Exclusive: Realm of the Titans' adaptable Skill system unveiled

Hey, who got Finding Nemo in my MOBA game?

Hold on to your "I Pwn n00bs" hats, MOBA fans--an onslaught of Realm of the Titans info is just one click away. Aeria Games' entry into the DotA-inspired genre is starting to take shape as Alpha testing kicks off this Thursday. Not only do we have the exclusive first look at the Titan Skills system, an incredibly tactical addition to the genre's 5v5 teamfights, but we'll also give you a look at another of the game's unique heroes.

The Skills system is all about adaptation (real adaptation, not Nicholas Cage's 2002 drama). At the start of each match, every player chooses a Titan Skill ability in addition to their hero's four default abilities. Titan Skills come in both active and passive varieties, and (as is typical of extra abilities) get stronger every 10 minutes, ensuring that they never feel underpowered. "But wait!" you say, "League of Legends' Summoner spells do the exact same thing, and you get two of them!" Settle down there, little buddy--you didn't let me finish.

Instead of offering 13 abilities, as LoL does, ROTT's Titan Skills encompass a whopping 25 external abilities that can be used on any hero. And, more importantly, you can swap your Titan Skill every 3 minutes. This is big. Matches tend to go through phases--laning, ganking teamfights, etc.--and now you can swap out your extra skills to best match the environment or to specifically counter your opponents tactics. The implications that this seemingly small change has on team strategies is colossal.

For a taste of how the Skills System can work, see how Aeria Games explains its value in their press release:

"For example, say I'm playing a melee hero and I choose to start with the life steal Titan skill, Draining Power. Late in the game, I buy an item that gives my hero life steal, so I won't need that skill anymore. What my hero needs now is increased movement speed/attack speed. I could swap out Draining Power for the Frenzy skill, which increases attack and movement speed for a short duration, but also increases the damage my hero takes. Unfortunately for me, Frenzy is getting my hero killed too often because of the increased damage he's taking. After the 3-minute cooldown period, I decide to choose the Teleport skill instead so I can quickly move around the map. The Titan Skills system is specifically designed to reward players for adaptive thinking and inventive game play."

Want a few more examples of the various Titan Skills? Ask, and ye shall receive:

  • Meditation - Increases Mana Recovery Rate when out of combat. Resets for 5 seconds after entering combat.

  • Frenzy - Increases Attack Speed and Movement, but you take additional Damage from attacks; Lasts 12 seconds.

  • Fire Ball – Launches a fire ball to hurt enemies.

  • Purify - Purifies the target, removing negative status effects from allies and positive ones from enemies.

  • Teleport – Transports you to one of your side's buildings, to an allied stronghold or an enemy control point.

  • Draining Power - Adds life steal to attacks.

  • Power Transfer - Transfers part of Mana consumed to Health.

It's often too easy to feel underpowered in existing MOBA games, due to your extra skill not being ideal for the matchup (which you only see after you pick your skills), ala picking Ignite in LoL against a team full of tanky DPS champions. I love that the Titan Skills system leaves the strategy wide open, and coordinated teams can easily use skill-swapping to gain the advantage. Imagine all five of your team's heroes swapping to Teleport, then warping around the map as a quintet of ganking fury. Or, everybody switching to Fire Ball to insta-gib the enemy's annoying carry before they can do any damage. With 25 Titan Skills to pick from, the possibilities seem limitless. I personally can't wait to see how masterful players use this skill-swapping to constantly keep their opponents on their toes.

Oh, that isn't enough ROTT info for ya? In that case, meet the Tide Walker . This melee/caster hybrid hero is one monster you definitely don't want to encounter in dark water, and his aqua abilities will wash away his enemies as he smacks them with his intimidating sharpened-bone-pitchfork. Here's the breakdown of the Tide Walker's aquatic abilities:

  • Ocean Blast - Targets a single unit and causes area damage. Decreases Movement.

  • Surging Whirlpool - Transforms into a whirlpool, and dashes into one single point. Sucks enemies into the whirlpool.

  • Wave Attack - 25% chance of creating a wave during attacks, causing damage to enemies. Cooldown period is 0.8 seconds.

  • Tidal Wave (Ultimate) - Creates a wave that appears at range 1000 behind the caster, and travels 2000 ahead in your current direction. It deals damage to any enemy in the way, and repels the enemy backward. Damage and repelling force is based on the distance the wave has already traveled.

With the Tide Walker's ability to single out his target and push their allies away, it sounds like he'll be a great initiator. If you're interested in checking out this game, now's the time to sign up for the Realm of the Titans closed beta , as slots will start opening soon.