PAX East 2015: Hands-on with Undead Labs’ Moonrise

    
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Let me show my pokey... oh, you know the gag.

I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect when I first laid hands on Moonrise at this year’s PAX East so I suppose that “fast-paced party-based Pokémon” should not have actually come as a surprise. It sort of did, though.

Moonrise is the new game coming out of the developer currently best-known for State of Decay, and it’s an interesting creature. Comparisons to titles like Pokémon are inevitable, as the game focuses very heavily on capturing and training up monsters. But the game is also a party-based affair with a lot of things going on at once, and the addition of the trainer as an active participant shuffles up gameplay significantly.

There’s more lore to it than that, of course, but at this point the lore is only broadly sketched out and isn’t particularly relevant. What does matter is that you field a team of two monsters and do battle with “corrupted” versions of monsters, slowly building up your own army and taking on other players and trainers.

Players who are familiar with Nintendo’s long-running series of legal dog fighting will notice some pretty major changes right off the bat. The first is that the battles take place in real-time rather than in a turn-based environment, which means that you are constantly trying to have all of your assets using abilities as fast as possible. Second is that there’s no worry about accidentally knocking out your capture target; monsters are “purified” when you beat the snot out of them, which gives you the choice of capturing them or not.

Yes, the choice. You have a fairly limited supply of keys to grab monsters, and you have a fairly robust selection of customization options for the critters you’ve already captured. Instead of trying to catch ’em all, you’re focusing more on capturing the ones that might actually prove useful in your overall lineup.

Third, and perhaps most importantly, the game makes the trainer a target as well. You lose the match if all of your monsters are knocked out, but also you also lose the match if you lose your trainer. It’s a neat shift to the dynamics.

Otherwise, though, it felt very familiar and basic. You challenge fairly straightfoward quests, there are dungeons, and the whole thing is clearly designed for the tablet interface first and foremost. Battles are a bit frenetic, and it’s easy to be blindsided by unexpected maneuvers; it felt a bit like playing a speed match of a card game. It’s solid, responsive, and designed to cater to many different strategies and team layouts.

I don’t think Moonrise is quite my cup of tea, but if you’re looking for another monster-based game, it’s a solid entry. Players can sign up for the closed beta now.

Massively Overpowered was on the ground in Boston for PAX East 2015, bringing you all the best MMORPG and MMO coverage from GW2, FFXIV, Blizzard, and more!
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RagnarTheDrunk
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RagnarTheDrunk

SkyyDragonn 31

RagnarTheDrunk
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RagnarTheDrunk

Weren’t they supposed to launch an MMO version of State of Decay?

Denngar
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Denngar

MikedotFoster  I actually really like the idea of the combat so far. This has me excited, but  Mike’s comment does bring things back to reality; what’s the cost of a an innovative Pokemon? I much prefer buy to play than f2p but the mobile market doesn’t seem to agree with my preference.

MikedotFoster
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MikedotFoster

Modrain I really enjoyed the play test at PAX South but they dodged payment questions super hard. Looks like the biggest pay-for thing will be the thing that lets you actually capture creatures, but I also remember there being an energy system for the dungeons or something like that.

SkyyDragonn
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SkyyDragonn

I dont think this ones going to be for me as I’m one of like 30 people in the entire world that doesn’t like Pokemon anyway :p
That aside I really was hoping Undead Labs would focus more on what made them successful from the start.. State of Decay. is probably one of the better zombie games on the market in terms of things to do besides just scavenge supplies all day long. they really need to expand on the formula and add a multiplayer game type to the franchise soon!

Blackomen
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Blackomen

Modrain There is a video showing gameplay out there, and it briefly shows the cash shop. Sadly it is indeed pay2win. It has the typical 2x exp booster items, but also stat increasing items, as well as the ability to buy “pokeballs” you normally only get a few of each day. The game also has lockboxes of some sort, but the video didn’t cover them more than to show they exist.

So yes, pay2win sadly. Damn shame, it looked like it could have been a great game otherwise.

Modrain
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Modrain

Still curious about the game, still affraid to know what they’ll put in the cash shop, even if they assured that it wouldn’t contain pay-to-win items.

Also, “pokeymans”. Dat tag.