Today - November 6 - marks the end of Supercell’s latest beta test, which saw its new inter-dimensional monster hunting game mo.co enter players’ hands for the first time. And with the trial over, now seems like the perfect moment to discuss the information gathered, what worked about the game and what didn’t, and how exactly Supercell could monetise a PvE game.
As with any new Supercell title, speculations inevitably arise as to longevity. Will we see mo.co again? Will the iOS beta test come to fruition? Does mo.co have legs for a full launch? Being developed by a studio so renowned for axeing games that aren’t enough of a hit, anything is possible.
But when anything is possible, there’s everything to play for.
A true RPG
First and foremost, it has to be said that mo.co’s presentation is immaculate, with a beautifully polished artstyle and colourful, smooth visuals that give the game that classic Supercell pop. User interfaces are tidy, characters are clear, and it’s easy to tell what a player’s fighting on-screen. There's clearly much to love and much love has gone into making it.
As for the gameplay, mo.co takes the core approach over casual: an action RPG in its truest sense. Its trial comes at a perfect time, therefore, with this year showing a stark move from mobile gamers away from bitesized hypercasual games and towards more traditional gaming experiences.
Indeed, mo.co features a tried-and-tested progression system with skills and weapons to upgrade through resource grinding, each needing a variety of specific materials and drops varying by locale. Among the game's beta testers was mobile games UA consultant Matej Lančarič, who noted that there weren’t any exceptional drops for defeating high-level monsters - who typically hold onto the most precious of resources in RPGs; whether this will change in the full release (if mo.co sees a full release) remains ambiguous.
"In my opinion," Lančarič speculated, "RPGs are only as good as their itemisation is, so my guess is we haven’t seen all of it yet as for gear mechanics, as farming just materials isn’t really engaging long term."
Gear and levels define a player’s character in mo.co, with weapons being easy to swap to try out different playstyles from attacker, defender and healer sets - staple classes of the RPG genre. Ad monetisation specialist Felix Braberg noted that "the weapon also determines if you're ranged or DPS".
The gear a player chooses then becomes fundamental in online play, with gamers needing to cooperate across the classes to take on the most challenging monsters. At least in the beta, it proved tough to overcome high-level enemies with a team of DPS characters alone. By the same token, a team of healers lacked the offensive firepower to leave a dent.
Balance and synergy prove key
Importantly, gear in the beta has been built around skills and attack power, and if it stays that way, increasing defence comes down purely to a player’s level. Logically, levels increase with EXP, gained from completing time-gated missions and challenges. This creates a softcore stamina system where endless play is technically possible but increasingly less rewarding until new missions activate.
However, if players are just looking for a fun time and aren’t concerned with their level or rewards (or are just that good they don’t need a defence stat), there are plenty of zany gameplay options like racing around on a raptor-like Turbo Chicken mount.
Also speeding along the action, the beta had no waiting for matchmaking with other players. Instead, gamers jumped straight into zones and came across others who happened to be in the same place at the same time, creating a much more authentic representation of world exploration. Stumbling upon someone's battle-in-progress and swooping in could make players feel like real heroes.
Will this sell?
It’s important to note that mo.co in its current form is absolutely a beta, not a soft launch. The brief access was a test for Android, and an iOS equivalent is expected in January. How much will change by then - if anything - is up in the air.
On the monetisation side, the beta didn’t have any. There was a shop with two items in it which seems bound to expand if the game ever launches fully, and there were no in-app purchase options. There was, however, a three-day mo.co Plus pass that players could buy with in-game currency. This unlocked new missions every two hours (instead of every three) and increased the maximum number of missions a player could accept by five. This gave a huge boost to potential EXP gain and, by extension, the levels players could reach. Adding to those hefty bonuses, the pass even granted an extra 50% to EXP yield and material drops, plus a loot magnet to collect more easily.
It's possible this pass will become mo.co’s core monetisation mechanic in a full release setting, available only for real-world money or an extortionate amount of in-game currency that players could buy instead. After all, Supercell will need some way to make money from the game, and more titles are trending towards the auto-renewing subscription model these days.
Many companies - Supercell included - tap into people’s competitive natures to monetise with PvP games that see players spending as much as it takes to have the best gear and give themselves the best possible chance to win. Clash of Clans, Clash Royale, Boom Beach and Brawl Stars are all built around this type of PvP mindset, but mo.co’s beta showed a clear focus on PvE content.
There was also a closed-off Hunter vs Hunter mode in the beta, likely PvP content, but how big a part of the game this will ultimately be is currently unknown. Could Supercell take a new PvE avenue with mo.co, or would a full launch see its standard PvP formula take centre stage?
Naturally, a beta test builds anticipation, and many content creators have been promoting mo.co to eager fans. As well as a test, of course, the beta also gave Android players the chance for some hands-on experience with the game, and now enables Supercell to gather feedback from fresh eyes.
"This is so heavily a social game that you need that kind of excitement for it," said Braberg, chiming with Lančarič's point that mo.co's best chance of surviving Supercell's testing phase will be if plenty of players are engaged and excited about the game.
Among current critiques, however, is the utility of defenders. In the beta, they weren’t all that effective and didn’t really take monsters’ attention, meaning healers and DPS players were still targeted, while the buffest of bruisers didn’t actually get to tank all the hits.
Showing the money
And that question still remains around what mo.co’s main monetisation method might be. Lančarič's in-game search found no signs of a gacha system, the Plus pass was freely obtainable with enough resources in the beta, and if mo.co doesn’t take the PvP route there won’t be that same incentive to get stronger than other players.
At the same time, there are many RPG fans who will spend to support their guild, spurred on by the sense of community and contributing towards a common goal. So, perhaps the team element of raids against challenging monsters will prove enough to monetise mo.co. This is a Supercell game we’re talking about, after all.
With the beta complete, you can bet that Supercell will be poring over the numbers. As to how mo.co has fared, you can bet that we'll all find out very soon…