Initial Feedback (Long)
I'd like to preface this by saying that I know this is an alpha, I have participated in my fair share of alpha tests for games before. Please, do not take any of my feedback as flame, even if it's something that is obviously some alpha edge, I still feel obligated to mention it. These are my impressions as a single player, one that has built a reputation (accidentally) amongst their friends as being incredibly difficult to please. Again, please don't let that discount the feedback I'm giving here. I'm new to this community and game, so much of my reservations and complaints might come as simple inexperience, and I understand that. I'm coming from an early access game that I put a year of my life into participating directly with the developers with, with much frustration involved. I look forward to seeing how this game develops, and wish to be involved in any way that I can.
I'll be brutally honest with a short summary of my feedback that in itself isn't constructive: The movement in this game just feels awful. I'm continuing to play to put my finger exactly on the reason, but I'd like to discuss some initial thoughts here. Overall, the movement in this game feels incredibly sluggish, but I attribute this to the following two reasons: Animations and movement speed. Once a character gets level 3 movement speed, or is chasing a relic runner with the proper attribute, everything seems to line up in a way that feels smooth. Before that, however, it feels like every character is attempting to run through quicksand with wild running movements. Given that this game, to my first impression, is almost entirely based on the movement, this is a dramatic issue. After all, nothing feels worse than being a melee character with no ability to close a gap as a relic runner with the same movement speed as you is just out of range and running to score. I'll discuss some solutions later, as I do have a section about maps that is very relevant to movement speed of characters.
Ranged characters generally feel fine, despite this movement speed. They are able to attack at range while chasing, or stay at a distance where the movement is less punishing. Melee characters, at least the ones I was able to play, had to stop and attack for each of their abilities, creating a feeling of, for lack of a better term, jitteriness. Other characters are always moving, so this feedback loop of “Run up, attack, run up again, attack,” in correspondence with the sluggish movement speeds is just generally unsatisfying. Contradictory to this, although I believe this has been fixed at the time of writing, I honestly struggle to tell, the hitstun of melee attacks is such that ranged characters wanting to get away need to use their RMB ability, usually a dash, to attempt to get out, or simply die. This results in both parties in the engagement being generally pretty unsatisfied with movement as a whole.
Speaking of hitstun, I'd like to take a moment to speak about player agency. I don't want to be condescending, but just in case, I'll define what this is, just in case you guys know it under a different term. I learned about this term while DMing for DnD games, and it roughly comes down to how much control a player has over their character. In video games, this is often used in reference to crowd control abilities, or CC. Constant removals of control from the player lead to a frustrating experience, especially if they have no way to counter the ability. Countering can come down to something even as simple as dodging the ability, not necessarily having something that negates the ability if it hits you. Bringing this back to Breakaway, a lot of abilities take control away from the player for decent periods of time. Examples include: Eviscerate (Jarra), Ram's Head (Thorgrim), Ragnarok (Thorgrim), Glory (Argus), Retribution (Argus). While CC abilities aren't inherently bad, durations and counterplay currently make them feel especially bad for players on the receiving end. This might be improved by more experience and more available information as the game progresses, I just want to express my concerns about this early.
So, in relation to how movement speed affects the game as a whole, the map is incredibly important. After all, I'm well aware that increasing movement speed while maintaining map size would drastically shorten games. I'm going to suggest something be tried that is a little extreme, given how early of a state the game is in right now. I'd like to see maps increase in size by 50%, and player movement speed increase by 25%. Simultaneously, game time expanded to 5 mins from 4 mins. By doing this, the player is able to feel more in control of their character (That dastardly player agency again), while also increasing the control they feel over the game as a whole. Ability hitbox sizes, area sizes, and ranges could be adjusted from here, allowing more room for the developers to balance as well. I'll be honest, the game I'm coming from had incredibly small maps for what it was, with very few exceptions. The game felt entirely better on those bigger maps, due to the reduction in the amount of restriction being placed on the player by the map, instead of the enemy team. These two games are not directly comparable, but it is definitely a lesson I learned about what I enjoy in video games, and in overall game design. The current maps are generally pretty open, but still too small, even with the sluggish movement speed.
