Gameplay - 8
Story/Creativity - 6.5
Presentation - 7.5
Lifespan - 6.5
It seems that the intent of Prime World is to achieve a social gaming medium that all gamers will enjoy, as it appeals to both a casual and hard-core audience, but whether combining the two audiences will be effective is something only time will tell.
In the lore of Prime World, Dokht Imperium and the Keepers of Adornia fight to control a powerful energy substance called Prime. The player is thrown in the midst of this war and is forced to pick a side where they settle and build a town, craft skills (talents), and train heroes to participate in a continuum of battles.
Nival’s Prime World combines two dangerously addicting types of game play. The main game mode is MOBA-based, directly complementing the war backdrop as each faction fights to claim territory and win battles. Outside of these battles, the player’s hub is enhanced with castle-building elements which influence the performance of his/her heroes.
Although the game has some questionable content, overall, it is recognizable for being visually polished and thoroughly-developed as there are multi-faceted types of gameplay further liberating the storyline.
When first launching Prime World, the game questioned whether I was male or female. Unwary of the consequences of the choice, I answered truthfully and then pressed the play button. Upon entering the game, the first task was to choose a faction, whether it be the Dohkt Imperium or the Keepers of Adornia. Knowing nothing about either side, other than a mere colour association (as the former was denoted by blue and the latter red), I panicked and chose blue, not realizing that I would be stuck in this faction unless I was willing to pay real money to switch.
It is easy to see what is problematic about presenting an important choice without explanation. Being part of a nation is a very immersive game element that allows the player to associate with its corresponding values and nature. As it is not desirable to pick a side until you know what you are fighting for. Therefore, introducing story elements first would make for a more effective opening segue. Another, not precisely problematic, but limiting feature occurs once the player identifies his/her gender. The game forces the player to choose from a starting selection of characters corresponding to that gender, whereas characters of the other sex are only unlocked if you purchase them with silver and achieve a minimal level.
The storyline is developed through a series of missions and tasks which upon completion, result in experience, resource and talent rewards. Integrated in the story is a very thorough tutorial explaining the talent and castle system, along with the core mechanics of the game.
The talent system in Prime World is unique within the MOBA genre. It allows the player to customize the passive and active talents the character possesses. During matches, as opposed to earning experience or gold, the player acquires Prime which can be used to purchase consumable items (such as teleport scrolls, healing and energy potions, true sight, etc.) or to unlock the various talents. For every talent, the hero gains a level, thus the player can choose whether to level quicker by using Prime on weaker skills, or saving their Prime to unlock stronger skills. Some of these active skills also receive benefits when used on native terrain, making territory control an important aspect of the game. Each team claims land when players, or creeps, seize a flag, expanding the team’s terrain until the flag is reclaimed or the game ends. Outside of matches, the player can assign different talents to each hero, changing the selection provided during each game.
The Castle is correlated to character building as you can craft a custom set of talents to enhance your hero through the use of Prime Crystals. Other resources can be collected and in turn, used to boost your economy by leveling your buildings and thereby increasing their efficiency. This fortress also provides experience points contributing towards the player’s overall level. Each building is designed to suit a specific purpose. The inn is an example of a building that directly affects the performance of your hero as it is designed to restore his/her attributes after a battle. The library increases the number of talents that can be stored. Ultimately, customization of the Castle area is up to the player, as they can freely choose what to build and how to decorate.
What makes Prime World more accessible than other MOBAs are the more casual game-type elements such as farming resources within the Castle. Another example is evident in Borderlands, the classic 5v5 MOBA match-style. In this mode, members of the Imperium and the Keepers level their heroes and battle to ultimately breach the enemy base by destroying it and the buildings along the way. Similar to other MOBAS, teams can choose to assign sets of two heroes to two out of the three lanes and one hero in the remaining one. They can also choose to have a jungler, resulting in three of the five heroes acquiring solo experience. What this game does that differs from the hardcore aspects of the typical MOBA play-style is apparent in the in-base mini-game. This “playground” allows casual players to help the team and gain solo experience. The main reward for completing the mini-game is to receive scrolls which the player completing the game or his/her allies can use to momentarily buff their hero.
Other than Battlegrounds, there are other gamemodes the player may find more enjoyable, such as Outpost, a 3v3 all-mid mode, or Dragonwald, a 4v4 gametype where each team grinds until one can obtain the dragon egg located in the center of the map. Currently, Prime World suffers from really long queue times and an extremely unbalanced matchmaking system. As a result, the primary gamemodes are not very accessible and enjoyment of the matches are highly compromised. These issues are present because the game has a broken, or non-existent MMR, allowing players of any level to be placed in the same match.
The overarching storyline is interesting and it effectively drives the game and complements each of the modes but to enjoy missions, and other gamemodes, the player has to overlook terribly poor dialogue and unvaried voice responses. The characters have virtually no personality as they are too reliant on overused tropes such as the strong male and beautiful female. For example, the first three characters I had to choose from were very similar in personality as they seemed to be nothing more than the femininity and beauty they preached (disclaimer: I do not know if the male starting characters are equally as bland).
To reiterate, visually, the game is extremely appealing. The graphics are excellent and the music noticeably compliments the atmosphere. Quite interestingly, the game is working to incorporate multi-platformed elements, such as smartphone-playable features. To expand on these more social and casual game mechanics, Prime World currently encourages the player to connect their Prime World accounts to their Facebook ones, as there are in-game benefits when farming with friends. Facebook Connect allows players to form real relationships with the people they fight with, furthering a more social gaming atmosphere. It is also a method for Nival to verify whether the player is truly male or female. This verification is important because when loading a match, the game very blatantly identifies the gender of each player on both teams. Although the creator’s original intent was to use gender as a mechanic, by granting team bonuses if there was a female on your team, or selecting talents that only affect members of the opposite sex, it seems that after much public complaint, these gender bonuses were lessened as the former example is not currently a part of the game. As a player who has not chosen to link their Prime World and Facebook accounts, the game very invasively questions whether I am male or female almost every single time I launch the game. The game’s emphasis on gender is in plain terms, severely odd, and really hinders my outlook on the game. As a player, I do not want to play a game with the notion of gender as a mechanic looming over my head. My gender affected how members of my team interacted with me and it also took away from the primary reason why I play games: to escape reality and be the hero. Subsuming the role of a hero does not always follow the gender specific binaries that this game enforces.
This grind-based gameplay will prove addicting to most players and the large talent customization will keep the gameplay varied and rewarding. The various modes give players reason to constantly log on, whether it is to collect farmed resources, earn hero or player levels, complete missions or participate in other game modes. On the other hand, for some players, the repetition and intense grind aspect may eventually lose its appeal. Undoubtedly, the game will benefit from a larger community that will inhibit a change in the matchmaking system. This change will increase the game’s playability, as constantly losing prevents you from completing basic missions and playing with the AI tires quickly.