Games with esports potential: Thunder Tier One

Welcome back to our games with esports potential series. This week we’re continuing with Thunder Tier One. A top-down shooter action game from the famous -or infamous- KRAFTON that created the PUBG we all know… and love?

TTO is not your average top-down shooter title though. Don’t let it looks fool you, it’s not a Jagged Alliance wanna-be. It’s bordering on being a tactical military shooter simulation: A niche genre that began with Operation Flashpoint in 2001 and evolved into what we know as any mil-sim fan’s wet dream: ARMA 3. Where you can get yelled at by your officer in your clan’s discord server and have to address your superiors by “sir”, and then ask for permission to speak. Joking aside, it’s not a game where you click heads and eliminate enemies from the map. It’s more like Escape From Tarkov, but it’s top-down and with no cheaters (as of yet)

What Thunder Tier One is about

Image Credit: KRAFTON

TTO is aimed at players that are both into the accessibility of top-down action games and MOBA titles, and for players that are into military tactical shooters and strategy. A broad scope so to say.

It takes place in a fictional Eastern European country set in the 1990s after the fall of the USSR. It has three modes of play: Singleplayer, co-op, and PVP. Currently, in singleplayer you tackle a 9 mission campaign with your teammates. Pick and choose various gears and gadgets. Kill some people, defuse some bombs, extract with intel etc. in a hardcore setting.

Stealth is valued but not a must. The fun comes from how you tackle these objectives, not the missions themselves and the chaos that ensues when you play with your friends in co-op. Where TTO shines is its PVP, as it’s meant to be a competitive title that also allows for a very fun co-op experience.

It’s also released with full mod support which somewhat leaves the job to the community, but also comes with potential benefits. How many of you remember that DOTA was a Warcraft mod at its inception? Right.

Why would it make a good esports game?

Mix CS: GO with Tarkov and change the perspective from first-person to top-down and you get TTO. The popularity of top-down titles when it comes to esports is a testament to the accessibility of the action genre for new players.

There are currently two competitive PVP modes. One is Advance and Secure: a 4v4 mode where the teams go head-to-head to try and secure a series of sectors and claim victory. The other is Exfil: a 4v4 mode where the attacking team is tasked with exfiltrating a package within the time limit and the defending team with preventing it by any means possible. Which feels like a mobile version of Search and Destroy from CoD.

Image Credit: KRAFTON

Add in the tactical depth of Tarkov; with customizable weapon attachments that change how your gun behaves, different armours, helmets and headsets that provide your operator with different advantages and disadvantages. Character stats such as encumbrance and dexterity that change accordingly with your gear. Mixing claymore mines, traps, recon drones and weapon ballistics into this formula turns the game into a tactical FPS where it’s not an FPS.

Image Credit: KRAFTON

You have to aim, position yourself and communicate with your team constantly. TTO has all the mechanics that’s enough for you to bash your keyboard and smash your mouse when you die to sneaky enemy ambush or a smartly executed flanking manoeuvre.

It’s almost like a paintball match… On your computer

What does it need to become an esports title?

TTO is taking its first steps and it’s still relatively early for it to become fully competitive. But as we’ve all seen in the example of Valorant, some games might just be released with esports in mind. TTO tries to be a bit of PVP, singleplayer and co-op at the same time and doesn’t excel at anything. It feels like it doesn’t have a clear vision for its future.

It definitely needs more work on its character customization. Currently, with 3 male and 1 female face options, operators simply look banal. It also needs a good progression system, as of now you don’t even know what you are going to unlock next with your gained XP. The game is being updated regularly and relatively quickly and there are still some balancing issues since it’s just released. More content is on the way and performance-wise it’s running well on lower-tier hardware.

KRAFTON managed to turn PUBG into an esports title even with its RNG battle royale mechanics and so followed Apex Legends in its footsteps. Thunder Tier One needs more love and a clear vision for its future and must decide what it wants to be: A fiercely competitive multiplayer title like PUBG or a mix of everything.

TTO may also face the curse of being a niche game since it has a lot of hardcore mechanics in it. If Krafton builds upon the game’s solid foundation and makes it an esports title with a ranked matchmaking system, leaderboards and such, it could very well boom.

Do you want to see competitive TTO matches in the future of esports? We do. If you are an avid esports fan, be sure to check out your favourite games’ tournaments here on Luckbox and you can always bet on your favourite teams.