Glassbreakers: Champions Of Moss is Polyarc’s new free-to-play aggressive multiplayer sport, arriving in pre-release at the moment on App Lab for Meta Quest headsets. We went hands-on with the real-time battler final week at Gamescom and got here away completely impressed.
When Polyarc first teased its in-development multiplayer sport Glassbreakers in March, we did not fairly know what to anticipate. From what we may collect, it seemed to be some form of Smash Bros-esque aggressive sport set within the Moss universe.
Admittedly, I wasn’t bullish on any such sport that includes a roster of returning and new ‘Moss universe’ characters. Nonetheless, after attempting Glassbreakers final week, I am completely satisfied to report that this free-to-play title affords one thing way more attractive.
I advised as a lot to Polyarc Co-founder and Design Director Danny Bulla after we performed a Glassbreakers match collectively final week at Gamescom. “We have been grinding,” he responded, with a nod.
Polyarc publicly pulls again the curtains on Glassbreakers at the moment, debuting a showcase section that offers a primary take a look at Champtions of Moss gameplay. Whereas the preliminary idea artwork evoked a combating sport brawler, Glassbreakers is definitely extra like a hero-based, small-scale 1v1 MOBA reinvented for VR within the tabletop type of Demeo. And all of it works actually, actually effectively.
To start with – do not be delay by the point out of the MOBA style. There’s a few of that DNA right here, for positive, however as a non-MOBA participant myself, I discovered Glassbreakers took the very best a part of these mechanics and repacked them into one thing very accessible. It is simple to know, designed for VR and seemingly deep within the potential ranges of technique, for many who need it.
It is made for brief and candy play periods and, based mostly off discussions with the event crew, adopts a free-to-play that’s seemingly unimaginable honest. Much more spectacular, the sport is an absolute sight to behold in headset. Efficiency was flawless and the visuals are beautiful. The choice to make Glassbreakers a continuation of the Moss universe advantages much less from narrative tie-in and extra from the studio’s capability to re-use and develop these video games’ top-tier environments, artwork course and visible language.
So, let’s dive into the nitty gritty.
Actual-Time 1v1 Hero Battler
Glassbreakers matches happen throughout a Demeo-like tabletop board, the place gamers will compete in public or personal 1v1, 8-minutes battles. Gamers will use their squad to vye for strategic place, benefits or win situations that finish the match earlier than the time is up.
Every participant controls a squad of three heroes (Champions) in actual time, chosen firstly of the match from a roster of current and new characters within the Moss universe. The pre-release sport obtainable on App Lab from at the moment includes a roster of seven preliminary Champions, every with distinctive skills that may have an effect on the battle or flip the tide. Extra Champions can be launched steadily as a part of a stay service, free-to-play mannequin – however extra on that later.
Once I sat down final week with Polyarc Co-founder and Design Director Danny Bulla, he passionately defined the premise of Glassbreakers’ MOBA-inspired tabletop battles with ease. The mechanics are lots to absorb at first, however nonetheless pretty easy to know at their core.
The weather that Glassbreakers undertake from the MOBA style make for some unbelievable real-time technique moments with hopefully deep complexity as gamers enhance. The enjoying area will not be on the large scale of a MOBA map with a number of lanes. As an alternative, it is a slightly-larger-than-Demeo tabletop battlefield, cut up into hexaonal tiles that Champions will be moved onto. You will want to tug your self throughout the map with movement gestures, but it surely stays sufficiently small in scale that the complete battlefield will be seen and assessed always.
The enjoying space incorporates a number of areas to compete for, which supply strategic benefits over you opponent. You may must place your Champtions fastidiously and select the place to assault or defend accordingly. The final word objective is to invade the opposing participant’s finish of the board and assault their glass orb sufficient that it breaks – therefore the sport’s title.
It is in the end a reasonably easy idea that requires good positioning and understanding of every Champions’s benefits, both by advantage of their class of their distinctive skills. The quick match size additionally appears like an ideal match for these wanting fast VR periods throughout a given week.
A VR-First Method
Nonetheless, Polyarc understands that Glassbreakers is a VR sport and so its mechanics – and technique – have been design to account for the benefits and constraints afforded by the immersive medium.
It is one thing Bulla pressured to me throughout our match collectively: the sport is not simply designed for VR, however makes use of it as a core twist to supply extra strategic depth. Not like a flatscreen sport, you’ve gotten a direct view of your opponent and their actions in actual time throughout a match. You may primarily attempt to learn your opponents head and hand actions in VR to foretell their subsequent transfer forward of time, or feint a transfer your self within the hope of drawing out a key useful resource from the opponent’s arsenal.
This VR-only stage of technique instantly units Glassbreakers aside. As considered one of VR’s veteran and prestigious studios, it needs to be no shock that Polyarc took this method. Nonetheless, it additionally sifts down previous the technique and into the sport’s interactions and menus as effectively.
Simple-to-learn movement gestures convert in any other case tedious in-the-moment actions – like shifting all Champions without delay or retreating everybody again to heal – into intuitive, instantaneous instructions. Likewise, the sport’s menus toss out flat display screen panels and as an alternative provide 3D programs that emphasize bodily interplay and tangible objects to make alternatives or navigate choices.
