Hyper Universe is a game that will likely fly under a lot of folks’ radar, and that’s a shame. While it’s difficult say whether MOBAs still hold the sway they once did, there’s still an undeniable hardcore following for games like Dota 2, League of Legends, Smite, and the like. A few years ago, Ronimo Games tried a 2-D take on the formula with Awesomenauts. Now, Nexon is throwing aside the Saturday-morning-comic vibe and making a few other changes in a bid to grab some of that MOBA pie for themselves.
The early access game certainly makes an impression with its intro. A warrior enters the world of Hyper Universe through an anime cutscene. It comes complete with flashy art style and beautiful animation. Once that ends, you take control of the warrior and have to follow the instructions of an AI to complete the training program.
At its core, Hyper Universe feels quite similar to Awesomenauts. While Ronimo’s game pits teams of 3 against one another across several different maps, Nexon’s new title sticks a little closer to traditional MOBA mechanics with teams of 5 and a single large map. Teams will follow mobs back and forth in waves in an effort to destroy the opposing team’s turrets and, ultimately, their base. Along the way, you can take out neutral mobs for extra cash and experience (not unlike jungling in Dota or Smite).
The way you control your character is where this title begins to distinguish itself. While Awesomenauts had you using a mouse to target your shots, Hyper Universe plays more like a traditional 2-D platformer with shots being linear by default. Here, Hyper Universe once again sticks to MOBA tropes and outdoes its predecessor by granting characters a primary attack, secondary attack, three special abilities, and an ultimate ability. In truth, it feels more like a traditional MOBA with 2-D platformer movement than Ronimo’s offering.
The game puts each character into one of six classes, giving players a better sense of their overall play style. Tanks boast superior defense, Bruisers try to get in the fray to dish out damage, Specialists attack over wide areas, Strikers can bypass enemy defenses, Support characters can heal and buff teammates, and Assassins specialize in one on one combat.
In its first week of Early Access, the game already boasts a diverse roster of 28 characters. From elven archers to space marines, vampires to triceratops-riding cats to Gundam-like robots and more; it’s fun to learn each character’s abilities and play style. Unlike standard MOBAs, you set up item builds a little differently. Each hero (known as a “hyper”) has slots for different preset item builds. You choose one at the beginning of a match. As you work through the match, you’ll earn gold you can spend to fill out that item bar. Like Smite with its auto-building option, players can let the game divvy everything out for them or they can take the time between matches to research and set up builds for themselves. Each day, players can earn up to three cubes as well, each of which will contain points toward some sort of unlockable, like new skins, emotes, and more.
My one complaint with the game so far is in their character design. Though it doesn’t affect gameplay, the character design team is leaning quite heavily on sex appeal. A noticeable percentage of female characters are showing cleavage or some sort of scant attire. The characters look cool regardless, so this was something that could have been done without.
Nexon’s initial showing has me hopeful. I’ve enjoyed my first few hours with Hyper Universe. It’s a great looking 2.5D game with fun, diverse character design and an eye-catching aesthetic, solid music, and good voice acting. It’s fun to play and learn with the wide array of characters, too. The nature of the game would also fit wonderfully on consoles. The game is currently $16 for Early Access but the company plans to make it free-to-play when it officially releases with a one-time charge to unlock every hero. If you’ve been looking for something new to play with friends or you’ve been intimidated by the intensity of other MOBAs but still want to give the genre a try, you should consider looking into Hyper Universe.
Preview copy provided by Wonacott Communications, LLC
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