The lights are on
When I first heard about Solstice Arena, I was skeptical. It’s by Zynga. It’s a MOBA. It’s on iOS devices. This couldn’t work. It shouldn’t work.
It works. And I don’t mean that it’s passable, or a neat first step. It is a fun, engaging title that plays quickly and makes smart concessions for the time and manner in which people will be playing.
First, it is not a pay-to-win title. Just like League of Legends and its ilk, real money is used for cosmetic upgrades. Players can also equip one-time use potions that can be purchased with in-game currency or real money. One of these is free at all times on a rotating basis.
Also rotating are free heroes in five different groupings: casters, support, fighters, tanks, and assassins. Each triggered ability is tied to an attribute, and some heroes dip into one of the other pools a bit. Items acquired throughout the course of a match boost elemental power, as does collecting drops on the battlefield.
The elements also provide bonuses to all characters. For instance, Earth increases basic attack damage, while Iron improves health and toughness. As with League of Legends, real money can also be used to permanently unlock characters for use.
The touch screen controls are intuitive, and the map is condensed for quick play. There are no AI minions marching across the screen and no farming. Instead, if all three members of a team are knocked out, the four forward towers and large base are robbed of offensive power. They can be obliterated quickly in that scenario, which keeps games brisk (around 10 minutes each).
Heroes level up outside of matches rather than over the course of a game. Instead of increasing the power of skills, gold is earned and spent during a match to purchase gear that enhances movement speed, ability recharge rate, toughness, and attack power. Choosy players can customize their own loadouts, but Solstice Arena offers up recommended purchases.
Zynga has announced that Solstice Arena will be launching in the United States today. You can view a trailer below and download it for free for iPad 2, iPad with Retina Display, iPad mini, and iPhone 4/4S/5.