I've gone on record saying that Awesomenauts is the best MOBA on the market. It's extremely fun, action-packed, and surprisingly deep. But most importantly, it's probably the easiest MOBA to pick up and play. Still, to newcomers to MOBAs, Awesomenauts can still be a pretty intimidating game due to competitive nature of the game. So I've written up this little guide on the basics to help ease newcomers into one of my favorite games.
Alright, what do you do in Awesomenauts?
Awesomenauts is a MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena) game. Unlike other MOBAs, Awesomenauts plays more like a 2-D action-platformer than an RTS. The goal in Awesomenauts is to blow up enemy turrets to destroy your enemy base.
Sounds easy enough.
Yeah it sounds easy, but in practice it's a bit harder. Turrets and kill you in seconds, so a head-on attack is suicide.
So how are you destroy the turrets if they're too hard to kill?
The game spawns little bots that will march mindlessly towards the enemy base. They'll only stop to attack enemies and turrets in their path. Turrets attack the closest enemy, so you need to use these little guys as meat-shields to get in close enough to do damage. they're useful meat-shields too since they gain extra life when attacking a turret. Pretty much you send wave after wave of bots at the turrets until you destroy it and move on.
But you've also got to contend with enemy bots and enemy 'Nauts that are trying to destroy your turrets. So a lot of the time you'll find yourself in battle desperately trying to push your front lines further and further into the enemy base.
What are 'Nauts?
'Nauts are the player controlled characters. Each character has different stats, attacks, and abilities that make them unique. Each 'Naut has a specific feel and role, so try testing each one out. There are tons of other guides and stuff out there if you want them, but right now I'm just doing the basics.
What type of roles are there? Is there one I'd like.
There are a bunch of different rolls out there and most characters excel at one or two. The one's you need to know are:
Assassin: These guys are really good at dishing out a ton of damage, hunting down enemies, and then running away. Usually they have lower life.
Brawler: Brawlers are usually at their best when they're in their enemy's face. They don't do as much damage as Assassins, but they make up for it by having higher life as well as special abilities that can stun or slow opponents. They're usually at their best during 1 on 1 battles.
Tank: These guys have very high life or high armor. They're great on the front line because they can dish out damage as well as they can take it. A tank may have some way to regenerate life while attacking (lifesteal) making it easier for them to stay in the midst of battle. Their downside is that they're usually slow or lacking movement option, making it hard to chase down fleeing enemies or run away from bad situation.
Harasser: Assassins are great at diving in and ending an enemy, Harassers are better at staying away and just chipping away at foes. Harassers are usually long-range 'Nauts that have great escape or keep-away abilities. They tend to swoop in, do a decent chunk of damage, an then run away. Their weakness is that they don't usually do well in a direct fight and tend to have lower-than-average health.
Defenders: As you can guess, Defenders are pretty good at defending turrets. They usually have abilities that help them lock down an area and keep it in their control. However, they're not always the best leading an offensive push.
Pushers: On the other hand, Pushers are great at helping push bots into an enemy base or help siege turrets. For the most part, Pushers have abilities that damage larger areas rather than just one target, making them great for crowd-control or team-fights. Usually they aren't too powerful during the early-game, but they can become extremely dangerous with the right items and leveling.
Support: Any character who specializes in helping other characters. Supports usually have abilities that heal allies or provide buffs such as increased damage or better defenses. Generally, these 'Nauts don't do too well on their own and are best when paired up with other 'Nauts.
The great thing about Awesomenauts is that each 'Naut may specialize in one or two roles, that doesn't mean he or she can't be good in another area. Probably the best example is Genji, who is listed as a Support 'Naut but is actually more of a jack-of-all-trades who can fill multiple roles if he has the right items. Similarly, Raelynn is a Harasser 'Naut, but one item can turn her into a powerful Pusher with just a few items.
The point is the roles are mostly just suggestions. Part of the fun of Awesomenauts is learning about each 'Nauts strengths and weaknesses and experimenting by making your own character builds.
Oh, right. Before a match starts you get to select a bunch of items on a screen that looks like this:
The first row corresponds to items that will upgrade your first ability, the second row your second ability, your third row usually upgrades your main weapon (usually called the "auto-attack"), and the fourth column is just general stat upgrades that are usually the same for each 'Naut.
You can only choose three items for each column. What the items do is pretty self-explanatory in the item description. I'm not going to go in depth about the items for each characters since there are tons of guides out there to help. But as a general you should choose items that support the role you're going for. For instance, if you're trying to make an Assassin character, it would be a good idea to increase you're damage output and attack speed. Tanks can benefit from heath regeneration, and Harassers usually depend on faster cooldown times for their abilities.
Choosing the items before the match doesn't mean you start the match with the items. You still have to buy them at the shop in your base with Solar, the game's currency. Keep in mind the amount of Solar you need to purchase an item (most are around 100-250 Solar) so that once you've gotten enough Solar, you can just teleport back to base to buy it.
The order you buy items in Awesomenauts isn't as rigid as it is in other MOBA games. It's good to have a general plan, but still try to be flexible based on how the game is going. For instance, if you're having problems with a Harasser opponent, you might want to invest in some items that will make it harder for them to run away. It's alright to have a plan, but always be open to switch up the plan as the game unfolds.
I need to buy some stuff. How do I earn Solar.
You automatically earn Solar over time. But this is kind of a bad way to earn Solar if you don't have the Solar Tree item. You can also pick up Solar Cubes scattered around the stage. Silver Cubes give you 1 Solar and Gold gives you 5 Solar. Don't underestimate how much solar you can get just by picking some up while running around.
