Mirage: Arcane Warfare PC Review

Mirage: Arcane Warfare is a gorgeous, brutal and very engaging brawler in need of more players.

By Woozie, Posted 30 May 2017

Over a month ago, when I previewed Mirage: Arcane Warfare, I found myself having a great time with Torn Banner’s newest title. Its striking visuals alongside a rather polished combat system that melds together magical abilities and swordplay impressed me quite a bit. We’re a week after the game’s full release and it’s a neat surprise to see that my praises from back then are, for the most part, still relevant. Going further with this review, I will try to focus on other things. Thus, I would heartily recommend giving the preview a look prior, or after, reading this review, to get the full picture of what my thoughts on the game are.

Mirage: Arcane Warfare didn’t benefit from the smoothest launch, although, it’s not for the reasons you’d maybe expect. Indeed, there was no trouble with the game performing badly or crashing. Instead, players couldn’t see any servers in the game’s server browser. The issue, as the developer stated, was caused by something on Steam’s end, being resolved in a matter of hours. It hasn’t popped up since and, for the most part, I’ve experienced stable servers during my playtime.

Mirage: Arcane Warfare, PC, Review, Screenshot

Getting a basic idea of the six available classes and their abilities is relatively easy. A tutorial shows simple aspects of fights, while abilities have tooltips which explain how they work. Mastering a class is something entirely different. This is the case because the combat system in Mirage: Arcane Warfare has a good amount of subtleties. Wall-jumping can be used both as an evasion and offensive tool. Slashes can be dragged so as to slightly alter the time when they strike. Feints can throw enemies off. Abilities can be comboed together with regular attacks, resulting in potential showcases of skill that also feel very fluid. A good amount of the more advanced moves, however, are not explained in-game. Torn Banner have put up a couple of very interesting guides that detail concepts like ducking/matrixing , cancel-to-parry and advanced dragging techniques. The issue with this is that new players who don’t snoop around the guides section on Steam can completely miss out on these elements and, really, they add an entire layer of depth and dynamicity to what’s already a pretty great combat system. Something like video guides for these more advanced techniques would be much more efficient.

You can definitely do alright with regular attacks and abilities, and maybe a combo here and there, though. Thus, it’s safe to say that we’re not dealing with a combat system that is inaccessible or which becomes punishing for new players. In terms of how it feels, the combat does retain its fast pace and focus on timing. Successful blocks require precision as blocking is only possible in a brief window. Knowing that any ability can be blocked, makes timing even more crucial. Parries lead to intense exchanges where you’re trying to find an opening, or maybe surprise you opponent with an alt attack (done by holding the Alt key while striking, these change the trajectory of the three available blows). The right amount of footwork at the right moment can put you in a position where a wall jump may facilitate a strike on the opponent. There are simply a lot of possibilities available. All that’s needed is for one to figure them out, which does require a mix of strategic and quick thinking.

Mirage: Arcane Warfare, PC, Review, Screenshot

As far as abilities go, they act as a spice on top of the solid combat system. Just like classes themselves, they benefit from very good visual representation making it clear, at all times, which ability is being used both by you and foes. Provided you’re paying attention, this allows for just enough time to parry, without feeling like cast times are being dragged along too much. Perhaps unsurprisingly, I didn’t find all abilities to be useful. The Entropist’s Healing Grenades felt rather lackluster, being unable to help turn the tide of a fight. I also haven’t seen that many people use the Alchemancer’s Phoenix ability (which is basically a projectile that can be controlled after being launched) and, upon attempting to use it, I had a hard time figuring out how to actually make it work. On the other side, the Taurant’s abilities feel really fleshed out and well implemented. Whether you’re making someone’s head fly with a fiery punch or charging in only to unleash a deadly whirlwind attack or crush foes with a large (and fairly bouncy) boulder, that’s one class that feels great to play as. Certainly, abilities are also a matter of taste, but in the grand scheme of things they spice up the combat quite well.

