There was a lot happening at TwitchCon in San Diego this year. But by far, one of the most exciting aspects at TC was all of the new games being showcased. To be fair, there was just no way to spend quality time with every game on display. So here’s the full rundown of what we’re hyped about at StreamKick. Enjoy responsibly.
There was a lot happening at TwitchCon in San Diego this year. If you couldn’t make it or if you feel like you missed something, you can catch my recap here. But by far, one of the most exciting aspects at TC was all of the new games being showcased.
To be fair, there was just no way to spend quality time with every game on display. And some were just so damn fun it was really hard to stop playing them (*cough* Breakaway).
So here’s the full rundown of what we’re hyped about at StreamKick. Enjoy responsibly.
Studio: Spiritwalk Games
Genre: Collectible tactics
Release: TBD - currently in pre-alpha
StreamKick rundown: Spiritwalk made a big first impression when their CEO was invited on stage in the Kappa Theater during the keynote address. The context was the discussion around integrating streaming more closely into the games themselves.
Spiritwalk has taken a really interesting approach to this with Shardbound. I spoke with a couple of the devs between matches I played, and they described it simply as a mix between chess and Hearthstone. This is a pretty fair description but it leaves out one of the most exciting aspects of the game - you can play alongside the streamer and influence their game.
The Shardbound website isn’t too forthcoming with details, and I wasn’t able to get a really good feel for how the game works outside of combat, but the combat is crazy fun. It works like this:
When the match starts, you choose a hero of sorts. At the time, there were four available and with each there’s an overall strategy which seems to affect the cards you draw during the match.
Your hero deploys on the game board and then your turns consist of moving, attacking, and playing cards as you earn mana each round. The cards are a mix of spells (direct damage, buffs, debuffs, healing, etc.) and summons. The summoning mechanic adds really interesting complexity to the game because the minion you summon takes a place on the board and is then controllable just like your hero. It’s a almost like a three-dimensional Hearthstone match where the game board actually matters.
As for the streaming element, viewers can join the fight on the side of their favorite streamer and influence the outcome of the game. It’s not all just good manners either. Assisting and winning means you stand to gain more loot for your efforts. Cool stuff.
More info: www.shardbound.com/
Genre: Multiplayer “stream first” action
Release: Live now
StreamKick rundown: Streamline was another title getting some serious push at TwitchCon. That’s because, as far as I can tell (and please tell me if I’m wrong), Streamline is the first game to offer top-to-bottom integration of the streamer with the audience. That’s a big statement so let me explain.
The streamer plays the primary role as the hunter. It’s the hunter’s job to, well, hunt down everyone else. The hunter dashes about each level attempting to bash the hell out of everyone with a stop sign.
“Everyone else” is the runners, played by the viewers. Those that aren’t fortunate enough to be runners can play a part in influencing the course of the game through a slick voting mechanism. At any point, the audience may vote to turn the floor of the level into lava, or replace the hunter’s stop sign with one of those floating water noodles, rendering him powerless for a period of time. Those are just two examples. There are loads more.
This all does require the viewers be participating via Proletariat’s platform, streamote.tv, but it’s integrated with Twitch so it’s an easy process for everyone.
It’s a really interesting step towards making games more immersive for the entire audience, taking “Twitch Plays” to an entirely new level. If anything hopefully it will inspire other studios to go this route.
More info: www.playstreamline.com/
Studio: Trion Worlds
Genre: Multiplayer team-based tactics
Release: Live now
StreamKick rundown: To be completely transparent, I didn’t get to spend as much time with Atlas Reactor as I would have liked. However, I heard the game mentioned by many people I spoke with at TwitchCon and so I did stop by and have a quick chat with one of their representatives.
If you’ve ever played or heard of the game Trove, that’s also a Trion World title. Atlas Reactor was explained to me as an “XCom with friends”. And we’re not talking about alien nukery, but more so the turn-based tactical element. In Atlas Reactor, turns take place simultaneously, with each team making their plays as the clock runs down. Once time is up, those decisions play out.