Other than that, most of the Solar you recieve comes from combat. You earn Solar by defeating bots and 'Nauts. Normal Buzzdroids drop 5 Solar when they're destroyed, Super Droids drop 10. Unlike other MOBAs like DOTA2 you don't need to last-hit droids for them to drop Solar. Last-hitting droids will deposit the Solar directly into your Solar stockpile, otherwise it'll just fall on the ground for a while. Make sure you pick it up before your any enemies get to it!
The best way to earn Solar is to kill enemy 'Nauts. When an enemy 'Naut dies, you're entire team earns 30 Solar, and whoever landed the final Blow gets a bonus of 30 more Solar. Also, the enemy 'Naut that was killed loses 30 Solar, making it both a boon for you and a detriment to your enemies.
Stages also have neutral creeps that hang around the stages. They can give 3 Solar when killed, but also restores 30 health. For that reason you should save those creeps for when you need a quick health pickup. The stage Ribbit IV also features a Solar Boss that drops 30 Solar on it's death and completely restores Health. But it is also difficult to defeat when at lower levels or when enemy 'Nauts are in the area, so choose your fight carefully.
OK, cool. So what's up with all the stages?
Awesomenauts takes a lot from 2-D platformers, so the stages are almost as important to the match as the 'Nauts. Right now there are four stages.
Ribbit IV: This is pretty much the "basic" Awesomenauts stage. It's got two lanes (lines that bots march down) with a "jungle" area in between. The jungle is filled with a bunch of neutral critters that can restore you're life if you kill them. There is also a "boss" critter that can dish out tons of damage but grants a ton of Solar on it's death. If you want to test out a character, this is probably the best stage to do it.
AI Station 404: This stage is a little weird. There are technically two lanes, but only one spawns bots automatically. Long-range butterfly-bots can only be spawned if someone steps on a switch on the top lane. But the two lanes converge in the middle (that has a low gravity area) and then switch when moving into the enemy base. It's not a very beginner friendly map due to having to juggle multiple variables.
Sorona: This map has two lanes that are much more open than Ribbit IV, making it an excellent stage for characters with high mobility (such as Yuri's jetpack or Vinnie&Spike's floating). The most defining feature is a button on the lower lane that opens a trap door to a giant worm that instantly kills anything it eats.
Aiguillon: A stage very similar to Ribbit IV, except it has more areas to hide and plan ambushes. There's also an orb that spawns in the middle of the stage that grants temporary invisibility.
Each maps has it's own pathways and stragegies, so you'd best familiarize yourself with each one. Especially if you plan on playing ranked or random online matches: the map selection is random.
I'm just starting right now. What should I do?
Well, if you're firing up the game for the first time, I'd suggest playing the tutorial. It'll go over some of the basic stuff I already went over. It'll be a good way to familiarize yourself with the controls.
After that I would suggest the "Practice" option on the main menu to play some matches against low level bots to get aquainted with the game and unlock all the characters and items. Yeah, the game has one of those stupid unlock systems, which means you won't have all the characters and items available right away. Don't worry, you'll level up once or twice per game so you'll get a steady stream of unlocks as you go along. Still, it's a pain…
Yeah that sucks. What do you suggest?
Since your pool of characters and items is limited, I'd suggest playing as Sheriff Lonestar since the two other characters available from the get-go (Leon and Froggy G) require a better understanding of the game, and the limited item pool makes them harder to play. Lonestar is a pretty straightforward character and you should know his general play-style from the tutorial. Once you unlock a few more characters and items (Clunk is pretty easy to play for newcomers) you can give the others a try.
I learned the basics, but I'm still dying a lot. Am I doing something wrong?
It's not uncommon for MOBA players to have a hard time adjusting to the gameplay style. For starters, some newcomers just don't know when to press on and when to retreat. You're top priority should be to stay alive. If you die you give the enemy team a bundle of Solar that make's them more powerful PLUS you're team loses 1/3 of their team. Death is a really bad thing. Just as a rule of thumb, you should search out some healing when you're at half health. When you're at 1/3rd or less you really should get as far away from enemies as you can and heal ASAP.
Likewise, you need to learn when press forward. Charging by yourself into an area with two enemy 'Nauts and a turret is a sure-fire way to get yourself killed. Likewise, if you're sieging a turret and you're bots are about to be killed, try and get out of there before the turret starts firing at you. Never bight off more than you can chew. Always try to dictate the terms of the battle and goad enemy 'Nauts into situations where they are at the disadvantage.
Oops. I died. I guess that means GG, right?
Dying is a bad thing, but it's not something you can't come back from. Chances are you're going to die at least once in a match. It happens. Just know that if you've got a good strategy and a good team, there's always a way to turn it around. Just learn from you mistake and keep on playing.
OK, I got a ton of kills and I still didn't win the game. Does that mean my team sucked?
Maybe, but it could also mean you weren't doing your job. Getting kills isn't the objective of the game (unless it's a Team Deathmatch custom game). It is possible to have the highest Kill/Death ratio in the match and still lose. You know how I said not dying is your number one priority? You're number two priority should be destroying turrets and protecting your own turret. You're third priority is killing other 'Nauts.
That's not to say killing 'Nauts isn't important. It can give you a big advantage over the enemy team and it gives you a nice chunk of Solar for you and your team. But spending your time trying to hunt down a single enemy while your Turrets are crumbing isn't the way to go about winning the game.
This is a lot to take in right now. Any last tips?
Experiment with builds and characters, work with your team, and most importantly have fun.