In the creation of any work of fiction the conception of interesting characters is consistently one of the greatest challenges. The rapidly ossifying conventions of the relatively new Multiplayer Online Battle Arena, or MOBA (f/k/a DotA-style) require that that there not just be one or two player characters, but dozens of them, all competing in their own unique way and balanced for gameplay at a level rivaling the best 2D fighters.
Developer Turbine's (Asheron's Call) upcoming MOBA, Infinite Crisis, has a bit of a leg up on that challenge thanks to the properties owned by publisher Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment: the entirety of the DC Comics Multiverse. This conceit allows for not only the 'classic' version of DC's heroes and villains to appear as player characters in the game, but also alternate universe versions of those characters that share only the their names with their 'real' iterations. For example the Batman from Earth-19, the Gotham by Gaslight/Steampunk world wields sonic-based technology, while the Vampire Batman from Earth-43, based on the Batman & Dracula: Red Rain uses his feral abilities.
Infinite Crisis is in its Beta period, so while there is no guarantee that any element experienced during this pre-launch shakedown period will make it into the final experience, it’s clear that some of the major structural elements are going to survive the transition. Most notable is the free-to-play game's dual-currency system. Unlocks can be purchased with real money, or in select cases with a secondary currency that's earned via gameplay. As it appears now, each hero’s iteration can have up to four different costumes that will be available for purchase.
Also in exchange for in-game credit are what's being called “Stolen Powers.” In addition to each character’s melee/ranged attack, four special abilities (including an Ultra) and a character specific always-on passive ability, each player can equip two more powers that can supplement a character’s role in a team even if it doesn't fit with the character thematically. These extra powers include abilities like a short term force field, a burst of speed, a beam attack or even the ability to throw environmental items for damage.
The environment plays a large factor in a round of Infinite Crisis and it directly affects the goal of a single round. Each of the two maps that have been made available so far, Gotham City and Coast City, have different goals as well as different layouts. The former has the two teams and their allied AI-controlled drones (creeps) battling to hold five control points arrayed in a ring around a network of 'streets.' Operating on a ticket system, holding more of the points slows your team’s ticket loss. In the center of the map an orbital cannon occasionally becomes available, conquering and holding it sends powerful blasts down on your foes.
Coast City is more of a traditional two-lane map where teams try to knock down turrets on the way to the opponent’s base. As towers fall, more come on online as does a doomsday device that operates like the orbital cannon. Both maps feature neutral creeps to farm as well as health pickups and special cloaking spaces where heroes can lay in wait for their opponents to approach before launching an attack. There is also an in-match store at each base to purchase stat-boosting items, most named after familiar DC Universe artifacts like Lobo's Hook, Abin Sur's Lantern and The Crime Bible.
The work in progress experience is rounded out with hints at an arcing story to the game, familiar voice work (including Kevin Conroy as Batman) and a leveling system for the user and for the user's unlocked characters.
Interested gamers can apply for the Beta here, or wait for the launch later this year.