Why I Stopped Playing Atlas
Initially I stopped playing because I was moving to another state. Getting established here took some time, but I intended to come back afterwards. However, when I started trying to play again I found I no longer had fun with the game. I've been trying to find exactly what turned me off. I think a big part of it has to do with the changes to squads and mercenaries. Previously, I liked the game because it felt like a moba to a degree. The interaction with teammates was important, the apm requirement was much lower, and the squads were built in such a way that the units let me exploit the qwer control scheme I was used to. Then mercenaries were introduced, along with additional resources to process. This pushed the game further into rts territory. However, that felt fine. It still had a similarity to mobas, but the extra options mercenaries provided along with minimal resource management felt like something I could still get my head around.
The next major revision into the unit picker lost me. Now it doesn't feel like I'm playing a squad that was designed for me, but rather that there are four races: red, green, blue, and white. Now I have to design my own squad, which requires way more investment from me. For instance, I primarily played Vex. Vex was very synergy heavy around the ignite debuff. Now, you can pick war dancers and Apocalylites, which have nothing to do with the ignite debuff. From the other side, Eris can now play with Pyrosaurs and Ignitors, but without Vex's tier 1 units the ignite debuff has almost no meaning. So I can essentially trap myself with some of these unit mechanics not working across the same race. Things like Ignite would need to be spread across the ‘race’ to ensure as few of these failed interactions exist as possible.
While these units and other aspects of moving to the unit picker can be redesigned, I think the loss of identity from these characters turns me off the most. Vex was interesting when he had multiple units just for him that reinforced him as coming from the Firelands. Now that those units are shared, I care about him less. He doesn’t feel as unique. Part of this is the mechanical oddness described above, but a bigger part of it is how much less the Hero unit feels central to the squad. Because I have more options, I’m going to pick the one that’s generically stronger most of the time and not the one that’s quirky.
The unit picker feels like an attempt to mimic deckbuilding from a card game. Deckbuilding is primarily about reducing variance in a volatile environment. Pushing your deck in a certain way to ward against drawing useless cards. It’s why drawing cards is good in almost every card game, because you get to have access to more of your options. In a card game, this feels fine because the decision about what to put in your deck is so much of the gaming experience. In an rts, and to a lesser extent a moba, this feels terrible. What I like about real time games is the opportunity to make decisions as I go. I can come in with a plan, but I can change that plan as I go along if required. The unit picker locks me out of certain options. The unit picker feels like its introducing variance for its own sake. As an analogy, imagine having to pick your 6 items from the store in LoL or DotA before the game starts. One of the best parts of that style of game is being able to have an intelligent response to the opponent. The unit picker lets you do this, but only in a limited way, and only if you think to include that option beforehand.
In summary, I no longer find the game fun. I dislike the unit picker because I don’t want to have to know the whole web of all possible unit interactions before the game starts, but rather to have the option to switch to something midgame if I need to. I dislike how much flavor the game loses when the barriers separating the squad units fall away. Lastly, I dislike how much resource management has been added into the game and how much it feels like it distracts from the battles.