Online shooters are resistant to change - partially because of how hard it is to advance the genre but, when dwelling on how the last big innovation was the (now mandatory) perk system, you realise there's not normally much outside of simple team deathmatch and objective modes. It's very rare to see a studio invent something shiny and new that works.
Monday Night Combat is an immediately exciting prospect, then, seeing as it competently merges a third-person shooter with an established system of tower defence. It's a particularly shrewd touch: blending one of gaming's most established genres with its most infantile.
The shrewd concept is matched by a complimentary aesthetic - a bright cartoon arena that's complete with resplendent cheering crowds, an obnoxious announcer and messages from sponsors. There's an obvious nod to Valve's iconic work with Team Fortress 2, though Monday Night Combat - which isn't without its own charms - never quite manages to seriously challenge its source of inspiration. Though the Support is French, which I like.
The real meat comes from the unique strategies at your employ. We've seen elements of similar strategy games directly inserted into a third-person perspective before - going way back to 2000's Sacrifice - but the concept is still mostly unexplored territory. It's most immediate effect on a team-based online game is the option for everyone (not just the Support class - but more on that later) to construct turrets on pre-determined base structures.
Turrets come in four varieties, with your bread-and-butter staple being the pew-pew Lazer Blazer, with its cheap cost and all-purpose simplicity proving essential for all types of play. Conversely you have the specialist Shaveice turret, which emits a chilly (and probably glum) aura that slows down anything near it - useful for choke points and killzones, but not much else.
Artillery is provided by the paper thin Long Shot - the turret of choice for offensive play, actually, seeing as you can upgrade it to fire halfway across the map. Finally you have the Rockit turret, which is expensive, bulky and slow, making it a complete pain in the bum to keep alive. On the flipside, whooshing rockets have predictably devastating results.
On the other hand, you've got the droids. Assortments of these pile out of spawning zones and march like armoured, robotic lemmings to their destination - the Moneyball, a floating ornate orb of coins begging to explode. In Blitz mode the droids are your sole foes, and they try and get at your Moneyball over a pre-set series of waves. Crossfire, however, has you going 6v6 against another human team, each with your own gaggle of robots soldiering on towards the enemy Moneyball.