Mirage: Arcane Warfare
If you happened to miss Torn Banner’s Chivalry: Medieval Warfare, it’s a multiplayer game that dumps the guns and ammo for swords and shields. The combat is brutal and bloody, and while you can't pull off a Call of Duty “no scope,” it does retain the adrenaline of team-based competitive multiplayer.
Mirage takes that same melee-heavy combat and layers in a magic system for six-versus-six matches. You still cutting off heads and limbs, but you also detonate fireballs and hurl huge mystical boulders at your foes.
There are six classes to choose from, each fitting familiar archetypes. Damage-soaking tanks, speedy glass cannons, and support characters bring a set of spells for controlling the battlefield or just ripping apart foes into battle.
The Tinker, for instance, can lay trip mines and then use a hook to pull enemies into their explosive radius. The Vypress darts in and out of battle with a flying lunge and a dash. The Taurant hurls enormous rocks and swings a massive mace. He's the exact opposite of the Alchemancer, which foregoes weapons in favor of magic. The final class at our disposal was the Vigilist, which uses spear and sword in concert with explosive spells that knock up and away to disrupt enemies.
I gravitated toward the Tinker for the combo of mine and hook. It's devastating if you miss when attempting to pull someone in, as the hook is on a long recharge. Pull it off though, and it's fun to see the giblets fly.
The Vypress is also a great deal of fun. Darting into combat for a quick slash (that hopefully removes a head) and zipping out is great fun.
I had the chance to play two modes. One was an asymmetric two-zone king of the hill type. As the defenders, we had to protect two areas from enemy incursion until time ran out. The other resembles Overwatch’s Escort, as we worked to deliver a bomb to the enemy base.
Mirage’s pacing falls closer to Battlefield than Call of Duty. It’s a more methodical game, but it doesn’t feel plodding. Combat is vicious, and you’re just as likely to lop off an enemy’s head as see yours fall from your shoulders.
I experimented with all the different classes available to us (five of the six), and I enjoyed how different they all felt from one another. Each one requires a bit of mastery, and none felt like the obvious choice for new players (though the tanky Taurant is probably the closest).
Because each of the classes brings something unique to the fight and Mirage is an objective-based game, being able to coordinate with your team is important. Unfortunately, on the PAX show floor, it was a bit harder to play the objective, making it a blood bath rather than an orchestrated affair.
Hopefully next time we get to give it a go, we’ll be able to strategize a bit more. The premise is easy to love, and with a focus on blocking magic and melee attacks at the right time while finding an opening for magic spells, Mirage is more than just your average FPS with swords and fireballs.
Mirage is planned for a 2016 release on PC.