My Holy Grail of competitive gaming

In summary, I'm looking for a game suggestions for a competitive game that fits these requirements. Maybe it doesn't exist.
- Fast Matches - <20 mins (on average)
- Active community
- Interesting Meta game
- Strategy dominates twitch skills (Not twitch based shooters like COD)

Background - I used to play tons of COD with friends. I never was a big fan of the game, but I loved team matches and had a blast especially with Domination and Headquarters. I still think those games are great but I've long since tired of shooters and don't have the reflexes I once had.

I have played tons of Hearthstone (although I believe Duelyst is the best), but want a competitive experience like that, but that has a team element. I thought that Atlas Reactor would be the perfect fit, but just doesn't seem to have a large enough fan base (same issue with Duelyst) to support the competitive environment I'm looking for.

I have tried the MOBAs and I won't rule those out, but it seems like matches are too long and there are not enough interesting decision points along the way and game were determined by twitch skills over strategy choices.

Character shooters like Overwatch I have also given a shot, I like them, but they don't seem to hold up for me, again they reward fast skills over strategic ones (I think maybe am wrong, make the case).

If I were to describe this Holy Grail I'm searching for it would be like this :
- A metagame like Hearthstone, where tech choices before a game starts can really matter
- A team co-op experience like MOBAs where good coordination beats micro
- A gameplay loop that feels like playing Civ on steroids, forced to making interesting and important choices regularly

I have an old PC but ran Heros of the Storm fine when I tried it. Also have PS with PS Plus and an xbox but haven't had Live in a long time.

I have tried lots of things Duelyst actually was the closest fit (if it was 2v2 and real time I think that'd be it, but not a large enough community (unfortunately). I have thought about trying more board games online, so maybe something there, I do love the couple of plays of Gaia Project I've been able to do.

Thanks in advance.

World of Warships

karmajay wrote:

World of Warships

I'll second this. Random matches are 20 minutes maximum, the community is very active, and strategy/tactics are important. The meta is a little thin, as it consists primarily of a limited set of ship upgrades, a few choices in consumables, and ship captain specialization. WoWs has regular tournaments and clan matches. There is an element of RNG in the game, particularly with battleship main gun dispersion, but it can be mitigated somewhat by good play.

That actually sounds great. I had heard a friend of mine talk about it a while back, but never gave it a shot. I think the idea of constant real time action, but at a slower ship driving pace. I also now recall that my all time favorite game that actual fits this description is Age of Booty. I loved that game and think it was some of the best design I've ever played. So simple yet every little decision is so important and it played nice and fast, but was fun every time because you had to play the players and not just run the same strategy.

Thanks for the suggestion.

namssa_mi wrote:

That actually sounds great. I had heard a friend of mine talk about it a while back, but never gave it a shot. I think the idea of constant real time action, but at a slower ship driving pace. I also now recall that my all time favorite game that actual fits this description is Age of Booty. I loved that game and think it was some of the best design I've ever played. So simple yet every little decision is so important and it played nice and fast, but was fun every time because you had to play the players and not just run the same strategy.

Thanks for the suggestion.

Uh, I hate to throw cold North Atlantic ocean water on things here, but I wouldn't recommend World of Warships to anybody. At least anybody who didn't have a pre-existing hobbyist's enthusiasm for WW1/WW2 battleships strong enough that they'll put up with almost anything just to have a game with that subject matter.

WoWS is made by a developer in the former Soviet bloc that's inept at game balance, has bizarre priorities for adding content and features, and doesn't really give a sh*t about their playerbase beyond milking as much cash as possible from them with a constant parade of new premium ships.

On top of that your success/failure in WoWS is HEAVILY dependent on the luck-of-the-draw of how intelligent the teammates you end up with are, "carry potential" is virtually nil, you can make every decision right and have it go for naught as your teammates run from a winnable fight and leave you hung our to dry or inexplicably lemming to the wrong end of the map from the contested objective. The community is fairly toxic as well.

I say this as somebody who put probably a couple hundred hours or so into WoWS from beta onwards.

