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Supernova, the sci-fi MOBA and RTS, tries to be something other than a clone

Out of Alpha and into Closed Beta, Supernova is a new MOBA with real-time strategy elements and a sci-fi theme that aims to give MOBA players something refreshing. With a hard emphasis on strategy as opposed to reflexes, maybe it can.

Supernova is a free-to-play MOBA and RTS game published by Bandai Namco Games and developed for PC by Primal Game Studio. With the tagline “The universe is your arena,” the atmosphere is one based on sci-fi, chock-full of futuristic technology, aliens, and mecha tanks. As of July 23rd, it went out of Alpha phase and into Closed Beta.

Players’ levels and gains have been completely reset to level 1, but the developer claims it is the last reset for the game, so veterans need not worry. As a new MOBA, it has received the usual criticism of being another doomed-to-fail clone trying to bank off of the success of League of Legends and Dota 2. Whether the criticism is valid or not is up to the influx of new players who will be testing out all the player characters (called “commanders”) that are currently available. While Supernova usually rotates 9 commanders on a weekly basis, their social media pages also announced on July 23rd that all commanders would be available to try out. On July 30th, they announced again that they extended the “all Commander” trial, meaning it will most likely end on Thursday, August 6th.

To join Closed Beta, players have the option of picking up a key with an Alienware Arena account before they’re all gone (nearly 8,900 given as of 7:20 EDT on August 4th, 2015). Or you can head over to Supernova’s partner Nvidia and entering their Beta Key Giveaway, or go to Supernova’s website directly, create an account, and wait to be emailed a Beta Key.

If Supernova is to be compared to League of Legends, Dota 2, and Starcraft II, then it must be noted that there is a much heavier emphasis on RTS and therefore it's far more similar to Starcraft II. While it is listed as a MOBA and RTS, some players may not understand the extent to which the RTS plays into it. For one, players do not simply buy items, and they have a lot more control over abilities and the minions themselves.

In the Gamespot exclusive interview with Supernova product manager Jason Schaefer, he noted that minions can be chosen, unlike in Starcraft II and League of Legends. He claims that the focus on placement strategy as opposed to reflexes is shown in the lack of the popular last hitting mechanic, which also means that latency and ping will have a far less drastic effect on the outcome of the game.

In short, it depends on your intellect more than than your immediate hand skills. However, some current League of Legends players could easily argue that Riot Games has already introduced that aspect of RTS with their (albeit temporary) game mode Black Market Brawlers, which gives players control over the minion types and strengths in their game.

On an aesthetic note, there are lot more aerial effects in the game, such as the ability to jump and floating spacecraft, which compliments the theme of intergalactic communications. And while at first glance there appears to be a lot of robots, take heed that the commanders are fully-fleshed characters with full voice acting, backstory, and personality. They just happen to be in robot suits.

Jason Schaefer made sure to note at the end of his interview that from a survey of MOBA veterans who played the Alpha, a large portion simply wanted to try something new. It’s a noble effort to say the least, but skepticism isn’t too unwarranted when the Bandai Namco Games page on Supernova literally states that they aim “to enter into the upper echelons of the E-sport space” and they will be integrating “additional in-game E-sport support features.”

Published Aug. 5th 2015

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