Prime World is a MOBA by Nival that is set in a fantasy world where two nation are stuck at war against each other. Like it’s classic MOBA bretheren, Prime World features 5 v 5 combat in a battle arena where the goal is to take out the enemies base. While in the battle arena it is quite similar to a League of Legends or Dota. Where the game gets a bit different is on owning land and building a city/collecting resources.
The city-builder element takes place when you’re not in battle. You have a home screen where you have your own castle that you can build much like in a game like The Settlers Online. You build barracks, libraries, mills and you use them go gain resources and build up your talent trees.
The game does a great job of introducing players to the MOBA aspect of the game, however, the city-building part is more or less just thrown on you and you have to do your research online or through the community to figure out exactly how to do it. There are parts of the game that work well, and others that seem a bit clunky and underwhelming. In the end Prime World does offer something slightly different for fans of the genre, and you might find it works better than your precious League of Legends.
Let’s jump into the nitty gritty. First off, there are no items in-game save for consumables. Instead, whatever character you choose to play is slotted with a series of “talents” before starting the match; these talents give stat boosts, unlock special abilities, and generally function as a weird fusion of gear and abilities. Each talent also increases a stat known as “Power” by a set amount; this ups all their base stats and generally makes them a better fighter.
These talents range in rarity- think of them like weapons or armor in World of Warcraft – from standard yellows and greens up to purple and orange; rarer talents give more power and generally better benefits besides. Talents can be acquired through a number of methods; the simplest is by playing the game(we’ll get to an alternative method in just a moment). Each hero you unlock also remains persistent, gaining levels, stats, and strength the more you play them.
Although the layout of the main map, Borderlands, will be instantly familiar to any MOBA veteran, there’s one primary change of which everyone should be aware: each lane is peppered with flag-posts. ‘claiming’ these flags for your faction will cause your “Native Terrain” to cover the area. Characters can, once every three minutes, teleport to any stretch of Native Terrain; certain heroes also gain bonuses to their skills and abilities when using them on Native Terrain.
Also gone is a traditional four-slot skill-set. Instead, each hero has six different ‘tiers’ of talents. Unlocking a certain number of talents at one tier will make the next tier available; unlocking talents will also advance your character’s level and increase their stats. All of this is done through a resource known as “Prime,” which is also used to purchase potions and other consumables.
Oh, there’s also a Zuma-esque minigame which lets you create usable scrolls(admittedly, these can be extremely powerful and even turn the tide of battle). Unfortunately, once you’ve started this game, there’s no way to back out, and your character is effectively out of commission while you do so. Depending on how well your team is doing, you might well have to use whatever scroll you created to make up for the experience Prime you missed out on.
Your heroes and Talent inventory are managed out-of-game through a city-building interface. As you play, your castle will level up, allowing you access to more powerful heroes, better structure upgrades, and more space for buildings – it actually feels quite similar to a Facebook game. Truth be told, it actually felt like I was playing one at times; you can set up a Prime World account using Facebook, and you’re encouraged to add your friends to your structures to increase resource production. It’s an interesting idea – and a good way to generate new Talents, Silver (for buying new heroes), and the like, but it’s a little too slow-paced for my liking.
See, one of the biggest problems with Prime World is that matchmaking tends to take forever. There was one point where I was waiting nearly twenty minutes to find a match, which itself only lasted about as long (the other team surrendered after two of the players quit). It’s a bit of an unpleasant tradeoff, and there are no doubts in my mind that the problem is linked directly to Prime World’s factions system. Of course, it’s also a bit problematic that there can easily be more than two of the same hero on a given team, as well.
At account creation, each player is made to choose one of two factions: the steampunk Dokht Imperium, and the druidic Keepers of Adornia. Players can only be matched with other players in their faction. The same goes for adding people to their friends list. In an MMORPG, where one doesn’t necessarily have to fight the other faction, such a system works fine. In a game like Prime World, however, it tends to draw out (and often imbalance) the matchmaking system. I’ve also heard rumblings of imbalances with the heroes as well; I can’t really speak to the legitimacy of such claims one way or another.
Oh, and don’t even bother trying to play with the AI – it makes the beginner bots in League of Legends look like tactical geniuses.
There are other sticking points, as well. Though the game is positively gorgeous and blessed with a beautiful soundtrack, the voice-acting ranges from passable to sub-par to “let me just throw my speakers out the window.” The single-player challenges are hair-pullingly frustrating, and the other game-modes, while a nice change from the standard 5v5, don’t ever really ‘click.’
Still, there’s a lot of promise to Prime World. Eventually, perhaps, it’ll come into its own, and prove itself a worthy competitor to the likes of LoL. For the time being, it’s a decent diversion, at least.