Reoh’s Massive Global Agenda Beta Review
- Innovative mix of shooter and MMORPG elements.
- Option to play for free, or subscribe for more.
- TF2 influences work well, but title is not a clone.
- Conquest accounts offer a persistant world for global domination.
- No open world areas to explore and fight over.
- Linear co-op maps offer few surprises.
- Crossbreed syndrome; Some loved it while others hated it.
- Match scoring system needs work.
For the last week I’ve buried myself into Global Agenda’s Beta, and have a massive review to help you decide if this is the right game for you! I’m currently witnessing a few issues with Youtube but will be adding live game footage captured during the beta into this thread.
It was all quite welcoming to see after witnessing some of the lackluster approaches and performances made by rival game developer's over the last year.Super sexy and sleak to boot, Global Agenda (GA) is one game guaranteed to impress. The level of communication, information and support available during the beta (said to be testing the services for live) and extra thought that Hi-Rez Studios has placed into the title has impressed me. It was all quite welcoming to see after witnessing some of the lackluster approaches and performances made by rival game developer’s over the last year.
While some games were barely available at all for beta testing, GA’s servers are up for long hours almost continuously. This game is going to be tested ten times more thoroughly than recent MMO’s and that is great news for players, who have been left with the bitter taste of Pay-4-Beta game launches for far too long. This along with the interesting payment models bodes well for the post launch which is likely to provide a smoother ride, and should also ensure better player retention for the title’s future.
Now the major concern that I wanted to test in the game was latency. As an overseas player (living in Australia) I had concerns that my ping time tested at 250-350ms (using the games “f2” key option) to their Atlanta servers may cause problems. The results of my gameplay experience were quite surprising, I experience little lag related issues while playing the game in both PvE and PvP! I don’t know what they’ve done with the code but somehow it really didn’t matter that I was on the other side of the world.
Matches are privately instanced and hosted on HiRez's servers. No need to worry about server management and fee's, although also no ability to control a dedicated server or mod the game either.The game provides a single shard solution, with matchmaking services, built-in chat and voip (for team and mission on seperate push-to-talk keys), although I had no problems using either Teamspeak or Ventrilo in the background. Waiting times for most matches were very short (a matter of seconds). Each instance of “Dome City” where you reside between matches has shops, auction houses, mail depot’s, even a seasonal vendor which hints at the promise of annual festive goodies yet to come. Matches are privately instanced and hosted on HiRez’s servers. No need to worry about server management and fee’s, although also no ability to control a dedicated server or mod the game either.
The agency management features were quite good compared to most games I’ve played, with a database of guilds which could flag themselves as accepting applicants or not as they so desired. The website which provides agency management tools (in tandem with those available in game) also logs an impressive amount of stats for each of your characters, including matchscores scaling back as far as I could see. I believe more is yet to come in this area of the game and I’m looking forward to seeing its development.
By now you’re probably asking, “But what about the gameplay?!” Well I can tell you that it provides the mouth watering enticement of AvA (Agency/Alliance vs Agency/Alliance) persistant world combat. While AvA is only available to conquest subscribers, who also get co-op and pvp map updates; all players (including non-subscribers) can enjoy both co-op and pvp experiences straight out of the box through the games free-2-play account alternative. While you will be going without some of the content available to others, subscribers will not be able to use priveledged equipment for an unfair advantage that is unavailable to non-subscribers in the free game modes. Thats just a taste, and now I’ll go into each of those in more detail.
With different sectors available, which unlock rapidly as you level up, the Co-op game provides for a number of player abilities. Light sector where you begin could almost be considered a tutorial for the game. Providing you the ability to try out different classes and equipment sets as you pass your way through a fairly linear enemy stronghold. Each time through may be different as usually the spawns will change around in size, density, composition, and location. Medeum sector uses the light sector bosses as mini-bosses along they way, while High sector was remarkably challenging. I havent’ seen Max sector yet but I’m scared of it already! A queued matchmaking system will group you up (or you can join as a full or partial team of 4) and almost any stack of classes can complete missions (dependant on skill, of course!). It should be noted that a recent patch has seriously turned up the difficulty on the PvE side and introduced some new opponents too.
