Omega Strikers Breathes Some Energy Into the MOBA Genre
Omega Strikers is a new game from Odyssey Interactive that mixes a MOBA experience with air hockey and anime. The new game recently came out of pre-registration just like HoYoverse’s Honkai: Star Rail. Although Honkai: Star Rail overshadows recent free-to-play releases, players shouldn’t skip out on Omega Strikers. The game puts players in teams of three to get the puck (called the core in-game) into the opposing side’s goal. Omega Strikers mixes this formula up with its variety. It’s got a decently large roster of unique characters with their own roles, personalities, and abilities. This, combined with the vast array of passive abilities and maps creates a solid formula for a live service game.
Mixed First Impressions
After the absolutely sick Studio Trigger opening cutscene, the game opens to a fairly standard main menu (think Fortnite, Fall Guys, Splitgate, and the list goes on). From there, you’re taken to a simple tutorial that explains the universal mechanics of the game. Every character can strike the core in any direction. They can also use two special moves with an additional super move. Once you accumulate energy from hitting the core, you can also either dodge or stop the core in its place for an extra powerful energy burst that sends it flying.
After that, you’re mostly on your own. There’s a pretty big glossary of mechanics and terms that’s hidden away in the corner of the main menu. This ultimately leads to a rough introduction to the game as you try to hop in. Omega Strikers‘ quickplay mode is a decent introduction to the game. It sees both teams try to be the first to score five goals. The goals are protected by a barrier that has to be hit before you can score and each team consists of two “forward” characters and a goalkeeper.
Throwing You in at the Deep End
This is simple enough, but some other things show up. Little icons that represent passive buffs appear before the game. There are three of these “Awakenings” that are pre-set at the start of the game. You can choose one of four based on your role. Awakenings include everything from standard buffs to abilities that stack under certain criteria and much more. While you don’t take much notice of it during quickplay matches, once you go over to normal or competitive games, you’ll need to.
Normal games differ from quickplay in several ways. Instead of simply reaching five goals, your team has to be the first to three goals across three different rounds out of a maximum of five. At the beginning of a game, both teams can now ban a character. Between each round, every player picks an awakening out of a limited pool. The order is determined by how valuable you were in the last round. While that’s great for the MVP, seeing yourself at the end of the list hurts your pride a little.
I didn’t know about the glossary when I started playing normal games. Needless to say, I was pretty overwhelmed when eight different awakenings that I didn’t fully understand showed up onscreen. It doesn’t help that health is called “Stagger” and there’s also a status effect called… well… being “Staggered”. They are connected, but having to grasp which was which while reading detailed descriptions with a rapidly depleting timer was stressful to start with. But, as I kept playing, it got a lot more manageable.
It All Just Clicks
After the rough start (and a bit of reading), things started to make sense. It became fun to try to build characters around my playstyle and to adapt my decisions around the awakenings that other players picked. This, combined with just learning the game generally became addicting. Getting better every game, learning when and where to hit the core, and trying to outplay the enemy team is a great feeling. That is, once you get past that initial hurdle. What also helps the game’s replayability are the two distinct roles. Learning how to play the game offensively as a forward role or defensively as a goalie gives the game some more meat on what could’ve been a barebones system. However, what really gives Omega Strikers its identity is its roster.
Every Kind of Cool
Omega Strikers leans into comics and anime to create a varied array of characters. Every character is full of personality that bursts off the screen. From the main character Juliette to the Alien Lizardman Drek’ar, each playable striker feels individual. They all have different playstyles, characteristics, fashion senses, abilities, and roles that are unique to that character. All of that in addition to a hefty amount of backstory and lore for each character means that it’s easy to find a favorite.
I’ve personally had the most fun with X. He’s a loud brute who is both a striker in the sense that he’s good at scoring goals and a striker in the sense that he beats the rest of the team into a pulp. His super move makes him turn massive, which allows his regular strikes to damage other players. This is incredibly fun when it’s used with the awakening that increases damage with consecutive hits. Suddenly the game changes from trying to score a goal to annoying the enemy team with attacks until they stop defending. Every character has different quirks like this which makes picking up a different character a completely different experience.
A Personal Touch… At a Price
Playing characters repeatedly grants you affinity XP, which is used to unlock profile customization options and emotes. There’s also a shop where you can buy characters with the standard free currency. This stands alongside emotes, skins, goal effects, and more that aren’t given so generously. It costs anywhere from 900 to 1300 “Ody points” to buy a skin. However, with Ody points only coming in specific bundles, that means you have to pay at the very least £14.97 (apologies American readers, I don’t know your regional pricing but it should be around $19) for 1600 points to get a single 1300 point skin.
This is unfortunately the standard for live service games, yet as someone who doesn’t pay for microtransactions, it still feels like a lot. Of course, there’s also a battle pass that comes with it all. It’s fairly generous for free-to-play players as it gives you everything from titles to skins. Even then, at roughly £10 (around $12.50) for the premium pass, it’s fairly reasonable for the 51 levels of unlocks which include more of the same.
A Few Technical Hurdles
The only other area I’ve had issues with Omega Strikers is on the technical side. The game’s performance was stable and consistent across both Mobile and Switch. If you’re playing a game, it plays like a dream. However, I found that the mobile version (or at the very least, the Android version) would frequently lag to the point of the game being unplayable. This is especially irritating when it happens in the middle of a competitive game. With competitive games lasting anywhere from 10 to 20 minutes, you can be left unable to play the game for a long time. This, alongside infrequent crashes, meant that the Switch version has been my only option when it comes to playing more than one game at a time.
It may be an issue with my internet connection, but others on the Google Play Store have noted the same issue, so I’m not alone. While the Switch version is better, it, unfortunately, has a couple of issues of its own. The main issue is the cursor that you need to drag across the screen to select anything on the main menu. This wouldn’t be an issue if the option of D-pad selection worked consistently, but it doesn’t. Using the cursor as a guideline, the selector often gets stuck in the middle of the screen, leaving you unable to select anything. It’s not a dealbreaker, but I find it annoying.
I don’t want to leave this review on a sour note. I’ve been playing Omega Strikers at almost every chance I get for the last week. I hate MOBAs. I couldn’t play more than two games of League of Legends when I tried it. So, it means a lot when I tell you that Omega Strikers using that formula and turning it into a much more energetic experience has roped me in. Trying to master the game’s mechanics has been a great time. Despite the shaky start and the few technical issues, the strong foundations keep me playing. The sheer variety in the characters, the stunning art direction, and the depth in playstyles make this a game that is absolutely worth giving a go.
Omega Strikers is available now for free on Android, iOS, PC, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X|S.