This week Zynga launched their version of a Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA). Some of the other well known titles in this genre of gaming are League of Legends, Heroes of Newerth and of course the ever so popular and by now the clear leader, Defense of the Ancients 2. My personal favourite in this is by far DOTA2 and I have been also written simple tips on how to avoid dying often in DOTA2. Having said that, I was quite piqued to see how the company which did scientific data analysis and extensive research on how users planted crops in their fields in Farmville, will create a game for this audience.
Solstice Arena’s different take on MOBA
Zynga have taken a different look at MOBA, where the standard game is to keep killing creeps and farms and get enough money for weapons. Once you have equipped yourself to the hilt, then the actual game begins. Thus, the initial game is almost always wait and watch farm. This is where Solstice shines through … there are no creeps.
Yes, you read it right the first time around. There are absolutely no creeps. In fact Zynga calls this game a Speed MOBA, where the focus is to start battling as soon as possible. Which means, the entire game is a series of team fights. The better team wins.
Unlike other arena games where you get kills, then XP and then unlock your skills, Solstice Arena gives you all the skills you require right off the bat.
Even weapon selection is minimal. In short, there is no point in farming, the whole focus is to kill the enemy and take down their towers. This simplicity ensures that games are short … sometimes short enough to not even let you fully equip your hero! The game involves taking down three towers and then the main oracle of the opposing team.
What makes the game interesting is a rich source of power-ups which are available throughout the map. Certain power-ups are made for you specially, and certain are meant for other team members.
So this is how Zynga is introducing the replay value of the game. By rewarding the player to keep playing more games with the same hero!
What this means is that for each game played, the user gets experience points per hero. Every time the hero levels up (this is outside the game), he gets to increase the effectiveness of his spells. Thus a fully enhanced hero would be far stronger than a new hero.
It also ensures that the user gets acquainted with a few heroes and works towards getting to know them.
- The game is pretty simple and enjoyable. The focus is not on rich character development, the focus is on team fights. There would be lots of these. Since there is no character level, loosing a team fight is not such a big thing and you can always come back.
- The game cannot last more than 20 minutes. If it is getting stretched beyond that, then you are doing something wrong.
- There is a limit to which you can farm, after which you cannot even use all that gold you have amassed. The message is clear. Stop farming, start killing.
- It’s fun and simple.
- Installation is a breeze, only 500 MB in an age where games are on an average 10-12 GB.
- Even a newbie can start playing, the community is not yet fully vocal and accepts mistakes :) … unlike the other MOBAs you see where a simple mistake can lead you getting blasted by your own teammates or even worse reported.
- You cannot play with all heroes. You have to unlock each of them. This could mean quite a grind.
- The game is Free to Play (F2P), but for the person willing to pay money, he gets to up his heroes and be far stronger in the game.
- Free players are going to be fodder for paying customers. This although is the complaint of almost all F2P games, with the exception of DOTA2.
Will Solstice Arena save Zynga?
I thoroughly enjoyed Solstice Arena, in fact when I started playing it initially, I was not even aware that this is a Zynga product! For people who have been following Zynga for the past few years. you would know that the company has seen a few ups and a lot of downs. Ever since they went public with an IPO, they have had to fire their CEO, layoff a lot of their staff and drive their current set of employees to work longer hours. This was primarily due to the fact that almost all of their games were solely relying on Facebook and Facebook at one point stopped cooperating with Zynga.
Solstice comes in as a breath of fresh air and may yet give hope for the company to survive. This is a game which is fast being adopted by a lot of players, is available for free on Steam, and yet has enough products to give Zynga a fair shot in the MOBA genre. Definitely worth downloading!!