The Tower Defense Games, the RPGs and the RTS have all found warm and welcoming homes on the mobile platforms. The MOBA was bound to follow. Afterall, it has all the hallmarks that suit the casual mobile online gamer. Instanced combat zones, quick matchmaking and streamlined gameplay. The number of MOBAs released can be counted on the fingers of one hand and Heroes of Order and Chaos by GameLoft is the first and only one available on the mobile platform (iOS and Android) and honey, it’s a doozy of a game. Best played on a tablet as it’s awfully cramped on a smart phone, Gameloft has streamlined the features regularly found on a MOBA so it works well on the mobile platform – much as Guardians of Middle Earth did for the console.
Based on the formula begun by Defense of the Ancients (DOTA) and popularized by League of Legends, teams of three or five players deck it out while critters pouring out from two opposing bases assist as they come together in three lanes.
Heroes all start at level 1 and players get new heroes to choose from each week. It works really well as you get to try every hero for free and at the same time, earn gold and rewards – such as talent points which can be placed in the type of hero you enjoy playing with. With the saved gold, you can buy your favorite hero, or you can just buy them with real cash out right.
How it Plays
The UI is tight. The virtual joystick is at the left thumb (or tap to move) and combat at the right thumb with skills aligned along the right screen edge. Graphics and animation are superlative and runs as well on the iPad2 as the iPad3 although the higher res screen of the iPad3 provides just that little much brighter eye-candy.
The skills and equipment are also streamlined. Players start off by picking a Hero and it starts off at level one. As you play you level up and place points in four skills – one passive, three active. You also gain gold to purchase equipment. Yes, there are many bits of equipment, but tabs on the purchase screen lets you filter them down to slots and there is also recommended gear so you aren’t faced with hundreds of confusing choices. As you play the game, you learn the equipment for each class as well.
One thing the tutorial did not impart was how you figured out what each hero’s strengths and skills were, but a bit of trial and error on tap / hover / hold soon sorted that out. You can preview each hero with a match against the AI before jumping into a live match. There are three game modes for each size team, PvP, Co-Op and Solo, so you can also practice with a team before going head to head against other players by creating a private room. Solo mode can even be played offline. You won’t gain any rewards, but you get the practice and the fun even when away from wi-fi.
The Bling! The Bling!
Oh yes, did I mention that Heroes of Order and Chaos is breathtakingly gorgeous on the iPad3? It’s a 603MB download worth of pretty, complete with voice-overs, and a repeatable three-level tutorial – for the complete noob to MOBAs to those who play them regularly. The voice-overs really just add an additional layer of bling over the game as you won’t hear them during matches. All CPU power for combat, thanks.
Another nice thing about Heroes of Order and Chaos is the ability to look at every hero – check out what they look like, how they move, hear their voices and read what their skills do. With 30 heroes available, that’s a lot. Each also have more than one skin, but of course you have to purchase the preferred skin. There’s also the ability to review your last match and to save it, so you can see how well you did, and to replay it. The replay is cached on the servers, not your device and goes away each time there’s a server maintenance.
In game communication on a mobile device is just hard. In Heroes of Order and Chaos, it creates an overlay on the screen and takes you away from the action, but there is a voice chat option available that has to be toggled during game play. Matchmaking does take several minutes and there’s the inevitable lag and disconnects, especially if someone forgets to turn their mobile device to WiFi only when they are playing. Then there’s targeting with a fat finger on a tiny screen during a mad kerfluffle of Heroes and minions with spell effects flying everywhere.
Apart from these little niggles though, if you want a MOBA you can take with you anywhere you go, this game is it.
Read more about these popular MOBAs on RTSGuru.