Ok, wow. I'll trust Middcore's opinion seeing as you put so much time into WoWS. So since it must have had something you liked, what are you playing now that doesn't have the team problems you speak of. That is really something I'd look for once I found a game I want to focus on, build a group to play/compete with (obvious GWJ great for that).

namssa_mi wrote:

Ok, wow. I'll trust Middcore's opinion seeing as you put so much time into WoWS. So since it must have had something you liked, what are you playing now that doesn't have the team problems you speak of. That is really something I'd look for once I found a game I want to focus on, build a group to play/compete with (obvious GWJ great for that).

I only played it because I AM a "big gun era" warship enthusiast. I did so against my better judgment after having played the same developer's World of Tanks and abandoned it for much the same reasons. (Although I will say the economy grind in WoWS isn't quite as bad as WoT.)

Since there's no other "arcade multiplayer World War naval battle" game on the market (discounting the possible existence of some wretched Chinese clone), I don't play any game as a "direct replacement" for WoWS.

Anyway I don't know that I'm comfortable with you taking my opinion as the Gospel truth. Obviously there are people who like WoWS, including posters on this forum. You can try it and see for yourself. The problems don't really become evident until you've put some time into it, by which point maybe you'll feel like you've wasted your time or maybe you'll think "it was fun while it lasted" and be OK setting it aside.

Well since it is free to play, it does make that decision to check it out quite easy. Although in general I much prefer paying for my games, because I think that developers focus on serving customers is more likely to create a great game if they also don't have to balance how to make money at the same time.

This conversation is of interest to me. My go-to has been Mechwarrior Online for all the reasons namssa_mi listed. There is a place for twitch skills there, but positioning and awareness count for so much more.

And then I get frustrated for all the reasons Middcore listed (the devs are doing what!?). I'm on a break right now. Which leads me to wonder about World of Warships. But my brother has actually played a bunch of World of Warships and he has the same complaints.

I did like the MechAssualt games back in the day on xbox. I haven't tried Mechwarrior Online. Balance issues are annoying, but I feel like as long as there is a large enough community and a decent developer they will eventually be addressed.

I realize a simpler way of saying what I'm looking for is this. An RTS with minimal mirco.

In that case has anyone played Halo Wars 2? I played first one and thought it was fine. I did really like Tooth and Tail, but it didn't get enough players. Also liked Offworld Trading Company. Don't expect what I'm looking for to be highly popular, but popular enough to be a long running thing.

I have almost 4k battles in WoWS and I still find it fun. Sure some times it can be frustrating but if you read any threads in any forum most competitive/online mulitplayer games can have issues or ups and downs.

Also, saying the company is inept is a bit of hyperbole. I think Middcore is mainly talking about Random Battles mode which puts you in a 12 v 12 matchup with mostly random people. It can be a good battle or a bad battle but I always find the mechanics and gameplay mostly fun.

If you feel more competitive there are clan battles that are 7v7 against clans so the random team mates issue is gone.

Agathos wrote:

This conversation is of interest to me. My go-to has been Mechwarrior Online for all the reasons namssa_mi listed. There is a place for twitch skills there, but positioning and awareness count for so much more.

And then I get frustrated for all the reasons Middcore listed (the devs are doing what!?). I'm on a break right now. Which leads me to wonder about World of Warships. But my brother has actually played a bunch of World of Warships and he has the same complaints.

Would you be surprised to hear I also put hundreds of hours into MechWarrior Online?

Years of wild swings from one absurd meta to another, layers of overly complicated and poorly-explained new systems piled up as band-aid "fixes" for the OP flavor of the month, futile attempts to reconcile fundamentally contradictory balancing goals ("Clan tech has to be better than Inner Sphere tech to satisfy everybody who's been waiting for us to add Clan tech, BUT also Clan tech has to be balanced against IS 1 for 1 because otherwise the faction warfare mod people have been waiting for won't work and our matchmaking system that's already held together with spit and prayers can't handle asymmetric team sizes")...

Pirahna stands out as a developer that may actually be worse at balancing a multiplayer title than Wargaming.

