Since Torn Banner Studios’ last multiplayer game Chivalry: Medieval Warfare hit physical and digital shelves in 2012, the multiplayer FPS scene has changed quite a bit. More ability-based hero-centric FPS titles like Overwatch and Paladins: Champions of the Realm have dominated the market with their simple, yet immensely fun ability based combat mechanics. Mirage: Arcane Warfare attempts to do the same, taking the class system present in Chivalry to a new level more similar to those modern hits. But does it work as well as both those new titles and its predecessor?
Mechanically, Mirage: Arcane Warfare is able to achieve that goal, but underwhelming matchmaking and a dwindling player base mere days after launch signify that Mirage is unlikely to ever topple Chivalry or become as popular as the developers were hoping, even with solid mechanics under its belt that fans of Torn Banner’s previous game will appreciate.
The game has six playable classes: the Entropist, Vigilist, Vypress, Taurant, Alchemancer, and Tinker. Each character is able to attack in a few different ways with a basic slash, a quick stab, and a powerful overhead swing, which vary in damage and windup time depending on one’s character. On the defensive front, players also have the ability to block and parry attacks. Most actions take up stamina, so it is critical to keep an eye on it in order to make sure you don’t overexert your character, preventing you from attack for a brief period of time while your meter refills.
Each of the six characters also has six exclusive special abilities of their own; players can bring a loadout of three into battle with them. These abilities are more magic-based, and let players do things like summon a giant boulder from nothing, or create giant protective shield around themselves, keeping matches fresh and visually entertaining.
While Mirage: Arcane Warfare can sometimes stray away from the “Arcane” part of the title with its very brutal and physical combat, these magical abilities spruce up the more fantastical elements of the experience, and along with the game’s cartoony style, help separate Mirage from Chivalry: Medieval Warfare enough to stand on its own.
Mirage: Arcane Warfare’s combat is extremely engaging, as it forces one to pay attention and time blocks and parries while looking for the opportune moment to attack and strike down the enemy. The game is well balanced for the most part, though some of the more physical characters can really over-power magic focused ones like the Alchemancer up-close, so it is best to play it safe and stay back with those characters.
There is a tutorial that teaches players the basics of combat, though it does only focus on Vypress, meaning players who want to use other characters will have to learn through trial and error in actual multiplayer matches. While more character-specific tutorials would have been a great addition, the included one is still detailed enough to give players a feel for the combat and controls after their first time through it.
After each battle, players gain experience and level up. Leveling up gives one access to loot, which includes new weapons and customization items. Mirage features a detailed customization system that allows players to make their character in each class distinct from each other with different skin colors, tattoos, and pieces of armor. Players can also switch between first and third person while fighting. I found first person to be the best to use while in the heat of battle, as it is easier to aim that way, but third person does allow one to appreciate the environments and their custom character more.
Mirage: Arcane Warfare fully embraces its Arabian theme with both its music and visuals. The title is very colorful, with much of visuals coloring centering around the purple and orange colors of the game’s two factions: the Azar Cabal and Bashrahni Emirate. The soundtrack is also energizing and fits the game’s setting; the main menu theme has even gotten stuck in my head. The game’s character animations do look dated when compared other games in the genre, and the ragdoll physics can be unrealistic and hilarious on some occasions, but Mirage is still nice to look most of the time.
Mirage: Arcane Warfare also features a nice variety of modes that are standard in multiplayer games. Modes like Team Deathmatch and Capture the Flag are present, and a Team Objective mode strings these modes together to create a more interesting and dynamic experience. These modes are spread across 27 well-designed and visually distinct maps that do a great job at keeping the action focused at certain choke points.
My favorite mode in Mirage: Arcane Warfare is the 3v3 Arena. In Arena, players are pitted against each other on a small map, keeping the action fast-paced and entertaining. Team composition matters the most in this mode; I tended to be Taurant that rushed into battle while an ally or two stayed further back to cast magic attacks at our opponents. Regrettably, another reason this is my favorite mode is that this was the one that usually had the most players in it due to Mirage: Arcane Warfare’s poor matchmaking and low player count.
I was very disappointed in the lack of good matchmaking options in Mirage: Arcane Warfare. While the Server Browser is front and center on the game’s main menu, there is not ranked mode, which can lead to unfair matches between those trying to play Mirage casually and the hardcore Chivalry vets. Having to look through the server browser also lengthens the time it takes to initially look for the match, especially when many of the rooms are empty because of the game’s low player count.
There were never many people online when I was playing Mirage:Arcane Warfare, and for a $30 online only game shortly after launch, that is really disheartening. There were even a couple of occasions where I would enter a room I thought had people in it due to the server browser, only for there to be no one in it after a lengthy load time, causing me to wait even more so someone could join my game. More people seemed to be present in the Closed Beta than there are when I play the game now, post-launch, which does not bode well for an online focused title.
I hope Torn Banner Studios is able to increase the player count of the game over time, as this game will be obsolete quickly despite its fun mechanics if no one is playing. The only single-player mode in the game is the aforementioned Vypress tutorial, so if the game’s online scene is dead, there is really nothing to keep players coming back to Mirage.
When all of this title’s parts were working correctly and I was able to get into a match, Mirage: Arcane Warfare was a blast to play, especially in Arena mode. The unique magical abilities bring it more in line with recent multiplayer FPS’s, and also freshen up the formula established in Chivalry: Medieval Warfare in a location not often explored by games.
It is sad to say that this game will probably never reach the levels of popularity of both its predecessor and modern genre counterparts because the player count is at a currently super low despite the fact the it only recently launched. I encourage people interested in the game to pick it up, as Mirage: Arcane Warfare is really fun and would benefit from having many more players. Just be aware that if the game’s community doesn’t grow soon, its severs could be barren by the end of the year, if not in the next few months.