MOBAs are my thing. It’s a genre I love dearly, and one that I am happy getting lost in for many, many hours. While eagerly waiting for our Witcher 3 presentation at Gamescom, I got some time with their upcoming take on the genre called The Witcher: Battle Arena.
Battle Arena is going to be a mobile MOBA. Now, my first thought is that a MOBA, especially the point and click kind, is something that is best played with a keyboard and mouse, especially if you are aiming for precision and timing. I managed to play a couple of rounds in Battle Arena, and my opinion still remains the same. A keyboard and mouse is definitely optimal, but controlling on the tablet isn’t too bad to be perfectly honest.
The game mode I played was 3 v 3 conquest, where the goal is to control 3 points until your or the enemy scores run out. This is the only one available at the moment, with more being planned for release at some point. There were also only 8 characters available, with 4 more to be implemented in the near future and another 6 still in the works. While this may be small in terms of MOBA character variety. The game is still new, so it’s perfectly normal.
It’s easy enough to pick up and learn, at least it was for an experienced MOBA player like myself. Even so, it may be a good entry point into the genre for beginners, as the mechanics and such are rather simple. The characters can only reach level 10. Although that may come across as pretty low, a game can only last anywhere from 5-12 minutes (at least in my brief experience). Adding in a higher level cap would’ve been rather silly.
There are 4 abilities; 2 ordinary, 1 passive, and 1 ultimate. You access them on the left side of the screen with your thumb, while you use your other thumb (or index finger) to navigate. The demo was on an iPad mini (with retina display) so it was easy enough to tap where I wanted to go. Doing an ordinary attack against the enemy happens automatically, so it’s just a matter of getting within range to do some sort of damage.
One melee character I played was Saskia. She had access to a variety of fire based skills. Her first ability was a charge, which allowed me to close the gap on fleeing enemies as well as stunning them. Her second needed a brief charge up before laying down a path of fire which injured enemies who walked into it. The ultimate ability worked similarly to the second fire path one, except that it spewed out fire in several directions for some great AOE damage. After a few minutes of playing the game, I was pulling off her combos pretty decently. While it’s no keyboard and mouse, it is certainly playable.
There are also two items in the game. The first is a bomb which can be thrown at an enemy to stun them. The second is a health potion which restores your health for a fair amount, even while taking damage. These supplies can be replenished either at your starting point, or at a shop elsewhere on the map (at no gold cost as far as I could tell).
So it’s got the core MOBA experience, and it plays pretty well. Where it really opens up though is the customisability of the equipment, items, and even skills. While I never got to do the last two myself, I was told how some of the customisations would work.
The equipment has three paths to improve and upgrade; offense, defence, and utility. These all offer some enhancements to your character in a certain number of ways thanks to a sort of item skill tree. It wasn’t unusual for me to have reached the end of all 3 paths by the end of each game.
The best part of all the customisation comes in the form of modifying your hero abilities and items. The bomb for example can be changed to be gas which damages enemies who stand in the AOE cloud. With regards to customisation, let’s look at the shield charge ability of Saskia. It has its core average stats, but those can be tweaked. I can choose to improve the duration of the stun at the cost of having shorter range for example. Her fire path can also be modified to have a longer range, but do less damage. It’s a rather neat idea, and I’d like to see how it affects the gameplay in terms of balance.
The game will be entirely free to play. They are looking to make their money through cosmetics, nothing that can actual give a player and advantage of the other. From what I could understand, items will be attainable similarly to those in Dota 2 by means of a random drop chance after each game.
All in all, it seems to be a solid MOBA experience. The only thing that annoyed me was perhaps the movement speed. It just felt a little bit slow or sluggish. It’s something I’m hoping they will tweak. Other than that, you can look forward to getting this game sometime in the near future. Games are quick, simple, and offer something to both the casual and hardened MOBA players.
Last Updated: August 19, 2014