As far as game modes are concerned, the launch came with new maps, some of which introduced the 3v3 mode. Specially designed for this new mode, and smaller than their counterparts, these maps aim to offer different types of encounters. Visually they’re just as varied and beautiful. The mode itself, however, it was rather hit-or-miss. When playing as it was intended, I didn’t find myself enjoying it a great deal. Mirage: Arcane Warfare requires a good amount of skill and quite some luck in order for a player to win fights where they are outnumbered and, despite there being less players, I often found myself in 2v1 situations. Only being able to parry so much and attacks requiring one to recover after the animation is done, you’re bound to fall easily in such fights. Somehow, this mode doesn’t capture the tactical side of 6v6 matches and neither does it touch upon the glorious mess of bodies flying around when large battles ensue in 10v10. Uneven fights mean that you’re going to go down fairly quickly, which leaves your team at a disadvantage. The most fun I’ve actually had with this mode was when all six of us decided to choose an opponent and go 1v1. Upon death we’d allow time each other time to regenerate life (which is done automatically and by picking up the little spirit dead foes leave behind) and we’d have a go at it again. This felt refreshing because while 1v1 fights do happen in other modes, sooner or later someone will charge into you from behind, having you watch your lifeless body flying all the way to the other edge of the map. These 1v1 duels we did on 3v3 maps were so much fun, to the point where I’m hoping an actual way to do 1v1 will be implemented. Not everybody keeps the promise of not interfering in someone else’s fight, the bastards.

Mirage: Arcane Warfare, PC, Review, Screenshot

6v6 servers host a variety of Team Objective modes that involve mechanics found in Capture The Flag, Capture Point and Payload. Thematically, the modes are implemented very well, with stuff like Jinn acting as capture points. The payload mode remains one I didn’t enjoy a whole lot for the same reason as during the beta: it simply reduces the gameplay to one team throwing itself at the other which stands next to the cart. On the other end of the spectrum, there’s a capture point mode that takes place in different areas of the map. This comes as Mirage: Arcane Warfare’s take on the objective focused missions in Chivalry. There won’t be any kings roaming around, though. Both defenders and attackers have to capture points in order to win. However, with its shifting locations during each phase, the mode is quite fun to play. Team Deathmatch is where I spent most of my time, although, not always of my own accord. It’s easily the quickest mode to grasp and it’s honestly quite fun. This is very much a mode of speculating the moment when an opponent (or three, or ten) are weak and jumping in to kill them all with one broad slash, or an ability or another. The mixture of classes demand different reactions from players. Target switching needs to be taken into account as well as the positioning of your teammates because, just like in Chivalry, there is friendly fire in Mirage: Arcane Warfare. This is clearly one game that gets weapon impact and visceral combat right. You’ll look a lot at your body (or parts of it, at any rate) flying through the air. Upon leveling up, you receive cosmetic items which change the way your character looks. There’s a broad amount of things to change from haircuts to skin color and tattoos, individual armor pieces and their coloring and, lastly, the weapons themselves. That being said, I’ve noticed my Taurant’s afro not really showing in game on a couple of occasions. The customization screen also displays the character at a low framerate, completely opposed to the game which runs very smoothly.

I’ve mentioned spending most of my time on Team Deathmatch servers, though not always of my own accord. How can that be, provided there are other fun modes and (if we are to trust what I said earlier, which we should) plenty of servers to choose from? The answer is an easy one and pretty much what I believe to be Mirage: Arcane Warfare’s largest issue at the moment: its community is rather small. The game didn’t benefit from a giant marketing campaign, as far as I’m aware, which is understandable given how it’s self-published by Torn Banner themselves. This means that it’ll be tricky to find players in your region at certain times. Playing on Europe servers, I mostly found populated servers in the afternoons and evenings, however plenty of them remained empty.  This can naturally lead to high skill differences, although to be fair, I’ve been in just as many, if not more, balanced matches than imbalanced ones. Just like I mentioned in the preview, there is also no autobalance system, while in an actual match, and counting on other players to balance teams out of goodwill doesn’t always work.

Mirage: Arcane Warfare, Screenshot, PC, Review

Two things are dragging Mirage: Arcane Warfare from being a full, easy recommendation: its lack of explaining advanced techniques in game as opposed to an, otherwise informative, Steam guide (this being the lesser of the two) and the small number of players. As it is a multiplayer-only title, the community will make it or break it. Getting an influx of players to come in would also lead to potentially solving learning curve troubles as community videos may pop up. Otherwise, while having some flaws, the game oozes quality through its top notch visuals, tight, quick and varied combat system, good physics and, heck, even number of voiced lines and shouts. Provided you get into a game, Mirage: Arcane Warfare is gorgeous, brutal and very engaging. All that remains is for more people to join the fold.

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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