My thoughts on the PS All-Stars beta

Posted by FluxWaveZ (19334 posts) -
(Public Beta)

After the rocky launch of the beta because of online issues that lasted a few short hours yesterday, I've played PlayStation All-Stars: Battle Royale for about 6-7 hours now. Usually, I'd be able to form a concrete opinion on something after that much time spent with it, but I'm still unsure about what I feel about this game.

It's easy for people to use the term "Sony Smash Bros." as a way to describe All-Stars, but if it were that simple I would be having a fantastic experience with it, which is not quite the case. Sure, the game's basically a 4-player brawler with a cast of PlayStation (and non-PlayStation) characters playing on stages with hazards, spawning items and such. However, the fundamental gameplay is quite different, and that's the focal point of my issues with All-Stars.

Fat Princess' level 3 Super which usually nets around 3-4 kills.

Having super attacks be the only method of truly killing an opponent is an interesting concept in theory but, for now, one I don't think I enjoy in practice. AP—the resource that fuels a player's super meter and allows them to perform one of their three super moves based on the the meter's level—is gained by attacking other players or by collecting AP orbs across the stage and is lost by being hit by certain stage hazards, throws and items.

Because the amount of AP gained varies depending on a character's attacks, I feel that this means players either use the same moves or combos that they know gain them the most AP over and over again or they recklessly mash any of the three attack buttons they can and hope for the best. Using the same move constantly for AP isn't too different from spamming a high damaging move in a traditional 2D fighting game, however because high/low mixups aren't an issue in All-Stars, the need to memorize several of them is not a necessity.

As for the mashing, well that seems like all too viable an option in this game, because stuff gets pretty hectic when four characters are in close proximity to each other and, unlike Smash Bros., people do not fly away when hit by moves in a combo, so they stay stuck in a same group and the more people you hit, the more AP you gain. Heck, sometimes it was even difficult to keep track of where I was, but thankfully that barely happens.

Sweet Tooth's level 3 Super which usually kills around 5-6 times, oftentimes causing an unrecoverable situation.

Another issue with the super meter system is that since the only way of gaining points is based around limited resources that are only gained after a certain period of time, the game can be immensely frustrating and things such as comebacks are nearly impossible in the three minute free-for-all mode that is the only accessible mode in the demo. If you miss a super or get knocked out of one you were about to perform, you lose the AP you had collected for it and having to gain all of it back again just to score a kill feels a bit more like a hassle than it should. A player's score is not indicated before a match ends in the beta mode, however knowing which player is in the lead is usually not a difficult thing to do and when there is little time left in a match and you find yourself left with practically no AP to pull off any supers while being behind in the scoreboard, you might as well just give up because there is literally nothing you could do to change the situation.

My view might change on the combat mechanics after I spend more time with the beta, but for now it's not impressing me too much. The issues I have with it could be different based on other modes such as 1v1 (which the game doesn't seem suited towards at all), stock mode or something, but all I have to judge All-Stars on right now is the 3-minute, FFA mode of the beta. I'll definitely be playing more of it before the beta expires on October 30th and I'll see if my opinions change.

*Note: I played the Vita version for a couple of hours. It's pretty much exactly the same as the PS3 version, so not much to say about it other than the scale is smaller so things are slightly more difficult to keep track of and that tapping the screen to grab an item doesn't seem intuitive.

Online
#1 Posted by FluxWaveZ (19334 posts) -
(Public Beta)

After the rocky launch of the beta because of online issues that lasted a few short hours yesterday, I've played PlayStation All-Stars: Battle Royale for about 6-7 hours now. Usually, I'd be able to form a concrete opinion on something after that much time spent with it, but I'm still unsure about what I feel about this game.

It's easy for people to use the term "Sony Smash Bros." as a way to describe All-Stars, but if it were that simple I would be having a fantastic experience with it, which is not quite the case. Sure, the game's basically a 4-player brawler with a cast of PlayStation (and non-PlayStation) characters playing on stages with hazards, spawning items and such. However, the fundamental gameplay is quite different, and that's the focal point of my issues with All-Stars.

