Prime World is a MOBA – a Multiplayer Online Battle Arena – type game similar to Defense of the Ancients, a Warcraft mod that took a life of its own and League of Legends with various city-building and social elements built into it. Nival is calling the game a social strategy game and announced that it is a fully downloadable cross-platform game, with key features available on Facebook, PC, Mac as well as iOS and Android-enabled platforms.
There are two factions in Prime World. The Imperium which are the technology / scientific faction, represented by Western European art and architecture and scientific motifs and the Keepers, your magical, nature loving types, represented by Eastern Asian art and architecture and motifs from nature. Playable characters are called Heroes and there will be common character types as well as characters unique to each side. Like the way other MOBAs play, teams enter the battlefield with a default combat skill and as they fight, build up points to unlock other skills and weapons. In the case of Prime World, Prime is the ultimate resource / currency in the world, and in combat, we fill a Prime bottle as we destroyed enemy units and structures. This bottle bubbled merrily when it attained enough Prime to unlock new talents but even then, I had to be reminded to use it to buy Talents as I was much more interested and focused on the combat. Talents are earned as combat rewards and are collectible and tradable. They are also brought into combat by the player, by loading them out like a deck of cards for each character. Most talents are common, although there are some that are unique to the hero.
The interface in Prime World is the very simple mouse-click interface combined with hotkeys for MMO players more used to using them instead of clicking icons in combat. The building is the similarly mouse-click interface and placement. Players start off with a simple castle and library, and use earned Prime to build new structures like the marketplace for buying/selling and a bath house for your tired heroes to rest up and heal up before the next battle. Players also start the game with three heroes and unlock more as they build out their castle and town.
A unique feature in the game is the gender related interaction bonuses – which is to say, boy/girl character interaction. Players playing male and female characters together will have certain advantages. At the demo, we played Imperium against the Developers Keepers and as luck would have it, there were three women writers and we all chose the Lady – a blond lady on a unicorn – so we had three Ladies (with healing ability) and the lone guy selected a Viscount. I discovered quickly that I had a talent which gave both the Viscount and the Lady an instant heal when my health went down to 20% as long as we were close enough to touch virtually. That talent very quickly turned the tide of the battle once we all discovered it and as a group, forged our way to the enemy tower.
According to Nival founder and president Sergey Orlovskiy, “Prime World lets gamers kick their friend’s ass while getting their girlfriend something pretty for her castle.” Castle customization then, seems to be a big part of the game, and there was also terraforming which was shown to us, but not explained in depth. Terraforming is based on capture of land and planting flags as you progressed in a PvP game. The land changed to your faction’s theme as you passed certain control points and planted a flag. Quite visually impressive.
The main game play in Prime World is of course the battlefields where up to seven against seven battles take place. It has a large number of heroes and some of them have quite unique looks and animations. The Lady sitting side-saddle on the unicorn, a fiery cat-like mage on the Keeper side and a frog battle tank to name a few. Curiously, the game also incorporates a mini-game that’s based on the match 3 puzzle game Zuma. Players can either participate directly in the battle, or play the game to gain scrolls that are constantly fed to the other players on the front-line to use in battle. These scrolls can be buffs as well as offensive spells.
The graphics of Prime World are gorgeous given the isometric perspective of the game. Built on the Unity 3-D engine, the game will use Facebook Connect and will also be available through the Facebook interface. Micro-transaction based, the game is free to play and will go into beta in late 2011. Until then, it’s speculation as to how it will deploy on the various platforms and what other social features they will bring into the game.