Infinite Crisis Preview

The DC Universe has its own MOBA. We've spent a lot of time with Infinite Crisis. Is it any good?

Yes, Infinite Crisis is a lot of fun. I’ve played it for more than a month — since the game entered open beta — and it’s easily the most addicting game on my PC right now. Not only is the MOBA’s use of the DC license masterful, it’s the kind of game you can pick up at any time whether you want a quick 20 minute match or a very long and intense session of competitive play. Infinite Crisis satisfies your gaming needs.

This is your classic MOBA, but that’s not to say it isn’t exciting. Since it began its closed beta stage on May 2013, it has quickly garnered a huge following, and is slowly becoming the next beacon of competitive play.

Right now, two arenas make up the bulk of gameplay. There’s Gotham Heights, which revolves around capturing territories on the map in order to take points away from your enemies. This is your more casual arena, with 20-30 minute matches, and a good place to start for players new to the genre. Gotham Divided, on the other hand, is about destroying enemy turrets, as you make your way to the enemy base. The total annihilation of the opposing team is the only way to win. Matches will take 60+ minutes to complete, and its always a very intense experience as enemy players, drones, and turrets attack you from all angles. 

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There are several different player types in the game. Depending on who you choose on the battlefield, you’ll have to adapt your style of play to the character’s abilities. Player types include assassin, who focuses on stealth and melee attacks, bruiser, who likes to get in your face and beat the living daylights out of you, and marksman, who prefers long-range attacks and serves more as a support unit. And there are plenty more for you to discover as you progress in the game. You’ll undoubtedly grow comfortable with specific player types or characters over others, and that’s a good thing since characters rank up as you use them more and more. As it stands, Gaslight Batman is the most powerful character in my own personal roster.

Items you purchase while in battle all derive from the DC Universe, and affect characters differently. Joe Chill’s Revolver, for example, causes a rage in Batman and boosts his attacks exponentially. Ra’s al Ghul’s Robe, on the other hand, boosts Batman’s health and defense. These items can drastically change the way you play a match. If you’ve decided to boost a character’s attack points over his health, you’ll have to take your kills quickly, striking from the shadows, lest you be turned into mulch. If health is what you want, you’ll be very difficult to kill but will take longer to kill others. Don’t get me wrong, plenty of items will offer attack and health boosts at the same time, in case your looking for a more balanced game. But a lot of the time, you’ll level up based on the needs of the team. You never know what situations you’ll be facing.

Now that we got the technical stuff out of the way, what is really striking about Infinite Crisis is its take on the DC Multiverse.

Ever since DC Comics introduced parallel universes in their books — in Wonder Woman #59 (1953) — and established the concept of the Multiverse in The Flash #124, the company has pushed the limits of reality in their titles over and over. It was a major moment in DC history when the 12-issue maxiseries Crisis on Infinite Earths landed on comic racks and rewrote the Multiverse’s continuity forever…Or until Infinite Crisis, the crossover storyline Turbine Inc.’s new MOBA is “based” on.

Infinite Crisis Preview

I put “based” in quotations because I’m not sure Infinite Crisis (I’m talking about the game again) is a MOBA adaptation of its namesake as much as it is a brand-new take on the Multiverse on Turbine’s and Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment’s part. Much like Injustice: Gods Among Us and Batman Arkham, Warner Bros. continues to tell stories that spread across the Multiverse, giving us not one take on our favorite DC heroes, but 52. 

The story of Infinite Crisis is not yet well-defined as a whole (but each character in the game has his own unique bio, which adds to the lore), although it’s definitely on the path to being the most catastrophic clash of universes in DC history. Heroes and villains, saviors and conquerors, could come from any time and any place in DC’s history. On one side of the spectrum you have Nightmare Batman, inspired by the Elseworlds graphic novel Batman & Dracula: Red Rain, and on the other end of the map awaits Gaslight Batman, who comes from the Gotham by Gaslight storyline. One Batman will claw you to death as a bloodthirsty assassin and the other relies on his gadgets as a marksman. There’s also the Batman you know and love, who enjoys hand-to-hand combat, and has an origin story you know all too well. The point is that Infinite Crisis pushes the license in all sorts of ways. The story doesn’t come from one of those famous maxiseries. It comes from the entire Multiverse, every place and time there ever was, to deliver to the most complete crossover event to ever take place in the DC Universe.

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Undoubtedly, the game’s comic book companion, Infinite Crisis: Fight for the Multiverse, will shed more light on the story of the MOBA when it drops digitally on May 19. 

Infinite Crisis Preview

Turbine Inc. the game’s developer, has laid out 6 distinct in-game universes as a foundation for Infinite Crisis‘ lore:

  1. Arcane universe of Earth-13, where all superpowers can be attributed to magic;
  2. Atomic universe of Earth-17, a nuclear war-torn planet where heroes have no one left to protect but themselves;
  3. Gaslight universe of Earth-19, where superheroes use steampunk technology to save the world;
  4. Mecha universe of Earth-44, a planet where no superheroes existed until they were created by a group of scientists;
  5. Nightmare universe of Earth-43, where many superheroes have become shrouded in darkness and become bloodthirsty monsters;
  6. Prime universe of Earth-0, which is where most of the comic books take place.

The game’s power stems from its expert ability to manipulate the license for its own means. In the same way Marvel Comis is carefully crafting their Cinematic Universe, Warner Bros. Interactive is developing a completely unique DC video game universe. Instead of focusing on adapting comic book arcs, Warner Bros. prefers to mold the DC license to the games. That’s how you get The Joker permanently dying in Batman: Arkham City or “Atomic Age” Wonder Woman — a post-nuclear war Wonder Woman with a chainsaw staff and a Rosie the Riveter fashion sense. 

Turbine has found a way to make gamers feel like their approaching both the familiar and the new in Infinite Crisis. How do they do it? By keeping the core elements we know and love intact: fan favorites such as Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, and Green Lantern from Earth Prime are all in the game with abilities that are true to the characters. Batman uses martial arts or a Batarang to the face to subdue enemies. Superman uses his laser vision to melt away his foes. Green Lantern fires missiles from his iconic power ring. Blue Beetle’s abilities are all tech-based. Cyborg prefers long-range attacks, and his arm cannon is formidable if you need quick marksman support. Fans will immediately get hooked on the idea that they can play a MOBA filled with their favorite comic book characters. And that’s when Turbine hits you with the new stuff. While riffing on Crisis and Elseworlds material, the developer takes its liberties to create characters such as Nightmare Superman, an insane Man of Steel imbued with the power of the Phantom Zone, or Atomic Green Lantern, whose power ring has fused with post-nuclear radioactivity. A lot of things that you probably imagined while playing with your action figures as child are coming into fruition in Infinite Crisis.

Infinite Crisis Preview

There’s a shop where you can buy new characters and costumes, and it’s already very extensive. Turbine adds a brand-new Champion (what they call characters in the game) to the game every 3 weeks, most recently Sinestro, so you’re always bound to be surprised when stepping into the game. And based on a little chat I had with Turbine at PAX East this year, they have a lot more exciting stuff headed our way. 

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Comic book fans new and old, hardcore MOBA players (or casual ones), and PC gamers who are just looking for something new to play will all be rewarded by Infinite Crisis. It’s fresh in all the right places, but familiar, too. You get the sense that the DC Multiverse was always a MOBA, pitting heroes from different dimensions against each other, in order to save the world they love or destroy it.

Infinite Crisis is currently in open beta. It’s free-to-play, so sign up here. The game is set to officially launch in late 2014.

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