Second Wave Alpha Playtest First Impressions – Rough Exterior Hides a Decently Fun MOBA


Second Wave is a 3rd-person shooter MOBA developed by Challenger Games and is the studio’s first title, bringing in a mix of shooter gameplay and the level-up mechanics found in some of the biggest F2P games on the market.

In a sea of hero shooters and MOBAs dominated primarily by League of Legends, Dota, Valorant, Overwatch, and Paladins, Second Wave attempts to make its mark on its own niche by veering towards something a little like Smite, with several of its own unique changes. While the game at its core is still a MOBA, the game does have a heavy emphasis on aiming and skill as you’d expect for a 3rd-person shooter, placing equal importance on both as players fight through battlefields in this 6v6, or 4v4v4 shooter.

Second Wave is still in a very early Alpha state, and while it is rough in a lot of spots it’s commendable to see the game be somewhat fun and playable in its early state, and if the developers can manage to fix many of its issues and give it some much-needed tweaks, Second Wave can become a pretty fun little game with its own dedicated player base.

*This is a first impression based on the game’s first wave of Alpha Playtests and content in the game is subject to change.

MOBA and 3rd Person Shooter Combat Combined, and Simplified

The first game that came to mind when playing Second Wave was GunZ The Duel, and while Second Wave doesn’t have anywhere near the same level of control freedom as GunZ does, its gameplay formula is closer to a mix between GunZ and Smite.

Like Smite you control a hero in 3rd-person, moving them around a symmetrical map and left-clicking to attack enemies with projectiles. Since the game’s control scheme pivots more towards being a 3rd person shooter though, height and cover play a big role in its level design, making aiming, projectile speeds, and taking cover a huge part of the experience.

▼ Hiding behind certain walls for a chance to surprise your enemies is a viable option.

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That’s not to say the game is only about shooting though, as each character has active abilities they can use in combat, along with their ultimates. Interestingly unlike most other MOBAs, Second Wave is happy to just give you free use of your abilities right away, as each character was able to use their 4 active abilities bonded to RMK, F, E, and Q right off the bat, with their ultimate even available as soon as the game starts, letting matches kick off right away, while also not needing you to upgrade any of your abilities as it scales solely off of the stats and items you can purchase.

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Characters are defined by these abilities, giving various roles like Marksman, Tank, Bruiser, Assassin, Mage, and Support. At least in the game’s normal mode, the game also freely lets you pick between whatever character you want to play, letting you have multiples of a character on the same team, creating some pretty unique team combinations and at times some unfortunate composition counters.

This is because while you’re not restricted to what characters you can pick, you can’t change your characters in the middle of a game because it’s a MOBA, there’d be too many variables if you could change characters while retaining their items.

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In terms of combat, the game feels fine to play. Shooting and attacking enemies is usually responsive though at times it felt like there was always a small delay to whatever actions I was doing, this wasn’t actually the case though as my in-game ping never went above 20ms, and in fact it was in part due to the game’s feedback, or lack thereof. In the current state, attacks don’t have a lot of impacts, and what’s happening can get fairly confusing when you’re in the thick of it and getting pelted by so many things at a time.

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That’s not to say it was all bad though, at least when you’re attacking enemies the game has enough feedback to help you know you’ve landed an attack and it can feel pretty good to score some big hits with your characters and watch your gold rack up. The game also likes to keep the action moving, with fairly short respawn timers at any point in the game, and if you don’t know what to buy in the shop you can just mash the G key to have the game auto-buy recommended items for you.

Since the game also doesn’t have any minions, the action takes place pretty quickly leading to teams scrambling for multiple points on the map with small skirmishes and big team fights happening all the time.

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While there’s so much about Second Wave that’s rightfully not finished in this Alpha state, it’s still pretty fun at times and shows the potential of an anime-styled game in this genre. One thing that is disappointing is the game seems to be handling its servers similar to League of Legends, in that playing in each server requires a separate player profile, which would mean changing to another server to play with friends is also a time commitment as you’d lose access to all of your unlocks.

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A Decent Game with Room for Improvements

While still in its early and unpolished state, Second Wave still has flashes of fun during its chaotic moments of action. There’s almost never a dull moment in this game, and if Second Wave is able to improve on its visuals and sound effects before release, it could help mitigate a lot of the issues with player feedback, and create a pretty fun casual mix between two genres, and could even stick the landing if it receives enough support.

If you’ve been itching to play a MOBA but haven’t found one that really stuck with you, Second Wave might be one to keep an eye on if you’re looking for something new.

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