In the same vein I would recommend world of Tanks if you have not tried it. Full of strategy and tactics, short matches, community seems pretty full.

12 v 12 with randoms does seem like would be hard to get right often enough for it to work. I'm intrigued by the 7 v 7. I'll try it out this weekend and see how it goes. Thanks.

I'll add in another thumbs up for World of Warships.

I don't like any of the other World of * games from Wargaming, but I enjoy Warships a lot. The focus on positioning over twitch shooting really works for an old geezer like me - I certainly don't have a ~2.5/1 kill/death ratio in any other multiplayer shooting game - and the different styles of gameplay between Destroyer, Cruiser and Battleship keeps things fresh.

Aircraft Carriers are in WoWs, but I don't enjoy playing those, as it's practically an entirely different game.

Once you get up around tier 7 or 8 and above then the number of acceptable builds shrinks to a very small number, but there's a lot of fun to have at the lower levels - my favourite boat in the game is probably the USN Destroyer Clemson, which is down at tier IV.

namssa_mi wrote:

I did like the MechAssualt games back in the day on xbox. I haven't tried Mechwarrior Online. Balance issues are annoying, but I feel like as long as there is a large enough community and a decent developer they will eventually be addressed.

I realize a simpler way of saying what I'm looking for is this. An RTS with minimal mirco.

In that case has anyone played Halo Wars 2? I played first one and thought it was fine. I did really like Tooth and Tail, but it didn't get enough players. Also liked Offworld Trading Company. Don't expect what I'm looking for to be highly popular, but popular enough to be a long running thing.

How about Company of Heroes or any of the Eugen games like Steel Division or anything from the Wargame series?

I did try World of Warships over the weekend. Now I just started so was just the single mid class of ship. I liked the aiming mechanism and the pace of the game. How you have to think about your shots. I'll work on getting the basics unlocked so I can understand how a real game plays (was just games against bots at the start).

In a similar vein to World of Warships, WarThunder has planes and tanks, and they're working on ships. Matches are 10-20 minutes with different objectives depending on what you're using. Instead of separate clients/games, they're all in one game. There's also levels of realism, so you can play on Arcade Battles, Realistic Battles, or Simulator Battles.

Arcade Battles (tanks or planes only, no mixing):
Tanks move faster, turn faster, reload faster, there's a helper icon that shows where the shot will likely land, and the names of enemies are displayed over their tanks when they're spotted by anyone. Tanks get three spawns of your choice in your lineup, and you only use the same tank again if you have backups.
Planes move faster, turn faster, you get in-air reloads on ammunition (timers will vary), and enemy names are displayed when they're spotted. You can use all planes in your lineup once, or multiple times if you have backups.

Realistic Battles (Air is planes only, Tanks are mixed):
Tanks you make your line-up of tanks and planes, and it operates on a spawn point system. The better you do the more vehicles you can take out. You do not get enemy name markers at all in this mode (but you do get friendly markers, and team damage is off), so you're focused very heavily on spotting targets that look like little specs from far away. And movement is more realistic, so... slower.
Planes you get one spawn, whichever plane you selected when you entered the battle. You move more realistically, don't get reloads, but you do get enemy name markers above targets.

Simulator Battles:
Tanks are limited to the commander view (no third person). No names above tanks, not even above your own team, and team damage is on. SB is also limits which tanks you can take out by making it an event for tanks.
Planes... feels like the old flight simulators we had back in the 90's. Flight stick is absolutely necessary, and head tracking will give you a huge edge in the fight (which is why I don't bother with SB, no tracking). No names, ultra realistic flight models... it's tough.

I play mostly Tank RB because I like the tanks on that mode, like having to pick out my targets without having names above their heads, and I really like that when I'm in a plane. It's challenging, but not so challenging as SB.

Oh, and in all modes, damage is realistically calculated, so no health bars like the Wargaming games. One-shot kills are pretty normal with a lot of tanks. And each hit (in tanks) you get a cam to show where the shell went in, what got damaged, how your shell shrapnelled, etc. Not too many active people from GWJ on, but we do have a group on there.