Fat Princess' level 3 Super which usually nets around 3-4 kills.

Having super attacks be the only method of truly killing an opponent is an interesting concept in theory but, for now, one I don't think I enjoy in practice. AP—the resource that fuels a player's super meter and allows them to perform one of their three super moves based on the the meter's level—is gained by attacking other players or by collecting AP orbs across the stage and is lost by being hit by certain stage hazards, throws and items.

Because the amount of AP gained varies depending on a character's attacks, I feel that this means players either use the same moves or combos that they know gain them the most AP over and over again or they recklessly mash any of the three attack buttons they can and hope for the best. Using the same move constantly for AP isn't too different from spamming a high damaging move in a traditional 2D fighting game, however because high/low mixups aren't an issue in All-Stars, the need to memorize several of them is not a necessity.

As for the mashing, well that seems like all too viable an option in this game, because stuff gets pretty hectic when four characters are in close proximity to each other and, unlike Smash Bros., people do not fly away when hit by moves in a combo, so they stay stuck in a same group and the more people you hit, the more AP you gain. Heck, sometimes it was even difficult to keep track of where I was, but thankfully that barely happens.

Sweet Tooth's level 3 Super which usually kills around 5-6 times, oftentimes causing an unrecoverable situation.

Another issue with the super meter system is that since the only way of gaining points is based around limited resources that are only gained after a certain period of time, the game can be immensely frustrating and things such as comebacks are nearly impossible in the three minute free-for-all mode that is the only accessible mode in the demo. If you miss a super or get knocked out of one you were about to perform, you lose the AP you had collected for it and having to gain all of it back again just to score a kill feels a bit more like a hassle than it should. A player's score is not indicated before a match ends in the beta mode, however knowing which player is in the lead is usually not a difficult thing to do and when there is little time left in a match and you find yourself left with practically no AP to pull off any supers while being behind in the scoreboard, you might as well just give up because there is literally nothing you could do to change the situation.

My view might change on the combat mechanics after I spend more time with the beta, but for now it's not impressing me too much. The issues I have with it could be different based on other modes such as 1v1 (which the game doesn't seem suited towards at all), stock mode or something, but all I have to judge All-Stars on right now is the 3-minute, FFA mode of the beta. I'll definitely be playing more of it before the beta expires on October 30th and I'll see if my opinions change.

*Note: I played the Vita version for a couple of hours. It's pretty much exactly the same as the PS3 version, so not much to say about it other than the scale is smaller so things are slightly more difficult to keep track of and that tapping the screen to grab an item doesn't seem intuitive.

Online
#2 Posted by jonny_eh (58 posts) -

Great review, mirrors my own sentiments. One thing I would also add is that it's really confusing how points are calculated. It doesn't look like the points are kills - deaths.

#3 Edited by FluxWaveZ (19334 posts) -

@jonny_eh said:

One thing I would also add is that it's really confusing how points are calculated. It doesn't look like the points are kills - deaths.

Points are calculated by giving 2 points for 1 kill and -1 points for each death.

Online
#4 Posted by jonny_eh (58 posts) -

Oh I see, that makes a bit of sense. They should mention that in the tutorial.

#5 Posted by Mcfart (1624 posts) -

@jonny_eh said:

Oh I see, that makes a bit of sense. They should mention that in the tutorial.

That would make it a useful tutorial

We can't have that!

#6 Posted by churrific (479 posts) -

Do you gain extra/less meter with environmental attacks or combos? I saw some combo videos that I thought were neat, but if the meter gain isn't worth it, I'm not sure what the point of combos would be.

