I have played the brand new Heroes of Order & Chaos only a little bit so far, so take my first impressions with a grain of salt. However, let me get to the point right away: It’s friggin’ awesome. Heroes of Order & Chaos is Gameloft’s attempt to bring the hugely popular MOBA (multiplayer online battle arena) style of games to your iPhone and iPad. And this is not a simple task, since the genre is everything but casual. So when I first found out that Gameloft is trying to port it to mobile devices, I was pretty skeptical at first. But before I talk more about Heroes of Order & Chaos, let me backtrack a little bit to give our readers who are not familiar with the MOBA games somewhat of a background.
There was one game that started the genre: DotA (Defence of the Ancients). It was a mod for Warcraft 3, Blizzard’s very successful RTS that was released ten years ago, in 2002. And this game jump started the whole genre. Basically, the mod took a real time strategy game, removed all the base building, added elements from tower defence games, added plenty of role playing elements and limited your control to just one unit, your hero. And BAM – one of the most awesome 5vs5 multiplayer games that ever existed was created (in my own, biased opinion). There are 2 sides, each one with a pre-existing base at the corner of the map. The bases are connected by 3 lanes, protected by towers that shoot the heroes if they cross the border to enemy territory. In regular intervals each base will send out computer controlled creeps, that move along the lanes, trying to get into the enemy’s base and attacking everything that’s in their way (enemy creeps, enemy towers and enemy heroes). To tip the scales of the battle, the five heroes try to support their creeps as good as possible, earning money and experience along the way that has to be invested in new gear and skills so you can ultimately destroy the enemy’s base.
I guess now you’ll understand what I meant by saying this genre is everything but casual. And that’s just the bare bones explanation to give you an idea what MOBA games are about – there’s plenty more to it, like different hero types, upgradable and combinable items, last hitting – I could go on and on. Now, I’d usually point you to some of the genre’s biggest games if you’re interested in learning more about them. But in this case, I’m pointing you towards Heroes of Order & Chaos on your favourite iOS device! Why? Because Gameloft, and I can’t believe I’m saying this, did an outstanding job with their tutorial! In fact, that’s the kind of tutorial I wish DotA 2 would offer (I can’t speak for League of Legends as I’ve never tried it).
So by now we’ve established what a MOBA game is, and that Heroes of Order & Chaos is very competent at making you at home in this genre with its tutorial. So far, so good! The next thing I’d like to talk about is the business model. Heroes of Order & Chaos is a freemium game – and freemium oftentimes is either very good, or very bad news. In this case however, I’d say it’s good news with a bitter taste. First of all, the good news: MOBA games are very dependant on an active online community. These games are really meant to be played against human opponents, so with it being freely available on the App Store, this very much raises the chances for it to get a healthy and active community. On top of it, the way Gameloft handles access to the content necessary to play and enjoy playing the game, it is not necessary to invest money in order to have fun for a substantial amount of time. Heroes of Order & Chaos currently features 30 unique heroes that all need to be purchased to be permanently available for you to chose from. However, at any give time, six of those heroes will be available for you to play with for free. The line-up will change weekly.
So here’s the bad news: If you don’t want to pay any money, you wont always be able to play with your favourite hero. Which means you’ll also have to learn how to play the other heroes – be it what items work well with them or what skills you need to level. Also, buying a hero can be pretty expensive: From what I saw, the most expensive heroes will set you back almost 17$. That’s actually very expensive if you ask me. Now, if some of the most expensive heroes turn out to also be the strongest, this could result in some real balancing issues. Or if you can buy overpowered items with real money that give you a huge advantage in-game.
But like I said, I have only played a little of it so far, so I can’t really comment on the balancing. This is of course of major interest for anyone who plans on playing this game for a long time, but since everyone can check it out for free, I’d say just give it a shot and see for yourself how things turn out. You also have to keep in mind that Gameloft can adjust the freemium system anytime to resolve balancing issues (if it’s in their interest) – or to introduce balancing issues (if it’s in the interest of making more money with the game).
The final thing I’d like to say about Heroes of Order & Chaos is about the presentation. I would have never guessed I’d see the day where I say this, but here it goes: I love the voice-overs! In general, from the tutorial, to the menus and the in-game graphics, Heroes of Order & Chaos looks and sounds great! But what really took me by surprise was that so much of the tutorial, the menu information and the characters was voiced-over. And what was even more surprising: It doesn’t suck! In fact, I found it to be very atmospheric!
So that’s it, these are my first impressions of Gameloft’s brand new MOBA Heroes of Order & Chaos. There’s still many unanswered questions since I haven’t played that much yet – I just wanted to give you a basic idea of what to expect. If this intrigued you, I wholeheartedly recommend that you go ahead and give it a shot, especially since it’s free!