(Pocket-lint) – The world of miniature tabletop games might seem ominous on the outside, but like so many hobbies, it’s actually quite welcoming. Still, with paints and kits to buy and dioramas to build, it can be expensive to really get into Warhammer.
That’s one of the thoughts behind Moonbreaker, the new game from Subnautica developers Unknown Worlds, and we’ve gotten into the new turn-based game it’s bringing to Gamescom 2022. It’s a mix intriguing concepts.
Moonbreaker is still in its infancy – its release on September 29, 2022 is only available on Steam Early Access, but we’re excited to see how it can develop.
What we played at Gamescom was polished and impressive, from an out-of-the-box combat system to a world already filled with love. Of course, the big challenge will be finding ways to make this appealing to players for hundreds of hours and ensuring its competitive systems are balanced.
For now, however, Unknown Worlds clearly has a very solid base to work from. We’re already looking forward to seeing if this can help Moonbreaker flourish.
- Really fun designs
- The painting is so zen
- Brandon Sanderson’s construction of the world
- Lots of depth to explore
- Could be slightly thin on content
- A full campaign would be nice
A game in two halves
Moonbreaker splits very evenly into two large sections, both of which show an obvious love for the origins of the table it harks back to. The first lets you choose the miniature you like from the many heroes and units that make up its factions and fighting forces.
You can then paint that unit with a surprisingly deep yet refreshing system that lets you choose from a huge range of colors, mix your own palettes, and paint with as much or as little precision as you want.
That means base layers, fine details, different types of brushes and more, including an all-important masking option that will keep your painting within the bounds of whatever segment you’re on, helping you avoid messy end products.
We didn’t have enough time to do a paint job from start to finish, but what we saw made it very clear that the mode will allow people to do wonderfully detailed and unique paint jobs for their armies. , which they can save and use in multiplayer settings to really take ownership of their units.
The other half of the game is this multiplayer mode – a 1v1 match mode that lets you battle against another player. You start with your chosen hero and a random hand of units drawn from your chosen pool, and take turns playing new units or spending your resources to use powerful attacks.
It’s closest in its tactical beats to something like Hearthstone, where the tension between saving up for a powerful add-on without making yourself vulnerable to attack constantly boils over.
In this case, however, rather than just working on the synergies between your units and their abilities, you’re also managing cover and positioning in Moonbreaker’s tight, compact maps.
Each round lasts 10-15 minutes, giving you plenty of time to mount comebacks and explore different tactics, but still keeping it snappy enough to stay more biting. We found it fast and simple mechanically, but the amount of tactical flexibility offered was immediately apparent.
Build the world from scratch
What really draws us to Moonbreaker, however, is that it’s not just a mix of influences and visual languages created by other universes or creators. There’s a cohesive universe at play here, all hatched from the mind of prolific and mega-successful author Brandon Sanderson.
Unknown Worlds went full circle with him a few years ago after hearing he was enjoying Subnautica, its massive success, and the partnership he struck paid off in the form of Moonbreaker.
Sanderson wrote a huge bible about the game’s futuristic setting, dominated by different factions and with creepy personalities to explore and encounter, and Unknown Worlds apparently has a long list of seasonal content options up its sleeve as a result of that. world building.
Unlike the work George RR Martin did for Elden Ring, for example, Sanderson’s involvement with Moonbreaker is apparently ongoing – he may provide more material at some point and consult on the direction of the game’s lore.
The result for players is a cast of fun and interesting heroes, from warrior queens riding frogs to space crooks who died but returned in holographic form, each with their own character figurine that you can paint however you like. or keep indoors. its excellent state by default.
We’re particularly interested in how this story will unfold for players once the game hits early access in late September 2022 – there’s the promise of new character additions, but also a series of audio pieces that have been written and performed with complete actors. .
These will be available on podcast platforms as well as in-game for you to listen to while you paint, a combination we found so natural we can’t quite believe it’s not already popular. for seasonal games like Apex Legends or Fortnite.
If that kind of invention and Brandon Sanderson’s imagination can work together as well as Unknown Worlds hopes, then Moonbreaker could offer up a really interesting space world to get lost in. We’re hoping there will be a full campaign for it to end at some point, but it looks like it won’t be in place at launch.
The attention to detail we detected in our playtime wasn’t just down to story or tactics – Moonbreaker also looks really cool and distinctive. It’s all through table tilt – there are tilt effects to make things suitably small, and your units are all real miniatures.
That means animations are limited, with fun goofy moves for larger units and slinky moves for smaller fighters, and it all comes together to really immerse you in this weird world. It’s a table you can almost believe is real, but with fun nods to its game.
The cards are crisp and interesting to look at, and compact enough that you don’t have to learn any awesome layouts or anything to do well. Meanwhile, everything has a hand-painted aesthetic that really shows how the game looks like it’s been painted.
This speaks to the effectiveness of the in-game paint tool, as this is what Unknown Worlds in-house artists used to do the default paint jobs for units, and the detail on these models is really awesome .
When you’re painting for yourself, it’s hard to explain what’s so satisfying about paint jobs that look exactly how you imagine they would in real life, but it all comes together to create a whole really satisfying visual.
Moonbreaker felt good in our time with it – a twist on the table genre that also tucks away in a soothing paint suite. We’re incredibly curious to see how it will be received, as it could be a sleeper shot or just an overly complicated proposition.
Written by Max Freeman-Mills.