Battle of the Cartoon-y Shooter MOBA-y Games

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Introduction

Four online team based shooters, each vying for player attention have been in the works over the last two years. Development houses Blizzard, Gearbox, Hi-Rez, and Motiga have been hoping to add their own defining stamp on the FPS/MOBA-lite genre. They are each distinct and different, although you might not know it by comparing screenshots. They have all adopted similar cartoon looks, despite trying to stand out from each other. Four shooters, all wearing the same prom dress. Faux pas aside, each dame is dancing to its own tune. Are you a slow dancer, or a busting buttons doing the YMCA wearing a red afro? Personal style preferences will have a lot to do with which shooter you get liquored up and take home to meet mom.

The vintage art look, that’s shared with these titles, is probably inspired by the grandfather of team based cartoon-y FPS games. Back in 2007, Team Fortress 2 released with its iconic Norman Rockwell inspired look. Make no mistake, TF2 is still stiff competition for these new titles. 1.8 million gamers played TF2 in just the last couple of weeks. A nice chunk of gamer attention anyone would love to have sway.

It's okay Mr. Spy no one is forgetting the granddaddy of the cartoon shooters
It’s okay Mr. Spy no one is forgetting the granddaddy of them all.
Despite their visual similarities, and the first person perspective, these new titles differ in game design philosophies. One title comes with a heavier emphasis on style and visual savvy. Another brings CCG deck building for augmenting heroes. Another offers a tight knit player community, game guides, and eases players into its online experience. While still another focuses on smooth matchmaking and stylistic frills over depth.

“Okay, so like, which one is da best Juan dood?”

Not everyone has infinite time and cash reserves to invest into all four games. It is also rare to find someone willing to delve into four similar genre titles at the same time. Therefore, asking which one is “the best” is only natural. But figuring out which one is more to your liking, will depend in most cases which aspect you tend to lean towards as a player.

With that in mind, rating each on three primary categories is a solid approach. Presentation, which encompasses visual design, audio work, and control mechanics. Strategy, which is based on team mechanics and gameplay complexity. Finally Online Rating, which takes into account: fluidity with getting into matches, performance during matches, the overall player community, and developer communication with fans.

It is more probably that by rating each aspect separately we’d have a better indication of which cartoon-y/MOBA-y shooter flavor is more to your liking. Keep in mind that while Battleborn is released (and Overwatch is due to release May 24th), Gigantic and Paladins are still in Beta cycles and thus may see changes in the coming months. In fact there have been notable changes with each title from early Alpha stages to closed Beta. Regardless of upcoming polish, I’m confident there’s enough here to assemble a clear view of each. Currently these are how these titles rank on my “best of” list (from least favorite to most favorite):