Mirage: Arcane Warfare PC Preview

Mirage: Arcane Warfare builds on its predecessor's foundation, yet changes things with a beautiful setting and faster paced combat.

By Woozie, Posted 25 Apr 2017

Coming at a time when first person melee combat wasn’t done all that much, not in a multiplayer sense at least, Chivalry: Medieval Warfare managed to remain in memory as that game where I got decapitated by shouting people while shouting back at them a lot. Leaving the European setting behind, Torn Banner Studios have been working on the follow-up, Mirage: Arcane Warfare. This is a game that builds on Chivalry’s foundation while taking it to a more colorful location and adding magical abilities to spice things up.

Mirage: Arcane Warfare, Screenshot, PC, Preview

Mirage: Arcane Warfare has undoubtedly found its visual identity. Running on the Unreal Engine 4, the game does a very good job of using its Middle Eastern theme in an imaginative way. Instead of having players deal with different shades of brown, the title jumps from ancient ruins to colorful minarets and downtrodden docks. Instead of the typical red and blue teams, we’re dealing with purple and orange. One map, stands out the most, contrasting gleaming white floors with purple inlays on buildings, the occasional patches of strikingly red flowers adding a fresh element. It’s impossible not to want to stop and take a look at the maps as they’re clearly among the best looking ones to be found in multiplayer titles. There’s lots of attention to detail given to how the characters and weapons look as well. Tattooed arms, easily distinguishable abilities and neat little decorations on weapons are all part of the package.

Mirage: Arcane Warfare throws six classes into the mix, all which, again, have their own identity both visually (you’ll rarely be confused as to what type of foe you’re trying to turn into cheddar) and from a gameplay perspective. Every class has different amounts of health and speed. Two different weapons are available to every character, these also having varying reach and damage. All this information is easily accessible via the game’s rather slick, well-organized UI. A total of six abilities are available for each class, out of which three can be taken into battle. Thus, as a hulking Taurant, you can choose between a slow axe and a somewhat faster mace. Do you feel like leaping in and unleashing a whirlwind of death, or is throwing a huge spiky ball more your style? I spent most of my time playing as the Vypress, a quicker class which could dash around and throw shurikens, albeit the speed did come at the cost of durability. Aside from these, there’s the tubby Entropist, a staff wielder that brings utility in the form of healing to the mix, the Tinker, which specializes in defensive traps and the dome-spawning, shield-wielding Vigilant. Last, but not least, we’ve the Alchemancer, which might strike you as the odd one out. He compensates the lack of a potent pointy stick, through ranged magical attacks and, can wreak havoc, provided his positioning is proper. There’s bound to be a flavor for anyone and there’s always place for some slight experimentation with different ability combinations and switching in between weapons.

Mirage: Arcane Warfare, Screenshot, Preview, PC

Similar to its predecessor, what sets Mirage: Arcane Warfare aside from other games is its combat system. However, this time around, it has been infused with a higher sense of speed and a larger focus on reflexes. This happens because, for once, blocking can no longer be held indefinitely, instead relying on a short window of effectiveness. This requires players to read their foes’ animations and react at the proper time. Doing so can parry any blow, or ability, reflecting projectiles back at attackers. Weapons have three attacks, the stab, slash and overhead that Chivalry had. Should two players attack at the same time, the first to hit will stop the other’s attack from going through. Attacks or abilities can be comboed together, provided you click as the previous attack’s animation is nearing its end. This supersedes recovery from your attack, chaining another one right away. Couple this with the ability of leading and delaying attacks by moving the camera and feinting, to make enemies use blocks too early, and you have a good set of variables to consider.

There’s a lot of speed in Mirage’s exchanges and the inclusion of character abilities makes it so that mobility is seen at a higher level than before. Dashes, charges and flying carpets can position you behind an enemy, or facilitate an escape. At the same time, they can surprise an enemy that’s dominating an ally, as you swoop from above, delivering a flurry of blows. The feedback is very powerful and easily noticeable. Add to this the fact that characters can wall jump and you get a picture of how fluid movement in Mirage: Arcane Warfare can be. If, for some reason, this emphasis on speed makes you worry about spam clicking becoming a viable tactic, worry not. Apart from a very particular few situations that involved large masses of players, not paying attention to where the enemy was, translated to a quick visit to the respawn screen. Dispensing death comes with a meaty, satisfying feeling that’s made even better by the great voice acting and, of course, the shouting. There’s a rich amount of voice commands from which to choose, as well.

Mirage: Arcane Warfare, Screenshot, Preview, PC

If a neat little tutorial explains the tools you can use very well, becoming efficient with any class will take a good amount of time spend in Mirage: Arcane Warfare’s modes. Perhaps the best place to do so is on 10v10 Team Deathmatch servers, which offer a straightforward experience in terms of rules. Simple as that sounds, I’ve spent most of my time in this mode and haven’t quite had enough of it. Team Objective servers have a limit of 12 people, in an attempt to give their modes a more tactical feel. There’s basically a Capture The Flag mode, which, thematically, is implemented very well by the use of Jinns as targets. Both teams must get to an assigned point, capture their Jinn and take it to another target point. From what I saw, the locations of these points vary, so knowledge of the map is required, as well as moving around in order to both protect your Jinn and impede the enemy from scoring. A Capture point variation is also present, as is a Payload-type match. The latter was perhaps the least impressive, in my opinion, as the few matches that I did play ended up revolving around fighting people next to the cart, thus robbing the game of movement and different fight scenarios the maps can put one in.

As of the latest patch, servers are stable. Being in beta, the number of players isn’t extremely high, however getting into matches was never an issue, at least during afternoons and evenings. What Mirage: Arcane Warfare lacks, is a balancing mechanic. Leaving player skill levels aside for a moment, when one team clearly dominates each other, people tend to leave. With servers not being full to the brim, this can lead to matches where you’re fighting 6v2 and the game will leave it at that. Counting on the opposing team’s tendency towards fair play proved to be a little naïve. While balancing out player skill level at this moment would be difficult, a tool to have teams be balanced, in terms of player numbers, would be required as servers can empty fairly quickly in this manner. In the end, however, I found myself overcoming this, mainly by jumping over to a Team Deathmatch server.

Mirage: Arcane Warfare, Preview, PC, Screenshot

Mirage: Arcane Warfare left me awestruck with its beautiful locations. It is the most well optimized Unreal Engine 4 game I’ve played so far. Its faster take on combat, coupled with the character’s abilities harbors both familiarity and freshness. Abilities can help take down a foe, but never cause one to forego swordfights. One way or another, you will clash blades with foes, and when you do, that’s when Mirage: Arcane Warfare shines the most. Don’t expect a Chivalry re-skin. Expect, instead a game that builds off the solid foundation of Chivalry: Medieval Warfare, while taking things into a different direction. And it’s a good direction, if you ask me. So, yeah, if you’re yearning for some first person melee action, with an infusion of magical abilities, you can get into the beta by pre-ordering the game. If pre-orders aren’t exactly your cup of tea, its best to set a reminder as Mirage: Arcane Warfare will be coming out in less than a month, on the 23rd of May.

Bogdan Robert, NoobFeed
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General Information

Platform(s): PC
Publisher(s): Torn Banner Studios
Developer(s): Torn Banner Studios
Genres: First Person Action
Themes: Magic, Combat
Release Date: 2016-05-23

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