EGX 2014: Transformers Universe

Find out how a free t-shirt embarrassed Ben in public at this year’s EGX event, when he got to grips with Transformers Universe by Jagex Games Studio.

Title overview

Name: Transformers Universe
Developer: Jagex Games Studio and Hasbro
Publisher: Jagex Games Studio
Release date: July 2014
PEGI rating: Not listed
Platforms: Web browser
More information: official website

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Ben says…

Before we crack on, I should declare my interest in this one. After playing the video game and speaking with the Jagex Games Studio team, I explained I’d be writing an article on their release and they offered me a free t-shirt. Not only did I say yes, but when asked what size I requested the biggest they had (I’m a large bloke). It turns out their largest size leaves plenty of room for me to, err, ‘grow’ which is as comforting as it is terrifying.

So there you have it: I was given a free Autobot t-shirt that’s too big for me to wear in public… in public.

Transformers should, by all rights, be a relatively quick win for game developers. After all, they’re giant hulking robots armed to the teeth with guns and swords who can turn into vehicles. What’s not to love and, more importantly, what could possibly be difficult about turning these automatons into the stars of an action game?

Quite a lot as it happens. Getting the balance right between robot and vehicle has proven tricky over the years with only 2010’s Transformers: War for Cybertron and 2012’s Transformers: Fall of Cybertron being respectable offerings to the gaming world. The brand remains immensely popular, with those who grew up with it in the 1980s and fans of Michael Bay’s big-budget films alike.

It’s being touted as a blend on MOBA for the primary PvP mode and MMO for your ability to level up your robot in a PvE setting.

You can see then why Jagex and Hasbro have linked up to bring Transformers Universe to the mega-popular world of multiplayer-online-battle-arena (MOBA) games. It’s being touted as a blend on MOBA for the primary player-versus-player (PvP) mode and massively-multiplayer-online (MMO) for your ability to level up your robot in a player-versus-environment (PvE) setting. At a high level, the concept sounds great. You can get to know your chosen Transformer’s strengths and weaknesses away from the aggressive and fast-paced MOBA element so when you do step into the ring, you’ll have a better chance at competing with the hardcore.

We spent some time with the team at EGX this year, chatting through and playing the title. The hands-on time we had was with the PvP element only, comprising of teams made up of other punters at the event and members of the Jagex crew.

It was fun, nothing stellar at this point but then again it’s still in beta. Transforming between robot and vehicle is all done at the touch of a button which is important because there’ll always be a buzz about zipping up to a fight, converting mid-air and blasting away as a automaton before you land. In that respect, Transformers Universe absolutely hits the mark.

When in robot form, the Transformer (you can play as either an Autobot or a Decepticon) under your control has three primary weapons. Two are offensive while the remaining is used to mend other robots. It works well in practice and I found myself regularly teaming up with other players to heal or hurt depending on the situation.

What I didn’t get was a sense of traditional MOBA mechanics. If there were lanes they didn’t seem very distinct, I wasn’t able to find central structures to destroy (or protect) and no turrets, creeps or vendors. It felt very much like a free-for-all which isn’t a bad thing, just not what I was expecting. Needless to say, I’ll have a clearer idea once I’ve spent more time with the title rather than just a ten-minute play-around.

Playing more is just what I’ll be doing as Transformers Universe is currently free in open beta testing and if robots are your thing, then you’ve got nothing to lose by giving it a go too. There’s a microtransaction element also, with the Relic in-game currency available in various price brackets. Presumably these can be used to upgrade or buy new characters but despite an hour looking around the website I can’t actually find anywhere that tells me what the game is, how you play it and what the currency if for! Odd.

The website proudly proclaims that over 785,000 ‘Commanders have enlisted’ which suggests you shouldn’t have a problem finding people to team up with.

It’s a browser-based released so it’ll run on PC and Mac, and the website proudly proclaims that over 785,000 ‘Commanders have enlisted’ which suggests you shouldn’t have a problem finding people to team up with. It’s free, it’s in beta and it’s Transformers. The great thing is you can try it today and make up your own mind.

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