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Atlas Reactor - Trion's New Tactical Experiment

William Murphy Posted:
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Trion's first new game since bringing Scott Hartsman back as CEO was the now certified hit, Trove. Today, they're unveiling the second game to come out of the Trion Labs initiative: Atlas Reactor. A turn-based tactical combat game, Atlas Reactor has the looks and personality to stand on its own, and the tactical gameplay reminiscent of XCOM or Shadowrun to make us take notice.

No, it's not a traditional MMO, and has more in common with fighting games and MOBAs than Rift or Trove. But it adds a game to a genre that's woefully underserved: the turn-based tactical fans among us here at MMORPG are already stoked to give this one a try. If you're a fan of games like XCOM or Shadowrun Returns, you'll feel right at home here. While you can play Atlas Reactor in every fashion from 1v1 to 5v5, you can also play solo against bots if you're more of the loner type.

With a large cast of characters, from the shady gunman named Lockwood to the robo-canine named P.U.P, Atlas Reactor has a whole lot of characters. The art style is stylized, with a cel-shaded look and I'd be lying if I said it didn't remind me of Battleborn or Overwatch in terms of looks. But that's a compliment too, as Atlas Reactor's art is definitely on par with the best art teams in the business.

Will, James, and Peter (the Creative Director, Senior Producer, and Executive Producer) all come from Rift, and when the time came to pitch their passion project to Trion for development, they always knew they wanted it to be a turn-based tactical combat game. The key being that each side of the fight chooses their next moves simultaneously without being able to see the other team's moves.  Teams will have 30 seconds to make their selections, and then they watch the action unfold. Attacks, dodges, setups, and even timed deployment of missiles or bombs can all happen as the turns play out.  It was very fast, fluid and very polished looking even at this early alpha stage.

Each turn has 30 seconds in decision mode where you can move, use skills, or find cover depending on what you feel is the best option at the time. As the game goes on, power-ups are deployed on the map (such as health, energy, and damage power-ups). If you go for these though, let's hope you have an exit strategy and don't wind up walking into a trap from a character like Zuki... she wields a large cannon and deploy mines as part of her kit.

There is fog of war on the map too. So if you're hiding behind a wall, the enemy can't just turn the camera and see you. You're hidden until you're found or until you pop out to attack. Bullets (all attacks really) come before movement, no matter the turn. So if you want to shoot and then dash, you'll always shoot and then dash. This means that players don't have to worry about hit percentages or dice rolls. If you're in the way of an attack, you will be hit. So your goal as a player will be to evade and attack when most appropriate.

But each character, called Freelancers, has their own back story and set of skills. Asana is a tank, Lockwood is an evasive ranged damage dealer, PUP is a stealther, and Zuki is a ranged utility character with damage to pack of her own. There are loads of other characters, all of which can be leveled up independently, while your main account has levels and perks to earn as well.  And each character has their own ultimate skill, as well as cosmetic taunts that bring the camera in close and let your character fire off a one-liner. They're short, sweet, and don't do anything beyond looking cool. But they add a lot of humor and fun to a game that's all about its different characters.

The match we were shown in the demo was first team to 4 kills wins, but they're toying with loads of other game types as well. When the game hits alpha, fairly soon, there will just be the one map to give players the basic gist of the game and see what works and doesn't work across the board.   They expect matches to take 10-20 minutes, and you can do them entirely solo, in groups, or even have 1 person versus 5 if you feel like a challenge, with bots rounding out the team.

Atlas Reactor will be F2P, and there's loads more to talk about in coming weeks and months. Alpha is coming really soon, with launch for PC and Mac due next year.  Consoles and tablets are a very real possibility too, but the focus now is on PC and Mac.  If you want more info, head over to the Atlas Reactor site, and sign up for the testing. We'll have more impressions once we get our own hands on the game in the coming weeks.


William Murphy

Bill is the former Managing Editor of MMORPG.com, RTSGuru.com, and lover of all things gaming. He's been playing and writing about MMOs and geekery since 2002, and you can harass him and his views on Twitter @thebillmurphy.