Believe it or not, even though I write about PvP MMOs regularly here in Fight or Kite, I don’t actually follow a bunch of games’ Discords before they launch. I’m just not that good at delaying gratification for myself. Marshmallow test? Yes, I’ll eat all of them right now, thank you. It’s the same reason I don’t like to back new projects on Kickstarter or Gamefound. I just can’t stand being excited about something but also having to wait around for it to be ready. I want it, and I want it yesterday!
Despite all that, Evercore Heroes is actually one of the few games I have been following basically since it was initially announced as a multiplayer project. It’s funny too because I’ve never played League of Legends, and I don’t particularly like isometric stylized games. Yet that is definitely the initial audience Vela Games is going for. Still, the vibe I was getting from the game’s updates, the quality of the images and renderings, and the gameplay concept snagged me. It actually took me back to an old Warcraft 3 mod called Enfo’s Team Survival. This was a game a friend and I played countless hours. So if Evercore Heroes can bring even a sliver of that gameplay back to life for me, it’ll be a winner.
Let me back up a step for the uninitiated and explain what this game is. Evercore Heroes uses LoL-styled MOBA gameplay, but players don’t engage the other teams by smashing faces in direct PvP. Instead, it’s built as competitive PvE. Teams compete to complete objectives against PvE mobs in various challenges to score points or survive long enough to outlast the other teams. It really is direct, competitive PvE.
The look, the feel, and the vibe are heavily League of Legends-inspired
It’s no real surprise that Evercore Heroes pulls so much inspiration from LoL, with members of Vela Games’ team being made up of former devs from Riot Games, Blizzard, and Epic Games. That isn’t to say that the game doesn’t stand on its own – it does! But at the current stage of development, there is a lot of expectation that you already know how to play LoL and therefore you’ll know how to play this game.
Matches in Evercore Heroes are designed with four teams of four player competing simultaneously. You’ll be randomly assigned a team designation (Sword, Spear, Shield, or Arrow), but it only matters for keeping track of your relative progress while completing objectives. As a match is counting down to begin, you’ll see all the other teams running around as well; however, the moment it starts and you port through the entrance, all the other teams’ members turn into generic wispy sprites from your viewpoint. It’s a neat idea in that you can see whether other teams are aiming for the same objective as you, but you aren’t distracted by their combat and abilities at all – they’re simply here too.
Speaking of hero abilities, managing skills and balance is going to be a big thing for Evercore Heroes to get right to ensure some longevity to the game. The account I was provided as a press previewer was able to play only a couple characters for each role, so I can’t comment on whether balance is here or not. Certainly of the two available tank heroes, the shield hero seemed far and away the better composition choice. Hopefully with more heroes and the skill trees unlocked, players won’t find that to be the case forever.
Objectives boil down to races… basically
Right now the game randomly throws you into one of two different maps, so I’m not entirely sure how many Vela has planned for the full game release and whether you’ll be able to queue up for specific ones. It seemed like the objectives might have been slightly altered between maps, or at least their locations were, but honestly the whole match was a big foot race. I was duoing with a friend, and neither of us had really any clue what to do initially. Our basic approach was to play follow-the-leader with the others we were paired with and try to kill everything on sight.
After a few matches, the objectives became a bit clearer as we went from swimming through mud with a blindfold and concrete boots to just swimming with a blindfold – so, an improvement! There appeared to be several primary objectives laid throughout each map, as well as a bounty you could collect very soon into starting the match.
The objectives are on timers (possibly objective-triggered?). As the race begins, you’ll see a bar along the top of your screen that gives you an idea of how well each team is doing on the challenge, so you’ll know whether you’re leading or trailing and how close the race is. Each one attempts to introduce a unique mechanism, as in a dungeon or raid, where you should be able to skillfully execute the task to win as opposed to blindly clicking away and popping off your cooldowns. I didn’t always feel like that was the case, but a couple did.
Of the challenges that I remember playing, some were a bit more interesting than others. There’s one where you have four platforms and you need to defeat certain mobs on top of them. You’ll need to make smart use of taunts and knockbacks or you’ll quickly fall behind. In another, we raced to defeat a boss, but we found that if we healed some totems around that boss, it would actually weaken him. I’m not sure what we earned for winning the challenges – maybe it was gear and gold, or possibly extra HP for our Evercore.
After another set time limit, an event pops at your team’s Evercore, which is basically in the center of the map near the shops and bounty board. Wave after wave of monsters will spawn and try to destroy the Evercore. Your goal is to survive longer than one of the other teams. When a team loses its Evercore, that team instantly loses and is kicked from the match. At that point, you can return to the objective completion race again.
If you survive long enough to make it to the final two teams, there is a head-to-head match against some big boss monster. Both teams race to defeat the boss before the other team. These boss fights are probably the best part of the whole Evercore Heroes experience. Honestly, much of the gameplay was kind of plain and feeling stale even after only a handful of matches, but once you get into the head-to-head, it gets real. The fight was intense as you’re dodging attacks, tossing up shields, and doing everything you can to beat the beast first.
On paper, it isn’t really so different from the other objectives. But something about the challenge of the boss, or maybe its abilities and how you have to really navigate your defenses and skills rather than just killing mobs as fast as possible, made it a much better experience. If the rest of the game were as fun as the boss phase at the end, then we’d really have a winner here.
Is there enough in the closed beta to warrant a buy-in?
While the current iteration of the closed beta requires players to buy a Founder’s Edition to play, the game is intended to be free-to-play at release. Playing now probably doesn’t give you the full breadth of what to expect from the monetization schemes beyond what you start with and what you can purchase that’s on display – most of which we’ve come to expect.
Hero outfits and customization are going to be an angle. The art and animations in Evercore Heroes are seriously top-notch, so it would make sense with a title like this. You can see that most characters will have at least a handful of cosmetic choices for you to pick from to customize your hero to your liking. Some of the outfits even have color variations, which is always a plus in my book.
You can also buy into a higher tier to unlock heroes faster or just buy the premium currency directly. Playing matches did appear to generate some currency for unlocking heroes too, but it would take a long time for that to pay off.
Should you buy in to play today? That’s a tough call. Certainly the game is up and functioning, and I never saw any bugs that broke anything for me. But the lack of direction and introduction to the gameplay objectives makes starting out kind of annoying until you learn where to go and what to do once you get there. If you’re a fan of LoL-style MOBAs but want a different sort of challenge, then I think you might enjoy Evercore Heroes. From what I’ve experienced so far, though, it doesn’t quite live up to the nostalgia of Enfo’s Team Survival. I’m still excited about the potential I can see in it, but for now I think I’ll wait for it to bake a bit longer.