I'm not a fan of Veramarth, but it has a one-of-a-kind layout that I haven't seen anywhere else. Rather than the usual square-like map dimensions with main bases tucked away in each corner, Veramarth takes place along the banks of a river, with the main bases directly opposite each-other.
There is little wasted space: the battlefield is large enough that the map doesn't feel cramped and that there is room between the lanes, but has no long walks or windy side-paths.
Upon first spawning in the main base, players are immediately very close to the action. This remains true for subsequent revives: keeping downtime to a minimum. The middle lane has comfortably the most traffic and is embraced as the shortest route to the main objective (though many towers stand in the way).
Moving away from the center, we get medium sized bases, followed by tiny corner bases which provide a light trickle of troops, and are guarded by a single tower. Enemy troops never actually push into these; it's up to heroes to take them out.
The variety in base sizes gives players meaningful options for where to be: mid-lane where most of the experience is, a side lane pushing into a medium-sized base, or out pressuring the corners where enemy heroes are forced to respond.
The corner bases can be a trap though, as because being in the corner of the map there's nowhere to run if your enemies come hunting.
There are a number of neutral healing fountains along the river for in-combat healing, and in fact no fountains in either team's base! This will accelerate a team's victory if they're already in a winning position, which is something many AoS maps struggle with.
The healing fountains affect troops, and sometimes they will end up clashing beside one. For smaller troop numbers, this will actually freeze the wave in place because the healing is faster than their damage. The wave won't move until a hero or additional troops arrive and break the stalemate.
It's an odd quirk... I'm not sure if this behaviour would ever prove tactically useful, but maybe some game in the genre could do something with it.
The lack of teleport and recall makes players have to think harder about their positioning and which objectives they can cover and defend. It's a different experience to most lane-pushing games, and I would like to see this kind of layout utilised and explored more often.
Unfortunately, the rest of the game's features make for an unpleasant experience.
The heroes are bland, and mostly centred around massing hero stats (Agility, Intelligence, Strength). You can do that by:
- Spamming your spells, as most heroes have a passive that has a chance to permanently increase a stat when you cast.
- Buying one of the 5 items in the game, all of which just give stats.
- Troops will occasionally drop potions when they die, which giving a small permanent stat boost to whoever drinks them.
There is not much thinking involved, and even the hero actives have random components. In fact, heroes are already strong enough at level 1 to solo a tower, and the continuous stat increases only make that easier.
Worst of all, the enemy ranged troops have a ministun spell that they cast on enemy heroes at every opportunity!
In case you're wondering about the screenshots being hard to see: the time of day is permanently set to midnight, making everything darker. Perhaps this was intended to emphasise glowy spell effects? I'm not a fan.
And that's why this review is a short one. Veramarth was only in development for a few weeks, but I think its map layout makes a good case study.