What do you get when you cross Pikmin, League of Legends, and Starcraft? I don’t know and after playing The Maestros I’m not sure Systence Games does either. Here’s our review of The Maestros:
The developers bill the game as an “RTS/MOBA” and that is fairly accurate. In The Maestros, two teams roam maps killing neutral creeps in camps and using the minions you receive from those kills to create a variety of stronger minions. Interestingly, the minions follow you and it’s entirely your choice what upgrade to turn them into. Simply find the upgrade on the map and send your minions to sacrifice themselves to it. It’s more Pikmin with guns than it is League’s lane farming. You can attack move, split attacks, and command your minions with very RTS-like commands.
The game takes place in a brightly colored world akin to League’s, following a very similar art style. The two factions the “dieselpunk” inspired Knights of Teutonia and the Alchemists of Regalis have three commanders to choose from and they each have their own unique look. Each commander brings a unique ability and weapon. Some teleport, others fire rockets. Each upgraded minion brings their own ability as well and you can chain abilities to make for some truly devastating combos. Toss some mines out, cover your opponent in oil, then stun them until dead. There’s an opportunity for some micro here as well, with the game’s much touted “Tesla Coil Unicycles” allowing a quick player to deal serious damage to any enemy caught in between two unicycles. Beyond that, veteran RTS/MOBA players may find some of the upgraded minion’s abilities to come naturally. Each map also has a boss minion called the Dreadbeast to slay and a neutral Shrine to destroy for points.
Sound good so far? Unfortunately for The Maestros, it brings great ideas but falls at the execution. Tagged as Early Access, The Maestros demonstrates the proper use of “beta” and needs considerably more time in the development oven. Starting with the tutorial, audio is a mixed bag. Music can be essentially nonexistent, but some of the commander voice lines are pretty good. Abilities have limited sound effects and the tutorial voiceover sounds like it was rushed at the last second.
I mentioned earlier the game utilizes RTS-like commands for the minions. However, these commands are very limited and many of my clicks felt like they missed the target. Team fights descended into spam fests and there was little use of anything besides throwing all units at each other. Giving precise commands in fights is difficult with the unpolished controls and I found myself cursing as abilities I thought I activated never went off.
A bit of polish and most of my complaints could be fixed, but The Maestros has another issue that isn’t so easy to fix: players. Simply put, it is incredibly difficult to find a game. I was lucky enough to be on during a “Play with the Devs” night, but I only saw 6 other players during that time across the games I played. To test, I put up an open game at different times of day and got no takers. Thankfully, the game offers AI to fight with and against, but the AI is very basic and offers no challenge. While they upgrade their minions, they don’t employ any tactics and will pursue you until one of you dies. Even hiding in bushes won’t shake these pursuers. In short, the AI alone doesn’t make up for the lack of players.