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Mirage: Arcane Warfare Review

Mirage: Arcane Warfare offers a highly unique team-based FPS, with a plethora of gorgeous locals and well-designed characters. The gameplay is demanding and requires a high level of focus and mastery, but sadly all of this is let down by empty servers and matchmaking problems. Learn more below!

Mirage: Arcane Warfare Review

Introduction

Mirage: Arcane Warfare is the newest game from Torn Banner Studios, the team behind the highly popular game Chivalry. The game is a melee focused, team-based first-person shooter, with an Arabic and Persian, inspired aesthetic. Players choose between 6 well-designed classes and battle across many exotic lands. The game demands patience and has a very high skill ceiling for any players not familiar with games like Chivalry, but the combat is also intensely satisfying once mastered. Sadly Mirage is plagued with some severe problems, mostly the distinct lack of players on the servers, but we will delve more into that later.

Mirage: Arcane Warfare
is available now on Steam!

Mirage: Arcane Warfare Review - Fun maps

Story

The story is not explicitly told in the game, instead it acts as a supporting backdrop for the gameplay. However, the game does have supporting lore, centred around a rift that opened between worlds, allowing the magic of the Djinn to seep into the mortal world. This allowed mortals to wield this great power, which corrupted many in turn. Some wanted to enslave the Djinn and use their power to their own benefit, whilst others tried to live amongst them in peace and harmony. These rebels were outcast, and a civil war ensued to determine the fate of the djinn, and the world itself.

The tale of a civil war raging across the fantasy world in which Mirage takes place is definitely secondary to the gameplay featured. It does do well in adding fantastical and unique elements to the maps and modes, with djinn’s instead of payloads or capture points, and it definitely compliments the variety of abilities and visual characteristics shown across the character roster. However the story never becomes a central or distracting focus, the game lets the story enhance the visual direction and gameplay choices, rather than feeling forced upon players.

Mirage: Arcane Warfare Review - Djinn

Gameplay

Each character class has unique weapons, abilities and characteristics allowing for a wide variety of playstyles, even amongst the 6 character roster. Each team has the same characters to choose from, with the colour palette and alignment being swapped. Players can further tweak their playstyles at the character select menu, by choosing from multiple different ability traits, and a choice of 2 differing weapons for each class. I found myself enjoying the game more and more as I became more aware of what traits and abilities worked best within my own playstyle. The visual customisation options also add an extra layer of creativity, creating characters which feel very specific to each player.
Players familiar with Chivalry will probably feel right at home in Mirage, as apart from the addition of ranged magical abilities, the controls are more or less the same. The mouse controls 3 attack types and your block, whilst the keys Q, E and F controls each character's abilities. I struggled with getting used to this a little in the beta, but once familiar with how each attack worked, the game became much more comfortable. New players may find the initial learning curve very steep, but trust me, once you get to the top, it becomes highly satisfying.
Mirage: Arcane Warfare Review - customisable abilities
The gameplay itself is methodical, and precise, requiring a true understanding of the mechanics in order to succeed in any battle. Fights feel slow but deliberate, and I often had to remind myself to keep calm and not just swing away with my weapon, as this almost always ended in my character's death. Each swing and ability usage has to be thought out, and players should always keep an eye on their surroundings, as it is easy to get ganged up on by the opposition. I quickly learned that the block ability is key to survival, as unlike other existing team-based-shooters Mirage has truly brutal combat, and you can't afford many mistakes in any given battle. I also recommend to always stay with other players when possible, as fighting within a group, no matter how small, is always more advantageous than fighting solo.
The map objectives are fun and have the unique Arabic and magical twists. I particularly enjoyed a mode involving moving a Djinn payload towards your team's capture point. Both teams are in a constant battle for the same payload, which in my case lead to many heated fights, and a constant back and forth struggle; which kept me very on edge. I also feel like the characters are balanced well, of course, some characters counter others better, but then they also have counters, almost like rock-paper-scissors. I noticed that many people chose the more assassin like character, and sometimes my team would have 3 of her. Each team can have up to 3 of any given class, but no more than that, meaning that you are not locked into one class if someone chooses your preferred choice, but also prevents an entire team of assassins from being formed.
Mirage: Arcane Warfare Review - Intense fighting
The main issue with gameplay, and sadly the game as a whole, is the fact that nobody seems to be playing. Servers are practically empty, and it makes it hard to recommend when it takes a large amount of time to even load into a match, and often on a different country's server. This was mildly an issue during the beta as well, however, I can honestly say I found it easier to find a match whilst the game was still in the beta testing stage. I was lucky enough to make it into a few games (though not on EU servers) and I had an enjoyable time when the game filled up enough to play. Sadly this was a rare occasion though, with most of my login attempts ending in no matches played. This is incredibly unfortunate, as the gameplay and visuals are truly unique, and the game has a lot to offer. I hope the servers fill up more, as at the moment the game is a test of patience sadly.

