First Impressions: Corepunk’s MOBA-esque closed alpha was fun – with lots of room to grow


I’ve got a pretty good poker face, especially when nobody can see my face. So I’ve been pretty subtle about my excitement for Corepunk over the last few years. But that all came to a head with this latest alpha. I was frothing at the mouth to play it. Ask my fellow writers; they had to clean the mess.

Of course, imagine my disappointment that the game’s latest alpha had to close abruptly because of all the rough errors going on. But even though I only had about three hours of playtime before the game became quite literally unplayable, I still have a pretty good vibe check of the game that I’d like to share today.

Corepunk absolutely nails the MOBA feel, but it needs a little tuning

It’s crazy that gaming’s gone this long without a proper MMO with that authentic MOBA feel. Attempts have been made; Lost Ark and other isometric MMOs can get pretty close by offering right-click-to-move controls. It’s not close enough, though. I’ve always enjoyed the feel of League of Legends and other MOBAs; however, the nature of the MOBA genre isn’t exactly my idea of a chill time. Corepunk gives us that chill feeling, but it might be too chill for me, dawg.

This game does “Warcraft in Space” better than Starcraft ever did. Not that Starcraft was trying to do that in the first place.

Corepunk pretty much takes the exact feel of those games and puts it into an MMO. When I first logged into the game, I was literally teleported into a circular pad with a familiar UI. My brain immediately thought I was playing a MOBA, and even though I knew what to expect, I was still surprised how far the team at Artificial Core leaned into the MOBA feel.

I rolled a Warrior, a DPS class that uses a single big sword. With giant shoulders and a muscular build, it had the silhouette and feel of League of Legends’ very own Garret. I went ahead and named him Anduin because why the hell not – it’s just an alpha, right?

As I warped into the aforementioned pad, I walked around a bit, got lost, died, and picked up the game’s first quest. There are no quest markers, so I had to rely on my own sense of direction, which I admit is pretty terrible. I eventually did find my way through the earlier quests, but I noticed a distinct lack of ass-kicking happening in these early moments of gameplay. It’s one thing not implementing quest markers; it’s another thing when I’m running around empty areas looking for an NPC and not getting opportunities to level up through killing mobs. This is just one of the many places I think the game can still grow.

Growth areas

I’m going to abstain from talking about the issues with the server connections since it’s an alpha anyway, and breaking the game servers was part of the reason the devs wanted to do this test in the first place. I mainly want to focus on the game and how it can leverage the MOBA feel with the MMO world. The game design introduced some very interesting design challenges the team can address.

Futurama reference?

The early game power scaling can use a little work. As I mentioned above, the distinct lack of ass-kicking threw me off. In fact, the opposite was happening! I got absolutely shellacked by a pair of bees. The power level of a level 1 character in this game is far lower than a level 1 character in other MMOs.

In fact, I got the impression that fighting monsters won’t be the things people will be doing early on. Folks on the chat mentioned that players can start going off on their own and kill mobs at around level 5.

I never got to level 5. I mentioned to MOP’s editor Bree that I don’t remember the last time I was stuck at level 1 in a video game for this long. By the time the crashes started, I was only about halfway through level 1. Most of my experience came from doing quests, but since I kept getting lost, I wasn’t getting levels at a quick clip. And since I was too weak to kill more than one monster at any given time, killing mobs to level up was clearly going to take much longer than usual for MMO players.

So considering this is still an MMO, I’d like to see more monster density. For guidance, I would recommend finding inspiration from how efficient junglers clear their sections in a game of League of Legends. It may surprise you, but I’m firmly of the belief that this game should maintain that MOBA feel as much as possible. Players should be able to kill monsters at roughly the same speed as a jungler would in League.

MassivelyOP actually had a trio of writers tooling around this test, so we chatted as we played. Something MOP’s Tyler and I didn’t quite see eye to eye on was how fast the characters moved. I’m sure he’ll talk about this in his own piece, but Tyler wants the character move speed to be faster, especially considering the vastness of the world. I, on the other hand, would like to keep the move speed as it is because I want to to maintain that MOBA feel as much as possible.

But I do agree with him that traversal needs to be addressed. The move speed didn’t bother me too much in my short playtime, but I can absolutely see how much of an annoyance it will turn into. I just don’t think increasing move speed is the solution. For one, I suspect that the team wants to integrate move speed into the game’s itemization, so players will be hunting for drops with speed buffs.

But there are other ways to solve this too. I’m in the camp of adding more warp points so players can get around more easily. One way Artificial Core can do this is by making the warp points cover a certain radius of each area so players are never really more than 2-3 minutes away from the next warp point.

I was asked to find an NPC in the “Forest southwest of town.” Se that green arrow? That’s me. I need to find an NPC in this forest.

One last thing I’d like to point out is my concern for accessibility. I’ve played enough MMOs to know how to get around games without quest markers. I even found it refreshing. Of course, not everyone will have the same level of experience, and it’d suck if the game can’t get enough players to stick around because of that rough onboarding. I think this is where Artificial Core needs to take cues from the MMO genre. It needs to provide players with as many onboarding tools as possible, a bit of a softer ramp-up through the early game and some of the more unfamiliar mechanics. Otherwise, this game ain’t going to last long at launch.

Overall, what we have so far is a solid execution with room to grow, and I’m excited to see a studio not playing it safe with a new MMORPG. The game certainly has some kinks that need to be worked out – and long as the game’s MOBA quirks stay as intact as possible.

Massively Overpowered skips scored reviews; they’re outdated in a genre whose games evolve daily. Instead, our veteran reporters immerse themselves in MMOs to present their experiences as hands-on articles, impressions pieces, and previews of games yet to come. First impressions matter, but MMOs change, so why shouldn’t our opinions?
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