You may not know much about T3 Arena at this point, but you will.
XD Inc.’s blazingly fast-paced shooter is still in Early Access on Android, where you can play it on the TapTap platform. The iOS version is still in the works, with a launch date of May 26th.
Despite this, T3 Arena is already causing a stir among multiplayer shooter aficionados, and it’s not hard to see why.
For a start, XD Inc. has absolutely nailed the casual demands of the smartphone platform. The controls are intuitive, precise, and incredibly forgiving thanks to the clever autofire facility.
To shoot an opponent, you don’t need to train your sights on them and then pull the trigger. Instead, you take care of the aiming and the game does the rest.
Anybody who has ever played a shooter on mobile will know how useful this long-established trick is. A touchscreen was never designed to facilitate complex, precise inputs like the ones you need in a shooter, so autofire is a perfect solution.
That said, you can switch it off if you’re a hardcore gunslinger. There are options in the menu to place fire buttons on both the left and right of the screen, giving you more control over proceedings – if you can handle it.
In terms of characters, T3 Arena features a cast of 14 unique heroes that you can summon, gacha-style, by opening Rumble Boxes or earning trophies.
These heroes all perform different roles in battle. Some are support characters, healing their teammates and shielding their squads from enemy attacks. Others are ranged fighters, picking enemies off from a distance, while others still are tanks, causing massive amounts of damage close-up.
But T3 Arena is more nuanced than most multiplayer arena games, in that its heroes don’t necessarily fall into straightforward categories. Take Gloria, one of the most powerful and versatile heroes on offer.
Gloria comes packing ashotgun by default, making her an ideal close-quarters attacker. But here’s the thing: Gloria also has an assault rifle up her sleeve, meaning she can pull back and pick off enemies from farther away as the situation demands.
This versatility exists across the cast, with characters associated with AOE damage also capable of healing allies, snipers also capable of producing pulses of widespread destruction.
Naturally, all of the characters in the game can be levelled up to make them more powerful and resilient. It’s always a good idea to start with the ones you like, before upgrading the others over time to create an unstoppable army.
So far, so standard. T3 Arena is a polished game, with slick gameplay and a fun, Overwatch-esque sci-fi aesthetic, but we haven’t told you anything particularly new.
Now we will.
T3 Arena advances the arena shooter genre in a couple of important ways. The first innovation is a subtly significant one: each round lasts just about three minutes.
Depending on the mode, you can bring a close to proceedings by reaching 20 eliminations (Team Deathmatch), 12 eliminations (Solo Free-For-All), or destroying the cargo (Payload).
That makes T3 Arena the kind of game you can play whenever and wherever you like. Sure, it’s always going to be tempting to settle in for a proper session, but you can fit in a battle or two around almost any activity, from waiting for the kettle to boil to taking an Uber.
The other, much bigger innovation is a nifty little feature called The Lab.
This is an area of the game where you can play new modes and meet new characters that are still being tweaked and finessed. The Lab allows you to perform the role of Beta tester within the game itself, and on an ongoing basis rather than for the duration of a fixed Beta test.
More importantly, it lets you see all the cool stuff much sooner than you can in most games. The Lab has already produced a whole new Payload Escort mode. The competitive mode means that you may yield fewer trophies than in other modes, but you’ll still be able to progress your Season Pass challenges.
In addition, The Lab will play host to countless stage optimisations, introduce new events, and more.
Without these innovations, T3 Arena would already be a contender for most promising hero shooter of 2022. With them it’s practically a shoe-in.
You can play T3 Arena on Android right now by visiting TapTap. The iOS version will be along on May 26th.