The modern multiplayer online battle arena games, such as League of Legends and Heroes of the Storm, were all built off of the DotA (Defense of the Ancients) model, which began as a mod for Warcraft 3: Reign of Chaos. With the huge popularity of DotA style games, it isn’t taking long for various publishing companies scrambling to pump out their own versions of this game style. This is what Ubisoft’s Champions of Anteria feels like, however rather than creating a carbon copy of DotA it appears that Ubisoft is making an attempt set themselves apart from the pack.
Much of Champions of Anteria plays like DotA, as you control three heroes from a bird’s-eye view, each hero has a number of special attacks to employ during battle, and the game’s entire look feels completely lifted from Blizzard’s aesthetic. But despite all of this Champions of Anteria isn’t really trying to be the next big MOBA; it’s single player only and the gameplay has a large real-time strategy element. However, in the end this mix of play styles makes Champions of Anteria feel like a game that can’t decide on what it wants to be. Instead of delivering a fresh mix of strategy and RPG; the bad AI, poor level design, and lack of gameplay depth make Champions of Anteria feel shallow and undercooked.
Champions of Anteria begins by introducing Vargus, Anslem, and Nusala; three heroes who respectively fill out the archetypes of warrior, mage, and rogue. These three heroes travel the countryside of Anteria, righting wrongs when needed. One day, while on a seemingly routine mission of clearing bandits out of a town, they draw the anger of the evil mage, Kalen Daark, and it falls to these heroes to conquer the surrounding factions and unite them against Kalen Daark.
This is the basic setup for Champions of Anteria’s narrative and gameplay. The plot and characters are certainly aimed to parody the standard dungeons and dragons archetypal story, but it feels uneven due to the fact that the humor is isolated to the cutscenes and never carries over into the actual gameplay.
The strategy parts of the game play out much like the Civilization series of games. Players view a world map of Anteria, from which they can upgrade their own kingdom as well as conduct raids into the three rival factions’ territories to conquer their lands piece by piece. This section of the game is fairly freeform. Players are free to attack the rival factions in any order they want, however the strategy sections are broken up into rounds, meaning that as you attack one faction, the others are growing more powerful and/or invading your kingdom.
Improvements to your kingdom and heroes is done through a tech tree with branching paths of focus. This mix of freeform strategy and branching research trees may sound like Champions of Anteria can be played a number of different ways, but in the end the strategy component feels overly simplified. The differences of the various research branches feel only skin deep, and not actually significantly varied.
The other main part of gameplay in Champions of Anteria is the raid component. To conquer another faction’s territory, you must choose three (out of an eventual five) heroes to fight against AI troops in MOBA-style gameplay. These raids are by far the weakest parts of the game. The AI is highly buggy, with battles often devolving into your heroes and the enemy AI running around in circles trying to hit each other.
Even worse, the raid missions are basically carbon copies of one another. No matter which territory you invade, the map layout will be the same as previous levels of the same mission type, with enemies spawning at the same predetermined points as in the previous playthrough. This amount of repetition is almost unforgivable especially in a $30 game. The highpoint of the raid missions are where you have to take down the leader of a faction. These “boss” fights are the most varied and challenging, but are too few and far between to make the game worth buying.
Last Updated: September 13, 2016