To Build or Not to Build? – Anomaly 2 Multiplayer Preview
If you have yet to pick up the Anomaly series, there’s a new feature that is sure to pique your interest: online Multiplayer! 11 bit studios is at it again, creating new and exciting ways to play war games, and Gamer Living has been given the chance to take a peek behind the iron curtain in the closed Multiplayer BETA for Anomaly 2, set for release on May 15, 2013.
The online play is fairly straightforward – you win the Multiplayer game by accumulating 1000 points or gaining a 500 point advantage over your opponent. You will earn points for destroying enemy units, or using Technology. The points you get will vary depending on the enemy units you destroy, the map you play on, and how many bonuses you pick up along the way. An example of this would be that a Destroyed Generator was worth 300 points in the matches I played. However, if you were on a different (larger) map, the same Generator might be worth more, and you can check the Options menu to see exactly how many points the item will yield. Regardless of how many points you get, players will be motivated to build as quickly as possible as a Tower (defense), or seek and destroy as strategically as possible as a Squad (offense), because whatever points you gain in the match will add to your ranking.
You will automatically start as a Rookie with only the Training Map available to you, but you can unlock more maps and titles as you gain experience –losing a match will still earn you experience points, so you can advance even if you are playing against people of higher rank than yourself. Unfortunately, I did not have the opportunity to experience multiple maps or titles, as the BETA has only a few players currently trying it, and, to be fair, I work strange hours! The map layouts are a lot more condensed than the campaign maps, though this adds to the gameplay instead of taking away from it. It is a lot easier to play either side when you can see the entire map with only a few scrolls in either direction – which will allow for quick reflexes and an easier game plan on the fly.
When you load up the Multiplayer Menu, you can either choose to play with a specific friend or to find a match online. You can choose to play as Squad, Tower, or opt to play either one at random – so you don’t find yourself waiting too long in queue. You can even select any unlocked map if you have a favourite, and decide whether or not you want to play with people of the same skill level. If you have a custom game chosen (e.g. Tower only, with a specific map and level), after approximately two minutes of not finding an opponent, the game will prompt you to either continue waiting or to try a broader search. This ensures that, if you can’t find a custom match, you can at least have the option of revising your search without having to exit out and start back at the Main Menu, or wait in an endless queue. To make this experience even better, if you find an opponent online you really enjoyed playing with, you can choose to request a rematch at the end of the game, or even send them a message at any point via a text box option at the bottom of your screen – before or after the match. This helps players find someone that is a good challenge and stick with them, or at least explain why you had to leave, without feeling like a jerk for saying no to a rematch.
Playing as Squad is the same concept as playing a solo campaign: you take your troops and units through a sea of enemy towers, destroying them to get to the end of the map. You’ll have all the same abilities you would in the solo campaign for the upcoming Anomaly 2. For those of you just joining us, you can learn more about the solo campaign and gameplay here. Where the game takes a new twist via the multiplayer is when you play as Tower. This choice adds an old tower-defense concept into a new tower-offense game. While playing as Squad will be more familiar to Anomaly fans, playing as Tower may help gamers gain a better tactical understanding of enemies in the solo campaign, and help them up their game overall.
Should you choose to play as Tower, you’ll have a menu on the right side of the screen during the match that will display the type of towers you can build. You can rotate the towers and place them anywhere that’s highlighted blue. Any space you cannot place that specific tower will be highlighted in red, as certain towers can’t fully rotate, or are too large to fit in such a confined space (like the Behemoth). Once towers are placed, Tower players will also have four unique abilities to use: Regen, Berserk, Taunt, or Kamikaze. The Regen ability (also available in Squad) will heal the selected tower and any towers surrounding it, whereas Taunt will cause units to focus their attacks on a specific tower or unit of your choosing, while that unit or tower’s defenses are boosted. These are the two defensive abilities that players will be able to use to their strategic advantage. The two offensive abilities are Berserk, which will temporarily boost damage dealt by a selected tower or unit, and Kamikaze, which sacrifices one of your towers or units and dealing massive damage to any enemies nearby.
Another option that players will be able to utilize in the matches are Technologies. You can purchase Technology to advance your towers or units in different ways, and each new Technology grants access to new units or towers you can then deploy. Depending on when you choose to add a Technology, you’ll gain different advantages. For example, if you purchase a Health Bonus and use it, then a Damage Bonus, you’ll get 25% more HP and deal 23% more damage. Reverse the order in which you purchase these, and you’ll get 15% more damage, but 37% more HP. This will be important to keep in mind, especially if you already know the opponent you are going up against. Learning how they play will help you determine if you should focus more on firepower or health bonuses, and as you’ll notice each application of Technology isn’t mapped out for you, there will be a lot of trial and error at first. Tricky as it may seem, once you’ve figured out the basics, the tactical advantage that Technology will give you can mean the difference between a swift victory or a slow and painful defeat – so use it well!
With 11 bit studios’ Anomaly 2 release on the horizon, it’s hard not to get excited for this added feature. Although the game only allows for one-on-one play so far, it’ll be interesting to see if they add a new type of online gameplay with four or even up to eight gamers on the field! Perhaps I’m getting ahead of myself — while working together with more players could be interesting, it might be a bit more involved than 11 bit studios may have intended. The game as it stands is a quick pick-up-and-go type multiplayer, as each match is only a few minutes long. If there is one thing that’s certain, it’s that tower-offense and tower-defense fans alike won’t be disappointed as they go head-to-head to battle for control of Earth, in this two-player, online match system for Anomaly 2.
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