Impact Plays – Awesomenauts

The beginning of August marks the third anniversary of the PC release of Awesomenauts. The occasion marks a good point to take a look at where the game stands nowadays. For those who haven’t heard of it, Awesomenauts is a 3-on-3 side scrolling multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) game published by Ronimo Games in August 2012. It scored 78/100 on Metacritic and costs £6.99 full price on Steam.

For a MOBA, Awesomenauts is the definition of ‘beginner-friendly’. The quick tutorial covers all the gameplay basics for the player and computer-controlled matches have a good amount of difficulty options. The 2D platformer style maps are impossible to get lost in and quick to traverse. The basics of each character are simple, with two abilities: a jump and a standard attack. The longest matches may last over an hour, but quick easy matches are normally between 10 and 25 minutes. The game is also accommodating for the entirety of its player base: it includes split screen local co-op, controller support and custom matches with a huge range of options.

For a MOBA, Awesomenauts is the definition of ‘beginner-friendly’

Despite being kind to novices, Awesomenauts has a surprising amount of depth. Each character has 24 upgrades to choose from as they progress through the match, most of which have further levels themselves. The in-match currency governs what upgrades are available to buy, but a cap on maximum number of skills allowed casts players thoughts also to mid- and late-game. There are a number of different roles to perform in your team of three and each character excels in different areas.

It is these characters, the titular Awesomenauts, who truly make the game worth playing. With the addition of new character Rocco last month, Awesomenauts has a roster of 17 playable characters, or 22 if you purchase the brilliant Starstorm character expansion pack (£5.99 full price on Steam). The cast varies massively: from soviet jet pack monkey to overweight space Viking to living ice-cream knight. These inventive designs are matched with catchy dialogue. They have their own backstory and the names of their upgrades are puns on the theme of each character. No two characters play the same, but none feel unbalanced.

The graphics in Awesomenauts are simple, charming and pleasant to look at. The soundtrack is good and fits well with the gameplay, with each character even having their own musical themes. There is both competition and casual fun to be found in Awesomenauts, working particularly well when playing with friends.

It is these characters, the titular Awesomenauts, who truly make the game worth playing

It’s great to see a game like Awesomenauts still sporting a healthy community today, three years after launch. The developers have earned it. The large current roster grew from an original selection of only 8 Awesomenauts. The upcoming patch, 2.12 The Cutting Edge, is just another one of the constant tweaks of balancing and updating which Ronimo have done over the years. DLC skins are frequently released, some with whole new voiceovers, a number designed and voted for by the community. Awesomenauts is proud of its community: loading screens feature impressive fan art, the menu displays winners of the most recent Awesomenauts tournament and there is an option to load modded bot AIs. The community give back as the game’s crowdfunding campaign reached multiple stretch goals and still receives donations today.

Awesomenauts is a solid game that may pleasantly surprise you. Only low-end PC specs are required to run it and the game is good value for money even before a sale. It’s been three years, I recommend checking it out.

Thomas Evans

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