Review: Atlas Reactor (PC)


atlasreactor
Developer: Trion Worlds Inc.
Publisher: Trion Worlds Inc.
Genre: Turn-Based Strategy
Rating: T for Teen
Price: Free to Play
Online multiplayer gaming has reached an astounding level beyond simply getting together with your friends to have a good time. Many gamers are in it for the competition, and we got eSports as a result of that. Just about every video game that features online multiplayer has ranked and unranked modes so that everyone can enjoy them. The evolution of online multiplayer gaming is why we have games like DotA and League of Legends, or games like Team Fortress 2 and Overwatch. Atlas Reactor is also a product of this evolution, and that is definitely not a bad thing.
Online competitive games usually do not last with me, and the Call of Duty franchise is a great example. I’ll play with my friends for a few months and enjoy my time with the game only to never touch it again afterward. It has only been a few weeks since the release of Atlas Reactor, but I have enjoyed it so much. A few other members of the Twitch team and myself have already played it multiple times and had some great fun. My hope is that Atlas Reactor will keep me hooked on the same level that I have been with Overwatch.

Content Guide

Atlas Reactor has received a teen rating for violence that is a core part of the gameplay. Two teams of four characters face off against one another, and players must gain kills on enemies to win the match. Characters use swords, guns, and other weapons in order to achieve their goal. There is no blood or gore to be found, however groans of pain can be heard whenever characters are defeated along with a death animation. The character Lockwood happens to have a cigar in his mouth, but is technically never seen smoking it. In one pose he can be seen holding onto it, though the fact that there is never any smoke coming from it may be the reason that it was not flagged by the ESRB.
To parents, I would exercise caution when letting your children play the game due to the online interactions. The developers are not responsible for other players that might use foul language or act in a negative manner. This very reason is why a disclaimer can be found under the ESRB ratings that says, “Online interactions not rated by the ESRB.”

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Review

So, what is Atlas Reactor? It is a competitive 4 versus 4 turn-based strategy game. It works very much like XCOM and other games in the genre. Instead of controlling a whole squad, players will choose one “Free Lancer” that they will control through the duration of the match. Every player gets twenty seconds to set and lock in their action, and the results of each turn play out once this is done. During each turn a few different actions are available along with the option to move, whether you decide to Prep(buff), Dash, or Blast will determine the priority in which things happen. There is much satisfaction to be had when you mix great teamwork with strategy and successful prediction.
You will not find any towers or cores to destroy in Atlas Reactor. The goal is to gain the most kills or survive with the lead. It only takes five kills to win the match; that may not seem like much but the fight can last depending on how a team plays together. To keep the matches from dragging on, there is a turn limit of about 20. Your team is victorious if you are in the lead when that limit is reached. A “Sudden Death” is initiated in the event of a tie, the team to get the next kill is crowned as the winner. I found that you may not know how the battle is really going to end until that last turn. That is all it takes for a team to break a tie or make a comeback from a deficit. The turn limit creates some really intense nail biters where my teammates and I barely came out alive.

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Atlas Reactor holds a key feature that keeps players around in an online community, which is the ability of customization. Things work like you’d expect them to through the opening of what is called a Loot Matrix. Much like a Loot Box, you have the chance to gain a new skin, taunt, or emblem that you can show of in battle. A unique feature is the use of Mod Tokens, which can be spent to modify the abilities of your favorite character. They help in adding extra effects and offer a slightly deeper level of strategy that players could take to the field.
I discovered the strangest thing when playing against bots with a few friends. The AI is inconsistent.  At times it felt like they knew every move we were going to make, and they would lead us on and destroy us when we finally took their bait. Other times they would literally hunt us down. On more than one occasion I watched two or three of the AI characters chase my friend until one of us would take their attention away from him. These tactics felt cheap and sometimes too difficult for the standard 3-star difficulty that we were playing on. To be honest, we actually found more success when playing against other players.

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While comparisons to other games can easily be made in terms of gameplay, the same can be done for the art style as well. The cel-shaded/comic book style reminded me much of Borderlands, except the humor is less crude and much more light-hearted here. The characters all have personality and can easily be attached to when players find their groove with a particular play style. The music is simply okay. When playing with a group of people, I turned it off so that I could listen in on sounds of what was going on as we communicated our next move. Overall, the presentation is nothing new or ground-breaking but it has a unique charm that makes Atlas Reactor stand out from the rest.

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Very few competitive multiplayer video games have drawn me in like Atlas Reactor has. The competitive formula has never been my cup of tea, you will find me in the unranked or standard matchmaking areas when I do play these games. I look forward to seeing if I am still playing a few months from now since I went and payed $29.99 to unlock all of the characters. The free-to-play model does include a character rotation and some limitations, but I my recommendation is that anyone interested should play a few matches and find out for themselves if Atlas Reactor is something they really want to dive into.

 

 

 

 

The Bottom Line

 

 

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L.J. Lowery

Born in southern California, but currently residing in Lafayette, Louisiana. Loves Hip Hop music, comics, and video games. Events/Media Coordinator, Podcast Producer, and Public Relations.

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