I’m always looking for the next competitive game on mobile devices, which has been improving over the years. Developer Super Evil Megacorp, the makers of Vainglory, have been plugging away at a new top-down shooter with a MOBA-esque twist called Catalyst Black. Although other titles might have a similar presentation, Catalyst Black ends up setting itself apart with a unique set of systems.
After playing Catalyst Black for a good amount of time in its closed beta, I found its offerings to be just enough to give me an idea of what the developer is creating here. It’s important to note that the team has also been actively updating the beta with improves and balances.
During Catalyst Black, there are three game modes available, Capture the Flag, Flag Hunter, and Core Rush, all of which are ten vs. ten modes. The stand out mode here would be Core Rush, where players have to collect cores from Keepers while fighting back enemy units.
During a match, various minion camps can provide buffs to your team, including different spawn locations or greater damage. There are also smaller minion camps that can give you ammo for your secondary heavy weapon or gems that help lower your cooldown for becoming a Primal.
Every few minutes, you’re able to turn into a giant Primal monster that can instakill any enemies in your way by attacks. However, they aren’t insanely OP. Primals move relatively slow and have no ranged abilities besides a jump attack that requires a cooldown after use. So, players can maneuver around them or use a dodge roll to avoid the powerful attack. Players are also able to choose what kind of Primal they want to be, which each have different abilities based on masks.
Occasionally, Alpha Keepers will spawn who provide extra points to the team who can kill and capture the surrounding area. This means that positioning your team tactfully will benefit your late game after this event. As you can see, a lot is going on during Core Rush, which makes each match feel unique and full of small tweaks to your general strategy throughout the match.
Capture the Flag requires players to capture five flags to win. However, since there is no time limit, matches can last way too long. There are also moments of trolling where players hold flags in the middle of the map, which made some matches take up to 45 minutes. There are minion camps scattered around, but the game flow is prolonged with this mode, and a time limit would definitely help.
The theme of flags continues in Flag Hunter, where you need to hold ten flags from the enemy for 90 seconds. This creates a decent tug-of-war experience within the game. Unlike capture the flag, teams are required to work closely together to set up a stronger defense. While there aren’t currently ranked modes, I can only imagine Flag Hunter being the primary competitive game mode.
Catalyst Black features some quick and responsive gameplay. I never had a problem aiming or dodging when in a firefight. Still, I’d like to be able to cancel my heavy weapon attack, which is a feature offered in other MOBA experiences. As of right now, if you click your heavy weapon, you can’t let go until your read to use it, or you might waste some heavy ammo. I’m not the biggest fan of that design choice, but hopefully, that will be something that can be addressed during development.
Following each match, you’ll gain experience in your loadout and in-game currency that you can spend to upgrade that loadout further. You’ll also occasionally find Catalyte Mods that you can equip to your weapons and equipment for stat boosts. It’s great to see such a high level of customization similar to what you’d find in console shooters. Now there is a “premium” currency in the game. However, it’s unclear how this will be used in the full release.
Catalyst Black offers some great potential in the competitive shooter genre on mobile devices. Sure, I would like to some UI updates along with balance changes when it comes to weapons and equipment, but that’s the main reason for this early access period. It’d also be nice to have a ping system in place and maybe a voice chat option, but all we can do is wait and see how this game will develop. So far, Catalyst Black has offered me many hours of fun through its three modes, and I’m looking forward to playing more.
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