SUNSOFT is making a MOBA for PlayStation VR. It’s called Dark Eclipse, and it will be launching spring 2018.
Multiplayer Online Battle Arena — or MOBA — games have come a long way, and SUNSOFT wants to bring MOBA into the era of virtual reality. We play lots of MOBA games. The thrill of getting a triple-kill, diving under the tower to chase a kill, ganking an unsuspecting opponent, getting that power buff, pushing towers towards the enemy base, receiving cheers from spectators… we want to bring all of this to VR.
This is a game where you need to react to other players — there is no surefire winning strategy, so you need to adapt to each situation. The pace of the game allows you to think strategically in terms of when to attack or defense. Know your enemy, and know yourself. Play wisely.
How you control the battlefield in PS VR
When we were thinking of player interaction in VR, the first thing we tried was point-and-click and point-and-teleport interactions. While that did work, we were left thinking “what if the interaction was more like real life, where you can just grab things with your hands?”
Unlike VR shooting games, in Dark Eclipse you don’t extend your arms to aim. The game is paced so that you can move more casually. We also designed the game with a rest period between matches, so you can rest your body if needed.
Dark Eclipse is designed to be a competitive game. Like all great MOBAs before it, we are looking forward to seeing skilled players battle opponents who match their skill level, eventually filtering out the top players so we can all watch their godlike gameplay. For that, we will have rank mode in Season 1.
If you are just looking to have some fun, you should know that at first nobody will know the game enough to compete in rank mode, so the launch period will be like “season zero.” So relax, have fun, and enjoy the casual mode at launch.
There are tutorials and a practice mode in Dark Eclipse. We will have a mode for player vs A.I. bots, so you can practice until you are comfortable to play with other live users. There will be rewards as you gain more experience. Rewards you earn will carry forward regardless of solo, casual mode or rank mode.
While traditional MOBA usually requires rapid control of the keyboard and mouse (or touch screen), in VR, players have motion controllers which allow analog movement input. In Dark Eclipse, you can play with one or two PlayStation Move controllers, or with a Dualshock 4, or a combination of both.
The Heroes, and how you play them
We have a range of over twenty characters planned for the game at launch, split between human-like characters called Heroes and monster-like characters called Dominators.
When we started playtesting Dark Eclipse in VR, we experimented with having one player controlling up to five characters. We eventually settled down to three controllable characters (leaders) per player because it felt good. The three controllable characters made leader composition an essential consideration, even you’re playing solo.
Because of the large combination of characters to choose from, we are aiming for Dark Eclipse to provide around a thousand hours of gameplay, with matches lasting anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes each. Looking at the hours we’ve put into playtesting this game, this won’t be a difficult task. And it’s going to be fun.
What lies ahead
At launch we will focus on 1v1 gameplay, so winning or losing is entirely up to you. This will be the main focus until the competitive season starts. Later, we will move on to 2v2, and the dynamic of the game will start to require teamwork. Eventually, we want to reach 3v3 matches. We don’t want to jump into a situation where there are not enough players in-game at any given time, and we don’t want to have people waiting for a long time for a match.
In short, first claim victory with your own wit, then look forward to team gameplay in a major release after launch. We understand the excitement of a team-based dynamic — looking at MOBAs on mobile phones, it’s easy to get games with five players on each team. But is that the answer for VR MOBA? We are taking steps to find out. The multiplayer online battle experience we want doesn’t necessarily mean 5v5, especially when one player controls three characters. We will keep iterating and evolve the game.
Finally, it wouldn’t be eSports if there are no spectators. For that, we have been prototyping a spectator mode, which will be released in an update after launch.