#7 Posted by awesomeusername (4183 posts) -

I quit the beta and deleted it after one match. It was boring and hard to keep track of where I was because I was Sly and so were 2 other people. Then 1 guy was Raidec and did the same thing the entire match. He'd stay on the side we weren't on and kept shooting us with a sniper or something. It was boring and annoying.

#8 Posted by FluxWaveZ (19334 posts) -

@churrific said:

Do you gain extra/less meter with environmental attacks or combos? I saw some combo videos that I thought were neat, but if the meter gain isn't worth it, I'm not sure what the point of combos would be.

Yeah, stage hazards cause you to lose meter. Combos won't inherently make you gain more meter, but they're better than attacking and not comboing since single attacks won't get you as much.

Online
#9 Posted by Sackmanjones (4701 posts) -

Totally forgot I have this on my ps3 now. Maybe ill play it if I don't get distracted by dishonored or xcom..... Well maybe I won't play it.

#10 Posted by FluxWaveZ (19334 posts) -

I think my issues with FFA remain, but after playing some 2v2 matches with

Online
#11 Posted by Synthballs (2193 posts) -

My main problem with the Beta is, Why the fuck do I need to play online? I have a shitty connection and just want to go up against the AI and see who does what.

#12 Posted by Berserker976 (355 posts) -

@Synthballs: because it's a beta, and not a demo

#13 Posted by churrific (479 posts) -

@FluxWaveZ said:

I think my issues with FFA remain, but after playing some 2v2 matches with

I watched a bit of GS playing 2v2 on their stream. You're right. There's just more structure to it, and I could see how the game's mechanics/rulesets lend themselves better to 2v2. It looked like fun. Well at least they looked like they had fun.

#14 Posted by TurboMan (7537 posts) -

@awesomeusername said:

I quit the beta and deleted it after one match. It was boring and hard to keep track of where I was because I was Sly and so were 2 other people. Then 1 guy was Raidec and did the same thing the entire match. He'd stay on the side we weren't on and kept shooting us with a sniper or something. It was boring and annoying.

Why didn't you invisible around and pressure that Radec?

Online
#15 Posted by Yodasdarkside (276 posts) -

Yeas, I was confused by the points as well. I've played one game so far, the other players seemed way better at it than I was, I lost track of my dude three times and basically button mashed all the way through, with the occasional moment of awareness-based skill. Ended up the winner by a mile.

Wasn't sure how to feel.

#16 Posted by Solh0und (1772 posts) -

I'll wait until the full release to fully judge it. From what I played and saw from the quick look, it didn't seem exciting.

Online
#17 Edited by awesomeusername (4183 posts) -

@TurboMan said:

@awesomeusername said:

I quit the beta and deleted it after one match. It was boring and hard to keep track of where I was because I was Sly and so were 2 other people. Then 1 guy was Raidec and did the same thing the entire match. He'd stay on the side we weren't on and kept shooting us with a sniper or something. It was boring and annoying.

Why didn't you invisible around and pressure that Radec?

It was hard to keep track of which Sly I was. 3 Sly's in one match is confusing. It might be just me, but is there more than 2 attack animations for the square button. I pressed square repeatedly to see and I saw the same 2 animations. Or am I just crazy? Plus, I'm just really bad in games that focus on fighting. I knew I wouldn't have fun with it. But I just downloaded it because I could. I would never buy it either so it doesn't concern me much. Also, I think the concept of "dying by super moves" is incredibly dumb.

#18 Posted by phantomzxro (1576 posts) -

I share many of the same problems with the game and i feel it comes down to the supers. I feel it makes the fights a little too chaotic when you don't have an effective counter for them other then dodging. That's fine on a 1v1 match but when everyone is throwing out supers its hard to guard yourself. I also feel that its hard to tell what moves connect when it comes down to smaller hits and combos.

To me this boils down to its never to your advantage to get catch in a crowd rumble or having a heated 1on1 fight with someone for very long. If you do odds are someone will take that chance to level 1 super everyone and win the spoils. I also don't like how your super can be overruled if someone pops a level 3 super while your in the animation of your own super. If someone skillfully dodge my super then cool but when you have a moment to kill someone and then a level 3 pops you don't get your kill and lose your AP spent on the super that kind of sucks.

