GDC 2013: Anomaly 2 multiplayer bridges tower defense and offense [video]

softonic GDC iconMy first introduction to Anomaly was the iOS version of the game. I didn’t know that 11 bit Studios’ original release of Anomaly on desktops had a commander that players controlled. This commander could perform commands like healing or setting up fake radars to draw the attention of the alien towers. This is the big difference with the Anomaly series. The game evolved from being a simple tower defense to what 11 bit calls a “tower offense” game.

The core gameplay for single player remains the same. You are moving through a level, guiding your units to achieve an objective, but units now have a morph ability giving a secondary mode of attack. Depending on the unit, you could start with a tank and transform into a  walker. While the tank has a wider range for attack, the walker has limited range, but increased attack power for closer towers. This mechanic makes the strategy of Anomaly 2 different because the secondary unit mode can heavily impact the result of the game.

Senior writer, Pawel Miechowski, demoed a bit of the game and showed off features that would be found in the multiplayer mode. As a small developer, 11 bit is working on balancing the multiplayer portion of the game so players don’t have significant advantages or disadvantages, depending on which side they’re playing.

Anomaly 2‘s single player campaign returns with the a recognizable commander-tower offense command structure, but Anomaly 2 will release with a new and very interesting multiplayer mode. Opposing players will choose either the side of tower defense or tower offense. While most players are used to Anomaly‘s game mechanics of playing as the invader attempting to destroy towers, player who play tower offense need to protect their “generators.” Each side needs to achieve a total of 1000 points to win a match or by getting 500 advantage points over the opponent. The offensive side needs to destroy towers to earn points and the defense gets points by destroying units.

A good balance for multiplayer is that players on defense earn points throughout the match so offensive players can’t play it safe and focus on only upgrading their units.  There are also selectable power-ups separated by levels, with level one being the weakest and level four giving a big additional boost to the power-up. These power-ups differ depending on the side you’re playing, but an example for defense is shortening construction time. The different towers can help the defense harvest more points to win the game faster, but the offense can also see what type of towers are being constructed.

Like in the single player game, each player has different abilities and that doesn’t change for defense. Defense can heal their towers, increase attack, or increase shields. Rather than just a simple tower offense and defense match, there is a lot of strategy involved for both sides. Abilities, power-ups, and a push towards smart strategy improve on the existing gameplay with multiplayer because people have a lot of options to cater to their style of play.

Anomaly 2 is currently running multiplayer beta tests to balance the mechanics, but from the build they showed, it looks like the inclusion of multiplayer in their tower offense/defense game will integrate smoothly. It’s exciting to see how 11 bit is going to present multiplayer in the game and allow players to experience both sides of tower defense and offense.

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