As an alternative of a battle move or beauty choices displayed on a flat display screen, they’re as an alternative displayed as a collection of 3D objects laid out on rotatable spindles in the principle menu, pictured above. Hero choice is made by putting intricate figures on a podium, and each bodily menu button appears intricately crafted and handmade for its goal. There’s barely a flatscreen, cursor-driven menu in sight – a formidable achievement given the tedious, menus-upon-menus method assumed as commonplace in different stay service programs.
Free-To-Play Mannequin, Seasons & Launch Technique
Talking off the free-to-play battle move mannequin, it is comprehensible that some gamers may really feel hesitant about how Polyarc may monetize (and compromise) the sport’s strategic integrity with new Champion releases and paywalled content material.
Nonetheless, Bulla went to nice lengths – and was completely satisfied to brazenly talk about – all of the methods through which Polyarc wish to guarantee gamers this would possibly not be the case.
With every season will arrive a brand new battle move, which is able to embody a brand new hero together with different cosmetics choices for customizing heroes, in-game avatars and your participant banners. It is going to be a well-recognized system for many – count on each day challenges and gradual development throughout the season.
Essentially the most fast concern to clear up is that whereas new heroes can be launched as a part of the seasonal battle move, there’ll all the time be a path to unlock these heroes with out providing up a cent of real-world cash. Bulla pressured that Polyarc “are gamers too” and perceive that locking strategic benefits behind a paywall wouldn’t be a well-liked selection.
The sport has three sorts of in-game foreign money, considered one of which can be purchasable together with your actual world money as an in-app buy. That may be then spent on the battle move, which can have a free and paid monitor. Those who want to remain solely free-to-play will nonetheless be capable of unlock the paid monitor of the battle move through the use of one of many different in-game currencies earned by enjoying.
The catch, after all, is that it may take you fairly a bit longer to earn sufficient in-game at the moment to take action – and we will not make sure precisely how lengthy that free-to-play grind may take simply but. The opposite in-game currencies will also be redeemed with a number of commonplace cosmetics gadgets obtainable exterior of the seasonal battle move system as effectively. The price of the battle move (each by way of in-game foreign money and its relative real-world money price) has but to be determined, as has the precise size of every season.
On paper, my dialog with Bulla and my (restricted) expertise toying round with Glassbreakers’ beauty and battle move system leads me to consider that Polyarc is adoptiong a genuinely well-intentioned free-t0-play mannequin. The power to unlock content material with out paying actual cash is vital and appreciated, as is the dedication to making sure no strategic benefits or heroes get locked behind paywalls.
Bulla and I spoke about Marvel Snap, the brand new cell card battler headed up by former Hearthstone Recreation Director Ben Brode at his new studio, Second Dinner. I famous that Snap is my private touchstone for current free-to-play fashions and Bulla talked about that the sport “took over” the Polyarc workplace at occasions over the past yr – so little doubt the reception of Snap’s financial mannequin influenced Glassbreakers a method or one other.
It is price nothing that Marvel Snap is way more economically aggressive than it looks like Glassbreakers can be. There are massively exorbitant (however solely optionally available) beauty purchases in Snap, for instance, and the system of card acquisition – particularly with new playing cards featured within the month-to-month battle move – is pretty grind-y by nature. Snap by no means really throttles free-to-play gamers, but it surely does considerably constrain them for a restricted time, incentivizing battle move purchases to unlock the shiny new card sooner.
That is price holding in thoughts on the subject of Glassbreakers and the remaining unknowns of its free-to-play mannequin. We do not understand how for much longer it would take for a free-to-play participant to unlock a brand new battle move Champion in comparison with somebody who pays, for instance. Wanting again at Marvel Snap, Second Dinner has a behavior of creating the month-to-month battle move card a reasonably engaging (and strategically highly effective) proposition, attractive gamers to spend cash. Polyarc is probably not innately paywalling technique by permitting gamers will finally unlock new Champions at no cost, but it surely may successfully really feel uncompetitive if that free-to-pay unlock path is lined with matches in opposition to paid battle move gamers constantly sporting a strong new Champion every season. The chance gamers tackle with a free-to-play mannequin is the goalposts are each unknown and moveable by builders at any cut-off date.
That mentioned, that does not appear the intention Polyarc’s intention with Glassbreakers. My conversations with the builders inicate that the Polyarc crew does need the easiest for gamers, whereas nonetheless making certain there stays a path for them to rightly revenue off this sport that they’ve spent years creating.
The free-to-play battle move mannequin can also be justified by a want to get as many gamers as doable into the sport with none preliminary price. Whereas there’s extra VR gamers than ever, it is nonetheless a comparatively small market in comparison with flatscreen video games – multiplayer titles will stay or die on a wholesome participant inhabitants, matchmaking and queue occasions. Polyarc’s proposed system looks like a good compromise to attain longevity with Glassbreakers.
If you wish to determine for your self, then you possibly can take a look at the pre-release launch of Glassbreakers: Champions of Moss on Quest headsets through App Lab from at the moment. Those that play Glassbreakers between at the moment and September 4 can take part in a ‘Bonus XP Occasion’ that awards tokens, used for purchasing pores and skin dyes, distinctive participant masks, banners, and crests.
That is just the start for the sport – a Steam launch for PC VR is coming “later this yr” and Bulla advised me that the studio is taking an analogous method to headset platforms because it did with Moss. Begin with one first, then steadily launch on others. We’re trying ahead to seeing the way it does.