Gamescom: Dropzone

What happens when Sparkypants, the group of former Big Huge Games (Rise of Nations) people, decides to create a swift MOBA/RTS game? Let me explain you what Dropzone is about.


Their objective was to create a strategically and tactically deep, multiplayer RTS for PC, but different from the games they had previously worked on. Additionally, they wanted a game whose online broadcasts would be easy to get into. The outcome is a truly unique, futuristic, fast-paced sci-fi RTS with MOBA elements called Dropzone.

And it works surprisingly well. “Surprisingly” because even though I’ve never been much fond of MOBAs, my first match of Dropzone left me flabbergasted.

In Dropzone, most of your strategic planning happens before the game begins. Firstly, you choose 3 pilots (here they are called Rigs). Basic ones are Tank (slower, a lot of HP), Gunner (fast, a lot of firepower), and Mechanic (support who heals, stuns, etc.). Then there are those like Summoner and more which are yet to be revealed.  I haven’t received much info on them yet.

Secondly, you choose the gear for each pilot from the huge selection of abilities. There are 4 active (triggered by Q, W, E and R) and 3 passive abilities. More gear can be unlocked via in-game currency, which can also be purchased for real money.

Dropzone is going to be free-to-play, but the developer said: “You can’t buy better gear, only more gear. We don’t want this to be pay-to-win.”

Dropzone ship

After you choose the pilots and gear, you start on the Dropship – your base, where your pilots are spawned and healed. From there, you can explore the map. There are 4 Vision Towers, each can reveal you the part of the map if you capture them. Even more important than Vision Towers are Hives.

Dropzone hive 2

Hives are guarded by ugly bug-like creatures. If you kill them and then destroy the hive, you get a Core. After delivering the Core to the centre of the map, it gets transported to the orbiting ship and you get a point.

That’s what Dropzone is about and what ultimately leads to win – collecting more points than your enemy (or enemy team in 2v2 mode) before the 15-minute match ends. Each hive has 3 forms, and the number of Cores you receive for killing raises with each form (so you’ll get 3 for killing 3rd form).

Dropzone scoring

You can also steal your opponent’s Cores or focus on the side-quests (like capturing all Vision Towers simultaneously – you can receive points for that as well) or be more defensive. Thanks to this, there are many ways to play the game and players can come up with endless strategic and tactical approaches.

Though 15 minutes may not seem much to you, it’s very intense 15 minutes and when it’s over, you’ll appreciate the break.

Dropzone battle

Of course, all your Rigs receive XP for killing enemies. Each of them receives the same number of XP. When they reach enough XP to level up you have choose which pilot will level up. Leveling up pilots will unlock other abilities you had previously equipped. This is something between “building” your character in MOBAs and upgrading units in RTS.

As for the game’s overall look and even the design of Hives or Vision Towers, that’s where the MOBA-side of Dropzone wins. All in all, the game is beautifully futuristic and units are very detailed.

Dropzone hive

By the time the first game I played ended, I’ve already knew what was where and I was pretty skilful. Skillful in controls, that is. I haven’t even scratched the surface of tactical and strategic possibilities this game offers.

The best way to get better at Dropzone is to play, which is not a problem with one match taking only 15 minutes. I can totally see the competitive potential that Dropzone has.

Dropzone is in the enclosed beta now and we have a few keys to give away. All you have to do to enter is follow instructions in this tweet:

About Dessel

Journalism student at Charles University in Prague who likes to write about video games and hacking. I'm also European politics and history enthusiast. I mostly play on PS Vita and PC. Twitter: @Dessel575

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