This may come down to them having to balance the game some and find that right mix. But i found just staffing people to death with sly and pop a level 1 anytime too many people crowded a little too effective. Reidec very annoying when someone hangs back and sniper spams (they should cut back on the knock back depending on how far the player is from Reidec). I also did not find the 2v2 to be all that much better because i ran into a team that had a Reidec snipers spammer and Parappa boombox spammer which kept us away while Parappa boombox would spit out AP orbs. yes we could have found a way to break them up but it was just very annoying to even have to deal with.

Side note - I also wish they let you pick who you wanted to in the tutorial so you could at least practice with the characters to learn moves and what not. It not a very fun first outing when you have to learn in the heat of battle how your supers work when they are the only means to score points.

#19 Posted by Sackmanjones (4701 posts) -

I played 2 or 3 rounds last night. One as Kratos and one as Radeic and it's fine. It's really smooth and it was definitely made with care but I would agree it isn't clicking with me.

#20 Edited by Enigma777 (6073 posts) -

My biggest problem is that sometimes there's so much going on on-screen at once, that it's hard to keep track. And agree that the scoring system is a bit dumb because it negates the use of regular attacks. You might as well play a game where whoever taps X the fastest to charge his meter wins. Obviously there's still depth and strategy to it, but I prefer the SSB-style gameplay a lot more!

There's something about smashing other players while you have 150%+ of damage that's incredibly satisfying and All Stars lacks that.

Edit: To expand further on my last point, simply knowing that someone in SSB is over 100% means that you're much more likely to go after them because of the added incentive. If there was a similar incentive in All Stars where killing someone would decrease their AP bar by one level or some other kind of penalty, that would be great, but at this point, the best strategy right now is to keep spamming your level 1 attack and hope you knock out the most guys.

#21 Posted by AngelN7 (2970 posts) -

@phantomzxro: Yeah Radec is kinda broke in that sense that just shows how the stage hazards do nothing in PS All Stars, sure some stages in the first Smash didn't feature any hazards but the later ones forced you to move arround you couldn't just spam away and even if you could it wasn't enough to push your oponent out of the stage and score a point.

#22 Posted by TheBioLover (68 posts) -

I played it and I thought it was great, I don't see why people have a problem with it, I'm getting it day one.

#23 Posted by ImmortalSaiyan (4676 posts) -

I'm most interested in seeing how the game fairs 1vs1. That is where the gameplay of Smash shines so I want to see if that is the case here.

#24 Posted by phantomzxro (1576 posts) -

@AngelN7 said:

@phantomzxro: Yeah Radec is kinda broke in that sense that just shows how the stage hazards do nothing in PS All Stars, sure some stages in the first Smash didn't feature any hazards but the later ones forced you to move arround you couldn't just spam away and even if you could it wasn't enough to push your oponent out of the stage and score a point.

very true and i don't think anyone in smash has a long range attack that is that powerful. Even Samus fully charged beam shot does not knock you back to the other side of the map if your below danger level. Snake is maybe the only one who had a pretty powerful longe range attack with the Nikita/sting rockets but they were slow moving and you had to control them which left you open.

#25 Posted by TurboMan (7537 posts) -

@awesomeusername: I will admit that it is hard to figure what character you are when there's multiple versions of them on the same screen. The attack animations are an up attack, a down attack (while in the air), a forward attack, and an attack when you're not pushing the direction in any way. it's the same for all three attack buttons. Sly is a bit of a weird character that I can't get down quite yet,but he generates a ton of AP by stealthing around and stealing it from other player. His level 3 super is quite useful since you can get 5-6 kills. Also, he's incredible at dodging other characters supers by turning invisible and hiding away from all the destruction.