Notable Alpha Roughness
This section is for pieces of the game I noticed needed some work still, but are important to recognize as being part of an alpha's rough edges. However, given I don't know the developers plans, I bring them up anyway to ensure they are addressed.
These are pretty massive bonuses to each character, chosen from within the game to offer customization to what role the character has. Given how much of an impact these have on the ga me, why are we not able to see what our team or the enemy has chosen? There is an argument to be had for how much the player should and should not be shown, one I've had in several other games. For example, Dota 2 just added the ability to quickly and easily see the enemy player's level next to their health bar, but still hides that player's mana bar behind the additional step of selecting that hero to view it. However, being able to easily see what attributes the enemy has chosen, or that your own team has chosen, opens up avenues for counter play through builds, buildable placement, or strategy.
Joining/Leaving Voice Channel
I might have missed something here, but when playing today, I was thrown into a voice channel with my team without realizing it. Normally, this is kind of whatever, not a big deal. However, for some reason push to talk isn't enforced? I had to sit and listen to the game sounds 3 times (Once from my game, twice from my team's microphones picking it up on their speakers). No readily apparent way to leave this voice channel mid game was apparent, but again, I might have missed it. If I missed it, I'd suggest putting this option somewhere much more visible to avoid issues with newer players in the future.
Endgame Scoreboard/MVP/Replays, etc
I understand why players want these things, but I'm just going to say that in my opinion, these all get old extremely fast. I'm sure that in the future there will be a way to quickly leave games once they're over, but I'm really hoping that comes sooner rather than later, especially given that at present time, we have to sit for couple minutes in the endgame scoreboard before finally being able to leave and queue again. I'm not saying get rid of these, just give us a way to quickly skip past them if we so chose.
It's come to my attention as I play that apparently characters have basic stats that are not shown on the UI, such as armor. I'd really like to suggest that armor be both better explained in game, and also shown as a total value somewhere near your HP in the UI. Given that Armor Pen is a significant offensive stat, it's imperative that the player know exactly what they're getting out of their armor and other stats.
The two crystals on the side of the map appear to give a damage or HP bonus when broken, but there is so much information missing here. Is it based on who gets the last hit? How much is the bonus? When do they respawn? What does each one do? How long do these bonuses last? Again, I'm sure information about these will be added later on, but they especially need to be added to the tutorial. This might seem obvious, but again I reference the game I just came from where extremely important pieces of the map like these were integral to the game, but not explained in any tutorial.
Game randomly changing to fullscreen and moving to another display (Likely known)
Yeah, this one is almost definitely known, but I'm not sure if the game's tendency to just swap displays whenever it happens is known. I've had the game move between each of my 3 monitors seemingly at random when Alt-Tabbing out of the game in borderless window, while switching itself back to fullscreen. Fixing this requires the game be to set to windowed mode, moved back to chosen display, then put back into borderless window.
Relic and interaction
The relic is definitely a fresh idea for this genre, and I look forward to seeing how strategies evolve involving it. However, at the moment, it generally feels like a background concept that occasionally just suddenly wins the game due to movement issues discussed earlier. I'd like to discuss several opportunities that exist with this mechanic, beginning with having hero abilities interact with the relic. Melee attacks knocking the relic away from the character, potentially ranged attacks doing the same, abilities that cause knockbacks doing the same to the relic, etc. At the moment, carrying the relic feels nothing short of awful for the player involved, and presenting the choice to sacrifice an ability cooldown that could be used on a player to instead use it to move the relic more than they might be able to by carrying it would open up interesting hero strategies and avenues of victory. The value of melee heroes could be increased or decreased by their ability to move the relic, depending on how much they do so or whether or not ranged characters can do the same.
In addition, the slow movement while holding the relic, not exactly alleviated by the high cooldown, low distance dash, only exemplifies the issue. While I already advocated for increasing the movement speed within the game, the removal of the slow while holding the relic would also do wonders for increasing player interaction. I understand that the slow incentivizes the relic speed attribute, or a heavy focus on movement speed items for someone intending to be a “runner,” the present ratios simply makes not having those items feel terrible. This is something I'd definitely consider changing my opinion on the more I play, however, especially should a competitive scene arise that develops creatively in the face of adversity.
