Illuvium: Private Beta First Impressions
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May 8th, 2022

At this time the private beta is only the survival mode of the auto battler. Overworld, Leviathan (PvP), and Illuvium Zero (mobile city building game) are not available yet. Some aspects of the auto battler, such as augments, are also not included yet.

Getting Started

Illuvium Sign In Screen
Illuvium Sign In Screen

When you open the game you’re presented with a login screen, with an option to create an account if you don’t already have one. There’s no Remember Me option; you need to enter your email address and password every time you launch that game. I’m hoping one gets added as it’s a bit cumbersome to have to copy my password out of LastPass every time I want to play. Not the end of the world, but would be nice.

I haven’t tested the Create an account feature since the beta is invite-only. It’ll be interesting to see how that flow will work for new users who don’t have an ethereum wallet. I think it’ll be important to have an easy onboarding experience and do everything possible to abstract away the blockchain aspects, and I’m curious to see if and how that’s accomplished.

Once you login you’re taken to a game selection screen. As mentioned above, only Survival is available at this time. There are two options for playing Survival. Casual provides an unlimited amount of time between rounds to select your team. This is a great option if you’re learning the game because you can take your time reading all the illuvial cards and seeing how various team constructions impact your synergies and counter the next wave of illuvials affinities and synergies. Competitive mode is exactly the same as Casual, except you only have one minute between rounds to construct your team.

Team Selection

Team Selection Screen
Team Selection Screen
Weapon Select Screen
Weapon Select Screen

The UI manages to convey a lot of information without feeling overwhelming or cluttered. The most important information (e.g., affinity, class, cost) is upfront with details hidden behind hovers and right clicks. It was easy to quickly see what I needed to, and then opt to dig deeper if I wanted to learn more. The illuvial cards and all the UI elements are also beautiful.

The basic concepts are easy to grasp, but mastering how to synergize your team and counter the opponent was challenging.

There are so factors to consider such as your team’s affinity synergies, how your team’s synergies counter your opponent, your team’s class synergies and how those counter your opponent, your ranger’s weapon, placement on the battlefield, and overall strategy (e.g., few big baddies or a swarm of smaller ones). In competitive play, you only have one minute to construct your team, so it takes time to be able to quickly factor in all the variables and pick the right illuvials and board placement.

However, the factors never felt frustrating. It felt like I was exploring a new world and learning about the creatures that inhabit it. Every time I died, I couldn’t wait to try again and figure out how to survive longer.

The Battle

After selecting and placing your team, you get to watch the battle play out. The game takes no shortcuts when it comes to graphics. While you start in a zoomed-out view, you have complete control of the camera and can zoom in for a close-up view. I highly recommend doing so because tremendous detail was put into every illuvial, down to their fur and unique mannerisms. People are going to become attached to their favorite illuvials.

I found watching the battles to be intense and even more nerve-wracking than selecting my team because at this point the battle was out of my control. I found myself zooming around, trying to get the best views of the battle, feeling my heart pumping with anticipation. When my team lost I was genuinely sad for them. It’s easy to envision Illuvium as an esport, both in Survival and Leviathan (PvP mode).

The camera controls felt a bit unintuitive at times; it can be hard to get the camera to the place and angle I want, and I sometimes miss the action I’m trying to see. It almost feels like the camera movement is fixed to an x and y-axis from where I’m looking instead of being free-floating. I’ve heard this camera system is common in this type of game and it might just take some getting used to, and I think I agree and am starting to get the hang of them after a few hours of playing.

Overhead view
Overhead view
In the action
In the action

Closing Thoughts

While the current private beta is only a small portion of the game, it gives a great feel for what to expect and is immensely fun to play.

The illuvials are beautiful, adorable, and personable. I already have my favorites (#TeamTitanor and #TeamSeeforus) and can’t wait to build my collection.

The team appears to have thought carefully about every element of the UI. Everything serves a purpose and conveys a tremendous amount of information in a small package, without feeling overwhelming.

The game mechanics are easy to pick up while being complex and deep enough to keep the game fun and challenging. It’s small enough to sit down and play a quick round, but something I could also play for hours.

If Illuvium is able to achieve its full vision, it’s going to change gaming forever. Playing this private beta gives me confidence the team is going to be able to deliver on that vision. I can already feel a sense of meaning and connection I haven’t felt playing a video game before, and this is only the beginning. I can’t wait for what comes next.

Game Over Screen
Game Over Screen

This blog post is part of theShiny Shardscontent creators network.

Disclosure: I invested in ILV and have been waiting for this game since last July. I did my best to provide my unbiased thoughts, but I’m human and some may have snuck in.

Tags: #reviews #games #illuvium #shinyshards

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