Online
#26 Posted by awesomeusername (4183 posts) -

@TurboMan:I knew about the directional attacks but it seems like there's only 2 animations. Not sure though. But eh, if I ever play it again, I'll have to borrow it or buy it for $20 because I would never spend anything more then that on it.

#27 Posted by TurboMan (7537 posts) -

@Enigma777 said:

My biggest problem is that sometimes there's so much going on on-screen at once, that it's hard to keep track. And agree that the scoring system is a bit dumb because it negates the use of regular attacks. You might as well play a game where whoever taps X the fastest to charge his meter wins. Obviously there's still depth and strategy to it, but I prefer the SSB-style gameplay a lot more!

There's something about smashing other players while you have 150%+ of damage that's incredibly satisfying and All Stars lacks that.

Edit: To expand further on my last point, simply knowing that someone in SSB is over 100% means that you're much more likely to go after them because of the added incentive. If there was a similar incentive in All Stars where killing someone would decrease their AP bar by one level or some other kind of penalty, that would be great, but at this point, the best strategy right now is to keep spamming your level 1 attack and hope you knock out the most guys.

The combo system builds into building your AP meter. If you just stood to the side, you wouldn't gain AP. If you're in the fight but are not able to compete adequately then the others are generating AP and you are not. Therefore, the skillful use of regular attacks are important.

A way to negate others AP meter is with the use of weapons. If you pick up a rocket launcher or a lance, then it would be smart if you attacked someone who's saving up to a level 3 super.

Online
#28 Posted by TurboMan (7537 posts) -

@phantomzxro said:

@AngelN7 said:

@phantomzxro: Yeah Radec is kinda broke in that sense that just shows how the stage hazards do nothing in PS All Stars, sure some stages in the first Smash didn't feature any hazards but the later ones forced you to move arround you couldn't just spam away and even if you could it wasn't enough to push your oponent out of the stage and score a point.

very true and i don't think anyone in smash has a long range attack that is that powerful. Even Samus fully charged beam shot does not knock you back to the other side of the map if your below danger level. Snake is maybe the only one who had a pretty powerful longe range attack with the Nikita/sting rockets but they were slow moving and you had to control them which left you open.

By blocking, dodging, and jumping, you can get in close to Raidec and fuck his world up.

Online
#29 Posted by phantomzxro (1576 posts) -

@TurboMan said:

@phantomzxro said:

@AngelN7 said:

@phantomzxro: Yeah Radec is kinda broke in that sense that just shows how the stage hazards do nothing in PS All Stars, sure some stages in the first Smash didn't feature any hazards but the later ones forced you to move arround you couldn't just spam away and even if you could it wasn't enough to push your oponent out of the stage and score a point.

very true and i don't think anyone in smash has a long range attack that is that powerful. Even Samus fully charged beam shot does not knock you back to the other side of the map if your below danger level. Snake is maybe the only one who had a pretty powerful longe range attack with the Nikita/sting rockets but they were slow moving and you had to control them which left you open.

By blocking, dodging, and jumping, you can get in close to Raidec and fuck his world up.

yes you can but in a free for all that is not as easy as it seems and when your the only one trying to stop a raidec sniper spammer its still very annoying. Add to the fact you can get more then one raidec doing it in a match. Even if it easy to handle or does not get raidec much AP it too powerful for the trouble it creates. The knock back should be cut back if your far way from him and the closer you get to raidec the stronger the knock back. Because as it stands now it just trolls the match and having to jump out of the fight to punish a sniper spammer is not fun.

#30 Posted by Enigma777 (6073 posts) -

@TurboMan: Do weapons KO people a la specials? I've never actually had the chance of picking one up.

#31 Posted by TurboMan (7537 posts) -

@Enigma777: Nope, just gives you some AP and blows AP out of the other players. The hedgehog grenade stuns players from using specials for a period of time, but aren't that useful.