Finally, why is throwing the relic so obnoxiously bad? The player has to stand still, and charge up a throw that barely gets the ball forward, while presenting the risk of a fumble. The risk/reward here is simple non-existent unless the enemy team manages to not be attacking the player trying to throw. To offer a solution, either change the relic pass range attribute to be reduced charging time while throwing, or better movement while throwing, or remove throwing entirely for some form of fumble resistance. Having no ability to affect how long you can hold onto the ball, given that the smallest of damages seems to cause a fumble (If this is not true, it should really be presented soon and often), is something that is a dramatically visible hole in the building of a character role in the game right now.
Right now, as far as I understand, there are 3 conditions for winning the game: bringing the relic into the enemy spawn point, killing the entire enemy team, or having more time with the relic in the enemy territory by the time the game ends. Each of these have some glaring issues at the moment. Let's start with territories; when time is running out, say if there's 10 seconds left in the game, how does the player know whether or not they need to ensure the relic stays out of their territory? Obviously, both teams should be attempting this as much as possible, but throughout the entire game this win condition is not represented on the game's UI. Again, I can only see positives in terms of player strategy and choice should they have this information available to them. For scoring via relic delivery, the only issue that is obviously present is something consistent with the game being in an alpha state: often the relic will be resting within the enemy scoring zone, with no score occurring. Yet at other times, the exact same thing happens, resulting in a score. If this is intentional, the player needs to know exactly why what is happening, is happening. Team wipe seems like a pretty good idea for deciding a game, after all, if a team is wiped they can't defend, so why waste the players time by waiting for a score to occur? The issue arises when this creates snowball effect games, leaving players feeling powerless to affect the game after a dramatic round 1 loss. Given that gold is a factor in this game, an early lead results in one team having an item advantage, which can then be extrapolated to round 2 or 3 where a team wipe is much more likely due to that item advantage. Winners shouldn't be punished, directly or indirectly, by having losing teams gain benefits, but the result of this I have seen personally is a huge leaver problem. A team loses round one, and someone always ends up leaving that team because they don't see the point in continuing. This doesn't mean that the team wipe win condition should be removed, however, but I hope these factors are kept in mind regarding item power and cost moving forward. At present time, items are incredibly powerful, so the snowball effect is massive.
I believe this document has gone long enough. I was going to have a section on character specific feedback for the two characters I got to the maximum free to play level, and also a section about player economy regarding unlocking heroes (something I generally don't like, but the debate is always there in these kinds of games), but six and a half pages is enough for now. If the developers would like this feedback from me, I'd be glad to type it up once this alpha test has ended and I have some more characters to include in the character specific section, and some math and more solid references to include with my player economy feedback. Again, I hope my feedback wasn't obtuse or not useful due to it's relatively negative nature, but this is simply how I give feedback at first. After all, it's easy to see what doesn't work, but as I get more involved with a game, I look for what does work and how that can be enhanced to ensure players enjoy the game, and choose to stick with it most importantly. Any game can give a presentation on how many downloads they've had, or how many player accounts have been created, but I hope we both agree that what matters is player retention. That is what my feedback is focused on enhancing. Thank you for you time, and good luck.
I agree and disagree with multiple points in this, but I've left my own feedback in another thread so I'll save those comments.
I will however let you know you are incorrect about the 3rd win condition. The ball must end the round on the ground (or in possession of someone who is touching the ground) in enemy territory. It does not matter how much time it spent on either side. It only matters where it is when it touches the ground at the end of the match. This is important as the round ends when it actually touches the ground, meaning if you're in mid air when the final second ticks down, you can still manage to throw the relic into enemy territory before your feet hit the ground.
Yeah I gotta agree with most of this but LARGELY the movement feels really bad this time around, thats kinda a big deal cuz we had it and collision detection pretty much down until now imo.