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Supernova hands-on: A MOBA you make your own

Hayden Dingman | Feb. 27, 2015
It's official: There's another MOBA coming to market. This past week I got the chance to go hands-on with Supernova, a new sci-fi themed MOBA from Bandai Namco. I learned three things: 1) I'm not very good at MOBAs. 2) Supernova seems like a fine MOBA. 3) I'm starting to find it difficult to tell one MOBA from another.

It's all a lot to keep track of, which I guess is probably what Supernova is going for. My worry is that it'll make the game unapproachable for newcomers though. MOBAs already have a reputation (deserved or not) for being hostile, toxic communities. So much so that Riot and Valve actively reinforce good behavior to try and get away from those tendencies.

Now imagine you've never played a MOBA before and all these extra mechanics are thrown on top? Scary stuff.

Supernova tries to dodge the issue by allowing you to automate everything, but I can imagine an angry teenager screaming in my ear right now about how useless the default upgrade paths are, and how I've totally wrecked the game by automating.

I saw this in action during our hands-on, minus the emphatic high-pitched yelling. The second round, our 5 versus 5 game ended up being the most unbalanced massacre I've ever seen at a press event. I think the final score was 40 kills to 6, and four of those six deaths were me because I, as mentioned, am terrible at MOBAs. Basically, the rest of my team had figured out how to use Supernova's mesh of systems far more efficiently than the other team, and the result was a steamrolling the likes of which I hope to never suffer through again. And I was on the winning side.

So then it seems like Supernova's target audience would be people who've already earned their MOBA stripes — who've put in time in League or Dota 2 and now are going to jump over to Supernova. Do those people exist? I mean, sure there must be some, but it doesn't seem like the safest plan to hedge a game on.

Once again, we're left with something I've seen pretty often in the last two years: Another Great MOBA. In short, Supernova looks like a fine game — it's polished, it's deep, and it has a few interesting tweaks on the MOBA formula. And it's free-to-play, which is basically a requirement in this realm.

But I don't know if it has the standing to challenge genre juggernauts League and Dota 2. Nobody has been able to so far except Blizzard, and that was because Blizzard actively dumbed down the genre to something normal people could grasp instead of making it even more niche.

I guess we'll see what happens.


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