Though the mode was fun, aside from the controls and the wrinkle of swapping characters on the fly, it felt very formulaic. Items would occasionally drop, and I had an inventory full of things with names I couldn't read. Looking at it though, it was easy to see how MXM would likely adhere to the standard template of free-to-play online games—especially Marvel Heroes. You'll likely spend a lot of time running missions with your friends and grinding for rare item drops, but I was unable to tell exactly how items affect your progress and the game. When I asked one of the lead developers about it during a group interview, I was told that progress made in cooperative modes would affect your character in competitive modes—perhaps something akin to League of Legends' rune system?
While the cooperative mode was fun, it was immediately eclipsed by the frantic action of the deathmatch mode we played shortly after. My team of three was thrust into an arena against three other players where we brawled for supremacy. Though the arena itself wasn't overly interesting, the character swapping quickly brought to light the potential for some deep strategy when choosing the composition of your team. Swapping between heroes means you can immediately access the abilities of two heroes nearly simultaneously, setting yourself up for some powerful maneuvers or choosing two heroes who cover the other's weakness. If someone is taking shots at you from range, swapping to a ranged hero would be a viable tactic. Each hero also has their own health and energy resources to draw from, so swapping becomes a necessity during prolonged fights to prevent dying.
That said, being that we couldn't really read anything on screen, we were basically left to brawl it out and figure things out as we went. The arena had teleport spots scattered around the map that could allow you to warp from one corner to the next with ease, allowing for a quick escape or trapping a fleeing opponent.
When our demo was over, I stayed around to watch a tournament that was taking place in the NCsoft booth and broadcast to a large TV for passerbys to watch. Being in a different language, it was hard to interpret anything of note, but as neutered of a statement as it sounds, MXM definitely looks like a competent MOBA hybrid.
What remains to be seen now is whether the twist of swapping characters and the addition of cooperative dungeon runs will be enough to set it apart from the rest of the pack. Already we've seen new contenders crash and burn (looking at you Dawngate), and a part of me wonders if MXM is already way too late for the MOBA goldrush. But at the same time, being a free-to-play game that looks fully willing to adopt the tried and true formula of every other free-to-play game that has come out recently, I almost think that MXM will do just fine regardless. If you're on the hunt for another free-to-play action RPG, MXM looks like a perfectly fine suitor to play around with. I loved how the controls and character swapping deeply impacted the experience, making it feel different enough than just about any other MOBA on the market. But I know enough to know that MXM isn't going to coast to the top on these two aspects alone. With an open beta expected to arrive in the first half of 2016, only time will tell if NCsoft's take on Heroes of the Storm will find its footing among the already crowded genre.