The faces of evolution in ATOMEGA, where blocky lifeforms fight to the death

By ·September 26, 2017 9:45 am

When you hear the words “robot fighting game,” what comes to mind? If you’re like me, you might think of giant robots duking it out, sometimes armies of them, with guns, blasters, and thrusters. Weaker robots are doomed to die. You could find yourself in outer space or in the middle of a city, fighting to conquer it or save the world from destruction.

ATOMEGA, an online-only, multiplayer FPS featuring advanced, robot-like lifeforms battling at the end of the world to fast-paced, futuristic music, came as a surprise on September 11, when Ubisoft made a sudden announcement about the game. It was released just over week later, on September 19.

In ATOMEGA, your main goal is to score as many points as you can by collecting mass, often at the cost of your opponents’, and growing bigger. Along the way, you transform through several stages, from an atom, to a dinosaur, to ultimately a godlike Omega as you showcase your dominance on the field. This focus on evolution, which is a mechanic that’s worked for games like Agar.io, differentiates ATOMEGA from many robot fighting games.

EVOLUTION AS SIMPLICITY

The evolutionary EXOFORMS of ATOMEGA.

Games like the Armored Core franchise make use of extensive customizability, where you can make your robot ever stronger by interchanging it with parts you find or buy in the world. Other games, like those in the Super Robot Wars franchise, feature many robots with different strengths and weaknesses. You can then assemble these robots into an army, albeit at the cost of customizability.

ATOMEGA, on the other hand, eschews both customizability and diversity in favor of fast-paced evolution. In ATOMEGA, there is only one breed of being (or EXOFORM, as it’s called by the game). It successively evolves through different stages quite quickly, depending on your savviness in collecting the purple cube building blocks, and whatever powerups you happen to have. With a time limit of 10 minutes per battle, taking your time is simply not an option.

EVOLUTION AS POWER, TO AN EXTENT

In many robot fighting games, making your robot the strongest is of tantamount importance. But what exactly makes for the strongest robot? Or is there some balance that you can strike? Should you choose increased hit points, speed, defense, or something else? Even then, do the stats match your personal playing style? You could spend hours puzzling and debating on Internet forums over these subjects.

In ATOMEGA, you don’t have to worry about any of that. The answer is pretty clear: bigger is usually better, though not always. Each form comes with its own strengths and weaknesses. Less progressed forms are typically faster but weaker. They can also sprint around all the small pathways inaccessible to the big guys, but if there’s too much of a difference in size, the smaller one can be easily decimated by a few powerful blasts.

Yet on the chance you do become an Omega, the most powerful form, you should be wary even though only one is allowed to spawn at a time. The entire field becomes alerted to your presence, and other players can easily zap you to grow their own mass. Truly, power can come at a price.

An Omega is born.

EVOLUTION AS NOTHING IN THE END

In many science fiction plotlines, technology helps humans become better than they could ever be before. Morals can be compromised, governments taken over, and worlds destroyed.

The underlying plotline of ATOMEGA, which involves life forms much more evolved than a mere machine, takes it one step further. From Steam:

It is the very end of time. Reality dissolves like cotton candy in a puddle and all that exists are EXOFORMS, super advanced post-biological lifeforms; masters of matter and energy and the last, distant relative to man and machine. As the laws of physics slowly repeal the EXOFORMS fight for fun and dominance, replaying the final moments of the universe over and over in the last arena that will ever exist.

Even though these life forms are so advanced – past those of man and machine – the EXOFORMS that dominate ATOMEGA are doomed to evolve fight over and over again in a cramped arena, even though they have supposedly transcended the limitations of other lifeforms. It’s a bittersweet premise that lends credence to the idea that, though humans may evolve alongside technology and never die again, all of that progression could lead to nothing in the end. It’s certainly one that works well for such a focused game.

Image credits: Ubisoft

Written by Alane Lim

Alane Lim is a materials science graduate student and writer based in Chicago, IL. She has been published in science, satire, and entertainment writing, the latter focusing on character and show analyses.

Her interests include indie games, Archie comics, and sci-fi/fantasy books.

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