Preview: Minimum

Nothing quite beats the thrill of dashing towards my enemies with dual katanas, watching as they futilely try to escape me before being slashed and dematerialized. Enter Minimum, an online third person shooter with both RPG and RTS elements packed into a single game. The game is developed by Human Head, and published by Atari. While it is currently in closed beta (available for early access through purchase), it has enough content to get a taste for the kind of experience the game tries to deliver.

As you load into the game, you’ll be treated to a small tutorial on the different menus and options for customizing your character. In one of the menus, players can customize various load-outs with their primary and secondary weapons, equipment, and so forth. You’re given access to starting equipment, but to expand your armory new weapons needs to be crafted, which I’ll get into in a moment. Weapons also appear to have their own experience level, which means the more you use the weapon or equipment, the more bonus modifiers it grants. As there was no explanation on this (and none of the starting equipment had experience bars), I could only assume that this feature had not been added into the game yet. There are also plans to add an upgrade option to your gear allowing you to customize the stats and behaviors of that particular item.

Another area of note is the workshop, which allows a player to craft new equipment. Crafting requires a schematic of the item you are attempting to make, and resources. Resources can be earned over the course of time as you play more often, but schematics seem to be a bit trickier to get your hands on.

With all my customization and options tweaking done, I decided to head into a game. I was dropped immediately into a team deathmatch with a few other players, with almost no idea of how to play. Fortunately, the game is quite intuitive in that regards. As its name suggests, team deathmatch involves both teams killing each other until they reach a required amount of kills. As players are slain however, they drop behind power-ups that increases the level of your current weapon, capping at level five. Weapons become fearsome as they reach that level, but it’s a double-edged sword as being killed also resets the power level of all your weapons back to one; and the more energy you had, the more you drop upon your inevitable death.

In the midst of the game, you can find materials that can be crafted into items that offer you a permanent upgrade for that match. As of writing, the only items that could be crafted are two different types of armor, but later on you can create deployable items and structures, which is sure to offer some varied gameplay.

While team deathmatch is adrenaline-filled action, the real fun of the game lies in its Titan mode. This is an objective-focused mode with similar mechanics to MOBA (multi-player online battle arena) titles, combined with the fast-paced shooting that Minimum delivers on. The two teams have their own respective Titans spawn at fixed periods; these Titans will eventually cross paths and one of them will emerge victorious. The surviving Titan must then break through the enemy team’s barricade and reach their base to smash their core. Your key objective during this stage is to defend your team’s Titan for as long as possible while whittling down their opposition so that your Titan can survive longer just to deal that extra damage to their barricades. This involves dealing damage to the enemy Titan, destroying opposing turrets or slaying other players that would hamper your own Titan’s progress.

Once the Titans fall, then begins the Creep wave, where creeps spawn at the location of nests scattered across the map. Upon death, these creeps drop titan crystals which increase the power of your team’s Titan. This stage requires the careful balance of farming your own creep crystals, and disrupting the opposing team’s ability to do the same.

I certainly didn’t expect assisting the Titan assault on an enemy base to be this exciting, but with the hectic schedule of balancing strategy, protecting my Titan, farming creeps and dealing with enemy players, the game becomes a high-paced battle throughout the whole match. Minimum offers a game mode that takes elements from a standard MOBA game, and then mashes it into its own style that feels unique and exhilarating.

As of writing, there seems to be a lot of features in Minimum that have yet to be implemented. It would have been nice to have a sort of leaver-punishment system, as the multiple times that I played Titan mode, there were frequent leavers (especially when the match goes long, which will occur if both teams are evenly matched). That said, the game is still in early beta access, so there is no doubt in my mind that there is potential for an even greater game experience.

Regardless, what is currently there does not fail to impress. Minimum definitely delivers on the fast paced shooting that Human Head strives for, and their premier Titan Mode will offer the strategic elements as well. The game is currently available for early access on Steam, with a release date to be announced.