New mechanics and revamped community tools
After a solid showing at IPL 5, Ubisoft invited us to see some of the new Storm Beta 2 updates to their eSports-centric title ShootMania. As it turns out, there's quite a bit that's going to be added under the hood with new mechanics to master, community-driven tournaments, and an entire title pack editor.
ShootMania Storm (PC)
Anyone familiar with ShootMania can attest to how fast-paced it is, even for an arena shooter. Not content with it being Quake on steroids, Nadeo is adding mechanics to increase mobility. First, there's the wall jump. Wall jumping allows you to jump back and forth, Prince of Persia-style, between two adjacent platforms to quickly scale them. In a game as hyper-kinetic as this, it comes as a very natural addition, and a great tool for escapes, flanking, and other traversal techniques.
ShootMania's pace if further upped with the grapple hook, allowing players to swing across greater distances faster than it would take them to simply run there. The catch here is that you can not shoot while swinging, so you have to keep your momentum up and stay on the move, or risk getting shot down. Also, you can only grapple from predetermined points, so the wall jump will remain your most available option for vertical navigation in most spots.
The arsenal is getting beefier too with the inclusion of the charge shot. Once charged, this firing mode deals massive damage, ricochets off walls, and even carries a bit of splash damage. Sounds great, but there's again a catch. The shot will only charge, and can only be fired, when standing completely still. You can still look around, but if you move, the three-second charge will dissipate.
For such a quick, twitch-intensive game, the charge shot certainly comes across to me as an oddity. On the one hand, you have this potential for massive damage, but I still can't shake the feeling that the risk simply isn't worth the reward.
When even a standard, well-placed shot is enough to take you out, I can't see many players willing to stand still for three seconds -- which feels like three minutes in a game this fast -- on the off chance there's a big payoff. If the charge time was slightly reduced, I could possibly see this being a viable alternative.
The last big update to Storm Beta 2 comes with the revamped community tools. The map editor will be seeing updates too, with new structures such as ramps you can slide down, and bunkers which will change your firing mode to the sniper when you're perched at the window. Perhaps the most interesting addition is the option for any community member to create their own full-feature, full-bracketed tournaments, complete with prizes.
There will also be developer-run tournaments with better rewards; as it is now, community tournaments can only offer in-game currency as prizes. Players can use all of these additions, as well as existing creating tools, to create entire custom title packs. Essentially, you can make your own expansion packs to share with friends.
None of the creation tools shown were hands-on, but even so, it looks like pretty exciting stuff, especially for creation junkies. Beta 2 will be available starting December 19, 2012.