With Atlas Reactor, Trion has also introduced a “seasons” system which should make for a more immersive experience. As the season progresses, a story is told and the players can interact with elements of that story to progress their own and secure loot. And season 1 is already underway.
Each season comes with rewards of various sorts, encouraging players to participate often and consistently.
It wasn’t apparent that Atlas Reactor had any special streaming components like the former two games, however it’s a fast-paced game with lots of customization included so it’s a natural fit for streamers looking to test something new.
More info: www.atlasreactorgame.com/en/
Studio: Thunder Lotus Games
Genre: Action horror, “Metroidvania”
StreamKick rundown: I had the pleasure of meeting and chatting with William, the founder of Thunder Lotus Games, while at TwitchCon. The thing that caught my eye about Sundered was the detailed artwork. Everything is actually hand drawn. Go now to the studio’s website and look at the examples of the artwork. Even if this isn’t your sort of game, the art alone makes the game instantly appealing.
I grew up in the days of Castlevania, Metroid, and Ninja Gaiden so this game brought back some great memories from my childhood. Endless hours of frustration that culminated in ridiculously huge boss fights. It’s amazing I never had a nervous breakdown from playing those games but they were immensely satisfying to complete.
Aside from about 30 years, the major differences with Sundered include a procedurally created (handdrawn!) world, and multiple possible endings.
What makes Sundered great for streaming? For one, the visuals are amazing. Gameplay can get intense, and, just like the games it harkens back to, manual dexterity is key to mastering the game. If you’ve ever played any of those older titles you know how frustrating that can be, but it also makes for great entertainment and sweetly satisfying victories.
More info: www.thunderlotusgames.com/
Studio: Amazon Game Studios
Genre: Mythological sports brawler
Release: TBD - Alpha begins 12/15
StreamKick rundown: I’ll start by saying this - I couldn’t stop playing Breakaway. Amazon Game Studios has got a winner on their hands with this and I wouldn’t be surprised in the slightest if the streaming community embraced this game very quickly.
At TwitchCon it was drawing a lot of comparisons to League of Legends (LoL), Dota, Heroes of the Storm (HoTS), and essentially every other MOBA on the market. The team from Amazon was having none of that. I know because on day one, when I walked into the expo hall and saw the game on the big screen, I mentioned it to one of the devs. He politely corrected me and explained (sort of) how the game works. I say that because you really need to play it to understand it’s not LoL or DOTA or any of those games.
The concept is really simple. There’s the relic which is the focal point of the match. The relic spawns in the center of the arena and anyone can pick it up and advance it towards the enemy portal. Once it’s in, that team scores a point. Conversely you can also score by eliminating the entirety of the opposing team before any one of them respawns. Think “ace” from LoL. Much easier said than done. Three points wins the match.
Each match is 4v4 with each player choosing from a pool of 7 warriors. At the time, you could play the same warriors within a team but it’s generally not a great strategy. People still pulled it off at TwitchCon.
There was a team of 4 that, as far as I could tell, did nothing for those three days except play this game. They were there whenever I walked by, often on the main stage, and were reportedly 22-1 going into Sunday. Keep in mind, this was the first time the public had played the game.
But what makes Breakaway so fun is that it’s fast yet complex. Each warrior has a set of abilities with relatively short cooldowns. In addition, each can deploy items onto the battlefield that can assist in defending, attacking, and moving players down the field. There are two buffs available which can be easily contested making for some really exciting interactions between teams.
I can go on and on about this game so I recommend checking the Breakaway site and seeing some of the gameplay video to get a sense for how it all works.
As for streaming, Amazon says the game is “made by streamers, for streamers.” I didn’t see any particular streaming features on display at TwitchCon but the game hasn’t even been released into alpha yet, so there’s surely a lot more to come. You can get a rundown of the streaming features from the website as well.
More info: www.playbreakaway.com/
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