If you took TF2 and gave it a SpyFi makeover then this would give you a good idea on what the basic pvp is like in this game. The developers were all big TF2 fans (and what FPS player isn’t?) and have conceeded the veteran titles gameplay and classes were influential in developing Global Agenda. While there are only four classes many of them could be considered hybrids of TF2 classes (to a point). It should be noted however that this isn’t simply a TF2 clone, saying that would be an injustice. There are differences both in the abilities that may “mirror” something familar and also several new gadgets that all introduce new strategies and problems for your opponents.
The gametypes I have personally played included Capture Point and Payload, although there are other types I have yet to experience such as Demolition, and Double Agent where two members of the team are secretly chosen to stab their colleagues in the back with a surprise attack! Can’t wait to see that one in action. These game types do unlock as you level up, however the first two mentioned should be available almost immediately and were the ones most commonly available with little waiting time.
The real jewel in the prize for many Global Agenda fans is it’s Conquest Alliance vs Alliance persistant world pvp. Now let me preface this by saying this isn’t a mass onslaught of players, but controlled teams in tactical engagements to capture and control territory so that their agencies may build facilities to both gather lucrative (in game) resources or build defences to help protect them. A reminder that this AvA feature is only available to Conquest accounts, in other words those who subscribe and pay a premium each month.
Unlike in many other PvP MMO’s, only certain areas of the world are available for attack at any given time through the day. So pick an area where your agency is going to have its peak membership online and so long as you can hold your territory for those few hours, the rest of the day they’re safe and secure without having to worry about them being attacked. Furthermore, as you control areas you naturally project forcefields from around your base to help keep nearby hexes safe from attack. That is, presuming nobody nukes your shield with a missile from a nearby silo containing hex, and opens it up for invasion.
When agencies want to attack a hex, there is a bidding period. Bids are non-refundable, just like everything in Conquest. You have to scrounge for materials, resources, or just pay for the special equipment you take in. Everything from respawn beacons to missiles is used and lost, which is all part of the lively player economy which players can interact with through the Auction House system.
Skipping the symantics, when an agency actually attacks an enemy hex they have an objective to capture. They may send in several teams, and different teams will be able to help one another out. For example, I may shut down a power generator that lower’s the force fields or disable turrets in a comrades mission to help them reach their objective. So while each the strike force team numbers (10v10) are kept managable, several strike forces on a larger scale are still interacting together on their path to capturing the hex… and the world! Don’t worry though, if you’re doing poorly this time around the maps are expected to reset every few months to make sure no one Alliance dominates all.
There are four classes available in Global Agenda, although each can fill a number of roles. Ideally a Co-op team will be one each of Assault, Medic, Recon, and Roboticist. Although as mentioned previously a ‘perfectly balanced’ team while probably having an easier run doesn’t mean oddly matched groups cannot succeed all the same.
The first I tried, If the TF2 Heavy and Soldier had a baby, and the Demoman raised it as his stepson then this would be the Assault class. With a wide variety of projectile and explosive weapons the Assault might be considered the tank class (although they can also pound out a lot of damage). It should be kept in mind however that unlike in other MMO’s (*cough, WoW as an example) the Tank doesn’t just soak up the damage while being healed. A good Assault will pull the aggro but also negate the damage through their skill at positioning, dodging incoming fire, and skills to forestall disaster when things go wrong. An easily overlooked device for your kit is the Ion grenade. Handy in PvE when being swarmed by robot defenders, and in PvP for stunning players and temporarily knocking out Robofarms so you can blast them off the map.
Yeah its obvious, this class heals! But more than that, the Medic can also opt for power regeneration or specialise in damage over time and debuffing effects. A properly specialised medic can put up respectable damage numbers and a well trained medic will balance the healing requirements with their offence to help their team through both PvE and PvP encounters as necessary. You should have heard me laughing at the monitor when scoreboards flashed up that I had both top healed AND damaged in the same co-op runs!
