Solstice Arena, iOS' enduringly popular MOBA, has mutated, sprouted a mouse wheel, and USB input and found its way on to Steam today.
The words "quick" and "MOBA" generally don't go together. Better tandem pairs could be found in "cursing" and "DotA" or perhaps "unbridled-fury-ARGH-*****" and "LoL". Maybe that last one doesn't really work.
Solstice Arena is the iOS attempt to marry fleeting moments of leisure time with a fast-paced, high octane MOBA. And it's hella fun.
Not content to trouble only your thumbs, Zynga are bringing their game to PC, perhaps in a bid to knock down that last particular tower and have at the delicious ancient of graphics card and mouse/keyboard combination.
The interesting conceit of Solstice Arena coming to desktops however, is that it will come packaged with a ready-made, frothy and delicious community that will be imported from the iOS game. Whether you are sat steadfast in increasingly crusty underwear, or making a sweary spectacle of yourself on the bus, it's always the right occasion for this ultra convergent and mobile MOBA.
Principal game designer, Cameron McNeil said "we understand that a lot of gamers, especially ones with families and commitments, don't have masses of spare time to commit to games - especially hour long battles to take down an ancient. Solstice Arena allows you to have 5 or 6 games in the time it would take to complete just 1 in a regular MOBA".
Crosshairs aimed squarely at the casual market, their original iOS skirmisher was perfect for bite sized chunks of warfare in between commutes, and dare I say the odd bowel movement, but moving to the PC provides a number of challenges, and in an arena dominated by genre leaders, DOTA and LoL, Solstice Arena's raison d'être must be much more pronounced.
Describing the game's appeal Cameron continues "while some people will see the word casual and be turned off - SA is really only casual in the sense that it is accessible and easy to get to grips with. The game was built from the ground up with other platforms in mind, and moving to the PC is just part of our ongoing strategy. SA has level and inventory systems in place, but the core here is fast-paced, energetic action."
And it is a no mean feat that Zynga have managed in reducing down the MOBA to essential parts, and rebuilding them into a coherent and smaller experience. The classic map is here, complete with river, but scaled down to one lane and culled entirely of creeps. The action then is entirely player focused which can give it an almost Super Smash Bros feel, almost reinventing its own genre, if not creating a divergent spin-off.
"We wanted to create a new and exciting experience, rather than deliver a MOBA-lite" Cameron goes on "This is a great game on its own terms, rather than the players having to readjust their own preconceptions of the genre, and that's what I think we have achieved with SA: a game that stands on its own".
Anyone with experiences of the original iOS battler will recognize the free-to-play Steam adaptation, with the code almost being replicated line by line, albeit with a few graphical enhancements and mouse support. The game's persistent character progression is also intact, meaning you can and will find reason to keep playing many different characters.
If you are like me, MOBAs are less of a choice of pass time, and indeed more like an addiction to a slightly infuriating drug: crystal meth with added insults if you will. I can't work out whether I'm excited or scared that this particular action title is unshackled from the PC and will be able to follow me around on my phone, iPad, and be almost always in my pocket. Something will give, and to save time I'd probably wager my social life.
Zynga regularly update the game on a fortnightly basis, adding in new skins, refining gameplay, and even introducing time sensitive skins for heroes. And it's all free.
Now available on Steam, check it out.
Adam Tingle / Adam Tingle is a columnist and general man-about-town for MMORPG.com, RTSGuru.com, and FPSGuru.com. He enjoys toilet humor, EverQuest-themed nostalgia, and pointing out he's British: bother him at @adamtingle