MOBAs are great, but some people (myself included) tend to feel a little removed from the action when playing them.
Conversely, it’s very difficult to imagine a busy hero-based FPS like Overwatch working within the confines of a mobile screen.
In the continuing absence of Brawl Stars, could Mayhem steal in and grab the decisive capture point?
Mayhem is a 3v3 multiplayer arena shooter, but it shifts the perspective and controls to that of a 2D action platformer.
It’s a bit like a gung-ho take on Nintendo’s Smash Bros (you can even ram your opponent into the air) but with a central capture point around which the bulk of the action takes place.
Alongside virtual movement and jump buttons, there’s a neatly implemented combat system. Pressing and holding the virtual shoot button lets you drag to aim your weapon in all directions.
You also get a recharging special that tends to do massive damage, and the ability to build defensive sentries on certain platforms.
Tanks for that
There are various classes to unlock and play as in Mayhem, offering varying levels of health and offensive range.
You start out with tank-like Rhino, but move on to the likes of the snipey archer Kira and nippy short-ranger Whiplash.
In my experience these classes don’t seem to mix up the pattern of play quite as much as they should. You might stand a little further away and at an angle with the weedy Kira, but each round is essentially a pile-on in the centre circle.
It’s those varying specials and sentries that mix things up a little more. The difference between healing your team or damaging the other, pushing an opponent off the capture point or hurting them plenty are the real choices here.
Play the hand you’re dealt
Of course, I don’t have anything like a full set of heroes or abilities at the time of writing, because Mayhem is a freemium game.
It drip-feeds you its new heroes and abilities through cards in randomised loot drops, and you must spend currency to accelerate the rate at which they open.
The whole loot box debate is a rather tedious argument for another time, but there should be no surprises here. You’ll make speedy progress early on as you burn through your initial allotment of crystals, then will have to either learn how to be patient, grind like hell or spend real money on more crystals.
It’s impossible to know how irritating this will become without many more hours of play. What I do know is that there’s already an in-built imbalance to the game.
On the level
I’ve come up against opponents many levels above me in Mayhem, which means they’re tougher and better equipped than me. Similarly, I’ve face opponents several levels below me.
Either way, the higher level player is tougher and better equipped, invariably giving them the advantage. You can play smarter and run away and heal, but doing so is often only slightly better than going down fighting. In fact, taking a chunk out of the opponent on your way to a respawn might be more useful in many situations.
It’s certainly not pay to win – as ever, the team that plays the (flipping) objective the best will emerge victorious. But with crates available to purchase with crystals, it’s not as competitive as it could be.
Mayhem is a fun, exciting multiplayer experience that jazzes up the MOBA for an action-loving mobile crowd. But it’s not one with a particularly sharp competitive edge.