As iOS gaming has gotten more and more popular over the years, we’ve seen a deluge of incredibly addictive quick-fix games mostly catered towards the casual market. While such games have definitely served their purpose, it’s no secret that hardcore gamers have been left in the dark with very few titles that satisfy their need for something more. As a result, iOS gaming has mostly been looked at as ground-zero for noob-friendly throwaway titles by the gaming elite.
With Heroes of Order & Chaos (which I will refer to as HOC going forward), Gameloft is taking another step in an attempt to once again win over portable gaming nay-sayers with their own MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena) as a spinoff to last year’s release of Order & Chaos Online MMO. Could HOC be the title that serious mobile gamers have been waiting for? Read on for more.
Mobile MOBA Madness
For those unfamiliar with MOBAs, just think of them as real time strategy games with a big focus on controlling individual heroes rather than large squads in an attempt to wipe out an opposing team’s heroes and base. PC gamers have had the pleasure of playing custom created Warcraft 3 games like DOTA and League of Legends which HOC directly tries to recreate on iOS. If you’re a big fan of DOTA 2 or LoL, you’ll feel right at home here.
At the very start, you’re thrown into a tutorial which brings you up to speed on the basics of controlling your hero by either using a virtual D-pad or tapping on the screen. It also does a fairly decent job at quickly teaching you how to use your skills, purchase hero upgrades and battle tactics without feeling too drawn out as you eagerly wait for your chance to jump online. Once you’re ready to go, you’re now able to either team up with other players in 5v5 or 3v3 games or continue to familiarize yourself with your available characters and skills in an offline battle with the AI controlled allies and enemies.
As you play through the game, you’re rewarded with Gold to buy power-ups which are absolutely essential in survival and dominating the leaderboard. Winning a match rewards you with Emblems that you can save up to unlock new characters that you can use in future games. HOC only offers a limited number of “free” playable heroes to choose from and the roster rotates on a weekly basis to provide players with more gameplay variety as time goes on. For more seasoned MOBA players that want full, unlimited access to any and all of the game’s heroes, there is also the option of purchasing Runes via in-app purchase that allow you to quickly unlock game content.
HOC relies heavily on class-based strategical gameplay. Each of the 30 heroes have a very unique skill set that puts them in one of four different classes with specific roles:
- Guardians serve as the team’s defensive juggernauts and are capable of not only soaking up hits and buffing team stats, but they can also dish out a fair amount of damage
- Mages are more fragile, but can deal heavy damage from afar
- Fighters are all about putting out as much damage as possible and some are also capable of invisibility
- Support heroes keep the team alive with beneficial healing and team boosting skills.
With such a large pool of characters to choose from, you’re guaranteed to find a few that suit your play style. Though newcomers might enjoy running into battle as soon as the timer counts down to zero, they’ll soon learn from that mistake. Going Leeroy Jenkins in HOC only guarantees a swift death and a trip back to your base. The more you die, the more time is added to when you can respawn and try again. The upside to this is that you can use the downtime to peruse the item shop located near your spawn point. Teamwork and proper coordination are absolutely necessary when trying to win a game in a MOBA. Without it, your win/loss record won’t look so good as you go through the detailed stats that are tracked in-game.
A Beautiful Bloodbath
Heroes of Order & Chaos borrows heavily from World of Warcraft’s art style. Despite the fact that Gameloft is often criticized for producing nothing but clones of more popular game titles, they do an excellent job of tweaking design to make it their own. Character design is of very high quality and the look of each hero is actually quite impressive. Performance, on the other hand, might be an issue if you’re on older iDevices. While everything felt smooth on an iPhone 5, framerate was just slightly choppier on a third generation iPad, especially during heavy server load.
The music in HOC is some of the best I’ve ever heard in an iOS game. The main menu’s thundering orchestral score is something that must be heard. It was also quite surprising to find out that each hero had their own voice, too — some are cheesy, some are downright intimidating. You can tell Gameloft spared no expense.
Connection Lost …
As great as the gameplay and production value in HOC is, there have been a few problems many users have been experiencing right out the gate. As of this writing, game servers have been slammed by heavy user traffic resulting in difficulties actually joining a game. While it isn’t as bad is it was on the day of release, it can still take a while to get a full game going.
In-app purchases can get a bit expensive and players hoping they could permanently unlock many of their favorite heroes for a couple of bucks may be in for a bit of disappointment. It may take a lot more than grinding to have complete access to all of the game’s heroes. But again, you’re given a different set of new heroes to choose from on a weekly basis, so if you’re more of an off-and-on player, this isn’t too much of a problem at all.
In terms of level variety, HOC only comes with one 3v3 map and one larger map made for larger 5v5 skirmishes. This may sound pretty insufficient to newcomers, but in all honesty, I find that map quantity isn’t much of a priority in any MOBA game.
Heroes of Order & Chaos is a definite must-try for any and all gamers with an iDevice looking for a challenge. From its excellent gameplay to its fantastic production values, Gameloft has pulled out all stops in bringing this quality freemium title to the iPad and iPhone.
Though some may be put off by steep IAP pricing and server lag, HOC still provides hours of entertainment for both hardcore and casual gamers alike. You won’t find anything else like it in the App Store. The only way to really know if it’s up your alley is to try it for yourself. As it is a freemium title, you have nothing to lose!
MOBA veterans might not find HOC as deep or fast paced as DOTA 2 or LoL, but for a mobile fix, this game has ticked all the necessary boxes that make it one of the best competitive multiplayer titles on iOS.
Let us know what you think of Heroes of Order & Chaos in the comments below. Maybe I’ll see you on the battlefield!
While its steep learning curve may put off some newcomers, Heroes of Order & Chaos proves to be one of the best multiplayer games for iOS. Network issues aside, it still manages to deliver an exciting and worthwhile experience for all who stick with it.8