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HERE’S AN IDEA! Make The Next Unreal Tournament A MOBA!

Posted by on October 17, 2012 at 9:25 am
Unreal Tournament 4: MOBA edition!

Take a moment to think about the possibilities…

I am a fan of Unreal, though not necessarily as strong as I was back in the early to mid 2000’s, and I will say this: I felt like Unreal Tournament 2004 had the best offerings in terms of gameplay, really, though it was still feeding off the fumes of 90’s shooter fame, when everyone else wanted to take FPS games into a more quote/unquote realistic direction. UT 2004 had variety, color, and just enough campiness and gore to make it a fun, interesting and a diverse shooter for the time; at least to me.

UT Classic - The Original Face CTF Map

A short sigh of joy escapes me when thinking of a happier, simpler time…

Then came Unreal Tournament 3… and suffice it to say, I could write an entire article all the things wrong with it. For those of you curious, let me just say that story is hard to equate inside an arena-based shooter that didn’t warrant a story to begin with, and also, rebranding the “OnSlaught” gametype to “Unreal Warfare” but then changing almost nothing about the gameplay isn’t a point in your favor; it’s literally just rebranding. I guess you could say that, UT3 is pretty and you can have some with it, but there’s very little substance …

Suffice it to say that the Unreal series needs to reevaluate itself a little…

Unreal Tournament 3 CTF Campaign map

Shiny doesn’t equal substance. UT3 has this problem …

So.. why a “MOBA”? Well, if you’d like to ignore the astoundingly large amount of people who play League of Legends, and probably find SMITE or DOTA just as fun, it’s really hard not to see how this could be done with ease. The character roster of Unreal Tournament 2004 numbered at least 80+ characters to choose from, some being carbon-copy models with a different coat of paint albeit, still lends to a pretty good starting roster for any MOBA-style game, or at least a game that allows for diverse character traits and talent trees. The setting is pan-galactic, even pan-dimensional if you count the amount of levels that are based inside slip-space, like Xan Kriegor’s personal ship that you battle on during the final stage of the singleplayer tournament, or the gas-mining station based in a seemingly ethereal void dubbed OutRigger. There is, without a doubt in my mind, plenty of room to explore these vast, unimaginably creative and unique frontiers through level design. The story may not be there exactly, of course, as most of it was done in a single paragraph of exposition during the first game’s opening sequence, but a little time and effort on the writer’s side can take something like Unreal Tournament, which has no real story, and at least give us a good setting for a better understanding of the universe it’s based in.

HyperBlast2 - Slip Space battle arena map

Admit it, we just want to invent Slip-Space transportation so we can have cool arena battles ON and AROUND a space-ship…

As far as game-types go? Well, where as LoL uses a bi-focal tower defense system, similar to what OnSlaught is in the original UT 2004, I think it is safe to say that some of the pre-existing gametypes prevalent in UT 2004 would be excellent modes of play in a MOBA. In fact, it would be easy to modify the aforementioned Unreal Warfare to accommodate more than just the sort of Capture-Point system it already has integrated. Why not integrate the Assault-mode formula? It wouldn’t be hard to create an asymmetrical game where one team is defending and the other attacking. How hard would it be to have all cores slowly take damage, requiring the defenders to pool resources and keep key cores functional before the match’s timer runs out? I also think that a really good type to reintroduce would be Bombing Run. It was a fun and unique sport, and taking creative liberty of the game, you could sell it well. Maybe turn it into a variation of Lacrosse, except the Lacrosse stick would be a spear with a serrated spear-head, and you could have the addition of a powerful by slow-firing pistol as a secondary weapon to protect yourself. I think people could get behind that idea, and even add more features to make it twice as explosive.

Magma - UT 2004 CTF Map

Sure, you wouldn’t survive 10 seconds in this planet’s atmosphere,… But it’s still an awesome place to hold arena matches…

Hell, a top-down perspective may be the format to give it a different edge. It could work if done right. There are shooters that work well as a top-down experience, so it’s really a matter of taking a route and sticking to it. Of course, taking a safer route, it wouldn’t be hard to see this type of game work as a first-person or third-person perspective, like what Epic already knows how to do.

Of course, if Unreal never comes back into the fray again, I will understand completely. My fear is that Epic never goes back to taking a chance with a series, and seeing what they can do to make it feel different, if not better, than the current FPS offerings of today, if they even go that direction from here on out, or even if Unreal has an chance of coming back in the future. Those who fear risk or unwarranted change in this series would probably say its best left in the past. I think there is potential here that could be expounded upon if a good creative mind can take it and make it more than it is now. I’m most likely not that mind, but I think there’s a good reason to discuss new directions for the series.

Unreal Tournament is deserving of a better place in the current market, as opposed to being left behind as a mediocre shooter, and also should be an arena of invention and creativity, rather than one of hashing out old ideas, mixing them up to fake originality, or reiterating to stay true to an otherwise worn-out standard. I think the next installment of Unreal will need to be more than just another shooter to really break into this modern marketplace.

I don’t know about you, but I’ll be awaiting the next installment, for better or worse …

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