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Interview: Enter Panzar; the Fantasy MOBA You Never Knew
Amidst the cavalcade of free-to-play titles, Panzar joins the fray in hopes that players looking for more of a quality experience will give it a chance. Displaying some new ideas and a unique flavor, Panzar is an amalgamation of the MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena) and class-based, competitive action games (Battlefield). Though it’s strictly a third-person, fantasy action game, the ideas and inspiration drawn from some of the most popular games in the industry clearly are helping to create an interesting and fun product. To discuss these ideas, inspirations and ever important strategy, we sat down with Panzar Europe to discuss… well, Panzar of course!
We’re here with the esteemed Samantha Whale, the PR and Marketing Manager for Panzar Europe! We’ll be discussing all things Panzar today and, speaking of such, tell us a little about Panzar’s beginnings. What made you decide on taking a smaller-scale fantasy approach to the Battlefield formula?
SW: As a team at Panzar, we all like fantasy so much more! It’s an escape from reality of the real world and without limits! It really gives our artists a great opportunity to express themselves. You can see this in the art of the game, for example, the characters, locations, skills and the world itself are really unusual. The main goal of Panzar is to create a game which we would all like to play and enjoy – we may be developers, but we are also gamers ourselves!
The game looks beautiful! How long did it take for this project to be completed?
SW: As we are not such a large studio, but instead a small studio of professionals, we’ve spent ages polishing Panzar. It was really important for us to make perfect game. It took us 3 years to start first tests and we still can’t say that game is completely finished. We have millions of ideas which are still to be implemented to the game which you may get to see really soon.
Regardless of whether or not you believe in teaming up with Orcs, it’s safe to assume teamwork is imperative to your success. Could you clarify a bit about the classes and how they synergize with each other?
SW: Panzar has its own class system and each class is very different from the next with their own powerful class specific abilities. However, there is not an entirely dedicated DPS class – this is to say that the classes (even when dealing damage) have a role to fill. This helps with balancing as the class dynamics become much more important that the damage output of one specific class. Almost all classes can be termed ‘overpowered’ unless they are treated appropriately, every overpowered move has a countermove that nulls or limits the effect. The skill resides in choosing when to utilize your abilities and in what way.
Looking at the Frost Witch, she has a tremendously powerful freezing attack known as Winter Cold, which can be used to zone out or completely disable enemies. On the other hand, a Tank’s Magical Shield will protect not only the Tank, but everyone behind his shield from the effects, allowing the offense to continue. Neither of these abilities are sourced around damage, but they do allow for highly skill based gameplay. It’s great to see that 7 out of 8 of the classes are always part of a winning tournament team. To us, this means that the balance for competitive play is almost perfect.
One thing I love about Panzar is the dynamic environments. Having a pit of molten lava materialize in front of the objective changes the flow of combat entirely. Do you have any plans on incorporating these events into future maps?
SW: The first introduction to dynamic maps comes with the floor falling into lava in Arena of Warlords. These elements add a lot to the gameplay as they break the format and force teams to adapt on a makeshift basis.
Another map; Alchemists’ Citadel is a Siege mode map allowing players to build attack bridges and cannons, break down gates with TNT, drench the enemies with poison and ultimately, the final capture point is on a platform that can be dunked into a poisonous pit. These options allow the attackers to choose from various tactics, while defenders are busy limiting the same options with their own arsenal.
We’re definitely going to keep these dynamic elements part of the maps, though it’s always a delicate balance to make sure the element adds to strategy and skill, instead of making the map too random to have a fair game on.
Panzar has a simple formula, two forms of attack, sprinting, a few unique moves per class, how do you keep players progressing without getting that grinding feeling?
SW: In Panzar, each new ability adds a lot more than damage output to the class. Even for damage focused classes like Berserker or Inquisitor, abilities open new ways to take on the fight by allowing interruptions, unique movement options like “Pounce”, and exclusive vision modes to reveal the weakened opponents. For non-damage focused characters, the abilities are even more diverse. The goal is to have each new ability unlock a feature that will change the way you play your character.
