Atlas Reactor: So XCOM, Frozen Synapse, and Overwatch walk into a bar...

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DaBigCheez
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Atlas Reactor: So XCOM, Frozen Synapse, and Overwatch walk into a bar...

Postby DaBigCheez » Mon Oct 10, 2016 4:11 am UTC

So Atlas Reactor was officially released on Steam a couple days ago. I'd been playing it during the beta for a while, and it seemed like good fun.

It's simultaneous-turn-based, tactical combat using an ensemble cast of heroes and abilities resembling a MOBA or Overwatch or the like. All players lock in their actions for a turn during the twenty-second "decision phase" (with players able to stretch that out another five seconds up to twice per match per player), then all actions execute during the "resolution phase". The actions are split into four phases - Prep, Dash, Blast, and Movement - with all actions simultaneous within a phase, though it'll still show them going off one-by-one to make it easier to see what's going on. Prep is shields, heals and buffs, Dash is "quick movement" evasive rolls, charges and the like (sometimes with attacks attached), Blast is where most damaging abilities happen, and Movement is everyone running around after attacking. The system naturally leads to a lot of mind-games and second-guessing whether somebody's going to use a Dash, and where, when they have one available - and the short turn timer means there's not a lot of time to coordinate it and get it right.

Currently, the only game mode is a PvP deathmatch with 4v4 teams; I believe custom games let you vary the team size and turn time, and more game modes are planned to come in the future (I believe the first being a capture-the-flag variant).

The "Freelancers" (heroes, champions, avatars, whatever ya wanna call 'em) are split into Firepower, Frontline, and Support champions; Firepower have high damage and almost always have a Dash ability or some other way to avoid damage/reposition but have low health, Frontliners have high health and lots of defensive tools (plus often a charge) but have very short range, and Supports can heal or shield their teammates and have good health but very few ways to get themselves out of trouble.

Though the game's not f2p, it has a "free mode" which seems roughly like an indefinite, fully-featured trial - you get access to about a quarter of the Freelancers, on a randomized weekly rotation which is different for each player, but there's no way to unlock more aside from buying the game. Other than that, your Freelancers will be as effective as anyone else's; the only source of in-game "power" which is gated in any meaningful way is Mod Tokens, which allow you to choose different Mods for your abilities that make them function differently. (Every Freelancer starts with one set of Mods unlocked, so getting Tokens for the others just lets you side-grade for more customizability.) Mod Tokens are primarily granted by playing several games as a given Freelancer, rather than by loot crates or the like, so it's not significantly more of a barrier for a free player than a paying one.

The game's thirty bucks for the "all freelancers" edition (read: "buying the game without snazzy extras"). Right now it's 10% off on Steam (knocking it down to 27 bucks), or humble bundle is (mistakenly?) offering founder packs (no longer available through Steam) for the pre-release price of 20 dolla: https://www.humblebundle.com/store/atlas-reactor-atlas-edition

It's a relatively unique game that's kind of a headscratcher to pin down into a genre, and right now it mostly seems to be encountering Planetside Syndrome - "this game is a fascinating concept which I want to see grow and succeed, but it's got a very small community due to an almost total lack of marketing as far as I can tell". Thus, shameless signal-boosting. If it sounds interesting, try out the free mode before tossing down your cash; if Frozen Synapse, XCOM and MOBAs just make you angry, give it a miss. :)

Here's a video of some of the phase/turn mechanics in action.
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