Inside Beta: PvP
Last time we talked all about Global Agenda's PvE, but I would be doing the developers a great disservice if I didn't delve into the more primary focus of the game: its match-made PvP and Alliance versus Alliance gameplay. These are the cornerstones of Global Agenda's existence, and to be perfectly frank, if the systems of PvP didn't pan out the game would be a lame duck. Luckily for all those players waiting to try out Hi-Rez's premier offering that's simply not the case.
Before we dive into the different types of player versus player combat Global Agenda offers, it's worth going over just how players interact outside of the many different missions on offer. While there's no overworld as players of more traditional MMOs might be used to, the game has a central hub called Dome City where players can convene, shop for gear, craft, adjust character skills, and if you're in the position of management for your Agency (Guild) you can perform all sorts of duties related to that as well. I liken it to the subway stations from the dearly departed Hellgate: London.
Make no bones about it; the focus of Global Agenda is on the PvP and AvA systems, and not the open-world exploration of your standard MMO fare. Not that this is a bad thing, but rather just one of the game's many deviations from the norm. The proof is in the pudding as they say, and the delicious tapioca that is Global Agenda's team-based gameplay is proof positive of a quality game worth attention. Can you tell I haven't eaten breakfast yet?
Like the PvE missions, there are several level-locked PvP match modes to choose from in Global Agenda when not competing in the AvA campaign. Often times your Agency or Alliance might not be eligible for the territorial contest that is AvA, as other Agencies and Alliances might have beaten you to the punch in contesting the territory. During these times there's still plenty of shooting to be had, and the PvP missions are easily some of the most fun experiences I've had in the GA beta.
Playing as a Medic, and thus marking myself "kill on sight", I spent plenty of time in the PvP mission "Control". Essentially, Control is like any other capture and defend style competitive endeavor. One of the nifty features of Global Agenda's matchmaking system is that you can select whether you want matches with only players near your level and/or only matches without pre-made teams. Of course in doing so you might make it harder for the system to find you a match, but if you prefer to play in a more controlled situation it's nice to know Hi-Rez was thinking of you when they designed their system. In the interest of not waiting around Dome City longer than I needed to, I avoided narrowing down my search, and jumped into the first mission I was offered.
Control offers the two competing teams three points of control that must be fought over in order to be the first team to score 800 points. Like in any other similar game, the more control points your team holds the faster the points come pouring in. It's a familiar concept to millions of MMO and competitive shooter fans, but the real key to whether or not the game is any fun is in the balance of both the map geometry and the teams facing off against one another. Taking away the instances in which you find yourself on a ramshackle team that can't seem to work together or stacked up against an uber-skilled pre-made that you just can't hack it against, Hi-Rez studios has done a rather fantastic job in balancing their game.
Only in perhaps a handful of several dozen matches did my team find itself under-staffed with a lone Medic to keeps the players alive, and rarely did I find myself going up against a highly organized bunch while my own side was a disheveled mess. Perhaps as an indicator of what the live game will play like, most players have already joined up with Agencies in the hopes of being successful in the PvP and more likely the AvA campaigns. This alone leads to a usually more organized experience in the PvP matches. Your mileage may vary, and perhaps it was luck alone keeping me in rather even matches, but for my part I never once felt frustrated with the odds at hand. I'd like to own that up to the game's matchmaking tools rather than purely my own blind good fortune.
The classes also seem to be balanced rather well at this early stage. Perhaps one of the reasons Hi-Rez decided to stick with just four classes at launch was the notion of keeping things in order. The Recon players are appropriately annoying and stealthy in a way that drives Medics nuts, but they're weaker and easier to take down than the Assault players. Robotics players are extremely adept at defense, and come in very handy when defending control points or setting up shields in corridors and doorways. Out of all the opponents I faced, the most annoying to me was the Recon, and that's likely because he was designed to take down Medics like myself. Luckily I usually had an Assault and Robotics friend watching my back when I was on defense.
Other than Control, there are several other match types at players' disposal. Payload has one team randomly being assigned the task of stealing precious cargo from the other. Demolition has one team escorting a robot laden with explosives into an enemy super-carrier. Breach has one team attacking three control points in succession while the other team must attempt to fight them off. And lastly Scramble has the two teams fighting over resources that arrive at different locations across the map. When the cargo arrives the goal is to get to it first and "hack" the terminal to have the resources routed to your team before the other team does. Each of these scenarios is level-gated so that by the time you're level 25 you'll have unlocked them all (30 is the non-subscriber level cap).
In all, without counting the Alliance versus Alliance campaign which is only available to subscribing players, I would venture to say that the many PvP match types and PvE mission content is well worth serious consideration for any gamer looking for a fresh take on some familiar dynamics in the realm of FPS gaming. On that basis alone, it's an extremely enjoyable experience, but what may make or break the game for many is the AvA campaign and how that factors into the overall equation. Next week we'll bring you an in-depth look at just how the territorial warfare of Global Agenda pans out.