There’s something about the combat system in Panzar that’s both easy to grasp and complex to master. Could you explain the emphasis on blocking and the simplicity, but complexity of the two-button combat system?
SW: The basic abilities in game are normal attack, power attack, block and sprint. The differences in classes, numbers in the fight, score and situation in the match, and a myriad of other things affect the decision making – can you take a risk and try to get your power attack in before opponent’s? Will that destroy my opponent or just leave him vulnerable? If you run away, are you surrendering the capture point? The real beauty of the system is that it has simple components, but the combinations are endless. With strategy as a central focus, abilities like the Sapper’s teleporter are amazing team-aiding abilities. What else do you have in place?
Teleport is good and obvious example, especially on the larger maps where a lot of focus needs to be placed on establishing and defending your own teleport whilst preventing the enemy from doing the same. Another major tool is the “Winter Cold” by Frost Witch, it’s a great zoning tool that forces enemies to stay away, or risk being frozen and shattered, same with her Glare Ice that causes any sprinting opponents to fall over. Sapper is the class most focused on support with the ability to place traps and walls (zoning), and by setting up totems to boost player’s energy regeneration.
A Paladin’s healing abilities are a must, additionally he can make nearby team mates invulnerable, boost their HP and mana gain, and even boost their attack speed. Lastly, Magical Shield of Tank. This can protect the team completely from everything but melee effects, clever use of the shield is a major component of high-level play.
How did you come to the decision that the free-to-play model fit Panzar best? Also, could you speak a little about the micro-transactions and how they affect the game world?
SW: We think pure free-to-play is most convenient and honest model for the player. In Panzar you can craft any item just by playing the game, after every single fight you’ll gain XP points and some resources which are needed to create armor or weapons, the only thing you really need to do is to play Panzar. Crystals can be used on a lot of things, but only cosmetics and emotes are items you cannot get any other way. All the gear, amulets, runes and potions can be crafted. Crystals can also be gained through tournaments and community events. Uniquely, crystals can also be spent to buy levels, allowing you to raise an alt very quickly, or to experience different levels of gameplay instantly.
Are there any story elements to this game? From what we’ve played, there’s nothing beyond the savage beating you give one another in PvP. The tutorial makes it seem like there’s a whole world and major players about!
SW: The world “is” there, but the game focuses entirely on PvP battle aspects. However, in-game wise, PvE and other more lore related content is being planned for the future.
I was pleasantly surprised with the amount of customization in the game. Besides obtaining gear, there’s enchanting, runes, skill trees, everything! Please clarify for our glorious readers.
SW: Firstly there is the option of coloring your gear as you choose, then there are also emotes, hair/facial hair styles available to characters. The upgrade system will be redone, the basic idea will be that a character can improve his gear by spending gold – currently it’s a fully random process, in the future players will have a lot more control over it. With regards to runes, these give players another layer of customization; they can choose to focus on increasing specific stats over others to better suit their play-style.
What makes Panzar different than the plethora of free-to-play titles out there and why is it worth someone’s time to play?
SW: Panzar is a free-to-play fantasy MOBA based in stunning arenas, focused on skill and tactics with 8 very unique classes all of which denote different gameplay experiences.
What are your plans for the future of Panzar? Can we expect anything over the horizon?
SW: Soon to come is patch 31 which is coming out in couple of weeks. Among a variety of things, this patch includes a new map and revamped forging interface and mechanics. We do have other more secret plans for the future though!
Will the game make its way to Steam eventually or is the website the only way to get it?
SW: We are aiming to get Panzar on Steam very soon!
Thank you so much for your time! If you’re curious about testing your hand in the fantasy realm of Panzar, head over to the official website and sign up. Hack away my friends; hack away.