Choose My Adventure: Global Agenda provides a classic MMO ass-beating


I’ll be one of the first to admit that in spite of my desire to get into a shooter MMO/multiplayer game this month, I’m not particularly skilled at them. You would think that would mean I’d want to stay away from a sub-genre that I am objectively bad at, but once in a while I still have this compulsion to try again. I’m the same way with other game types too, like RTS titles or shumps or fighting games; I try, I’m reminded that I have no business being here, and I bounce out.

Global Agenda reminded me that maybe I’m out of my depth here – or at the very least reminded me that I’m just not great. Still, I don’t think it was necessarily all my fault, as there are some weird design things that I felt were going on in my first 15 or so levels.

As requested by the Polling Public, I went with the Heavy class, which sort of impressed upon me the idea that I would be a big, stocky bruiser of a character that could take or dish out big damage. Perhaps it’s the toughest class in comparison to the others in the game, but in my experience I still felt as if I were made of absolute tissue paper.

This wasn’t really helped by the fact that I was left in my starter armor for the vast majority of the opening beats of the game. Obviously, a tutorial is meant to explain the game mechanics and get you used to how things run, and in that regard the opening segments of GA did a great job. It certainly doesn’t hurt that this game isn’t particularly deep mechanics-wise, but even so things were explained well.

Throughout the whole thing though, I couldn’t shake the fact that I felt rather spongy and soft. This sensation progressed as I entered the Sonoran Desert area of the game, its primary PvE location, as rewards for quests seemed to trickle forth better gear that ultimately made me feel only incrementally more powerful.

This wasn’t particularly helped by the enemy AI that I was facing. The critters I was engaging with seemed to somehow both be spectacularly stupid in terms of movement and finding cover while simultaneously having absolute deadeye aim that lead shots to my face. Also, again, the damage felt painful. Like, really really painful.

This was only barely mitigated by abusing the geometry and hiding behind the tallest things I could possibly manage to. I wasn’t expecting to necessarily take shots to the chin, of course, but I also wasn’t expecting a cover shooter with cover mechanics that went no deeper than breaking line-of-sight. I didn’t feel like I was being tactical so much as cowardly as I made the game’s aged AI lose its goofy little mind now and again. Right before it landed streams of perfect shots.

Lastly, my character’s progress through levels, skill tree unlocks, and gear acquisition all felt menial and watered down. I already mentioned that armor didn’t feel particularly sturdy, but I also have to admit that the weapon rewards I was getting further felt incremental, with what seemed like only the barest improvements. Even the heavier weapons – a prime feature of the Heavy’s skillset – felt kind of bad to use; as much as I liked the minigun’s ability to plant my character’s feet and lay down fire, the spread of my shots and the overall damage, even during the tutorial, felt hilariously weaksauce.

With all of these bad feelings piling on, I was hoping that the skill tree bonuses would help to shore things up. No such luck on that front either, in my opinion; once again these felt like barely noticeable improvements to whatever playstyle I was hoping for, whether it was offensive or defensive. I even poured most of my points into the defense bonuses that lay in the tank tree and the shared general tree, opting to go for as much passive resistance as I could, but that only felt like I was slightly delaying my inevitable death.

I get the impression that this game is once again counting on the ability to team up with others, and my early levels didn’t suggest that there were many people in my tier of experience. That’s not to suggest that there’s nobody playing the game, however; there were a couple of people I spied moving through the zone on their own missions, I was invited to a community Discord by another player, and the central hub’s global chat was fairly active. Still, this doesn’t feel like a game that’s built around the tiny amount of players its sudden and secretive revival has drawn in.

Unless, of course, there’s some major cog or breakthrough that’s eluding me. That’s always a possibility.

As it stands though, I don’t really think I’m going to come back to Global Agenda. There are some good ideas here, like how weapons draw from a shared energy pool instead of requiring ammo management or basic gunplay feeling pretty solid for a game of this age. In the end, things feel too imbalanced and too unrefined, likely as a result of initial design goals and the game’s overall age. Aiming is clunky and weird, levels don’t feel good, gear feels trivial, and skill points feel like wasted time and effort.

Honestly, all that playing this game made me do is wish that Tabula Rasa would make a comeback someday. Or hope that perhaps Hi-Rez Studios will release a sequel with more refined mechanics and better feeling gameplay. And neither of these seems like particularly likely scenarios if we’re honest with ourselves. We’re lucky enough to have this back at all.

So we’re zero for four on this month’s shooter block, but either through stubbornness, stupidity, or a swirl of the two, I’m not about to give up just yet. So yes, that means that I’ll be bringing up a prior poll as this week’s poll. Let’s see if we can’t tie down a shooter MMO that I’ll jibe with, shall we? I’m willing to try if you’re willing to support me!

What shooty MMO/multiplayer game should we peek at next?

  • The Division 2. Let's see if real shoot n' scoot is better. (30%, 24 Votes)
  • Destiny 2. Perhaps a tighter gunplay experience? (35%, 28 Votes)
  • Warframe. Let's try full-speed action shooting and melee. (35%, 28 Votes)

Total Voters: 80

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As usual, polling will close at 1:00 p.m. EST this Friday, January 10th. In the meantime, I’m going to unplug from this sub-genre to recharge my batteries and prepare for our next dive. I have not yet begun to fight, friends.

Welcome to Choose My Adventure, the column in which you join Chris each week as he journeys through mystical lands on fantastic adventures – and you get to decide his fate. Which is good because he can often be a pretty indecisive person unless he’s ordering a burger.
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