On Thursday 20th, Super Bit Machine updated the Armajet Beta for Android, and also opened up the cross platform with PC. Here are my personal thoughts on what has changed.
The first thing that jumped out at me when I launched the game again (see what I did there) was that there were tonnes of new features; I say “new”, knowing that many of these had been in before I started playing, but I’m writing from the perspective of someone who joined the beta during the period where everything was trimmed down for loadout testing. Thus, in essence, I’m going to cover everything that wasn’t there on the 19th.
Firstly, the armoury is back, as is Valor and the Levelling System.
Loadouts in matches are no longer randomised. Before joining the lobby, players are able to build three loadouts that can be used throughout the matches, choosing Primary and Secondary weapons, Flight Suits and Perks.
I’m still running the standard as I’ve not managed to unlock any of the deeper weapons yet. This gives an incentive to play the game as new weapons are unlocked through progression, and it should be noted that a Level 1 player with a Blacktusk is going to do the same damage as a level 100 player with a Blacktusk – the weapons do not get stronger with more play – just higher level players have access to more options.
In addition to the weapons themselves, players can also unlock mods. Despite the name these are purely aesthetic skins for the weapons and do not modify them in any way. Super Bit Machine are angling Armajet to be a competitive title and it’s clear that they do not want any form of “Pay to Win” environment forming, which is heartening to see in a free mobile game. In fact, monetisation is very unobtrusive.
During games, individual players are tasked with an individual Bounty – an enemy player is marked for 30 seconds, and the player must kill their bounty in this time. If they are successful and also go on to win the game, they are awarded a Bounty Chest. A Bounty Chest takes 3 hours to open, or can be opened instantly by using Paragon, a currency available through in-app transactions. As a player can only have three bounty chest at a time, additional Bounty Chests gathered whilst the other three are opening are lost. This means rushing a chest may be required for intensive play – as these chests contain player icons, weapon skins, and weapon blueprints – but casual play can avoid this.
Paragon can also be used to purchase more gold, but at this point, I have yet to encounter any real reason for this unless players are blitzing through bounty chests, as gold is quite generous in the game.
It is disappointing that there appears to be no way to earn Paragon in-game, though, as this means intensive players, like those wishing to compete, are forced into paying to clear bounty chests quickly, or wasting any new chests. I’d like to see this added as functionality.
At this point, the different suits are unavailable, which is a shame as, though I like the basic skin, there are others here that I’d be keen to use.
Having discussed the armoury and shop, continuing down the left menu brings us to the player profile where players can change their badge (which appears next to their name on the scoreboard), view stats (like KDA, Win/Loss ratio and favourite weapon), and view their progress on medals and challenges.
This is an arena shooter, after all, and thus riffs off games like Unreal Tournament and Quake 2, with medals being awarded for both positive and negative “achievements” like kill streaks, avenging yourself, or getting killed within mere seconds of spawning. The medal system revels in the carnage, awarding points for each of these. Want to know how many times you’ve killed an opponent after dying? Well, the game keeps track of all of these in this little tab.
Challenges are a different matter and are kind of like XBox achievements or PlayStation Trophies, but with different levels. These are away to get a little gold influx for mastering a weapon by scoring 75 kills with it, and each challenge has progressively larger stages. Score 75 kills with the Blacktusk, score 250 kills, score 1000 kills etc.
Badges, finally for this section, are little icons that appear next to your name on the scoreboard and are earned through Bounty Chests.
There’s also Clan functionality but I don’t think this has been properly added to the game yet.
How is the gameplay shaping up though? Well, this has been my only disappointment so far. The gameplay itself is still solid and functions well once you get used to the controls (and I cannot for the life of me figure out how anyone can play with non adaptive joysticks), but the matchmaking feels shoddy at this point in time.
Consider the above scoreboard. Alpha Team lost 28/40, but look at player ranks. Alpha Team has a team average of 7 (and a median of 4) whilst Bravo Team has an average of 10.5 (and a median of 7). That’s quite a difference in playtime. In this case, whilst I congratulate Bravo Team on their play, I feel sorry for the likes of Bozzwell in Alpha Team who have clearly not been playing long and have been placed against players who are much more skilled.
How do I know they’re much more skilled? This was Saturday morning, two days after the update went live, and the ranks are fairly heavy to level. A Rank 10 player has been playing fairly intensively and to a higher skill level than a Rank 1 who may only have joined the beta that morning.
Of course, this is still Beta, and I am absolutely not crying that the game is unplayable – just that, at this point, your ability to win matches is very dependent on the luck of who you get in your team. Four matches in this lobby all ended in fairly decisive losses, with the enemy team having access to more weaponry and having higher skilled players.
It’s definitely something that needs sorting out, but SBM have been nothing if not engaging with the community, so I’m certain that this is something that they will be working on.
From what I gather, the cross play is also causing interesting issues. Players using a keyboard and mouse have arguably better accuracy than on a phone, and mobile devices with larger screens will naturally show more of the arena, giving certain advantages, but this is true of any cross play game and I do not begrudge the Devs this. Quite frankly, I’m glad that I get to play this gem of a game on my Razer Phone (with 120fps whereas even PC is currently locked to 60fps!), but it’s an interesting consideration for the competitive scene.
All in all, at this point the beta is still great fun, but there are definite kinks to be worked out. Have you been playing Armajet? How have you found the latest update?
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