The problems with matchmaking and empty servers were further emphasised by the long loading times upon entering a game and returning to the main menu. The menu also includes a small UI issue where the ‘Join game’ button is not entirely visible on the screen. Again this is a shame, as the game has so much potential, just to be wasted on something as vital as matchmaking.

Mirage: Arcane Warfare Review - A too common sight

Graphics and Audio

Since the beta, I have been highly impressed with the visual style the team at Torn Banner has taken with this game. I adore the yellow and purple focused colour palette, which is a nice off colour hue change from the classic blue vs red. I found the maps to be absolutely gorgeous as well. They are full of beautiful details, and the colours used really pop. I still find myself in awe of finding a previously unknown area to explore whilst in a game.

The subtle cell shading used really helps to make characters and key environmental aspects pop on the screen. It never becomes cartoonish or overwhelming, it simply compliments the battlefield perfectly, whilst adding an additional visual aid during large encounters.  

I also noticed a ‘gore’ setting, which I loved. Personally, I don’t mind a bit of gore in my games, but for those that don’t, then you can turn it all the way down! Equally, if you are someone who loves running around in constantly expanding pools of blood, then crank that slider up all the way! I really liked this addition as it doesn’t alienate any part of the player base, instead of making the game accessible for gore lovers and haters.

Mirage: Arcane Warfare Review - Great customisation options

In my beta preview, I spoke about wanting some character customisation options, and oh boy did they deliver! I was surprised at just how many options players were given, with most games including a simple costume colour change, or a new helmet. However, Mirage takes things one step further, with options ranging from eye colour all the way to tattoo design. I had a lot of fun with this, as I have a tendency of spending far too long in character customisation screens, but I really liked making each character my own, and then doing the same with the other faction versions! I also noticed a few subtle changes from the beta, such as the character selection art when entering a game, which is a great way to compensate for the now customisable characters.

During my time customising and playing, I did notice a few visual glitches, however, they were never big enough to ruin my fun, or spoil my experience. In fact, some were just plain hilarious.

The sounds design is mostly excellent, with the only annoyance being the menu music. The actual music itself is appropriate to the game’s setting and pleasant in short bursts. However with the aforementioned long waiting times for matches, and long loading times also, this music can become tiresome. That aside, the musical scores, voice acting and weapon sounds are all fantastic. Magic has a distinct flair, and the swords have a highly satisfying ‘clinks’ and ‘chink’s’ for lack of a better term. Strong abilities sound and feel heavy, whilst lighter characters seem to float around, in part thanks to the very well done sound design.

Mirage: Arcane Warfare Review - Amazing detail

Conclusion

Mirage: Arcane Warfare is a highly unique FPS, bringing fun, yet challenging gameplay, together with colourful, bright and well-designed visuals. In a market full of team-based shooters, this one does a lot to stand out, and create a name for itself. The visual glitches and UI issues were not big problems in my opinion, and will no doubt be fixed in future patches, but where the game does suffer is the player base and matchmaking. If Torn Banner Studios want this game to become a hit, they are going to have to find some way to lure more players in, as currently, it is sadly unplayable. The waiting times when a game does become available also force many of the existing players out, creating yet again, empty games. These changes will need to be implemented before I can fully recommend Mirage, but hopefully, players will come to see just how interesting a game this could become.

PROSCONS
+ Gorgeous maps– Empty servers
+ Good character design– Matchmaking
+ Good customisation options– Visual glitches
+ Skill based gameplay
+ Unique concept
6.4
Fair

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