FYI, this guy’s the spy. He might also have been the lovechild of the Scout’s mother because he’s fast too. The real question though was how did the Sniper get involved? Yep, the Recon can mix it up both up close and really freaking far away. Couple in stealth and their penchant for dropping mines and bombs, and this can be one mean customer. I found Sniping worked especially well in the PvE world where being up close to a swarm of enemies will lower your life expectancy, although a well timed stealth up and EMP bomb drop can seriously help a team out. In PvP I prefered to play this guy up close and nasty. I picked on turret farms (...with some success!), hunted down and took out the enemies respawn beacon (that teleports players from their dropship to anywhere on the frontline) and pinched every capture point I could. Probably the most populace class, and *sigh* played by many that don’t understand their potential. A good Recon is a serious asset in PvE or PvP.
Sometimes I think this is the most beloved class of them all by the developers. The roboticist has a whole lot going for them. Ostensibly you might consider them Global Agenda’s answer to the Engineer. The thing is, they can build up Turret farms, lay down aoe healing goodness, detect stealthers, aoe power recharge, project force fields… and they can mix it up on offense with an ensemble of rapid deploying short lived drones. Their shotgun is a rude awakening to the unwary recon caught up close and personal too. If you have one of these in your PvE team (and they’re at least a half decent player) your run is probably going to be a lot smoother. In PvP they’re the stronghold that defines the frontline, that is if you make sure nobody takes them out…
Most of the extra features you won’t commonly find in a Shooter style game, but are mainstay’s of the MMO circuit and are available in Global Agenda too. Auction Houses, a Mail system (with item attachment), even crafting of equipment (implants, and notably in the conquest tournament). Armor Dyes, models, and customisable avatars. I noticed there were a few shops in Dome City which were “closed” during beta that hint at DNA facial reconstruction, hair cuts, and also a shop selling jetpacks which suggest at some of the things to be released soon.
The truth is, I’ve always been more partial to MMO’s than Shooters. HiRez Studios have taken a great idea and run with it. Delivered upon what they promised and then surprised us with very innovative marketing strategies (non-subscriber gaming options, in conjunction with alternative conquest subscriber accounts). They’ve taken shooters, ripped out a bunch of things that got on my nerves, tossed it into an MMO vat and allowed it to soak up the rich features that have enhanced the shooter core into something unique. I know some players disagree with that, but I really believe that if you enter Global Agenda without genre preconceptions and embrace it for what it is, you might find a lovely surprise awaits you.
The design structure of the game insures that it can easily scale proportionately to its playerbase without having empty server issues that have caused many other games to falter shortly after their launchThat’s not to say things have been flawless, but really what beta ever is? Truth is I’ve played a lot worse than this one and there’s weeks left before launch. Its a very promising candidate in gaming and I think this title has a good chance of retaining a core of rabid fans. The design structure of the game insures that it can easily scale proportionately to its playerbase without having empty server issues that have caused many other games to falter shortly after their launch. Not to forget the remarkable ability to play the game with littie issue at high pings; on what I must admit is a very humble gaming rig (Intel Q6600 / nVidia 8800Gt) with smooth frame rates at max settings.
I still harbour hopes for the game, that it might be developed further. I would love to see the PvE side of things become a little less linear, and maybe even incorporate some pve/pvp open combat areas that would let you run around the world as is more common in classic MMO’s. Truth is I’m even partial to nabbing phat lewt off the bosses; even if it didn’t work in PvP, and indeed I think it very well shouldn’t as I’d rather see that side of things kept as balanced as possible for to the betterment of new and old player experiences. I would love to dig up more of the story of the world they’ve crafted, as the mission based context of the game world keeps the post tutorial experience seperated from its story rich beginnings (The tutorial can be conveniently skipped if you choose to, I recommend you play through at least once though).
I’ve bought this game already, and know I’ll have a lot more fun playing it in the future. There’s a good chance I might even subscribe for the conquest metagame if TOG runs an AvA Agency (and all that takes is players committed to the cause). This is going to be a good solid title, and if the conquest side of things pan out I’m sure you’ll see a lot more developers copying its model with their own Intellectual Properties. Not bad to what is in essence a publisherless Indy company. Well done HiRez, and thanks for a great game!
Global Agenda’s - Official Website.
Games Developer - Hi Rez Studios.
I will be adding several HD live captured gameplay videos to my youtube channel over the next few days.
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