ends
Another oddity is the lack of traditional skills, instead replaced by a skill bar whose talents can be swapped out between games. Oh, did we mention the mini-game? That’s right, there is a mini-game inside each team’s bases (during the game), that has you matching little spheres of color, awarding you a bit of prime, and if you succeed, a scroll you can send to one of your team mates. The downside? Well, while you’re playing peggle back in your base, you’re not in your lane fighting the enemy. This is definitely one of Prime World’s weirder features, and we can’t help thinking that there might be a better way to implement a team support activity than through a mini-game. It IS however pretty fun, and is an interesting touch of innovation. The cash shop follows (to some extent) the League of Legend model, with gold allowing you to purchase some truly incredible character skins. It also allows you to speed up the various processes (production, refinement, etc.) happening around your castle town. Thankfully, it does NOT allow you to have an in-game advantage on the adversary (barring being able to unlock characters earlier).
Final Verdict: Good
Prime World is a breath of innovation in the new but thriving genre of MOBAs. It integrates the gameplay that we know and love with a somewhat awkward but interesting progression system. There is a lot to love, and if you can look over the sometimes odd design choices, then Prime World might just be the title for you. It has the character, the guts, and the flashiness we like to see in free-to-play titles. We’re uncertain if Prime World is the future of MOBAs, but one thing is sure; it takes a very adventurous step in that direction. We hope that other developers will take example, and do the same.