Since Awesomenauts’ original 2012 release the multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) genre has become big business on consoles. Despite its flourishing though, many remain reluctant to get involved, intimidated by the complex mechanics and unforgiving communities the games are often known to harbour. For that subset of people, the Awesomenauts have assembled to provide an accommodating and accessible alternative that - in time - also offers a similar level of tremendous depth.
Stunning, Saturday morning cartoon-styled presentation takes you back to your younger years and fills you with a giddy, long-forgotten excitement.
As you eliminate droids, turrets, and enemy Awesomenauts, you’ll pocket some Solar for yourself to spend on upgrades. When recalling to the store you’re spoilt for choice, as offerings are uniquely catered to the character in play, meaning you can’t really create a stinker of a build and spoil the fun. They’re each described in clear and concise fashion - there aren’t separate stats for physical, magical, penetration and critical defences, for example - so you’ll soon be back in the thick of it whilst sure of your new boons. As purchasable items are the only way to improve your character, forgoing a conventional levelling system, that’s very much welcome.
Ideally, you’ll want to buy items that counter the enemy Awesomenauts - like extra health and defence if they have high damage output, or increased movement speed if they’re constantly getting away - though some fights are always best completely avoided. Certain ‘Nauts hard counter others, which can be frustrating when you’re on the receiving end.
It’s easy to call balance into question in these instances, especially when some offenders are only available through paid DLC, but ultimately it comes part and parcel of the genre. Just amend your playstyle and be safe - not dying is the name of the game, as it can significantly tip the scales.
You might fend off the reaper in this situation by entering the jungle to kill some neutral creatures for health, though you never know who might be lurking out of sight whilst plotting an ambush. Jungle control is definitely important as a result, but it generally won’t decide the outcome of your average match. Interestingly, jungle placement changes between the game’s five maps, in addition to the introduction of environmental hazards, manual droid spawn points, neutral bosses, and teleporters to keep players on their toes, whilst also remedying the fact there’s only one game mode.
Besides the annoying technical issues, Awesomenauts is a unique, accessible and immensely charismatic MOBA that’s easy on the eyes, ears and thumbs.
Outside of the aforementioned character DLC, there’s an absolute glut of transformative cosmetics that don’t just reskin characters, but also give their abilities a relevant makeover. In keeping with the game’s wacky verve, you’ll be sorely tempted to open your wallet in aid of transforming Froggy G into a pimp, Voltar the Omniscient into a disco dancer, Clunk into a chick that fires eggs, or one of many more. With games like Evolve lambasted for releasing with a similar amount of additional paid content, it’s important to remember that Awesomenauts has been around for a while and built its library gradually on other platforms. Regardless, if you take into account the fact that the main game will only set you back a measly £7.99 and provide hours upon hours of entertainment, it's hardly egregious.
It’s just a shame that, presumably due to a slow adoption rate, we’ve at times struggled to find players and been lumped with the wildly inconsistent bots. Some are godly strains of code, whilst others (usually our teammates, naturally) stand on the spot and fire at the wall. Thankfully the game will prompt you if a slot opens up in a match with more human players, though be prepared for a lengthy spate of loading if you accept the offer, effectively killing any momentum you might have. What’s more, there’s a chance you’ll regret it once you’re in, as connections can be almost as inconsistent as the AI. Hopefully it’s safe to attribute it to launch window jitters.
But whatever you do, don’t let that put you off. Besides the annoying technical issues, Awesomenauts is a unique, accessible and immensely charismatic MOBA that’s easy on the eyes, ears and thumbs. I’d end by saying Awesomenauts is awesome, because it is, but then I’d have to break my own fingers for typing it… Wait...
For information on an upcoming character, how to enter an Awesomenauts Assemble! raffle, and which DLC you can currently claim gratis, click here.