Master X Master Preview – Tag, You’re It

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I got hands-on with Master X Master (MXM) at PAX East, an upcoming Action MOBA set in a world where humans embraced technology a little too much, using it in order to elongate their lives via implants. As has been the case time and time again, technology has turned on humans, and with the added benefit of already being fused to them, technology appears to have the upper hand. There is now a fight for survival, man versus machine, with Masters fighting on behalf of the human race.

MXM includes PvP and PvE, along with a tag system which allows you to select two Masters at the start of a level and swap between them freely while in the throes of combat. The game will feature 30 Masters, all with different, unique skills and abilities to choose from, allowing for a fully customized gaming experience both individually and as part of a larger team. The demo highlighted four in particular: Taejin, Sizuka, Cagnazzo, and Demenos. Taejin is a soldier, specializing in mid-range combat, who has never been to Earth. Sizuka, on the other hand, has been on Earth her entire life, and is a successful assassin best suited in an attack-and-retreat role. Cagnazzo is a massive gladiator, fighting – literally – with the chains that bound him, and is most successful in the thick of battle. And then there is Demenos – a high ranking member of an elite nobility, and no one knows why someone of his position is even involved in the first place – however, his lightning attacks are both savage and salvation, dealing damage to enemies while healing allies.

For the Co-op Blackram Supply Chain I chose the team of Taejin and Demenos, which ended up being a quite successful pair. After swapping in a new character the other heals, and when timed right can lead to some brutal combos. Demenos was particularly useful to have during the very mobile final boss, dealing some much needed healing to my team members without sacrificing the ability to attack the boss. Taejin was also useful due to his mid-range attacks – the boss was quite swift, and I can’t imagine a melee character could have kept up enough to be any significant benefit.

During the 5v5 Titan Ruins I kept Taejin – I had developed quite a soft spot for him at this time – and swapped out Demenos for Cagnazzo. Cagnazzo is a beast, both appearance and in battle. His fight style replicates the frantic desperation and brute-force of someone once held prisoner now having the chance to fight back against his oppressors. Guiding him into battle almost felt like I was doing him a favor, and considering I tend to prefer gameplay where I can jump into the middle of a battle and hit everything and everyone, controlling him felt right. When he needed a break or was as risk of being outnumbered, swapping to Taejin, unleashing one of his special attacks, and buying myself a few precious seconds to back up slightly let me utilize his mid-range attacks without dying.

During combat I had full control over motion, able to move, dodge, jump, aim, and swap freely. Switching between my Masters was fluid using the mouse wheel, with a brief cool-down period in between in order to prevent swap abuse. That wasn’t an issue during the demo, however I can see it becoming more frantic as the difficulty is amped up and I find myself swapped prematurely to the wrong Master.

MXM will feature a PvE mode with its own story-line for both solo and co-op play, which is exciting for me considering the premise of the game. I’m eager to learn more about the world, and the other Masters, and hopefully the wait won’t be too long – Master X Master is projected to release sometime near the end of the year.

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