App Reviewed on: iPad 3
Graphics / Sound Rating:
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I have to admit, Arena of Heroes does a pretty good job of presenting MOBAs (Multiplayer Online Battle Arenas) in a new light. It's the same arena-based, hero-driven concept but now it's turn-based! That's not sarcasm; I actually think it's a really neat idea.
Each skirmish in Arena of Heroes, much like each skirmish in other MOBAs, is a race to destroy the rival team's tower. Drones are produced for both sides on each turn and automatically make their way through one of the three available lanes, attacking anything that isn't on their side that gets into range. They pretty much serve as fodder/distractions; the heroes are what really matter. Each match requires a team of four and, of course, each offers their own unique skills. They also level up independently as the match progresses and can upgrade their special skills accordingly. And as expected it's also very likely (and almost guaranteed) for a hero to fall during a match, putting them out of the game for a turn or round rather than a set number of seconds because it's not real time.
There's a good sized - and varied - pool of characters to draw from in Arena of Heroes. The wide assortment of skills also makes for some fun experimentation. With enough playtime and use of premium currency players can construct a team that's as formidable as it is bizarre. Cyborg bunnies wielding machine guns or robotic insect-looking goliaths are only the beginning. I'm also really fond of being able to set up games that can be played in one sitting (turn by turn, of course) or asynchronously because sometimes I just don't know how long I'll be able to play for.
Although as balanced and plain old neat as Arena of Heroes can be, it could stand to teach newcomers the ropes a bit better. The lack of an interactive tutorial is one thing (there's a video that covers the basics), but many of the more important elements of the interface are never actually explained. For example, knowing what a given skill does is pretty important, but I only managed to figure out how to look each action up in-game through trial and error (FYI: tap and hold on the icon, although it doesn't work on skills that can't be used for some reason). It can also be somewhat awkward to judge an attacks range relative to a character's movement. Which basically amounts to me occasionally wasting an action because I thought I'd moved close enough but didn't.
With practice most of these issues will cease to be, of course. However I'm still not too keen on veteran players having a skill and understanding of the basic interface advantage over newbies. I mean really, the latter should never be an issue.