Armajet Preview - The Clash Royale of Deathmatch?

A promising shooter, but it can be a mobile eSport?

Armajet Death Screen
What happens when you die in Armajet. Super Bit Machine
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Armajet does not have a tutorial in its alpha, nor does it need one. You pick a username, go into battle, and start firing away at your enemies in 4-on-4 battles. What are the controls? You'll figure them out soon enough: one virtual stick moves you around, the other fires in that direction. You'll realize you have 5 different weapon loadouts, a jetpack, a grenade, and a special ability that charges up.

But, what is paramount is that you have fired up Armajet, and 30 seconds later you're playing in an online battle. A fun online blast 'em up with 4-minute matches, that can be enjoyed whenever and wherever.

Yes, Armajet is an online multiplayer shooter where you and up to 7 other players duel in arenas, in Team Deathmatch, Free-for-all, and Head-to-Head modes. While many other games are actively trying to make first-person shooters for mobile, the developers of Armajet have decided to simplify the experience down to 2D. This is smart because there's often a loss of precision in adapting games like first-person shooters to the touch screen. So instead, developers are wise to trim the experience down to something that works easily with two thumbs: one to move and jet around, the other to shoot in all directions. It's simple enough to just enjoy without any issue if you have enough experience with video games.

The controls could take inspiration from Space Marshals, which let you aim without firing. Here, you can fire and get an aiming line, but this makes using shotguns and similar weapons tough. Having the ability to aim before firing would help out a lot. Though, this could be a balance issue as well. Giving auto-fire weapons the ability to fire multiple times makes it a better choice for people who don't want to aim.

But, the concern is that touchscreens and virtual joysticks make it tougher to aim single-shot weapons than when you have a fixed joystick. Changes have already been made to aiming, but I think more could be made. 

You roll into battle with 5 different loadouts that you can switch between when you die. It's a lot like Call of Duty games, but it's very, very streamlined: the menu pops up whenever you die, and you just tap to select the new loadout of your choosing. In fact, streamlined is the entire experience: you get the push and pull of deathmatch games, but with an experience that you can enjoy on a bus ride, with the ability to easily drop in and out of games without penalty. Mobile multiplayer is important for companies to get right, and I'm glad to see that some of them are finally starting to figure out that people want multiplayer games on mobile, they just need bite-size experiences that fit the platform. The only way to reach the mass market is through these sorts of experience.

The game's monetization in the alpha strongly resembles Clash Royale. You can buy chests with coins, and these get you cards with weapons that you can unlock and upgrade with additional weapon cards.

You don't necessarily earn chests, but instead the coins you earn for winning can be used to buy different kinds of chests, with the game's hard currency being used to unlock better chests. How much this will affect the game and whether people will see it as something where players who pay get too many advantages or not

Can this game work as a a streamable experience, and potentially as an eSport? I think there's potential here. The 4-on-4 nature of the game has lots of potential for teams to form and for interesting drama to happen. The 4-minute round format will lend itself well to quick matches, but they might have to get the between-match time down to being short.

Clash Royale matches I've seen broadcast often have too long of a setup. Allowing teams to fiddle with their loadouts for short amounts of time between rounds might be good for competitive play, but the game is at least fast and dramatic enough for there to be plenty of people who want to watch this. Of course, the game is simplifying a lot down to work on mobile, and we'll see if that keeps it engaging. To be fair, Super Smash Bros. is a fairly simple fighter in comparison to Street Fighter games, but it still has a thriving competitive scene.

I do hope that Armajet doesn't add a tutorial at some point. It really does not need one and would be worse for it. The game's mechanics are simple enough that you can just jump in and start blasting without much trouble, why throw anything in the way of player enjoyment? The audience that will play this game will figure out quickly how it works. It's simple enough to learn. Too many games put a massive wall in front of players, and this is a game that you can download and enjoy right away. As it nears the end of its development cycle, it will be worth keeping an eye on to see just what changes it implements. But the core of the game is a great idea and something that has potential to entertain a lot of players for a long time.​