The year has been stacked with fantastic games so far, but it feels like it’s fallen short on the multiplayer side of things. Most of my multiplayer gaming this year has been with those old staples like Dead by Daylight and Overwatch 2, and I’ve been craving something new to jump into with my pals. Well thankfully Omega Strikers is here to answer the call, with its unique blend of air hockey and MOBA gameplay.
Yes you read that right, Omega Strikers is a 3 on 3 game of air hockey, but with a vast selection of different heroes with abilities that change the game. Some just hit the core (which is essentially the puck) really hard or from a distance, others require a bit more planning to use. One character can throw down a blockade that the puck bounces off for the ultimate defence, another places her slime buddies on the field that automatically blast the core toward the enemy goal. It takes a while to learn the different character’s abilities, but once you do this game is magic.
To ensure the matches aren’t over before they start, each goal is blocked at the start each round. To open the enemy goal so you can score the big one, you’ll need to first hit a couple of targets near the goal. These targets differ depending on the pitch you’re playing on; one stage might just have two blocks you need to hit in front of the goal, another might want you to hit some triangles to either side which could lead to some wild bouncing you can use to your advantage.
After the short tutorial gets you used to your first and simplest character, you’ll probably jump into quickplay for a battle online. This basic three on three contest is perfect for beginners, with the first team that scores five goals winning the match. One especially nice aspect of quickplay is that if nobody scores for two minutes then the speed of the core is ramped up massively, making the games nice and quick (which is perfect for trying out new characters).
The range of heroes you can play as in Omega Strikers is just wonderful, with all sorts of unusual powers and strategies to use against the enemy team. Some characters fire projectiles to strike the core from a distance, some can cast buffs to boost the rest of the team, and one can even turn invisible and reappear to get a surprise shot off for a cheeky goal. Hell, if all this goal scoring isn’t for you, you can even play as a hero that can deal massive damage to the other team and eliminate them from the game for a while.
Once you’ve found the right hero for you, you need to decide if you’d rather play up front or as the goalie. I expected to be all about those goals, but with the right character defending against the enemy offense is a blast. Some characters are better in certain roles than others, but you’ll soon get the hang of that and be ready to start playing Competitive.
It’s only when playing this ranked mode that you’ll get to see all of what Omega Strikers has to offer. The MOBA elements become apparent rather quickly, when you get to vote to ban a character for the other team. Alongside this significant addition are the power ups you get to pick from between sets. A selection of eight are available to choose from for all players, but the order they’re chosen is based on who has been playing best. Sometimes you’ll get lucky and the other players will have left a power up you want, but choosing from the dregs can be pretty disappointing so you’d better play well.
The range of buffs on offer are often pretty game changing. You might get an extra use of one of your abilities without having to wait for a recharge, or perhaps you’ll move faster if you can avoid being hit. By the time you’ve selected a few of these power ups you’ll be unstoppable, and will often need to adjust your play style accordingly.
If all this sounds appealing then you’re in luck, because you don’t need to spend a penny to get started with Omega Strikers. The majority of my time playing the game was as an entirely new user who hadn’t dropped any cash on the game, and I thought the starting heroes and amount of time it takes to unlock the others was really fair. You’ll never have the coolest cosmetics if you don’t pay, but Omega Strikers is more than playable for free.
The only issue that the free to play nature of Omega Strikers brings is a currency one. Especially when starting out the menus full of different types of moolah are beyond confusing, and I never really knew what the different rewards I was getting for completing daily and weekly quests actually were. I still found the menus to be a mess even after hours of play too, and often gave up trying to find my rank or character affinity levels after a few minutes of flicking through nonsense.
This complexity does mean that there are plenty of hooks to keep you playing regularly though. The aforementioned daily and weekly quests are well worth completing (and mean you’ll keep coming back for more) and there’s also a Battle Pass to level up full of cool outfits, emotes and player titles to unlock.
If Odyssey Interactive continue to update Omega Strikers long term then competitive air hockey could keep me coming back for years. New heroes and maps would absolutely shake up the meta and freshen things up if done right, and I’m hopeful that this could be a multiplayer game with a long life and happy ending.
Omega Strikers is a fantastic and innovative multiplayer game, which is easy to jump into but has plenty to master. Learning how to best use different characters is seriously compelling, and those progression hooks kept me coming back for more every single day. With a bit of luck and regular updating, this could be the multiplayer success story we’ve needed in 2023.
A really unique multiplayer game
So many great heroes to choose from and ways to play
All the multiplayer hooks you need
The MOBA elements are implemented beautifully
The amount of currency is confusing
The menu design isn't exactly intuitive