Heroes of Order and Chaos Review: Gameloft’s MOBA Makes It To Mobile In A Big Way
On Wednesday, Heroes of Order and Chaos (HOC), the new MOBA game from Gameloft, hit the App Store. It was a month late from its original October announced release, but boy howdy, was it worth the wait! Heroes of Order and Chaos is an addictingly good battle game that will make Gameloft a ton of money … if they get the techincal issues sorted out.
Quick definition for those not familiar: MOBA stands for Multiplayer Online Battle Arena. It’s a type of online combat game built around a RTS combat model like that in Warcraft III, which is where MOBAs began. Specifically, a Warcraft II mod, Defense of the Ancients, which was so popular that MOBA games are still sometimes called DOTA games.
The most famous example of MOBA on PCs is League of Legends, and HOC is built shamelessly on the LoL model in the same way that Order and Chaos Online was build shamelessly on the World of Warcraft model. Which is to say completely shameless, but also sporting Gameloft’s level of mobile polish.
In HOC, you take control of one of thirty heroes, and then team up with other heroes to play against an opposing team. The primary goal of the game is to destroy the enemy’s command tower; the secondary goal is to score kills, level up your hero, and score more kills. You can coordinate with your fellow heroes, or you can go off and try to solo some kills. But never forget: the tower is the target.
It’s a game that’s simple in concept, but nuanced in execution. Being reckless will get you killed a lot; and being killed a lot will get you taken out of the game, since each death requires a longer and longer respawn wait. So it’s best to play strategically, to strike when the opportunity is right, and to retreat when the situation warrants it. Fortune favors the bold, but not the stupidly bold.
It is a ridiculously fun game to play. It’s also a ridiculously long game to play, in mobile terms; even 3v3 matches can routinely run 30 minutes or more, which is completely anathema to the typical iOS game model. What’s crazy, though, is that you won’t even notice the time going by. The game is engrossing and well-paced and, when it works, completely engaging.
That is, when it works. Because there’s been one big release weekend issue with HOC: the servers are currently terrible. Connectivity is a touch-and-go prospect, you’ll time out as often as you’ll connect, and losing connection during a match is a frustrating reality. These technical issues are almost a deal-breaker for me, except that (1) they can be fixed [and one assumes they will be after the holiday weekend] and (2) the game really is SO FREAKING GOOD that you won’t mind putting up with the temporary technical issues.
If there’s one other issue I have with the game, it’s the lack of different maps. Here there are only two, and there’s nothing special about either of them. This is an easy remedy, though: Gameloft just has to add more maps in the future.
They may add more heroes, too; though right now there are thirty to play, and it may take some time to master them all. Six heroes each week can be played free; but you can always purchase heroes to have at all times. It’s an IAP purchase of course, but every hero is also available through purchase with points won in matches (though some for ridiculously high prices). Gameloft has to make money somehow, and this IAP is far from the worst I’ve ever seen.
Yes, there are server and crash issues to resolve, and yes the game could use more maps. But neither of those change the fundamentals of the game. Gameloft has absolutely nailed the MOBA game on mobile, at the gameplay level. They can patch and update to resolve the technical issues; and they can add content like maps and additional heroes. Until League of Legends itself comes to iOS, this is an absolute must-have for hardcore gamers of every stripe.
Our Score: 5 Out of 5 Stars