The lights are on
CD Projekt Red’s The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt emerged as one of the best looking games at E3 this year, but it’s not the only Witcher game that fans should look forward to. In fact, the next Witcher game to release won’t be Wild Hunt; it will be The Witcher: Battle Arena, and not only does the game come out this year, but you’ll be able to play it wherever you go. Here are our hands on impressions of this new mobile MOBA.
As CD Projekt Red continued to work on the Witcher series, it began to feel like there was something missing from the mobile market. Many of the developers were fans of the MOBA genre, but they felt that the genre was currently underrepresented in the mobile space. Titles like Heroes of Order and Chaos or Legendary Heroes have already tried to bring the multiplayer online battle arena tactics over to Android and iOS, but CD Projekt Red felt that these games fail to take advantage of the genre’s unique advantages. So, instead of complaining about it, the studio decided to do something about it.
The Witcher Battle Arena is designed to be a fast and accessible mobile MOBA experience. Unlike some PC MOBAs, The Witcher: Battle Arena’s matches are designed to last only about 10 minutes – the perfect amount of time to crunch out a match during a bus ride or while waiting for a friend to pick you up. We noticed that the action moves quickly since respawn times hover down around five seconds. While there is an offline mode, the game’s main feature is online 3v3 multiplayer matches.
We played a few rounds against other players and found that the touch controls were easy to use. While the learning curve allows for players to constantly improve their skills, the basics are easy to pick up. In traditional MOBA fashion, six heroes battle it out in a small arena, fighting to capture and hold three conquest points. Each team starts with an overall pool of points, and the more conquest stations a team owns, the more quickly they will deplete those points from their opponents. The team that reaches zero first loses.
As the skirmishes rage on, you’ll be able to upgrade both your gear and your hero. Each character has three skills, but they can function in different ways. During a match, I played as Zoltan Chivay, a strong fighter with a spin attack and the ability to lunge at opponents and then toss them back over his shoulder several feet. As I moved through the match, I upgraded his armor, giving it a thorny aura that damaged my opponents when they attacked, and gave my weapon extra bleed damage, so opponents continued to hurt even after I was done attacking. Other equipment upgrades improve the recharge of your special attacks and give you a higher percentage chance to cause a critical attack.
Fans of the series will recognize many of Battle Arena’s heroes, and the game will launch with eight playable characters, such as the witcher Letho of Gulet, the dwarven adventurer Zoltan Chivay, the sorceress Philippa Eilhart, a Golem, Saskia of Aedirn, Philippa Eilhart, The Operator, and Iorveth.
Nothing about Battle Arena is too surprising for MOBA fans, and it’s not going to compete with titans like League of Legends or DOTA 2, but it doesn’t have to. Battle Arena could easily carve out it’s own space in the mobile market. This free-to-play title should launch on iOS and Android sometime later this year, which should help us pass the time until The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt launches early next year.
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