The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt may still be a few months away, but very soon players will be able to get a new taste of the acclaimed Polish RPG on their mobile devices with The Witcher Battle Arena. While it trades open-world exploration for compact multiplayer brawls, we see how much of that old Witcher charm remains in this edition of It Came From Canada!
The Witcher Battle Arena definitely has a lot of MOBA elements, but its changes are significant enough to keep it from fitting squarely into that genre. Players choose from a handful of characters from Witcher lore, like lumbering trolls or agile archers, each with their own skills to master like giant arrows or fire storms. From there they team up with two other players to fight another team of three, whether it’s online humans or bots, to the death.
But instead of using typical MOBA ideas like creeps or lanes or turrets or crystals, here battles boil down to direct confrontations and capturing outposts. To whittle their opponents’ health to zero, players kill their foes as well as maintain control over the three outposts as long as possible. Conquering a neutral outpost takes just a few moments, but once they are all quickly snapped up, players must last long enough to completely steal control points for their team. This back and forth makes up much of the game. Although the limited arenas are compact to the point of claustrophobic, teams must still make sure not to spread themselves too thin as they try to take enemy territory while simultaneously protecting the base. The variety of skills and shop upgrades add to the tactics, and just one well-executed surge can move a match from a stalemate to a decisive victory in minutes. It’s about being in the thick of constant carnage instead of sneakily circumventing it looking for the last kill. Compared to most MOBAs, it’s less detached.
It also looks pretty good considering its unenviable position of being compared to a gorgeous AAA console cousin. The smaller maps allow for more details and the grim fantasy aesthetic of The Witcher shines through. It may not surpass Vainglory’s visuals, which are a graphical showcase for iOS MOBAs and iOS games (period), but it’s impressive nonetheless.
Just as The Witcher refuses to be like all other RPGs, The Witcher Battle Arena rejects rigid MOBA conventions. We’ll see how well that pays off when the game fully launches soon.