This week I’ve been playing yet another game that is most certainly not League of Legends, Atlas Reactor. Some of you may recall, long ago I wrote about the Atlas Reactor because I was an alpha tester. Cut to now, and the game has been fully released for almost a year and I along with a group of friends decided to install the game as a break from Overwatch
What is it?
Atlas Reactor is a tactical turn-based strategy game created by Trion Worlds where each player's turn is resolved at the same time. Each player picks a character called a freelancer. Each one has unique abilities to make them excel in certain parts of the game. Firepower characters have a lot of attacking power while support characters have a lot of prep abilities to either shield or heal their allies before the bullets fly.
The turn is divided up into four phases that happen in order to create the illusion of time: prep actions, dash actions, blast actions, then finally you move. This creates a lot of guesswork when it comes to where you’re aiming your shots, where you want to place your crucial dash, or even whether or not to do anything on a turn in order to really fake your enemy out. My friend Nick called Atlas Reactor the thinking man’s game after a few rounds of play. Which though likely meant as a joke is really accurate. This game made my brain hard.
Once again I almost always was playing as some sort of support or frontline character; I spent most of my time playing Dr. Finn an “Abe Sapien” looking man-fish with a seemingly endless array of fish puns. His claim to fame is being a support with a large array of area of effect abilities. His water cannon’s targeting reticule can be made wider or narrower as you need and packs more of a punch the narrower it is.
Su Ren, the other character I logged the most time on is a master combatant with her staff and brings a variety of healing arts into the fight.
She’s highly mobile with her dash that can jump to both allies and enemies healing or dealing damage upon reaching them. Her ultimate, Karmic Retribution, is the ultimate answer to enemies that like to focus their fire. Providing a massive shield to a target, which explodes for damage based on the amount of damage it absorbed.
What’s to like about it?
A lot of things. Even with the gratuitous puns. The game has progressed a lot since the alpha when I last played any significant amount. The roster is pretty impressive for a recent free to play game. And all of the characters do have a really unique vibe and the bright color palette really helps the game along. But what really speaks about Atlas Reactor is the game play. Everything runs so smoothly in this game and every action feels super stylish and well executed, even the mistakes feel fantastical and amazing. But behind the spectacle is a lot of cold reptilian calculating and number crunching that really makes the gears in my brain turn. Everything happens at once so you really have to plan ahead and make the absolute most of your every move. Which feels demanding but looks so good when you pull it off. On top of that, there’s a variety of customization mods for each character to let you play them in your own way.
What’s not to like?
Atlas reactor is not a perfect game. There are more than a few flaws that keep it down. As I mentioned before there are some intense minds games to be played here, however, a lot of that is limited to characters with dashes. If you get caught on a character with no dash. Like Dr. Finn. Then you’re just hosed. Almost all characters have some sort of slow or crowd control ability which makes dashes crucial almost a necessity.
The other detractor, at least for me is the monetization. This is a problem that I’ve also had with Heroes of the Storm. I can say that this game is aggressively monetized. I’ve gotten several skins from in-game loot matrices (loot boxes) as well as a few taunts and other cosmetics and that’s all well and good. Though I am painfully aware that actually buying a freelancer is very expensive. Some of them going for $7.99 a head. Though sometimes free to play model be like that.
I was pleased to find that I still enjoy Atlas Reactor and that it has only improved with age. Though part of it still need some work you can easily tell that the developers are hard at work to fix the problems that remain and make improvements where they can. The game as a whole is a pretty good time and I’m glad that I picked it up again. Though I’m not sure for how much longer I will be playing it.