Hands-On with Mirage: Arcane Warfare – PAX East Gameplay Preview

By Published April 26, 2016 at 11:26 am
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Torn Banner's Mirage: Arcane Warfare made its inaugural press tour at GDC a few weeks ago, but we weren't allowed to play it until last weekend's PAX East. Previewing a mechanically deep game from a show floor environment is always difficult – you've got a few minutes to figure out the controls, and it's normally just enough to get a good “base feeling” for the heart of the game. That's it, though, and there's little to be learned in the form of combat or mechanics intricacies.

We previewed Mirage: Arcane Warfare gameplay at PAX East in a full multiplayer match, managing to play each class at least once between the two of us. One class remained locked, but the rest were open to play.

Mirage Gameplay Footage & Hands-On Impressions

Mirage – Feel of Gameplay

Mirage's beating heart is a transplant from Chivalry: Medieval Warfare, a medium-paced slugfest with a focus on “telegraphing” attacks; that is, using cues and information conveyance to inform players of their competition's next moves. It's a boxing match, in this regard, and Mirage takes that same core principal (though that's not to say battles are limited to 1v1 – most certainly not the case). With Mirage, there's magic and a large focus on ranged attacks, though all classes but the Alchemancer offer melee options when situations demand. The ranged attacks each have different speeds, ranges, and arcs, and that steepens the learning curve considerably when compared against more “normal” ranged combat games – most often involving bullets that hit targets effectively instantly. There is a great deal of real-time tactics behind Mirage gameplay.

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Mirage is far from a “twitch shooter.” We learned quickly that there's a focus on being careful with actions. Over-extending or taking one swing/spell-blast too many can cost the battle, exposing the character to the well-placed riposte. Positioning and movement are also important, especially given the level design focus on using obstacles or vertical elements for advanced-level tactics.

Classes also feel unique. There's little overlap between each class, which incentivizes switching as situations dictate or as experience grows. Each class runs three core abilities (sans base attack/block) that can be progressed and changed as players advance. Most classes have some form of teleport/charge that lends itself to expeditious retreat when engaged in unwinnable melee (or to engage in winnable melee), a situational ability, and a damage-focused ability. Both of our editors had fun with the Tinkerer class, who uses alchemical bombs to create a slight knockback and inflict heavy damage. The Alchemancer offered a damage-intensive mage, but felt a bit “squishy” in the melee engagement department. Each class has an entirely different playstyle; the natural trend, we think, will be for players to find classes that fit their approach to games more acceptably, leaving other classes unused. The best, of course, will switch as situations dictate.

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All the moves and engagements felt weighted and calculable. This helps pick-up controls somewhat quickly, but also helps with determining what the enemy is working on next. A minimalistic UI encourages this in-play approach to information, and is both a “pro” and “con” to Mirage – but entirely in a subjective fashion. If you're more dependent on a strong UI or prefer quicker-paced play, this might not be the game for you.

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Color palette and art were discussed in our previous content, where we stated our strong support of the team's artistic direction for Mirage.

The Team has Grown Tremendously

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Our site started roughly around when Age of Chivalry first launched – the mod, not the full game – and was actually one of the first games we covered. Since then, the team has grown not only in professionalism and employee count, but in skill. Specifically calling-out level design, we've seen increasingly interesting maps created with well-placed choke-points, multiple paths to success, strong information conveyance to ensure players don't get lost, and fairly one-to-one matches between teams.

Mirage: Arcane Warfare is the culmination of years of learning for Torn Banner, a studio which seems to have hit its stride with Chivalry: Medieval Warfare. We're curious to see where they take Mirage.

Editorial: Steve “Lelldorianx” Burke
Add'l Reporting, Video Production: Keegan “HornetSting” Gallick

Last modified on April 26, 2016 at 11:26 am
Steve Burke

Steve started GamersNexus back when it was just a cool name, and now it's grown into an expansive website with an overwhelming amount of features. He recalls his first difficult decision with GN's direction: "I didn't know whether or not I wanted 'Gamers' to have a possessive apostrophe -- I mean, grammatically it should, but I didn't like it in the name. It was ugly. I also had people who were typing apostrophes into the address bar - sigh. It made sense to just leave it as 'Gamers.'"

First world problems, Steve. First world problems.

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