Steel Circus Early Access Preview
Editor’s Note: Sorry there is no audio in the video footage! There was some miscommunication there. But it still looks amazing, so give it a peek!
We are also giving away keys for Steel Circus’ Weekend Beta! You can find them in the link below.
Last week I had a chance to sit down with a few of the developers behind an upcoming sports/pvp title, Steel Circus. We’ve covered Steel Circus before when it was in a much earlier stage of development, and it’s come a long way from there. It still reminds me of another game that I genuinely enjoyed, Laser League. But Laser League really fell off the grid, and that’s unfortunate. I don’t think this style of game is dead by any means, and I think this particular title will hit a wider audience. It’s less of a laser/bullet hell, and more of a team-based MOBA/shooter. So what exactly is Steel Circus? Steel Circus is a team-based, top-down soccer/air hockey game. Teams get together, pick a hero with skills, roles, and abilities, and team up to pick up a ball and lob it downfield to score points through the other team’s goal. Occasionally bumpers will pop up, like you’d see in a Pinball Machine as well, to really add to the challenge of scoring.
I’m not a sports guy, but like I said last time, I love combat sports. These are definitely my jam. Steel Circus has a lot of strategy to it, and certainly falls under the “easy to learn, hard to master” banner, especially when you add other players and gameplay styles to it. The first time I had access to Steel Circus, there was one map, and three characters, but we’ve come a long way since then! The second map was added, which you can see in the footage in this article. Several more characters were added, and I did my best to play as at least everyone once to get a feel for everyone. Every character in the game certainly has their own flavor, be it visual or loadout. Do you want to play a tank with a big shield to stun people? Or a sneaky, stabby assassin? Steel Circus has you covered. I really love the direction it’s going, and it has a ton of potential for online co-op/competitive gameplay.
Speaking of, the actual gameplay is pretty easy to get into, and this game plays so well on a controller. I feel games like this belong on a controller, with the arcade-style action feel. It’s very easy to aim, pass, intercept and shoot. Interceptions are incredibly easy: just get in the path of the ball! All characters have a brief dash/tackle they can use to steal the ball, stun other players, or just get into the path of an incoming ball. If you’re about to get tackled/defeated, you can lob the ball far away, bounce it off of a wall, or simply force the other team to go chasing back towards their goal, where you can stun/steal it back. This is a game that rewards smart gameplay and tactical decisions. There are also buffs that spawn periodically, to get health or movement speed. It’s also important to note that you can score on your own team; that’s something I hope changes, despite how hilarious it was when it happened because I can see people griefing that way. Maybe in competitive/ranked play it can’t happen/won’t count?
None of these characters play the role of “goalie” though, so it’s up to you and the squad to keep an eye on the goal. Sure, it’s fun to make long trick shots to score, but you know what’s way more satisfying? Passing the ball between your teammates, walking right into the goal and shooting. That’s right, you can just drop the ball right in the goal without any consequences. This becomes much easier when you factor in knocking other players out. Tackling and using abilities deals damage, and when their HP bar runs out, that character will be out of commission for a brief period of time. Another thing to point out is that the character abilities have pretty long cooldowns, so it’s not like you can spam them. Steel Circus requires actual skill and teamwork if you want to come out on top in this intense combat sports title.
One thing we did talk about during this Early Access preview, is the nature of monetization. That’s a big thing that everyone wants to know about, and so I made certain we discussed it. There will be no lootboxes, and god bless for that. Instead, skins can just be directly purchased. There will be two currencies: Credits (Premium) and Steel (In-game). Credits let you buy anything in the shop at any time. The cash shop will also have a rotating list of items that can be bought using Steel, which will rotate out on a weekly basis. Their audience made it very clear that lootboxes were not popular, and they listened. The Steel Circus developers are trying to be as transparent as possible. Steel Circus has certainly changed since the last time I played it, and definitely for the better. More characters, in a variety of designs and styles, and the controls improved since then. A lot of the time was spent on balancing and changing the physics of how the ball bounces off of the bumpers. The team also revealed that while Early Access will just have the 3v3 matches, 2v2 matches also work well in this arena size (something that could happen). More players than 3 on 3 would become sort of hectic, so that would need a bit more testing and consideration.
Custom Matches are also high on the list of things they want to put together, so that would probably make for a lot of fun livestreams. One thing I forgot to mention but would be fun for Custom Matches would be some manner of Twitch Integration, where viewers can interfere and maybe pop up bumpers or something. There will also be a Battle Pass, but having a Battle Pass without Lootboxes, that I’m totally fine with. A new character will come within Early Access, with Galena, with two others that are on the way. I don’t want to spoil potential dates on those, because those timeframes could change. All of the characters I used were awesome though, so I think there is something truly fun on offer with Steel Circus, and I hope plenty of people dive into Early Access. The gameplay is very intense, and I was on the edge of my seat in all of these matches. You can make incredible plays, and work together with a pair of friends for unforgettable moments. The physics are enjoyable, and everything from the aesthetic to the characters are appealing. I do wish for more maps, but I know that’s a thing that comes with time. Early Access begins on August 8th, so I hope people will consider checking it out then.
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