The 2D MOBA is a genre that hasn’t been explored too much outside of the excellent Awesomenauts and Nexon’s newest title, Hyper Universe, looks to jump feet first into the fray. Bringing an esoteric selection of characters from a variety of disparate areas of pop culture, from Gundam-esque robots to soldiers and demons it looks to bring a unique spin to the popular genre.
Recently entering Early Access, Nexon’s entry in the increasingly crowded MOBA market makes a solid first impression, the game’s presentation is lively and polished. A fun intro cinematic let’s you know not to take the game too seriously and the voicework sounds great. The interface, art and animation are also of a really high standard. This isn’t a cheap looking production at all.
The game currently features a roster of 28 characters, called Hypers, which fit into classes that will be mostly familiar to existing MOBA players. Tanks that can withstand a beating like the tentacled pirate Admiral W or the holy defender Valter sit alongside melee damage dealers Sun Wukong, the Monkey King and Zet the Gundam-esque robot. Whether you enjoy playing support, ranged damage or melee there is a character here to scratch your itch.
The game currently only has one arena, Delta Station, where the four vs four battles take place. Each Hyper has its own set of four moves alongside a primary and secondary attack. These vary wildly for each character as you’d expect, from cutesy rainbow bubbles to fire and brimstone, oddly they all blend really well and it’s usually quite easy to track what is going on.
Ultimately the game will be free-to-play when it leaves Early Access, but buying into it gives you the whole current roster of characters (24 off the bat, with a further four unlockable through levelling for a total of 28). It’s unclear how Hypers will be monetised upon final release for those who enter the game once it is free-to-play however. The store also sells Hyper skins and quality of life extras like additional loadout slots which currently seem fairly priced for in-game gold, again it’s unclear whether this will still be true once it leaves Early Access.
Once in a match the game plays out much like you’d expect from a MOBA: Hyper Universe isn’t breaking any boundaries with additions to the established formula. There are multiple lanes, two of which have defensive towers you have to take down as a team before being able to reach the main base and destroy the core. Above and below the main lanes are areas with monsters you can take on that convey bonuses to make your life easier.
The game supports gamepad control and is all the better for it, movement and attacks manage to feel a lot more like a 2D character action game than you’d expect and is extremely responsive. Experimenting with all the heroes is a lot of fun thanks in part to how well it controls.
Unfortunately, once out of the tutorial and after having completed enough matches against the AI to be let loose against the wider community of players there were a couple of issues. First is that queue times aren’t great, taking between 3-5 minutes to find a match. This is hopefully just because of the lower player pool due to it being Early Access but it is worth mentioning nonetheless. Secondly was the amount of abuse being thrown around in chat in my very first match against real players. The behaviour wasn’t targeted at anyone in particular and you can mute folk in-game (press Tab to get to Match Info, then the Chat Icon) but it’s still not a good first impression to make.
Overall Hyper Universe is a very interesting take on a 2D MOBA, it will be interesting to see how much of a player base it develops as it’s a fun, tongue-in-cheek world that has had some effort put into it. Hopefully Nexon will spend some time improving the game’s chat and social features to aid minimise any toxicity. Hyper Universe itself is fun and if you are looking for something a little different to League of Legends or Dota 2 then it might just fit the bill.