Awesomenauts gets a second chance to shine on consoles with the new PS4 iteration.
What Is It?
If there is one problem that the MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena) genre has with titles like DOTA 2 and League of Legends, it’s that the mechanics and strategies are too complex for the average newcomer. The learning curve is just too steep, and not many are willing to put in the hours. Awesomenauts Assemble!, however, does a great job of making the core ideas of the MOBA genre more easily digestible by putting them into the shell of a sidescrolling action game.
Awesomenauts was great when it originally launched on the digital storefronts for Xbox 360 and PS3, but its publisher kicked the bucket right before launch, which certainly hampered developer Ronimo Games’ ability to give it the full support that the later PC release received. Luckily, all of the new features, tweaks, fixes, and new characters that have been added since launch have been able to manifest themselves in this new version on the PS4.
If you don’t know what MOBA entails, the general idea revolves around two teams trying to destroy a main structure located in the other’s base. The only way to the base, though, is through turrets and other players. I’ll do my best to explain the mechanics, but even simplified, there’s a lot that goes on in terms of strategy and mechanics.
You cannot attack the turrets by yourself, so bots constantly spawn to provide cover and let attack until you are forced to retreat when the bots perish. The most important thing you have to do in order to succeed is survive, as dying “feeds” your enemy with a big boost in XP and money while you sit out for a bit, putting your team at a disadvantage. This mechanic leads to you take a lot of potshots at enemies to get a feel for whether you have a good shot of taking them out, or if you should instead hasten your retreat past your own turrets to safety.
Throughout the match, you earn money to spend on new abilities and for purchasing upgrades to those abilities. There’s a lot going on in each match, but the simplified controls and the good tutorial helps make it easier to wrap your mind around what’s going on.
Why Should I Care?
The ability for Awesomenauts to offer all of the strategy and mechanics of a MOBA with the control scheme and look of a sidescrolling action game is the thing that really makes it click for those that don’t want to jump into DOTA 2 or League of Legends. All main actions of any character are mapped to the four face buttons, which makes it really easy to digest and get up to speed quickly.
To make it even easier to get accustomed to the game, the Practice mode offers bot matches with several difficulty options to help you train and hone your skills before moving up to matches against real players. If you really want some good help for any matches, you can even have two friends join you for some split-screen fun. The online multiplayer has been pretty solid for me so far with a few hiccups here and there that have caused host migration to kick into effect and pause the game for a few seconds.
This particular release of Awesomenauts adds a ton of new stuff to it that makes it a much better experience for those that played the original. The character count is nearly double original’s with 15 Awesomenauts to play with compared to the original’s eight, and there are now four maps instead of three. Online play has a Starcraft 2-esque ranking system where if you play well, you are moved up numbered leagues that match you against harder competition. The leaderboards also reset every month in order to keep things fresh. All of the Starstorm Kickstarter content (new characters, skins, a new map, more features, songs, and more) is supposed to be coming to Assemble! Some of it is already in there, so what’s present is just the beginning for a lot of the newer features arriving later, like custom games.
What Makes It Worthy My Time And Money?
Awesomenauts Assemble! accomplished what it set out to do, which is to offer the best parts of the MOBA genre without the high bar of entry those games offer. You can more easily get to the fun as a newcomer and quickly start competing against bots or actual players with some level of competency. Anybody that enjoyed the original release on consoles will find a ton of tweaks, improvements, and new content that will keep them busy while we wait for all of this Starstorm content to come to the PS4. At $9.99, it’s a good value for one of the best multiplayer experiences available on the PS4 for the time being.