Infinite Crisis: the DC superhero brawler inspired by League of Legends
It’s easy to see that Turbine’s Infinite Crisis has taken a lot of design cues from League of Legends. Each DC Comics hero or villain has four spells and a passive ability, plus two stolen superpowers – Turbine’s version of LoL’s Summoner Spells. The monetisation path mirrors Riot’s, with two in-game currencies. In fact, the first playable map, dubbed Gotham Heights, is a near mirror image of LoL’s Crystal Scar map for Dominion, where players vie for control of points throughout the map.
So it’s smart, then, that Turbine’s first Dota-alike – after years of developing MMOs like Dungeons & Dragons Online, Lord of the Rings Online and Asheron’s Call – focuses so much on character design to differentiate it from the pack. With the entire DC roster at its disposal, Turbine have twisted the multiverse concept familiar to DC comicbook fans to allow for multiple versions of popular characters. For instance, the beta offers Nightmare Batman – what Bruce Wayne might have become without his nagging essence of humanity. These characters aren’t simply new skins, but discrete champions with unique abilities. Creative director Cardell Kerr says that Turbine’s goal is to make a game that does “justice to what DC characters and heroes are about”. Even if many of the characters feel slightly similar at this point, the heroes I got to sample all passed the ‘fun’ test.
The inevitable LoL comparisons also give Infinite Crisis a chance to become more accessible to first time action-RTS players. Last hitting is no longer a requirement – the credits you would have received turn into a drop that anyone on your team can grab. You don’t even have to pick which spell you want to upgrade or which item to buy because the game will suggest one, though that supersedes the traditional upgrade and crafting paths that League uses. There’s the chance that experienced players will be turned off, but Turbine are clearly betting that expanding the player base will be more valuable.
Another of Infinite Crisis’s defining attributes is destructible environments. Although it doesn’t play the biggest part in Gotham Heights, it’s refreshing to see your attacks and abilities affect the game world, even if it’s as basic as exploding cars. Lead designer Ryan Bednar says he wants players to be able “to change the map, to change the terrain, [and] to open up paths you couldn’t get to before”.
Destruction should be more important in Infinite Crisis’s next map, Coast City, the home of the Green Lantern. It’s a more traditional action-RTS map, featuring two lanes and a centre ‘urban jungle’ with fully destructible areas that will allow players to open up new paths to gank from, and to get access to a boss that drops a targetable superweapon when defeated. Kerr promises that the map will be “something that no one’s ever seen before”.
I’m not too sure about Gotham Heights, but I’m excited to see how IC’s characters play on a more traditional map with a laning phase and standard objectives. The game’s similarity to LoL isn’t necessarily a bad thing because Infinite Crisis plays competently, but I’m not yet convinced that it isn’t just a simplified League of Legends with DC characters in tow.