|Developer||Crytek Black Sea|
Arena of Fate attempts to deliver the most accessible MOBA experience yet by streamlining and reimagining the formula that Defense of the Ancients and its many offspring have been following since 2003. Buying items is now a thing of the past, replaced by a list of perks that you can choose from when you level up. Health regenerates when you’re out of combat for a few seconds, and each match has been capped at 20 minutes regardless of whether or not the enemy’s base has been destroyed. Instead, whichever team has earned more points—from taking down towers, killing opponents, and slaying large creeps called Titans—is granted the victory. Oh, and the map is shaped like a football.
Listen, I get it: MOBAs are intimidating, especially compared to other online multiplayer games. But their complicated nature is a huge part of the appeal. I am by no means good at Dota 2 or League of Legends, but I still enjoy the struggle to improve because it feels like a genuine challenge, with a huge number of skills to hone and almost endless variation in character builds.
I didn’t get much of that from Arena of Fate. It felt a lot like playing the Playskool version of DotA, one with all the corners rounded off so none of us could accidentally damage our soft baby heads. I can see how that might appeal to some people, but I don’t know if that crowd is enough to constitute a viable market.
While I realize that I just played a single match against a random assortment of people—some of whom had no experience whatsoever with the genre—I’m still worried by how little I felt engaged by the end of those 20 minutes. Maybe the skill ceiling is higher than it seemed, and maybe Crytek has allowed the more interesting aspects of MOBAs to shine by trimming away the cruft. But I can’t shake the feeling that Arena of Fate is just entering an already crowded market with a too-dumbed-down approach.