I think we can all agree that the MOBA genre has become absolutely massive. With colossal games out there like League of Legends and Defense of the Ancients, not to mention newer entries such as SMITE, is there much room left for the little people wanting to stand on the shoulders of these giants? There are certainly plenty of developers out there wanting to have a go, and one of these happens to be S2 games. Released on the 11th of April the guys and girls behind Strife and Heroes of Newerth are rather proud to present Brawl of Ages.
The first important thing to note is that although Brawl of Ages plays very much like the MOBAs that we all know and love in that you use your minions for the purposes of pushing lanes and destroying towers (and ultimately your opponents base), it isn’t actually being referred to as a MOBA. This title is being classed as a CCA or Collectible Card Arena. Instead of selecting a hero who uses an endlessly spawning series of waves of minions to deal damage, you swap your chosen character for a deck of ten cards. You use the minions on these cards take the lanes. In addition you also have a series of spells with which to blast your opponent and bolster your own strategy. This brings something rather new and interesting to a genre that while consistently good seems to be becoming a little bit copy and paste.
Something else to point out about this title is the pace of the matches. Games in Brawl of Ages are fast, really fast. MOBA fans will probably expect an average round to last maybe half an hour, more or less depending on how good your team is. Matches in this title are timed to about three minutes, if you haven’t done the job by then you’ll win or lose depending on which side took the most minion damage to their towers. Destroying your opponents towers yields seals, which you need to enter the big prize board and win either more cards or valor, the game’s crafting currency.
To keep things fresh you can play across various modes. You have ladder mode which sees players climbing a tournament ladder to win prizes, conquest mode in which you have to try and win ten matches before losing three for some great rewards and Brawl Club in which clubs of up to fifty players face off against each other. Offering different ways to play not only prevents the game from getting stale but helps create a sense of community which is always a great move. There’s something so much more satisfying about hammering a friend in a match than a random stranger.
So what do I actually think of the game and the experience I’ve had with it thus far? Foremost, I think that the concept is excellent. I like the collectible card element. This makes what is essentially still a MOBA in the way that it plays far more customizable in that it will offer a different play style depending on the strategy of the player. This is always a good thing as it keeps the game fresh and interesting. As you’re collecting cards all of the time real longevity is also added to the game because you will want to go back and test new decks and see how they differ in playing style to ones you are already using.
I also really like the look and feel of the game. There aren’t any sprawling maps in Brawl of Ages, instead you have a simple top down view with two lanes and your towers/base at either end. With the aforementioned speed of this title it’s really important to be able to see exactly what’s going on at all times so not over-complicating things is a great move on the part of the developers. Graphically the feel of the game has been stripped back from the ultra-realism that we’ve come to expect in many titles to something more fun and cartoony. This fits the feel of the game well and it’s nice to see something that’s designed to be competitive not taking it’s self too seriously.
My issue comes with the speed of the matches. I can completely understand that this is a fast paced game and I don’t have any problems with that. As a matter of fact I think MOBA matches can actually go on a bit long so speeding things up makes perfect sense. Personally I’m from a CCG background, I’m aware that this isn’t a CCG but coming in with that mind set you tend to want to take a more measured approach and plan your moves. The lightning pace at which BOA runs makes planning extremely difficult. The strategy element of the game falls apart because if you aren’t careful you find yourself throwing cards out onto the field without thinking to much about the order in which you’re doing it. I’m not calling this a massive flaw. People think differently and after all this is my experience. Those players out there that can think on their feet will find this an absolute go-to game and they’ll do really well.
This is a game that is a great e-sport contender. It’s fast, brutal (if maybe a little chaotic) and really addictive. This isn’t a game that you log into and play just one round and this is a really big selling point. Brawl of Ages is a great between games game. You know, for when you want to put down your deeply immersive RPG and just do something a wee bit different for a while. Whether you want to put in a lot or a just a little time I think there is something here for everyone.
So to round up. Brawl of Ages has an immense amount to love about it and I can absolutely see it taking it’s place in a lot of competitive gamers’ hearts. Do I think it’s completely there yet? No. But in its defense it’s brand new and like any competitive game it’s going to be worked on, tweaked and balanced. If they altered the match timer from three to maybe five minutes and gave you just that little bit more breathing room, it would be better. It is a brilliant, fun and frantic concept with room to grow and improve. If you want to go and see for yourselves you’ll find Brawl of Ages as an early access title on Steam; its free to play with micro-transactions so you won’t loose anything other than some time by giving it a blast.