There’s always something so satisfying about winning dramatic head-to-head duels in video games. Whether it’s a clutch capture the flag score, surviving in a battle royale, a grand 64-player team efforts or the push and pull through a MOBA’s lanes, one player or team emerges victorious in direct competition with other players. But what if competition didn’t mean looking your rivals in their video game character eyes? That’s what Evercore Heroes asks and answers.
It’s easy to look at screenshots and trailers for Evercore Heroes and jump to quick conclusions about the genre and gameplay style it features – heck, I’m a little guilty of that myself! While it might appear to be a MOBA, the ‘competitive PvE’ tag certainly implying something rather combative, you don’t actually go head-to-head against the other players and teams in direct combat. Instead it’s like an action RPG score attack with teams getting knocked out as you build up to a climactic boss battle.
Each match sees four teams of four players venture into the fantasy world of Lumerea to battle monsters, defend the Evercore from nasties, and eventually face off against a climactic boss battle. The goal is to do this as best you possibly can, racking up the points you need to outpace the other teams and avoid being knocked out of the match. You don’t fight alongside or against the rival teams, but you can see their wisp-like forms floating around the map, clueing you in on how they’re doing in their own fight for victory, the strategy their employing and objectives that they’re going for.
It’s all about team composition, and it’s here that Evercore Heroes hews closer to a MOBA than a regular action RPG with hero characters instead of base classes – it does make sense when ‘heroes’ is right there in the title. They’re grouped together on the character selection screen as Tank, Damage and Support, and within these loose categories there’s a huge amount of variety and differing degrees of skill needed to succeed.
Fyn is your fairly standard tank, for example, slotting right into the Reinhardt mould. He comes with a big shield, has a charge attack and a swiping ranged ability, while his super then gives every teammate a big shield that comes in especially handy during big fights. Maxx, on the other hand, is a diminutive furry creature that has a unique stance switch ability that swaps shield for sword when pure damage output is needed, shifting how each of their abilities act. That’s just two examples from the broad roster, though it’s fair to say that with the most common team composition sure to be one tank, two DPS and one support, there’s roster is pretty stacked with twice as many DPS characters.
Once a match starts, it’s a race to quickly power up your heroes. There’s structure to this phase, as you can home in on the randomly generated objectives on the map, triggering fights at Battlehorns to reward you with gold and experience, activating teleport nodes, and the like. As in a MOBA, each level you gain allows you to unlock or upgrade one of your character’s set abilities, with three main skills and then an ultimate ability locked until level 6.
You can also find Shards on you mini-adventure, with these randomised powerups dropped by certain enemies, found in chests or purchased at shops. These can give important buffs to attack speed, conditionally damage output, and the like, and for those found in the levels you can decide as a team who gets them by signalling if you want or will pass up the shard as its found.
After a few minutes, you’re called to a particular objective point on the map to compete directly against the other teams. As you fend off oncoming enemies, these can have interesting gameplay mechanics, like needing to stand on shifting control points, killing enemies in certain spaces, and more. This earns the top team Luum that helps to reinforce their Evercore which, you guessed it, quickly comes under attack later in the match. Now it’s about defending your Evercore in the Surge wave with waves of enemies attacking from multiple angles, forcing you to split your efforts between attack lanes to avoid it being destroyed, knocking you out of the game.
Once you’ve been through this cycle a second time, the two remaining teams will duke it out in parallel against a level-ending boss battle. These are map specific and come with some battle mechanics that make them more than just damage sponges – though they do soak up an awful lot of damage. The multi-stage boss battle against Thrashclaw has you trying to hold control points while avoiding blankets of damage and battling enemies, giving you a damage buff for when this icy beast appears. Then it’s all about dealing damage and avoiding its slow and sweeping attacks.
There’s an intriguing blend of gameplay and ideas at the heart of Evercore Heroes. Yes, it’s a competitive game and it’s sure to be disheartening if you’re knocked out at the first round – you can quickly start matchmaking again, at least – but there’s something nicer and more welcoming to the battling being purely PvE. If it’s the PvP elements of MOBAs that push you away, or want a little more competition added to your co-op action RPG-ing, then Evercore Heroes is one worth checking out.
Evercore Heroes is kicking off a closed beta today, with access granted to those who buy one of three founder’s packs, starting at €19.99.