Beastieball PAX West Impression
Volleyball is a game of both physical and mental toughness, and that’s reflected in how Beastieball is played; it’s a simple premise with a lot of heart and strategy behind it.
Sports and role-playing have been combined more and more frequently lately. One sport that has until now not gotten in on the action is volleyball. Of course, a simple volleyball RPG is not enough on its own, but add in a lot of cute collectable creatures and one comes to Wishes Ultd.’s turn-based RPG Beastieball. The premise in this game is just so adorable, but also interesting at the same time. Luckily, there was an opportunity to take a look at the game at PAX West and see how everything is coming along.
In Beastieball players are tossed immediately into a match with their childhood friend. They play 2-on-1 for a second before the friend realizes, every match really has to be 2-on-2. This pairing is indicative of the rest of the game, since there are two ways to emerge victorious. One way is by blasting an attack directly into a waiting opposing Beastie and seeing them take the shot off their noggin; as one might expect, that hurts. If either of the Beasties take enough damage they are out of commission and the other team wins by default. The other way to win, is the traditional way of hitting the floor with a shot. If there’s no one there to block, a point is given for getting a shot in.
Regular random battles on the world map are usually to a single point, but harder fights are two points, and boss battles require three points to win a match. Random fights don’t have to be won by the player to continue, even in a loss ally Beasties still gain experience. As the game progresses these 2-on-2 fights can get more complicated, with the ability to swap out with any of three bench Beasties between attacks. Figuring out which combination of Beasties works best is part of the strategy involved. There are three types with spirit, body, and mind abilities that can be used by each Beastie. Individual Beasties can specialize in any of the three, including defensively.
After the original set of tutorial matches is done, Beastieball goes open world. Becoming a ranked coach, the protagonist travels around for experience and to get the best competition for their Beasties. Players’ growing exerience and expertise is reflected in a Beastiepedia that updates with each match they play against an unknown Beastie. Newly found Beasties need research to unlock, which isn’t always easy as to obtain, as certain abilities may be needed to complete on the field before the progress bar will move. Those that join are given jerseys and then they can be used in combat as well, but only unnumbered Beasties can be collected, as the numbered ones are already on a team.
With its open world nature the game starts off easy, but as it progresses more complex moves are learned and new Beasties may throw new mechanics in. This complication is still grounded in reality as despite being cute creatures, they love volleyball. Every ability is a real volleyball move, and most actions to block or move are made in anticipation of how the player will move. After a Beastie takes a hit, they’ll bump the ball so it can be set and spiked, or hit it back over straight away. While this happens, there’s a movement phase on the other side to try and predict where the ball will be hit to. With Beasties able to take hits blocking the ball is generally more preferable to letting it hit the ground and losing the point. Since many of the fights are to a single point, this has gives everything a quick pace to it and learning how the enemy team thinks and predicting where the ball will go ends up being second nature.
With a lot of Beasties in Beastieball, there’s a lot of variety in how matches can play out. Some of them have easily predictable AI to make it exploited, but then a new challenge may appear and throw everything into chaos. Volleyball is a game of both physical and mental toughness, and that’s reflected in how Beastieball is played; it’s a simple premise with a lot of heart and strategy behind it. I’m looking forward to seeing how everything evolves on the court when it arrives in 2024 on PC and Mac.