Super Monday Night Combat Preview

"So, Monday Night Combat is coming to the Super Nintendo. Seems weird," I joke as I'm shuffled into a back room with two Uber Entertainment developers. It takes a moment, but they both start to laugh. "Yeah. You got it," executive producer Chandana Ekanayake replies. "We think it will work," shoots creative director John Comes. What Super Monday Night Combat actually is, however, is something reminiscent to the original game in the series, with a major twist: it's a PC-exclusive, free to play (F2P) affair. Had the PC version captured so much attention that going F2P was the next logical step? "The [Xbox] 360 version actually did better than the PC," Ekanayake admits. "It [the PC version] did about two-thirds of what the Xbox did." So, why has Uber decided to make the shift, I wonder? "We want it to be on the Xbox, obviously," Comes tells me. While Free-to-Play titles have exploded on the PC and Mac, consoles have yet to delve into the market with much success. "When we were doing the Steam version, we were doing a bunch of updates. We kind of liked that. It fits with how we like to develop," Ekanayake says. It's not the first time I've heard this. PC and Mac platforms are so open that developers are free to make updates as they see fit; whereas making updates on a console requires certification from platform holders. It's possible, but developers don't have nearly the same amount of control. There's instant feedback on PC, something Ekanayake admits Uber Entertainment "loves." BOOM video 10275 Super Monday Night Combat takes from the original game, adds and removes elements, and attempts to balance it all before launching. The original classes define the roles of new characters in Super Monday Night Combat. Characters from the original game return, fitting into character roles. Commandos include debuffers, closers, utility characters like the Assassin; Strikers are jack-of-all-trades, high mobility characters like the Assault; Enforcers have high health, are slow moving, and hit for high short-range damage like the Tank, Veteran, and Gunner; Defenders are buffers, area holding, and healing characters like Support and Combat Girl; and Sharp Shooters have high aim skill, deal burst damage, traits of the Sniper and Gunslinger. Some of the original skills have been removed and some new ones have been put in the pair tell me, not willing to go into too much detail. "Some of the big gameplay changes are that you actually level up playing the game," Comes says. This persistent player level system is new, versus the skill leveling system from the first that continues in Super Monday Night Combat. There are now five skill levels. Damage has also decreased throughout the game, which Uber says they hope will allow for longer matches where players can take advantage of more of their preferred skills. In the first game, things ended too quickly and some players rarely had time to use top-tier skills. "You get a sense that from the beginning of the game until you get to the end of the game you're much stronger," Comes tells me. Another change is the elimination of overtime, which Comes admits was met with "mixed reviews." Its original intention was to "end the game at a certain point," but it didn't work. "We've changed the way that bot waves work and turret waves work so that the game naturally comes to an end somewhere around twenty-ish minutes," Comes explains. "Some will go longer, some will go shorter. You do get this more organic game now." Crossfire mode has been reduced to five-on-five, versus six on each side in MNC. Uber hopes the change will make strategy more of a consideration as there are now an uneven amount of players protecting a map's various lanes of attack.

New characters fit roles set up by classes in Monday Night Combat

The game's style itself looks essentially the same as the original; however, environments have expanded out of arenas and into more organic-looking battlefields. The core of the game, however, remains the same. It's all about the money ball. "One thing we talked about internally is that we don't want to gate the player," Ekanayake says. "We want the player to have a full game experience. We want a player to play as much as they want but not have to spend money on it." But where is the money coming from? "We'll have certain free characters on a weekly basis or bi-weekly basis that you can try out. If you like that character and want to keep that character, then you can buy them." The system sounds similar to the structure of League of Legends, which Uber agrees is a fair comparison. In order to maintain balance, Uber will offer several characters to for users to play as for free. "We've expanded Endorsements, you now get twenty-five instead of three," Comes explains. "We've introduced Products, which are kind of like items in the game. Endorsements just improve your states whereas Products change the gameplay." The example Comes outlines is one product that drops a bomb near your corpse when you're killed that explodes a few seconds after you're downed. Both Endorsements and Products can be earned by playing the game or purchased for real-world money. "The vast majority of things you can buy, you can also earn in the game." There are two currencies in the game: Combat Credits, which act as in-game cash and Uber Points, which players can purchase. Right now, Uber Entertainment says the game is coming "this winter," but won't solidify whether that means late 2011 or early 2012.