If you're a fan of MOBAs but aren't a fan of battling other human beings over the internet, then Vela Games' Evercore Heroes may pique your interest. It's a competitive PVE game where teams of heroes fight it out to finish a dungeon run the fastest. And having seen a brief presentation of it behind closed doors, it looks like a good time - albeit one taking heavy inspiration from its main competitors.
In Evercore Heroes, you've got four teams of four competing with each other simultaneously in what's dubbed a "session", but is more like a dungeon run. After players have chosen their heroes, they'll compete to charge their Evercore (a big crystal that lies in every team's base) the fastest.
Now, the presentation went at pace, with quite a few time-skips, so I found it a bit tricky to keep up. But from what I gather, you charge your Evercore by completing objectives scattered around the map. The heroes are as you'd expect: all colourful and fantastical, with dinky healers and burly tanks.
In many ways, Evercore Heroes is the jungle from League Of Legends – and to some extent, Dota 2 – but stretched out into an entire game. The jungle in League is home to creature camps that can cleared for EXP bonuses and buffs, with some camps being tougher than others. The Evercore match I saw featured lots of similar scuffles with rock giants and their rock babies, with victors levelling up and spending their newfound riches on items which would help them do what they'd just done again, but faster.
Occasionally there'd be these "Surges" (waves of baddies) that threatened to destroy each team's Evercore, so players needed to hoof it back to base and defend their precious crystal. Those who completed a certain objective before anyone else could make these surges harder for their opponents, too, like adding extra frost yetis to the mix to delay their time spent elsewhere.
Right at the end of the presentation, there was a big boss battle against an even larger frost yeti. So, those who'd been efficient with their levelling and objective-doing were able to chip down its health faster than the opposition. What was neat was the ability to see how each team was performing in real-time, as all their icons were displayed shifting across the yeti's health bar. And about midway through the fight, there was a mini-challenge (called a "skill check") which spelt disaster for those who couldn't dodge some area-of-effect bashes, as death meant falling behind in the to the finish.
The game seems fun, but I worry that it's all a bit too familiar. The visuals, the items, even the health bars, – it's very League Of Legends. And while there's a variety of maps and randomisation to keep things interesting, I still can't shake the feeling that MOBA action is better suited to PVP battling. There's real weight to outplaying your human opponents with clever ability combinations, as you never quite know how they're going to respond. Sure, it can be infuriating and toxic when your team doesn't gel, but when it works it's fantastic. With Evercore's PVE battles, I worry that butting heads with rock giants will get stale fast, as they lack the unpredictability of us humans.
I also wouldn't put it past Riot Games to take Evercore Heroes and spin their own game mode out of it. I mean, they've got a history of doing so, with Teamfight Tactics born from Auto Chess, and Legends Of Runeterra born from wanting a CCG like Hearthstone to add to their portfolio.
If you'd like to give Evercore Heroes a go yourself, there's an invite-only playtest happening between 13th – 16th October which you can sign up for on their website. They've also got a Discord you can join that increases your chances of getting access.