Online
#32 Posted by Enigma777 (6073 posts) -
@TurboMan

@Enigma777: Nope, just gives you some AP and blows AP out of the other players. The hedgehog grenade stuns players from using specials for a period of time, but aren't that useful.

Then that doesn't really fix my issue. If you could steal AP from others using combos or temporarily restrict them gaining any would be better. Yes, you can dodge so they can't build any AP (though there are many ways around that in itself), but that's not enough for me. There needs to be another layer of systems.

Don't get me wrong, I'm still getting the game on day one because I've been asking for it for years and Sony finally listened, but I can't help but be a little disappointed with the fighting system. The level stuff is great though!
#33 Posted by TaliciaDragonsong (8698 posts) -

Exactly what I expected.

#34 Posted by TheHT (11233 posts) -

At first I really wasn't feeling it. I couldn't follow my character, couldn't seem to get enough AP to do much, and kept expecting my hits to actually be worth something damage wise. Before uninstalling it I decided to at least get through a match with each character at least twice.

Fast forward to today, and I feel like it's all clicked for me. I primarily play as Kratos since I'm the most comfortable with his moves, but Sweet Tooth, Fat Princess, and Parappa are also pretty good fighters. I've seen some monster Slys, but couldn't get the hang of him myself. Radec's OK, it's just that his sniper attack is so damn good you've got to want to get into the fray to avoid spamming it to victory. His level 1 and 2 supers are cool though.

Playing as Kratos, it's all about the juggles and group attacks. He's got a great snap-to launcher that's perfect for getting some heat off, and his primary attacks can hit all 3 opponents altogether. I had a match today where I used the basic square combo to send all 3 opponents into a wall. When they bounced off back towards me I popped my level 2 super (a tornado that kills anything above or below me) and took em all out. So satisfying.

I kept expecting it to play like Smash Bros, and while the movement is undoubtedly Smash-esque, that you can only kill with supers actually does change up the way you play. It's all about combos, combos, combos, and knowing when an opponent can use a super to rock your ass. You're left with situations where you know the guy you're fighting is holding on to a level 2, but you need to keep fighting to get your own super meter up, so if that guy is a Kratos, you know that you probably wouldn't want to be in the center of a fight circle with him since he's more likely to pop that super off there for more kills. And if you're playing as Kratos with a level 2 super, you'll want to stop laying into other players and find the right moment where they're all bunched up and less capable of running away before you hit your own super.

It's not really as heady as it might sound, but it all works. The same can't be said for the game itself it seems. Often matches lose connection to hosts, and boot you to the start screen. I can't really tell if that's just angry players leaving or the game itself crapping up. I had a match today where all four of us got up to 3x AP overtime and the game messed up because it couldn't connect to matchmaking. Why the game would care about matchmaking when I'm deep into a match, I have no idea, but it was pretty annoying.

But it's a beta, so hopefully all that stuff will be smoothed out come mid-November. One thing's for sure though, the gameplay itself is fun. Really fun. And that's enough to justify a buy for me.

#35 Posted by FluxWaveZ (19334 posts) -

So after several days of playing the beta, I think it's finally clicked for me and I'm really enjoying All-Stars now. My case might not be an isolated one, as it seems it has taken other people some time playing All-Stars to get used to it.

Mashing isn't as viable an option as I first thought (except if you're playing Kratos). Combos are important, especially for characters like Fat Princess who do not have powerful, single hitting moves; each character plays differently. I still feel that there's a certain lack of strategy in FFA compared to 2v2, but the super-only kill system is an interesting mechanic that probably feels foreign to players at first because of their experience with fighters that do not operate in the same way at all.

I was a bit reluctant to get this game day 1 after first experiencing the beta, but now I'll be getting it for sure. It took some time, but I'm having a lot of fun with PlayStation All-Stars. Usually my most played mode in games is 1v1 and I'm not sure how good that will be with All-Star's systems, though, so I'll see how that turns out.

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