These days, the multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) genre seems so crowded I often wonder if we’ve already reached a point of oversaturation, so I was skeptical that developer Sparkypants could bring anything new to the table. However, I was pleasantly surprised to see Dropzone introduce a unique take on the MOBA, and it’s shaping up as an exciting arena game with some strategy and progression elements added to the mix.
Skewing more towards its RTS roots, Dropzone is a 1v1 MOBA where instead of controlling a single unit, each player controls three separate ones. Because of this, it sometimes feels more like Starcraft than DOTA, and demands some serious multitasking.
While it’s not as strenuous as managing entire armies and a base, I could definitely feel the parts of my brain I typically use in a fast-paced competitive RTS strain under the pressure of keeping my units in the right places at the right times.
Each player’s team of three units can be made up of any number of different walking tank robots, provided they’ve been unlocked with in-game currency. These walkers, called “rigs” in-game, more or less follow the standard holy trinity of tank, DPS, and support classes.
In addition to the selecting team composition, each rig has three active and three passive abilities that can be swapped out, but only if the alternative abilities have been found via purchasable, randomized loot crates. One potential issue here? Since the abilities are treated as random loot with different rarities, I worry it could provide unfair advantages to players who are willing to spend real-world cash on buying more crates.
Each match is limited to 15 minutes, and whoever scores the most points by the end wins. In order to score, the player must kill creep camps that spawn at certain points, and these camps periodically drop “cores” that must be cashed in at the center of the map. The player is alerted each time the enemy starts to cash in a core, allowing them to rush in and attempt to deny them a point.
Killing creeps nets XP as well. The twist is the player must choose which one of their rigs they want to upgrade when the team levels up. It’s perfectly viable to dump all of their upgrades into one unit to quickly unlock its ultimate while leaving the rest at low levels, as these powerful abilities can turn the tide of battle. On the other hand, having an unbalanced team leaves players open to having their units eliminated. While there’s no penalty for losing a rig, waiting for them to respawn will give the enemy player free reign to cash in as many cores as they want, and vice versa.
Overall I had a good time with Dropzone, and with some tweaks to the loot progression system, I think it has the potential to make its mark as an easy to learn, hard to master MOBA. I look forward to seeing how it grows. Players who want a peek for themselves can apply to the beta here.