This is Evercore Heroes, when the MOBA and the MMO collide in a healthy competition

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First announced as “Project-V” in late 2020, Vela Games has finally lifted the veil of mystery on its first release, Evercore Heroes. The team, made up of veteran developers, describes how their cooperative multiplayer online game (or “MOCO”) combines the depth and strategy of a MOBA with the cooperative PvE challenge of a raid MMO.

Why this particular combination? Instead of working within a specific genre, the team focused on the player experiences they wanted to create. In a typical MMO, of course, the most rewarding challenges often require considerable effort and time investment to access. You have to earn your place in the raiding party, and the dungeon door policy is strict: you won’t enter if your shoes don’t have impressive enough frost resistance.

However, there’s no need to spend hours sewing a magical cloak out of salamander giblets before playing a MOBA. Everyone starts each game at level 1, gradually becoming more powerful by gaining resources throughout the game. Instead of spending your time getting better gear, you develop your skill and knowledge of the game, and are rewarded for your mastery of notoriously complex characters.

The element of competition is key.

A team of MOBA heroes competing in a raid-type PvE environment sounds like a promising combination. But Vela Games CEO and co-founder Travis George describes that something was still missing from the formula,

“When we started testing Project V with the community, the game was developing really well. But we had the feeling, every time we played, that it wasn’t as good as we wanted it to be.”

The team looked back at experiments from early development and returned again and again to an idea they had prototyped: a competitive PvE experience. The competitive element turned out to be the missing link, and the key to making Evercore Heroes replayable for thousands of hours.

As your team of four heroes explores the map, securing objectives, facing dangerous mobs, and powering up to face the final boss, three other teams are carrying out the exact same challenge in real timecompeting to be the first to complete it.

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It is crucial to keep an eye on the movements of competitors and modify your strategy accordingly.

While you can’t directly interact with these rival teams, players are represented in-game as glowing, color-coded orbs, so you can see them move around their instance of the map. Once one of the teams takes a map objective and gets rewards, it is locked to all the others, so it is crucial to be aware of the movements of your competitors and modify your strategy accordingly.

The typical MOBA PvP experience It consists of mercilessly hitting your enemies and taking control of the map until you squeeze the life out of them, like a python. As my fellow MOBAs can attest, being on the receiving end of that punishment isn’t the best feeling, but Travis explains how Evercore Heroes deliberately seeks to avoid this experience.

“[Evercore Heroes] it’s a hard game, it’s a skill based game. You’re going to have moments where you say, “Wow, we could have done better, how can we do better,” but… if you go back out into lane, for example, and someone has your number and kills you five times in a row, the negative emotions build up, so we don’t offer that experience. Because it’s not about ending the fun of other players.”

Instead of destroying your enemies, you try to beat them in a race.

“Our game is still competitive,” he continues, “so you have to beat other human beings, which is a great feeling. But at the end of the day, you do it by working better together.”

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It seems that instead of destroying your enemies, you try to beat them in a race. Losing a race doesn’t feel as bad as getting wiped out, and thank goodness, because you’re up against three other teams. In a traditional PvP game where two teams go head to head, expect to win about 50% of the matches, if the matchmaking system does its job. But with four teams in the running, surely that means you can only win a quarter of the time at most.

“When you have 50% wins, you also lose 50% of the time, right?” Travis explains. “When you have four teams, you only lose 25% of the time. If you’re third, you can still fight for second. If you’re fourth, you can fight for the top spot. There’s a lot more equality across that spectrum, and I think there’s an advantage to not losing as often.”

Adaptation leads to true mastery.

In the absence of time to test the game (there will be a community playtest this weekend, October 13-16which you can sign up for on the Evercore Heroes website) I wonder if, with a certain level of mechanical skill, you could dispatch the mobs and execute your plan with ease, making it basically a contest of efficiency.

“Every game you have to feel like you can improve, and we want that to last forever.” assures Travis. “Some of our best teams are pretty evenly matched, and they wouldn’t always die for the game itself. But… you always have to outplay the other team – they can use a team build and steal a lot of power from you so you’re not as powerful as you should.”

Explain that the players have to modify your strategy on the fly in response to changing circumstances. “Even when you’re playing on the same map, the objectives, the enemies, the rewards, the shards, it all shuffles. We have a design pillar: adaptation leads to true mastery.”

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We wanted to create a game that you could really learn from and watch.

The characters themselves are also designed to reward mastery.. In the list of heroes, Travis notes that some are more mechanically simple than others: Beco is a “pure healer”, while Lotus is more of a “hybrid healer” with a more complex kit that allows her to deal damage. damage too. “There’s almost no limit to how good you can be.”

Watching the most skilled players demonstrate their skills is an important part of what makes a game successful as an esport.

Travis nods. “Our stance on esports is that if the community really starts to love it, we’d be happy to develop it. We wanted to make a game that you could learn from and watch. One of the reasons we chose the camera angle is that, in addition to making skill plays and different positions easier, it’s easier to see what’s going on in a game.”

I ask if your high-skill playtesters have come up with any ridiculously overpowered combat. “All the time!” laughs the team. “I think that’s why we’re confident to come out and talk about Evercore Heroes for the first time: we’re very confident that the game has that depth, and we’re going to continue [equilibrando] That always, as long as the players want to play.”

The first indications seem promising, but personally, what makes me more curious is to know how games feel in practice. In a MOBA, the constant presence of enemy players on the map creates an urgent and dangerous scenario, in which individuals can make split-second game-changing moves using their reactions, awareness, and skill. Can a race to the finish line be so suspenseful? I’m looking forward to finding out.