The Epic Series: this series covers the free games released on the Epic Games Store.
Cost: £0.00 in July 2021, £19.99 RRP
Platform: Epic, Steam, PS4, Xbox
Reviews: 901 reviews with overall rating ‘Mostly Positive’
Time to complete: 4.5-5hrs campaign, then challenge mode
Similar Games: Tower of Guns (same game developer)
I got myself into the festive feeling this Christmas by playing the MOAG (Mother of all Guns) game – Mothergunship ‘MGS’. Premise of the game? Building increasingly ridiculous weapons, collect cash, blow up evil robots. Rinse and repeat. Ideal.
An indie production by Joe Mirabello who founded Terrible Posture Games, Mothergunship feels like a mix between Doom and Borderlands. The former reflecting gameplay and the latter the graphics. This is even more obvious in the predecessor game ‘Tower of Guns’ which was released by the game developer in May 2014 (MGS was released in May 2018).
System requirements for both games aren’t very demanding meaning most gamers can join the robot carnage with a range of devices, including lower end gaming laptops.
MGS is a rogue-like game, meaning that each level is generated randomly and therefore every time you play you achieve a different experience. If you die during a level you respawn back at the HQ but lose all of the upgrades and weapons you collected in that level – similar to other roguelite games (see Hades). The incentive to continue comes from gaining EXP which you can use to upgrade your armour, as well as a successful mission allowing you to keep any weapons used. The game has side quest levels, where you are forced to start with particular weapons, meaning to some extent you are hand held into collecting new equipment.
Beyond the missions where you are fed equipment, you are at the whims of RNG (a random number generator), and this leads to the first drawback this author experienced. If you are dealt a bad hand, especially at the beginning of the game when you are severely underpowered, the enemies can be excruciatingly difficult to take down. Even as you progress further you are reliant on luck to get the weapon you want.
This randomness, which has the potential to derail the early game, could have been sorted with either microtransactions (I know, sacrilege), or the game could offer more focused weapon choices e.g. the weapons looting room is still random but you can place a preference for rockets/lasers/shotguns to appear more often. Maybe you could pay coins to do this (the play-to-collect in-game currency).
The Internet’s View
MGS gets a 72 metascore on metacritic
A fair amount of the more ‘negative’ reviews focus on the story mode ending within a few short 5 hours, and then the challenge mode is either too RNG heavy or repetitive.
“Fun, 7/10, untill you finish main story. After that the balance jumps out of the window and unless you are lucky with RNG or have above average FPS skill, then you’ll be constantly obliterated in infinitely scalling missions. And that happens almost immidiately after campaign. Needless to say my “fun” part dropped like a rock in a well.”Metacritc
General views are a vastly improved endgame would keep players engaged, and the frustrations of RNG could be solved by better monetisation. There are clearly players who would pay.
Terrible Posture Games is based in Boston USA, and founded by Joe Mirabello. Joe is a 16 year game developer veteran. He started his career as an artist at Ironlore Entertainment, where he says he ‘made hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of weapons’.
Tower of Guns (the predecessor to MGS) was mainly made solo by Joe, with MGS involving a much larger team. The game developer recently created a playable sitcom ‘3 out of 10’ which is on the Epic Store. The premise is a series of episodes that players can complete, providing a hybrid between watching TV and playing video games. I played a few episodes of this game and I still remember some of the missions very clearly, showing the power of the immersive narrative genre to leave lasting impressions.
MGS itself was funded by Humble Bundle and released 24 May 2018. Humble Bundle is a publisher for indie studios (particularly one wo[man] studios), and uses its scale to give games a marketing platform they otherwise would be able to afford.
Given both MGS and 3 out of 10 are both Epic Games supported, we expect to see a lot more from Joe in the future.
The usual outro youtube clip with a Christmas slant – Merry Christmas!