On the heels of the latest Michael Bay blockbuster and the disappointing Rise of the Dark Spark video game, developer Jagex has started the open beta for its upcoming release based on everyone’s favorite Robots in Disguise, the appropriately named Transformers Universe. Interestingly enough, Hasbro is investing a lot into the open beta, promising up to $75,000 worth of prizes to players for certain achievements and even prizes for gamers who invite the most players to participate. Prior to this open beta, not much information had been released to the public about the browser-based game, which has left a number of gamers cautiously asking, “What exactly is Transformers Universe?”
Still reeling from the debacle that is Transformers: Rise of the Dark Spark, I decided to give this game a try. What I found so far looks promising; not only is Transformers Universe a browser-based game that plays well on my laptop, the Jagex developed romp follows the free-to-play model. The British developer defines Transformers Universe as a MOTA: Multiplayer Online Tactical Arena game. This unhelpful, coined term, is used to describe a 4v4 PVP game with modes that include Team Deathmatch and Capture the Flag. Transformers Universe is a mix of MMORPG and MOBA elements, what is not clear to me is how many modes will be available when the title launches or what else, if anything. might be in store, but the beta shows promise. When you register to participate in the Transformers Universe Beta, you will choose your allegiance as Autobot or Decepticon. But you are permitted to switch sides and create a separate character once you have access to the game.
Transformers Universe defines every gamer as a commander, who is responsible for “recruiting” robots to participate in their battlegroup. Battlegroups are the characters you have available to choose between. After completing a well-made tutorial, gamers enter the headquarters for their previously selected faction, called “The Hangar”. In this location, players can engineer items, purchase supplies, and customize their robots’ loadouts. The Hangar also lets you see percentages on who is winning the overall Autobot vs. Decepticon battle, which is determined by the results of all of the skirmishes and missions. Apparently, the Autobot vs. Decepticon conflict will also be factored into the Hangar and which will have to be defended against trespassers.
Playing in the Team Deathmatch and Capture the Flag modes are pretty standard fare. The robots have standard and long range weapons along with a melee attack and a special ability. The transformers’ classes fall within some basic FPS and RPG types with plenty of upgrades available. Victory in Transformers Universe is primarily based on teamwork in these 4v4 scenarios, getting outnumbered will quickly result in death, and being able to escape when the odds are not in your favor is a requirement. Needless to say, there is no substitute for good strategy. Obviously, what most separates Transformers Universe from similar games is the fact that it features the titular robots’ transforming function. Transforming between robot and vehicle is quick and easy; in fact, using the mouse and keyboard for movement and combat feels better than anticipated.
Graphically, Transformers Universe is nothing to write home about, but there is not much you should expect from a browser-based, free-to-play experience. Fortunately, Transformers Universe uses an art style which makes the game easier on the eyes. The characters look very similar to the computer-animated robots in the Transformers Prime cartoon series, and apparently the game is based on that continuity. While gamers may not love the way Transformers Universe looks, it just might be fun enough to keep people interested.
While Transformers Universe does not have a listed release date, it can be anticipated that the game will be officially available after this open beta period. According to Jagex CEO, Mark Gerhard the company is “100% set to launch Transformers Universe this Summer.”
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