Published on October 6th, 2015 | by Justin Giza0
In the heyday of Warcraft 3, I became obsessed with a number of tower defense custom maps that kept me entertained for countless hours. My favorite of these were champion-based – where you’d primarily control one hero and face horde after horde of goons that you’d have to take down with your buddies.
Bloodsports.tv has filled that niche that’s been missing in my life. Based on the top-down post-apocalyptic RPG Krater, Bloodsports has a lot of nice things going for it. First and foremost, in a sea of online games where you’re constantly pitted against other players and can quickly go on tilt during a bad match, this avoids most of that mess by putting you on the same team.
The setting is in post-apocalyptic Sweden, with you taking on the role of some dubious characters in a bloody reality show. Players select from a range of different gladiators and enter an arena where they must defend their towers from oncoming waves of mercenaries. Defeat enough waves, and a missile will be launched at an unfortunate village, destroying it – and earning you extra coin for your dastardly work.
Pitting players against AI sounds oddly daring, considering the explosive popularity and structure of most MOBAs in the market, but it works particularly well for Bloodsports.tv. As noted earlier, one of the biggest complaints about League of Legends stems from toxic behavior – that is, players who are so negative in-game that they give a horrid impression of the experience, and ultimately make them just not want to play. By offering an experience that is by and large MOBA-like but co-op vs. AI, a lot of those worries are alleviated.
Another interesting mechanic is the “Path to Glory” system, which permanently upgrades playable gladiators through a sort of achievement system. Play enough matches, conquer enough foes and you’ll strengthen your team as time goes on. It’s a nice touch, since rewards begin to unlock pretty much after you start playing. It’s a nice reward at the end of a tough match.
In terms of controls and character diversity, players who are familiar with any MOBA at all will feel right at home. Gladiators start at a shop where they may purchase some starting items. These items branch into more and more powerful upgrades, provided you have the coin to spare. You can head right to defend your towers, or you can kill little camps of monsters for some extra cash.
Beyond the basic layout, characters each have a handful of abilities based on their role. Some gladiators are better suited to dishing out melee damage, while others like to hang in the back and make things explode. The gladiators are varied and their attacks are gratifying, but I will note that the attack/move controls felt a tad rusty. Something about the target acquisition felt a bit off, and right-clicking generally got me where I wanted much faster.
The only other things holding back Bloodsports.tv at present are a limited gladiator pool, map fatigue and limited server availability (due to it only supporting P2P networking for gameplay). Players who want a constant fresh challenge may grow bored after several hours of gameplay with the same gladiator pool, and while the game does indeed sport a wide number of maps at your disposal, most players seem to gravitate toward the “Pharma Initiative” map which is one of your earliest options. This touches on the server problem, where all games are managed through Peer-to-Peer networking. I didn’t notice any problems with performance, but as noted before, I had some difficulty getting random players interested in joining my games since I was both a stranger and I was not playing Pharma.
Overall, Bloodsports.tv feels like a solid base for a game that has a lot of room to grow. It has good atmosphere and a nice starting gladiator and map base, but it needs something more to keep players returning. It’s great to sink my teeth into AI opponents, but the thirst for victory over another player will still always call to others. The Path to Glory system is a nice rewarding touch, but what do players do once they’ve neared the end of their Path?
This is a game I’m happy to keep on my list, but I’ll be more happy when there’s a little more content to be had. Bloodsports.tv is currently available on Steam for PC only.