Atlas Reactor was one of our favorite titles at PAX East 2017, combining turn-based combat with familiar MOBA mechanics.
Featured image via n3rdabl3.

Atlas Reactor: Trion’s Fresh Take on Turn-Based PvP

Mar 25, 2017
Featured image via n3rdabl3.

PAX East is a showcase of the newest and most noteworthy games, and every year at the convention developers proudly display their hard work to a crowd of over 80,000 people. Trion’s Atlas Reactor was one of my favorite games at PAX East 2017. Atlas Reactor is a fast-paced PvP that combines MOBA mechanics with turn-based action. Atlas Reactor defies expectations about ‘turn-based’ games, and it’s anything but slow. There’s a reason I walked away from Trion’s booth at PAX East asking myself why I haven’t been wasting my free time playing the game.

Atlas Reactor: MOBA or Not?

Trion's Atlas Reactor was one of our favorite titles at PAX East 2017.
(Photo by Craig Linscott, taken at PAX East 2017.)

Trion has built a game that functions much like a MOBA, at least on the surface. You’ve got two teams of four in each game, and players choose a “Freelancer” from one of three classes: Firepower, Support, or Frontline. Each role features a cast of characters equipped with abilities that focus on either dealing damage (Firepower), healing and protecting other players (Support), or soaking up damage (Frontline).

Each Freelancer has five abilities, including an ultimate. This superficial similarity to Dota, League, and Overwatch helps new players feel comfortable with the game, but Atlas Reactor isn’t just another MOBA clone.

Simultaneous Turns

The most intriguing part of Atlas Reactor is the game’s turn-based nature. Each player is given a specific amount of time to plan and execute their turn–this phase is calle “Decision Mode.” The orders you give to your Freelancer are then carried out in four distinct stages. Here’s where it gets wonky: turns in Atlas Reactor happen simultaneously. I had to guess what my opponents next move was going to be during Decision Mode, and plot my movements and attacks accordingly. Watch the video from Trion–it does an excellent job explaining the structure of turns in Atlas Reactor.

Twenty seconds isn’t a lot of time to make difficult choices when you’re trying to gauge what your four opponents are going to do. Limiting each player to twenty seconds during Decision Mode forces you to think quickly and capitalize on advantages when they present themselves, but it also means that each match is over fairly quickly. You win a game in Atlas Reactor if your team is the first to get five kills or has the most kills after twenty turns.

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Breath of Fresh Air

The current state of the gaming industry has prioritized FPS and MOBA titles, and for good reason. These are the most popular genres, and that’s reflected in both profits and playerbases. Trion’s Atlas Reactor combines the MOBA framework with the turn-based systems of titles like Frozen Synapse and XCOM. It has the perfect blend of stimulating graphics, intriguing team composition options, and short games. Real talk: I’ll always love Dota 2, but I don’t always have the opportunity to dedicate myself to a game that could last upwards of an hour. Atlas Reactor is short, action-packed, and scratches that gaming itch.

Oh, and did we mention that Atlas Reactor is free-to-play? Head on over to Steam and give it a download here if you’re curious. It’s definitely worth checking out.

Have you played Atlas Reactor? Hit us up on Twitter and tell us what you thought.

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As the quintessential nerd, Gillian comes from a childhood of band camps, video games and fandoms. It wasn't until being introduced to Dota 2 that she realized how passionate she was about MOBA’s and eSports. If she’s not watching Twitch or writing about the latest MOBA community drama, she can be found making lattes or supporting the carry in Dota 2.
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