Key Takeaways

  • Axie Infinity: Origin has launched in early access mode.
  • Players can try the new game out for free by creating an Axie Infinity account and downloading the Sky Mavis Hub.
  • Origin implements several highly-requested improvements, including sequential turns, new mechanics, and revamped gameplay.

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Crypto Briefing explores the early access version of Axie Infinity: Origin, an updated release of the popular play-to-earn game. 

What Is Axie Infinity?

Axie Infinity is a game that revolves around collecting and battling with cute, puffy creatures called Axies. It roared into the mainstream last summer, spawning a new genre of crypto games where players can “play to earn,” generating tokens with real-world value by spending time playing the game. 

Axie mania hit peak levels in November as the game’s AXS token price hit an all-time high of $164, soaring from less than $10 just four months prior. By spending a few hours a day on the game, players from developing countries like the Philippines found that they could earn more than double the minimum wage. However, issues with the game’s economy created a massive surplus of its SLP reward tokens, which made it less profitable and led to an exodus of the more money-motivated players. In recent months, the game has struggled to hang onto its player base amid a declining crypto market. The Axie NFTs needed to play the game used to sell for a minimum of $600 apiece; now, you can pick up a team of three for less than $60. 

Axie’s woes intensified last month when Ronin Network, the Ethereum sidechain used to trade tokens on the game, suffered a major attack. Someone took control of the blockchain’s validators to steal over $550 million worth of Ethereum and USDC. Axie developer Sky Mavis discovered the theft six days later and posted an announcement confirming that affected users would be reimbursed, but its reputation still took a hit on the news.

Despite Axie’s rapid rise and fall, Sky Mavis hasn’t given up on it. During its time in the spotlight, Axie cultivated a strong community of players who are still loyal to the game. Sky Mavis is determined to restore the game to its former glory by improving its gameplay and in-game economy to create a fun and rewarding experience for all players. 

Axie’s developers have reimagined the game in a new version called Axie Infinity: Origin. What used to be a simple and repetitive combat system has been revamped and fleshed out, creating more opportunities for complex strategizing and theory crafting. Players who were previously barred from the game by the cost of entry can now play the game for free with a team of starter Axies. While Axie Infinity: Origin’s launch was delayed due to the Ronin attack, it went live with an early access version this week. Crypto Briefing took a first look at the new game to see how it compares to the original game and whether now is the time to join the Axie bandwagon. 

Getting Started With Origin

To get started with Axie Infinity: Origin, you’ll first need to create an Axie Infinity account. To do this, head over to the official website and follow the steps. At this stage, you don’t need to create a Ronin chain wallet, but it’s worth doing so and connecting it to your account if you plan on buying Axies in the future. 

You’ll also need to download the Sky Mavis Hub, the game launcher for Axie Infinity. Once the hub is up and running, you should have the option to download and install Axie Infinity: Origin. The game is optimized to run on mobile devices, so it doesn’t use much space; the hub and the Axie Infinity game take up under 500 megabytes of memory. All that’s left to do now is sign in using the Axie Infinity account and get playing.

The game’s tutorial does a decent job of explaining the game’s mechanics, and anything you miss can easily be picked up by playing through the rest of the adventure mode. As you progress, you are intermittently introduced to new game features. Axie runes, charms, and the crafting system all have their own mini-tutorials, and completing adventure mode stages rewards these resources so you can try them out immediately. 

Axie Infinity: Origin gameplay (Source: Axie Infinity)

The game plays like a cross between resource-based card games like Magic: The Gathering and Pokémon battles from the original Game Boy games. Players can launch attacks against each other’s Axies (or PvE creatures) with their pool of possible moves determined by a hand of cards drawn from their deck. Some cards allow your Axies to do damage, while others heal or shield your allies. Every turn, players draw from a finite pool of energy used to play cards. Most moves cost one energy point to perform; however, stronger cards require you to use more of your energy to keep things balanced. 

Like in Pokémon, Axies are stronger or weaker than other Axies, depending on their type. For example, beast-type Axies will do 15% more damage against reptile Axies but take 15% more damage from aquatic Axies. Another mechanic with an analog in Pokémon is the runes system. These function similarly to held items, granting the Axie equipped with one a special perk or passive effect. 

Compared to the original version of Axie Infinity, Origin has implemented several highly-requested improvements. Turns are sequential, allowing for faster, more dynamic gameplay. Additionally, a player’s energy and cards are reset every turn to encourage more aggressive playstyles. Several other gameplay elements have also been revamped. A Rage mechanic has replaced critical hits, Axie’s eye and ear attributes now have their own cards, and the new rune and charm mechanics add depth to the game. 

However, while a lot has changed, those who had trouble enjoying the original game may find the new version lackluster. The game can become repetitive, especially if you’re not interested in competing against other players. Of course, to do so, you’ll need to shell out for your own NFT Axies. Buying a cheap starter set may be fine initially, but you’ll quickly need to upgrade them to stay competitive, and it likely won’t be cheap to do so. 

Even so, if you enjoyed playing through the Origin early access, it could be worth collecting a few Axies now ahead of the official launch. If Origin succeeds in attracting a new cohort of players, demand for Axies could increase in the future. 

However, it’s also worth noting that all progress made and resources collected in the early access version of Origin will be reset before the game’s full release. It may be a while before the game starts bringing in new players when the final version goes live. But in the meantime, there’s no harm in getting familiar with how the new game works early. 

Disclosure: At the time of writing this feature, the author owned ETH and several other cryptocurrencies. 

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