I have it on good authority that the Sandstorm patch for Global Agenda will complete its multi-part release sometime this week. It’s obvious to anyone that’s played the games for five minutes that the iterations that already have been released have dramatically altered the game for the better. Mix in a dash of subscription free, and Global Agenda is a markedly different game than it was in February. The final part will literally open up the world, introducing Open World gameplay on massive maps that will include new mobs, game modes as well as new maps for existing modes.
It’s plainly obvious that the developers have been hard at work. However, most of the development has been aimed at adding content and polishing what was originally a rough presentation. Balance issues have received some attention. It’s a handful of gameplay mechanics that keep gnawing at the back of my mind.
High Combat Skill = newb team – Combat Skill is a mathematical number that attempts to rate a player’s competence. Think of it as Global Agenda’s Gearscore. It’s roughly that accurate. Level and win percentage are its top factors. Once you reach the upper echelons, don’t expect to play against hardcore teams in nail-biting, highly-strategic matches. Instead, you’ll likely be paired with another “highly skilled” player to carry a team of “lower skilled” players.
I’m exaggerating a bit, but it does feel that the ranking system isn’t tiered in any fashion. Outside pre-mades, it’d be rare to find teams of 4-5 star players competing against each other.
Read on for more analysis on mechanics.
AoE spam – For most classes, having an AoE setup (weapons and mods) is a must. Numerous PvP missions are built around the idea of holding an objective for a set amount of time. This causes players to clump together as if they were on an AYSO pitch. With everyone rubbing shoulders, AoE becomes the name of the game. It doesn’t matter if you’re healing or doing damage, you’d better be spamming those abilities as soon as they become available.
No other PvP mode exemplifies this problem more than Scramble. In Scramble, a King of the Hill scenario, there’s only one point active at any given time. The rest of the map might as well not exist. All of the action happens within the realm of that small circle. Rocket turrets, grenades, healing waves, AoE weapons — they all become mandatory if you want to win.
I’ve removed Scramble from my cycle because of this.
Objective points being abandoned – This plagues any title with objective points that have to be held. You fight off an opposing force, capture the point, and then everyone moves on to the next point. Perhaps one or two players remain behind. Nevertheless, the force returns in short order to reclaim its property, rendering your futile attempt to defend a complete waste of time.
This issue seems to be exacerbated in Global Agenda because of the stats displayed at the end of the match. Your potency is displayed for all of the participants to see upon completion. Combat details (kills, assists and damage), healing, objective points (accumulated for capturing, doing damage to someone capturing an objective or doing damage to an attacker while defending [sorry healers]) and buffs are all touted. Sitting on defense raises none of these, making any defenders look like free loaders. There needs to be some further incentive to sitting on a point.
After all, it’s incredibly boring.
AvA balance – Four assault, four medics, a robo and a recon. Zerg. Sound about right?
The gnawing I’m feeling isn’t a complaining nip, at least not entirely. I just can’t shake the feeling that most of these points weren’t intended in the original design. There’s a chance that “skilled” players are meant to carry the rest of us. More than likely, there simply are not enough of them queuing at any given time. However, I’d put money down that Global Agenda wasn’t designed to be a game of “Who can spam the most AoE” or doing your best Usain Bolt impression from an objective. Surely, AvA, the title’s preeminent feature, wasn’t intended to be reduced to a two-class performance.